Posts Tagged 'vegetarian'

Very Simple Vegetarian Sausage and Mushroom Risotto

One of the best things about Risotto is that you can experiment.  Almost anything makes a good risotto, and part of the fun is trying new things.  In an attempt to try something different, I carried out one such experiment for tea tonight.  I made Sausage and Mushroom Risotto, using Quorn sausages, but you could use meat ones, and it was delicious.  Because of the density of the sausages, which were cut into pieces, and the rice, it was extremely filling, and satisfying, but actually very healthy, with very little fat or calories.  It’s very pleasing to eat something which makes you feel full and sated, but which also gives you the piece of mind of knowing that you won’t pile on the pounds.

INGREDIENTS:  (Serves Two)

  • Three Sausages (I used Quorn, but you can use whatever you like)
  • A mug full of Arborio Rice
  • Tablespoon Mustard
  • Two Tablespoons Olive Oil (Any vegetable oil, or even butter, works fine)
  • Mushrooms
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Two Stock Cubes and Boiling Water


  • Pour two tablespoons of Olive Oil (or whatever oil you have) into a hot pan, stir in salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of mustard.
  • Chop the Sausages into small pieces, stir them into the oil.
  • Peel and half the mushrooms, add them to the pan.

  • When the mushrooms and sausages have browned, add the Arborio rice to the pan.  Stir it in well, ensuring that the rice is thoroughly coated with oil and well mixed in.
  • Cover the pan with stock, and stir well.

  • Keep stirring, and simmering.  When all the stock is absorbed, cover again with stock.
  • Carry on simmering, but every couple of minutes, allow the mixture to bubble by itself for a few seconds, then carry on stirring.

  • When all the stock has been absorbed, and the rice is soft and fluffy, it’s ready to serve.

The only way to be sure it’s done is to keep trying it.  Taste a bit of rice, and keep simmering until it’s soft.

Then, put it out, and enjoy.

My Mum, enjoying the Risotto.

If you do try this, please let me know how you get on.  Also, if you have any suggestions, I’d be glad to hear them.

Happy Cooking, and HAPPY EATING!

Vegetarian Bangers, Mash & Mushrooms. 3 Simple Steps.

This Bangers, Mash and Mushrooms is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted, and so simple and quick.  In less than thirty minutes you can have an indulgent, comforting, but quite healthy feast on your plate.  I’ve included a few notes on how the recipe can easily be adapted to become vegan.  Equally, while I’ve used vegetarian sausages, you could use meat ones, whatever you like.  I make this all the time because it’s just a thing of beauty (though perhaps more in taste than to look at).


  • Sausages (Vegetarian or meat) – two per person.
  • Mashed Potato *see notes below
  • Mushrooms
  • Cheese
  • Tablespoon mustard
  • Half Tablespoon Garlic Purée
  • Olive Oil


The sausages.  I’ve used Quorn this time, but I usually prefer Cauldron.  The vegetarian Lincolnshire, or Cumberland, are really delicious and full of so much flavour, quite spicy in fact.  This is the first time I’ve used these particular ones, which are the new and improved Quorn recipe, and I have to say that they are really tasty.  I’m sure normal meat sausages will work much the same.

I used the sausages straight from the freezer, but defrosted them slightly.  This allows you to slice them neatly.  If they are completely thawed out then they break up and crumble, and you end up with a mess.

Slice the sausages into hefty chunks.

Into a hot pan stir;  Olive Oil (or whatever oil you have, all vegetable oils work the same. You could even use butter), garlic purée (garlic salt works just the same), Mustard, salt and pepper.

Once all those things are mixed together, throw the sausages in.  Stir them into the mixture and make sure they’re coated, so they get all the flavour.

It doesn't look pretty, but the smell is heavenly, and it tastes GOOD!

Once the mixture has soaked into the sausages (you have to keep stirring), they will begin to cook.  While this is happening, peel the mushrooms and cut them in half.

Once the sausages are starting to brown all over, throw the mushrooms in.  Give it a good stir, and get everything mixed in together.  Allow them to simmer, with the lid on, but stirring every couple of minutes, for about ten minutes, until everything looks brown and cooked.


Which is basically just the potatoes.  Once the sausages and mushrooms are browned, you need to stir in the mashed potato.  Either have the potatoes ready and mashed at the beginning of the recipe, OR, if you’re short of time and would like an easy option, I’ve found one.  I recently discovered microwavable mash.  Now, it’s not as healthy as the real thing, but it’s pretty good. I’m not usually in favour of this kind of thing, I hate it, but it doesn’t taste like Smash, it tastes like delicious, fluffy mash, that you’d make yourself.  I promise you, it tastes really good.  Just follow the instructions on the packet.

Throw the potatoes into the pan, and give everything a really good stir.  You want to get all the flavours mixed in.

You’re now basically just waiting for the mash to be hot.  Keep stirring it all together until it’s piping hot, then crumble as much cheese in as you’d like.  In my opinion, the more the better.  I used cheddar, because I like the flavour and it melts, but use whatever you’d like.



Once the cheese has melted, get a plate and serve it.  Eat it while it’s hot!

That’s it! What could be easier?  I promise you, it is DELICIOUS! Mushrooms, cheese, potatoes, sausages full of flavour, what’s not to like?

I hope you give this a go, and I’d really love to know how you get on, so let me know.

I’ll leave you with my lovely Mum, who enjoyed it immensely, and told everyone in the pub about it.

15 Minute Green Bean Risotto In Three Easy Steps.

To celebrate National Vegetarian Week, knowing how challenging  it can be for vegetarians to find diverse and tasty food to cook at home, that’s ready in fifteen minutes, I’ve decided to share some recipes.  Most of the things I cook are tried and tested favourites, that I make week in, week out, but some of them, like tonight’s, are spur of the moment experiments. First up, a delicious green bean risotto that’s ready in three steps, in fifteen minutes tops.

I normally make mushroom risotto, and I have to say, I’m pretty bloody good at it.  The reason I make it well is that I love it so much, cooking mushroom risotto is a passionate experience for me.  When you cook something you love, you add that little bit of a special spark.  However, I didn’t have any mushrooms in the house tonight (which very rarely happens), so I decided to use what I had in, which turned out to be green beans and Arborio rice.


  • Arborio Rice (About two handfuls per person/serving).
  • Green Beans
  • Tablespoon of Butter
  • Garlic (I used garlic purée)
  • Mustard (Dijon has a nice tang)
  • Sea Salt and Pepper
  • Stock Cubes (Two per person)
  • Boiling Water
  • Cheese (I favour cheddar)
  • Three glasses of white wine (optional, but it makes a big difference).
Into a hot pan, stir the following: Tablespoon of butter, tablespoon of garlic purée, tablespoon of mustard, salt and pepper.
Stir the green beans into the mixture, which will come together into a paste.  Sizzle the beans until they are soft. I used them straight from the freezer, but thawed out a little bit, for maybe half an hour.
Tip: The rice you need is called Arborio, it’s an Italian risotto rice.  Don’t try and use Basmati or pillau, it won’t work.
Once the beans are cooked and soft, stir the rice into the mixture.  It’s vitally important that every grain of rice is coated in the butter, otherwise it won’t cook properly.
Once you’ve coated the rice, you can pour the wine in, but this is optional.  While it isn’t vital, it does give the risotto a more delicate, shaper flavour.  After the wine, or missing it out, it’s time to add the stock.
Put the stock cubes in a jug or pan and pour the boiling water over. I find OXO vegetable, or Knorr are great, but the best is Bouillon.
Make sure the stock cubes are dissolved by giving it a good stir.  Once it’s ready, cover the rice and beans with stock.
Allow the rice to absorb the stock, while simmering.  Keep stirring, but stop and allow it to bubble up by itself every couple of minutes.  Once the stock has been absorbed, pour some more in.
You’re waiting for the rice to be completely soft.  Keep testing a piece, if there’s still a little bite in the middle, it isn’t ready.
This should take about ten minutes, perhaps a little more.  The main thing is to do it right.  Just keep stirring and keep having a little taste of the rice, until it’s soft.
Once the rice is cooked, add the cheese.  You can either add it into the pan, so that it melts into the rice and becomes gooey and golden, or you can just add it into the bowl when you serve, so that it keeps a bite to it.  Either way is good.
I favour a trusty Cheddar, possibly because I’m not very adventurous when it comes to cheese.  You can use whatever you like.
I don’t grate it, just crumble it in, so that it stays in lovely, delicious, oozing blobs.
And that’s it! All you have to do now is dish it up and enjoy the fruits of your hard work (well, not very hard).
You can serve it with salad, roast potatoes, bread, garlic bread, anything you like.  Even just on its own, it’s delicious.  I enjoy mine best in the garden, in the sun.
I hope you enjoy cooking and eating this dish.  If you give it a go, please do let me know how you get on.

Machiavellian Marketing, Vegetarian Rights.



Machiavellian Marketing, Vegetarian Rights.

Vikki Littlemore


In May 2007 a company called Masterfoods, the umbrella company responsible for producing Mars chocolate (including Minstrells, Milky Way, Twix, Malteasers and Galaxy) announced the decision to use animal rennet in their products.

All chocolate and cheese contains whey, but the majority of manufactures use a vegetarian-safe form of whey from non-animal sources. However, Mars and Masterfoods made headlines in 2007 by announcing the use of animal rennet, an enzyme extricated from the stomach lining of newly-born calves and a procedure rendering slaughter inevitable. It is the enzyme produced by calves to aid the digestion and absorption of milk. This enzyme is what makes chocolate and cheese hard but many manufacturers use equally effective vegetarian alternatives such as Chymosin; genetically engineered micro-organisms specifically designed to exactly replicate the enzyme produced by the calf´s stomach. Nevertheless, Masterfoods made a decision which the Vegetarian Society condemned as “Incomprehensible”.

Production began in early May 2007, virtually simultaneous with the announcement and before it had attracted any attention. For four weeks the product was used with few people being aware. No large-scale announcements were made or notices placed on packaging. A conscious effort was made to keep the use of rennet as unnoticed as possible, hidden from loyal consumers and vegetarians. For four weeks many strict and devoted vegetarians (including myself) consumed the various products under the Mars umbrella, painfully unaware of its non-vegetarian contents.

After four weeks the news attracted more widespread attention and incurred the anger of the Vegetarian Society and the response to the decision was so overwhelming and the protest and fervent remonstration from the British Vegetarian Society so powerful that Masterfoods was forced to capitulate and backtrack their decision. An announcement was made that Mars would no longer use animal rennet in their chocolate. This was an righteous victory for vegetarians worldwide but meant that because Mars had used the ingredient in their chocolate for four weeks, there were products on shop shelves containing animal rennet and consumers had no way of determining which chocolate bars were safe to eat and which weren´t. Masterfoods did eventually come up with a system where if the use-by date on a product was prior to a certain date then it could “possibly” contain animal rennet and if it was after a certain date then it was safe.

In an official statement Paul Goalby, corporate affairs manager at Masterfoods announced; “If the customer is an extremely strict vegetarian, then we are sorry the products are no longer suitable, but a less strict vegetarian should enjoy our chocolate”. Coming from one of the world´s largest chocolate manufactures and indeed one of the most prominent global brand names, the decision left vegetarians wondering who to trust. That the decision was revoked however, although a triumph, left a bitter aftertaste because consumers were unsure which items on the shelves were safe.

Manufactures need to be clearer and more honest about the contents of their products. Vegetarians make a decision to live a specific lifestyle. At the moment of becoming vegetarian, at whatever stage in life, a vegetarian makes a profound and emotional agreement with themselves to abide by rules as a direct reflection of their beliefs. The action of making this decision and making a life-long commitment to abstain from meat and many other foods, which is a reflection of the strength of their feelings about the slaughter of animals and not necessarily that they don´t enjoy the taste, is something which is extremely difficult for many and can result in a continual struggle with one´s conscience. It takes great strength and power of will and determination to deny yourself items of food which the body naturally craves, but why bother committing yourself whole-heartedly and ardently to a cause which determines the very nature of your lifestyle in a society where it is impossible to be sure that even food purporting to be safe might actually not be? It is disconcerting to know that there is food on the shelves that as a vegetarian I risk inadvertently consuming on a daily basis, which appear to be safe but may contain animal products or ingredients which are deliberately concealed.

However, the concealment of ingredients is often supported by law. A clause in the 1984 Food Labelling Regulations (UK) excludes from the 1984 Food Act all drinks with an alcohol content exceeding 1.2% by volume (ABV), meaning that only very low or non-alcoholic beers, wines and ciders are required to list all ingredients. Subsequently, a large proportion of wine and beer is produced using isinglass and chitin, without it being declared on the label. Isinglass is derived from collagen contained in the swimbladders of fish, and Chitin from the shells of crabs and lobsters. This clause means that these ingredients, used in fining, are contained in many beers and wines with consumers unaware.

Vegetarianism is now increasingly accepted and understood by society. Being a vegetarian or vegan today is very different from ten years ago, when the automatic response to telling somebody you are a vegetarian was ´do you eat chicken?…. well do you eat fish?´. Like the Vegetarian Society I find it incomprehensible that in the year 2009 the deliberate and emotionally distressing deception of consumers by manufacturers is allowed to remain unchallenged. Every decision like the one made by Masterfoods is a step backwards and cancels out immeasurable valuable progress. Rather than advancing into the future, manufactures are sacrificing the well-being and satisfaction, the most basic moral and human rights of their customers in favour of profit.

There is incidentally no reason to opt for animal products when many other manufacturers have demonstrated the successful implementation of vegetarian alternatives. There is no excuse or reason to ignore the options available. There should nevertheless be more strictly regulated guidelines on how manufactures notify consumers of their products´ ingredients. Many manufacturers clearly display a ´V´ in a prominent position on the packaging and often the words ´suitable for vegetarians´ accompanying the list of contents but unless all manufacturers embrace this system honestly and openly we can never really be safe. For a company as large and globally significant as Mars to purvey products which display no list of ingredients on their wrapper is shocking, detrimental to vegetarian consumers and an action which I can only imagine must halve their market. If a filmmaker chooses to insert three swear words into a film and is subsequently forced to upgrade from a certificate 12 to a 15 as a result, they are drastically reducing their market by limiting the number of people able to see the film, with no discernable merit. Manufacturers are limiting the number of people able to consume their product and I fail to understand how this can be advantageous to them.

Any consumer, including vegetarian consumers, deserves the right to be fully aware of the complete contents of the food they consume. The idea that in the advanced world we live in people could be expected to eat food without access to information about every ingredient contained in it is unacceptable and unfathomably archaic. As human beings we have the right to expect not to be deceived by the people producing what goes into our bodies and as vegetarians we are every bit as entitled to the information and to know whether food is suitable to eat. Concealing ingredients for pecuniary and industrial advantage over human morality is outrageous, criminal and inhumanly immoral.

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Sylvia Plath said; "Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences". My aim in life is to find things and people to love, so that I can write about them. Putting words together is the only thing I can see myself doing. This blog is an outlet, and I hope you enjoy reading it. Please feel free to comment on posts, or contact me by the special e-mail I've set up ( with your thoughts.

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The New Remorse, Oscar Wilde.

The sin was mine; I did not understand.
So now is music prisoned in her cave,
Save where some ebbing desultory wave
Frets with its restless whirls this meagre strand.
And in the withered hollow of this land
Hath Summer dug herself so deep a grave,
That hardly can the leaden willow crave
One silver blossom from keen Winter's hand.

But who is this who cometh by the shore?
(Nay, love, look up and wonder!) Who is this
Who cometh in dyed garments from the South?
It is thy new-found Lord, and he shall kiss
The yet unravished roses of thy mouth,
And I shall weep and worship, as before.

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Music I Love (In no particular order, except that The Smiths are first)

The Smiths,
The Libertines,
The Courteeners,
Nina Simone,
Pete Doherty,
The Kills,
Amy Winehouse,
Arctic Monkeys,
Rod Stewart,
The Doors,
The Rolling Stones,
Etta James,
T. Rex,
The Jam,
The Kinks,
Jack White,
The Deadweather,
David Bowie,
The Winchesters,
The Cure,
Kaiser Chiefs,
The Kooks,
The Twang,
Kings Of Leon,
The Housemartins,
The Ramones,
Robots in Disguise,
The Klaxons,
Kate Nash,
The Raconteurs,
Regina Spektor,
Aretha Franklin,
The Contours,
Dirty Pretty Things,
The White Stripes,
New York Dolls,
Yeah Yeah Yeahs,
The Clash,
Style Council,
Velvet Underground,
The Horrors,
The Cribs,
Reverend and The Makers,
The Subways,
The Wombats,
Elle S'appelle,
The Troggs,
The Beatles,
Echo and the Bunnymen,
Florence and the Machine.

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

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Will it ever be alright for Blighty to have a Queen Camilla?

One less tree from our window each day

Vikki's bookshelf: read

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Of Mice and Men
Pride and Prejudice
The Hobbit
The Da Vinci Code
Tipping the Velvet
Wuthering Heights
The Picture of Dorian Grey and Other Works by Oscar Wilde
Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Irish Peacock & Scarlet Marquess: The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde
The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman
Moab Is My Washpot
The Bell Jar
The Other Boleyn Girl
On the Road
Brideshead Revisited
Revolutionary Road

Vikki Littlemore's favorite books »

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