Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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It’s been a week since I started Veganuary, a pledge to eat vegan during 30 days to save the planet. To reconnect with nature, we’re going on a family hike and getting creative for our picnic lunch. What vegan food would you eat in the woods?
It has now become pretty clear. Vegan breakfast doesn’t get me excited in the least. I’m like, bleh, spread, bleh, eat, done. No-butter breakfasts are really hard for me and that goes from bread and butter to croissants. Still, I try my best to eat something different in the hopes that one day, my breakfast satisfaction index will go through the vegan roof.
So there. Home-made granola with two bananas. Mild hurrah.
Today is Sunday. When we can convince our girls that it’s a good idea to get out of bed, I plan a hike (a walk) around London. Today’s a success and the hike is on. However, choosing vegan picnic food is a toughie. When we go hiking during winter, we usually pack a hot stew in thermos food jars but we’ve noticed that the volume of our vegan meals seems to be bigger than our non-vegan meals. Therefore, our jars are too small and we decide to…
…bring our kitchen. Our camping kitchen, I mean, which counts MSR stove + camping pot + camping gas. It’s as close as it comes to eating at home, outside, and it won’t disrupt our Veganuary routine. Of course, you can’t expect to set up an explosive gas stove in the woods in a highly-trafficked area and expect not to be noticed. “Look, Ma, they’re using flame-throwers to grill their sausages!” No. No. We can’t be too visible, is what I mean. A desert island would be great.
Pity I picked Chislehurst in Kent as our destination for the day. It’s a great place to go for family hiking and to visit caves close to London, but we meet quite a few family groups, i-Tuned joggers or dog-walkers. Which reminds me.
Dogs have an amazing sense of smell. Are they all going to zoom in on us as soon as we fire the stove and bare their teeth, Ghosdtbusters Zuul-style?
Guess we’ll have to take a chance.
Here comes the mushroom barley stew! Fortunately, all the dogs of Chislehurst are taking a lunch break elsewhere and 5 minutes later, the four of us have a steamy bowl of stew in our hands. Pass the salt & pepper please.
That is easier than expected. What’s on the menu for dessert?
This box was full of cookies when we left this morning. I swear. The low ratio of cookie-per-square-inch of tin box is living proof that vegan chocolate chip cookies can be a success. “You’re welcome to make them after Veganuary,” observes my 12-year-old. My 14-year-old nods, too busy chewing on a cookie. Who says you need to fear vegan cookies?
Next on our agenda is visiting parts of 20 miles of chalk tunnels and caves that have seen the Romans and rock stars but I won’t delve into that here. It’s another story.
We get to the highlight of Veganuary days. Dinner. Drum roll.
It’s Japanese tonight, courtesy of veganuary.com’s selection of Japanese vegan recipes.
It’s also fry-night (thanks, gyoza), so I get ready to sleep with a persistent frying oil aroma in the air, despite cranking up the ventilation at the highest and closing the kitchen door. Fry-night says what it is–all night fry-night.
Namely, we’re having homemade mushroom gyoza and veggie sushi rolls.
I know, eating vegan is tough work but somebody’s got to do it. Remember, we’re saving the planet one meal at a time here. First, lunch in the woods, then, vegan dinner at home. For the record, I’m not against child labor when it means that my 12-year-old steps up to the plate (literally) at 7pm to make sushi rolls for the whole family.
However, it leads to a few surprises.
“Did you follow the recipe as on the website? Use all the ingredients I told you to?”
“Oh, no. I couldn’t use all the ingredients. Besides, Maman, I didn’t think that you wanted the umeboshi paste. It smelled really weird. And you didn’t cut the pickled daikon so I didn’t use it either. I’m sure it was weird too. Isn’t it yummy like this?”
It’s one thing to have a recipe. It’s quite another to delegate to a 12-year-old who likes to improvise. Remind me, why did I go to the local WholeFoods to find two really rare Japanese ingredients? To clutter my countertop, that’s why.
Regardless, it’s all quite delicious, even without umeboshi paste and pickled daikon, and to top off this exquisite meal, I help myself to a slice of the sorry excuse for a chocolate cake that’s sitting in the fridge. Thanks to its unmistakable baking soda taste, it’s very safe from late-night cravings. Really, really safe. Nobody’s touching it apart from me and it’s only because I don’t approve of food waste. I’m looking at you, Day 6.
Well, that’s one whole vegan week under the belt (and inside the stomach). So far, so good. My mother still hasn’t called me worried. I guess we can crack on to week 2.