Nac Mac Vegan: adventures in rabbit food


At last!

Filed under: Ingredients, Shopping — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 15:19

I am lucky to live very close to good local health foods shop. My relationship with it has been strained at times, as they often seem to stock everything except what it was I actually wanted. But today I love them deeply and dearly, for they have started selling the one thing I really wanted. Something which has been very difficult to get hold of outside of North America, and which has taken up a couple of kilos of my baggage allowance on many an occasion. Yes, vital wheat gluten is now available in the UK, approximately a minute from my front door! Not as cheap as buying it in the US, but definitely more convenient. They do mail order too.



Nutmeat and rice hash

Filed under: Experiments, Historic — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 20:12

Having made the 1911 nutmeats, I now have to find something to do with them! Fortunately, the same book I used has a good number of recipes. Because I had the ingredients to hand, I opted for the Trumese and Rice Hash, the instructions for which read Use boiled or steamed rice in place of potato in the preceding recipe. So, making that substitution, here’s the original recipe:

Put trumese and double the quantity of cold [cooked rice] … through food cutter, using the next coarsest cutter…. Mix carefully. Simmer without browning, chopped onion in oil. Add the mixed trumese and [rice], pour consommé or nicely seasoned gravy over and set in the oven to heat, and brown over the top….

The onion may be mixed with the trumese and potato, all put into a baking dish, nut butter stirred with a cream with consommé poured over and the hash baked for ¾-1 hour. Finely sliced celery, celery salt, or any of the sweet herbs, powdered, may be substituted for the onion. sage may be used occasionally with the onion.

Well, first impression is that that would be pretty bland, so I added one or two things to the consommé. There’s also the problem of nut butter, as it could mean one of two things in this period — either peanut butter as we understand it, or a solid vegetable fat made from nut oils. The former made more sense to me. Here’s what I did:

2 cups cooked brown rice, defrosted if necessary.
1 can trumese, cut into fine dice.
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbl peanut butter
1 tsp vegetable stock powder, or to taste
1 tomato
a small amount of water
vegetable oil for frying

Preheat the oven to about 160°C. Chop the onion finely and fry gently in the oil until opaque, then add the garlic, trumese and rice. I also had the end of a carrot, so I chopped that and added it too. Give it a good stir and let it heat through. Blend together the peanut butter, water, tomato and vegetable stock until you get a medium creamy sauce. Mix it all together, transfer to a large shallow baking tin and stick it in the oven for about 40 minutes. This is what came out:

Trumese and rice hash, fresh out of the oven

Trumese and rice hash, fresh out of the oven

If you like crispy bits on your rice, you’ll adore this, as it’s the aforementioned crispy bits surrounding a moist centre. But it was still bland even though I’d added the tomato and used brown rice. Whilst I won’t make this exact recipe the same way again, I can see a lot of promise for the basic dish — it’s not difficult to use herbs and spices, or a more strongly-flavoured stock. It would work with tofu (go for the smoked or hazel nut varieties), or any of the commercial fake meats out there, and leftovers could be added to it as well. Using cooking rings on a baking tray would give a more refined presentation.

This amount would serve four with plenty of vegetables and maybe a sauce.


Early 20th century nutmeats revisited

Filed under: Gadgets, Historic — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 22:50

I first experimented with making my own nutmeats over four years ago, and wrote up my experiences. I based my recipes on those given in Evora Buckram Perkins’s Laurel Health Cookery. It was a bit of a palaver, and at the time I commented:

It is easier to buy a tin of Nuttolene, but this is a useful recipe to know in case of drought.

Well, it has come to pass that there is a Nuttolene drought. Goodness Direct claims to have it in stock, but I haven’t seen it in the shops for over a year now. The customer comments over on that site hint at discontinuation after 105 years in production – it was invented, as a paté, by Dr. Kellogg himself, and went on sale in late 1904. I’m not sure when it turned into the more solid product I’ve been craving, but the difference seems to be simply the amount of water used.

Since my efforts four years ago, I have acquired a number of gadgets that might make the task easier. Firstly, I have just bought a pair of mug-shaped, loose bottomed cake tins, with a capacity of just over 1.5 cups each. I don’t know what they were intended for, but they struck me as just the right shape for nutmeats. I also have a 600w Braun hand blender, with a large liquidiser attachment, and a Kenwood Major with the meat mincer attachment, the latter serving perfectly well as a nut mill. All of these, in addition to the pressure cooker, should make the task easier than in 2004, and considerably easier than in 1911!

The only change I’ve made to the recipes I used in 2004 is to reduce the amount of water in the Nutmese (the Nuttolene-type nutmeat). The quantities given fit nicely into one of the tins mentioned above. For the record, here they are:


½ cup raw peanuts
1 cup cooked peanuts (see below)
a tiny smidgen of salt (very optional)
approx ¼ cup water.

Put the cooked and raw nuts into a blender and grind together. Add salt and water, and grind some more till it’s smooth. Put into a greased tin, and cover with grease aluminium foil. Steam for at least 2 hours in a pressure cooker.

Wrapped up and ready to steam

Wrapped up and ready to steam

Trumese (Protose-type nutmeat)

½ cup peanuts, cooked
½ cup blanched peanuts (be lazy, buy them ready-blanched)
½ cup vital wheat gluten flour
½ cup water
1 tsp cereal coffee (see note below)

Grind up the peanuts as for Nutmese. Add the wheat gluten and blend a bit more, then add the water and cereal coffee and blend until it turns into a dough, like a slightly heavy bread dough. Put into tins and steam as above.

I had expected to need to mix this up by hand and run it through the mincer a few times, but the Braun hand blender can just about handle this amount of dough. If I made a double quantity, I’d have to use the Major.

Cooking peanuts
Peanuts take about 80-90 minutes to cook in a pressure cooker. I made up a large batch and have frozen the leftovers. Cooked peanuts look like pinto beans, so labelling might be important.

Cereal Coffee
I found it very difficult to get hold of a cereal coffee that did not contain chicory (which would taste foul). I used Yorzo Instant Original from Lima Foods, which is made entirely from roasted barley and nothing else. I’m thinking that a tablespoon full of shoyu, and a reduction in the amount of water used, would be a good alternative.

The finished nutmeats - Nutmese on the left and Trumese on the right.

The finished nutmeats - Nutmese on the left and Trumese on the right.

They came out of their tins pretty easily. Some water got into the Nutmese, making it more like the original paté, but the Trumese came out beautifully – it’s good and solid. I will experiment with using as little water as possible in the Nutmese, but really I’d rather be able to go just up the road and pick up a tin or two of Nuttolene.

Update: the Nutmese solidified considerably on cooling.


German bean soup

Filed under: Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 17:07

I needed a quick tea, so I just had a go at veganising a German soup. It seems to have come out okay.

1 litre water
1 can cannelini, haricot or other white beans.
3 carrots chopped.
2 onions, chopped.
1 block smoked tofu, cut into small thin slices.
1 tbl vegan beef-style stock (or use yeast extract)
1 tbl ajwain (celery seed)
1 tbl dried parsley, or fresh equivalent.
1 pack taifun tofu wieners, sliced.
Olive oil for frying

Bring the water to the boil and add the beans, carrots, ajwain, parsley and stock powder. Turn the heat down to low and simmer.

In a separate pan, heat up the olive oil and stir fry the tofu. It doesn’t matter if it breaks up – it’s going into soup – and you want it to be a bit crispy. Once the tofu starts to go crispy, add the onions and turn the heat down. Continue to fry slowly.

When the carrots are cooked, blend the soup. Add the contents of the frying pan and the sliced sausages. Heat through and serve – you should be able to feed two as a meal and four as a snack or starter.


Odd tomatoes and ersatz roast

Filed under: Ingredients, Products, Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 22:01
A sliced marmande tomato

A sliced marmande tomato

We recently obtained some marmande tomatoes, an unusual looking beastie that is said to taste really good. My other half googled for recipes using them, and found Oven-roasted Marmande Tomatoes, a staple in the south of France, apparently. We had all the ingredients except the fresh herbs (well, technically we have fresh rosemary, growing in the garden, but it was dark) so I decided to give it a go. It was pretty straightforward. I roasted them for longer than specified, but that’s because I have a strong dislike of half-cooked tomatoes. The recipe is highly recommended, and is likely to become a staple in this household whenever we can get hold of interesting tomatoes.

We were at a loss as to what would go with it until I remembered that we’d bought a Redwood Foods Cheatin’ turkey style roast with cranberry and wild rice stuffing when Real Foods had been selling them off after the festive season, and that it was still in our freezer. What’s more, it cooked at close to the same temperature as the tomatoes – result! I tend not to like fake meats (I never liked the real thing), but they make a useful compromise with my meat-eating partner. He declares that it is quite nice, though a little dry. I’d worried that I’d overdone the olive oil in the tomatoes, but he felt that was good with the roast.

But the tomatoes were the stars of this meal. I shall have to see if Waitrose still have them.


Rice Pilaf Salad

Filed under: Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , , , , — Feòrag @ 19:09

It’s disgustingly hot here in Scotland at the moment, and my mind has turned to salad. I came up with the following, based on this dead animal recipe and adapted to the ingredients I had, and the fact that I don’t like celery!

1 cup brown basmati rice
1 tin of chinese ‘mock duck’ or similar wheat gluten product
1 tin chick peas
1 tin red kidney beans
2 (Granny Smith) apples
1 100g tub of olives in oily dressing stuff (basil, garlic and chili in this case)
1 green pepper
1 spring onion

Put the rice on to cook as normal.

Drain the gluten and dice. Put it in your big salad bowl.

Open the tins of beans and put them in a sieve to drain.

Quarter the olives and put them in the bowl. You can chop them smaller if you have more patience than me. Bung the oil in too. You’ll probably have to wash your hands at this point.

Chop up the pepper and throw it in. Core and chop the apples, and add them to the mixture. Ditto the spring onion.

Add the beans and mix it all up.

When the rice is done, add it to the bowl, mix it all up again, allow to cool and chill. If necessary, add a tiny bit of salad dressing just before serving.

Alas, I made too much rice (the recipe above gives the right quantity) and will have to leave the salad till tomorrow while I work out what to with the leftover rice. I have been nibbling, though.


Some old-fashioned nutmeats

Filed under: Historic — Tags: , , , — Feòrag @ 12:42

As part of my ongoing project to make old vegetarian cookbooks freely available, I’ve been experimenting with some of the recipes and adapting them for the modern kitchen and the ingredients we have now. One topic that fascinates me is the old nutmeats which were popular before soya products became widely available. The only one of these still widely sold, as far as I can tell, is Nuttolene, produced by Granose in the UK and Nutana in Scandinavia. The Protose currently marketed by Worthington Foods seems to have evolved considerably from the original.

These recipes make a small amount, just enough to experiment with, but scale up really easily. They are adapted from those given in The Laurel Health Cookery by Evora Bucknum Perkins, and published in 1911.

A pressure cooker with trivet, steaming basket etc. (not essential, but makes it practical)
Measuring cups
A pudding basin and lid, four times the size of your basic measure
A large mixing bowl
A food processor would make it much easier, but I don’t have one and use a mortar and pestle and a grinder.


1/2 cup peanuts, cooked (see notes)
1/2 cup blanched peanuts (be lazy, buy them ready-blanched)
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten flour
1/2 cup water
1 tsp cereal coffee (see notes)

Grind the blanched peanuts as fine as you can. If the peanuts are not very oily, add a bit of groundnut oil to make it stick together (or don’t, if you want to keep the oil down).

Mash the cooked peanuts.

Combine these two in a bowl and mix in the cereal coffee. Add the wheat gluten flour and mix thoroughly – the best way I’ve found to do this is to “rub it in” as when making pastry. This is where a food processor would be nice.

Add the water and mix. At this stage, a fork is an excellent tool – keep cutting it through and mixing until you get a spongy, springy dough. I suspect a heavy duty mixer with dough hook would really help here, but I don’t have one of those either.

Put the mixture into your pudding basin, put the lid on and steam in a pressure cooker on high pressure for between 2 and 4 hours. If you do not have a pressure cooker, the steaming will take 6-12 hours. The original author also suggests “steam 5 hours and bake 1 hour in a very slow oven”. I suspect this recipe could be adapted to a slow cooker, but I do not have one of those to play with.

This quantity contains approximately 1030 calories, 73g of fat (of which 10g saturated), 84g protein, 36g carbohydrates (6g sugars) and 12.4g dietary fibre. For comparison, the same quantity of firm tofu contains 388 calories, 22.4g fat (3.2g saturated) 40.4g protein, 14.8g carbohydrates (3.2g sugars) and 2g dietary fibre.

Red Kidney Bean Trumese

This is probably the easiest of the nutmeats to make, because you can use tinned kidney beans. The recipe and method is the same as for Trumese, but you replace the cooked peanuts with the same quantity of cooked kidney beans. This recipe should work with any other kind of bean or pulse, and I’d be interested in hearing about others’ experiments.

The quantitiy given contains approximately 850 calories, 36g fat (5g saturated), 108g protein (!), 43g carbohydrates (3g sugars) and 10.7g dietary fibre. This is probably the healthiest of these recipes.

Bonus slicing sausage

I once made too much Trumese dough for my pudding basin, so I kneaded in some ground cumin, black pepper, smoked paprika and some herb or other. I made this into a sausage shape and wrapped it well in foil before bunging it in the pressure cooker to steam with the rest of the trumese. It came out rather well.


1/2 cup raw peanuts
1 cup cooked peanuts
a tiny smidgen of salt (very optional)
approx 1/3 cup water.

Grind the raw nuts fine, mash the cooked nuts and mix with the salt. Add water and steam as above. It is easier to buy a tin of Nuttolene, but this is a useful recipe to know in case of drought.

This quantity contains about 1250 calories, 108g fat (15g saturated), 57g protein, 35g carbohydrates (9g sugars) and 19g dietary fibre. Use sparingly!


Cooking peanuts takes about 80 minutes in a pressure cooker, and up to 4 hours on a stovetop.

I found it very difficult to get hold of a cereal coffee that did not contain chicory (which would taste foul). I used Yorzo instant original from Lima Foods, a Belgian company, which is made entirely from roasted barley and nothing else.

My fellow British readers are probably wondering where I got the vital wheat gluten flour from. I’m afraid I get my American frinds to bring it over when they visit, but I do know that The Flourbin sells it under the name gluten powder. The original recipes all involved making the gluten from scratch and then mincing it into the nut mixture repeatedly!

The original recipes contained stupendous amounts of salt, but we know better now, don’t we girls and boys?

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