Report 12: A new look and new ideas (& Chocolate Chip Cookies)

I was very discombobulated this week, and whilst it’s been fun having an excuse to use the word discombobulated in conversations with people, it really wasn’t worth the aggro.

Not that anything specifically bad happened, I was just so busy with work, and so physically drained after having the bad back, that I couldn’t get my head in gear or get anything done. In fact my ‘new thing’ this week came about by accident. I got paid on Thursday, so I could finally afford the new jeans I needed to complete the look I’ve been working on. It’s nothing amazing but I like it. See what you think.

kiki's new look

Works for me. Can’t wait to try it out on the world (still a bit too cold to go out with just a shirt and jacket on).

But the one up side of this discombobulated week is I’ve have had plenty of time to think about what I’m doing, what i want, and what I’m doing this blog for, and I’m going to make some changes.

First of all I’m going to stop doing two vegan recipes a week and stick to just one. I learnt with the Chilli Wedges that it can take a lot of experimenting to get a recipe just right, and sometimes I haven’t the time to make three or four versions of two different recipes. Plus you get pretty sick of eating the same stuff all the time, especially when it hasn’t quite worked. So from now on I’m just going to do one recipe and do it well. If I’ve time to do two or more great, but I’m not going to push it. There’s no rush after all.

Second I’m going to try and do more impressive new things, not that that’s always going to be possible (time and money being the biggest restraints), but where I can I’m going to do more adventurous things that involve more people. That was the point after all, to get me out of the house making new connections and possibly finding some chica to share the newness with, and I’m not achieving that staying home ordering vegan footwear off the internet.

And third… well, third I’m going to keep pretty much as it is. I mean I like reporting on what I’m up to script-wise, as it keeps it on my mind and makes me try and do more. I’m just not going to make it an integral part of the Brand New World. The more I can do the better, but if I can’t so be it. You can’t do everything, can you.

I think these changes are for the best. They are for me anyway. I’m not going to be a slave to a bloody blog for Christ’s sake! I mean think about it; this week I only had two days off, during which (if I’d stuck to the programme) I’d have had to do a new thing, which can take all day, write part of a screenplay, a session of which can take a good four or five hours straight, and invented two new recipes, again, many hours of cooking, all of which I’d have to fit around general life maintenance of washing, shopping and tidying up, not to mention a bit of me time for chilling out and the like. It’s just not do-able. So from now on I’m going to do less, better. It’s the way to go.

Anyway, enough of that nonsense. Here’s a recipe I think you’ll like.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

chocolate chip cookies

1 cup of plain flour
1 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of salt
1/3 cup of dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup of unrefined sugar
1/3 cup of agave syrup (or maple syrup)
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of corn oil

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips in a bowl. Mix the sugar, agave syrup, vanilla essence and corn oil thoroughly in another smaller bowl, dissolving as much as you can the sugar.

Add liquid mixture to the dry stuff and stir until just mixed (don’t over-do it). Put a sheet of grease-proof paper on a baking tray, then take small, slightly-larger-than-a-golf-ball, sized lumps and space out on it, pressing down so they make cookie shapes (I get about 10 from this mix).

Put in oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown (check after 8 minutes to be safe). Remove from oven and put on a wire rack to cool, and that’s it. A nice simple recipe that I’ll think you’ll enjoy.

Ciao πŸ™‚

Week 11’s recipes – Spicy Potato Wedges & Kiki’s Simple Salsa

A little late, but here’s a couple of spicy recipes to keep you going. Both have chilli in them, yet both are very different.

Spicy Potato Wedges

spicey potato wedges

2 potatoes, cut into wedges (skin on)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp chilli powder

Wash, slice and rinse the wedges, then soak for a couple of minutes in water whilst preparing the spices.

In a large bowl mix the spices and olive oil. Drain and rinse the potato, pat dry with kitchen towel, then add to bowl and coat thoroughly with oily spice mix.

Transfer to a greased baking tray, spreading out evenly, and bake in a pre-heated oven at 220C for 15 minutes. Turn wedges over and cook for another 15 minutes until browned and soft in centre. Serve immediately.

Kiki’s Simple Salsa

kiki's simple salsa

6 tomatoes, diced
1 red onion, diced
4 spring onions, chopped
1 lime
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh chopped coriander
1 tbsp chives, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped

Dice the tomato, red onion, spring onion, chives coriander and chilli quite finely and mix in large bowl. Add lime juice and olive oil and mix thoroughly. Serve with tortillas, or whatever takes your fancy.

Enjoy. πŸ™‚

Report 11 – Bad backs and blog envy

It’s been a difficult week in the Brand New Life this week. I did my back in last Sunday (Lord only knows how, I was just sat at my desk working) and so spent most of it lying down resting. It’s a bit better now though still a little tender. Hopefully by next weekend I’ll be back on form again.

Unfortunately the enforced period of stillness gave me plenty of time to think, and I was a little unimpressed with myself. I’ve been checking out other blogs, and there are people out there doing far more interesting stuff than me and making it look a hell of a lot nicer. I’m thinking of and to be precise; two people doing, a: far more interesting things, and b: much better presented vegan cooking, than I am. Now I know there’s no point comparing yourself, but I also now know why I’m getting only a couple of hits a day (and often zero) and why the majority of my comment traffic are spam (seriously, they’re starting to get on my tits now).

So I need to get my thinking cap on and decide where I want to go with this. I may introduce a more random element into the New Things part, like making a list of more outlandish feats and drawing one form a hat each week; and I’m tempted to do one really good recipe a week instead of two kind of okay. I dunno, I just need to think of something. I’d ask for suggestions but no one’s listening (begging the question: What the f*ck are you doing this for?).


Recipes Done:

I’ve got a Spicy Potato Wedges recipes I’m working on, and a one for Simple Salsa, but they both need a bit more work (testing is a little… erratic, to say the least). Hopefully they’ll be up tomorrow, time permitting.

New Thing Done:

Apart from have a bad back, I went booze free for a week. Finally, after trying to do it way back when I started this blog, I managed to do it. It’s only a lousy seven days, but it was a challenge for me, especially the last 2-3 days or so. I just really fancied a pint. Well, it just goes to show how reliant I am on drink doesn’t it. Need to nip that one in the bud if I’m ever to gain spiritual Enlightenment (no pun intended… or achieved no doubt). It’s contrary to the practice of mindfulness.

Writing Done:

Only wrote about 2 or 3 pages this week, as I couldn’t sit and type for too long with my back, but still I managed to do something. Oddly enough it’s a scene I’m pretty sure I’m going to cut eventually, for time or just coz it’s unnecessary, but I felt like it needed to be out there (kind of like it wanted to have it’s say). I mean I like it, it’s pithy and the dialogue puts a smile on my face, but I’ve got this nagging feeling that it’ll have to go before the script is done, and my nagging feelings are rarely wrong when it comes to stuff like this.

Right, that’s it for now. Feel free to comment so that I know someone out there gives a damn. Audience participation is always welcome.


Report 10 – Cool kicks and crap pasta

Well, last week was pretty solid in the Brand New Life. I did some interesting cooking, a small selection of new stuff, and some screen writing, which in many ways is most important of all. I also did my back in which means this week could go either way, but we’ll deal with that tomorrow. For now…

Recipes Done:

Kiki’s scrambled tofu & Butternut squash and mixed bean stew

New Thing Done:

My trainers and cowboy boots arrived from and they are brilliant. Check out my new kicks.
new shoes
How good do they look? I’m well chuffed with them. The laces are a bit cheap and nasty but they are easily replaced. I’m telling you, a bargain at Β£30. I’ll be buying from them again.

Unfortunately the cowboy boots were a bit big, but I’ve returned them and so hopefully I’ll be getting a smaller size in a week or two. Can’t wait. I’ve bought a blue pin-stripe suit jacket and white shirt, and I reckon them with a pair of raggy jeans and some cowboy boots will look excellent. Looking forward to unleashing it on the world, hahaha.

Also, I tried gluten free pasta for the first time. Can’t say I was impressed. It’s made of corn, and when cooked it became kind of mushy and fell apart in the pan, especially when I mixed the sauce in. Seriously, I made enough to take some to work the next day, but it tasted so rank I binned what I had and made some stew instead; a pain in the arse to do late at night but it beat the hell out of eating that crap again: Trust me.

Writing Done:

Did five and a bit pages this week. It was well easy. I told you having a proper outline was essential. It makes the whole process a hell of a lot easier. In fact, it was embarrassingly easy, so much so I don’t know why I haven’t done more in the past. No excuses really.

You know why Prince is one of the most prolific recording artists of all time? Because when he has an idea he just can’t let it go. He’ll stay up all night if he has to, writing, recording, mixing, until he gets it just right. That’s why he has literally hundreds upon hundreds of unreleased tunes; and why I work for a Swedish TV company with chairs that give you back ache. Seriously, the difference between success and failure is ‘satisfaction’. Like it or not, if you’re satisfied with your life, satisfied with your situation, satisfied with what you’ve, got you’ll never achieve anything truly amazing in life. That’s just the way it is.

Me, I’m in the middle ground; kinda satisfied but not quite enough.Β There’s just some stuff I need to get out of my head – like the film scripts, an invention or two, and some strange ideas that need unleashing on the world – and ’til that’s done I won’t feel like I’ve done everything I was put here to do. That’s all. And I’m thankful for that, because it keeps life interesting, know what I mean?

Here’s to an “interesting life”. πŸ˜‰

Kiki’s scrambled tofu & Butternut squash and mixed bean stew

Got a couple of tasty and interesting recipes for you this week. One’s a re-imagining of a favourite of mine, and the other’s something to keep you warm until spring finally makes an appearance.

Kiki’s scrambled tofu

Those lovely ladies Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer have done such a great job of coming up with a scrambled tofu that it would be folly to try and better it, so here’s my version of their excellent recipe (to be found in How It All Vegan) which I came up with mainly because I didn’t have all the ingredients I needed to do it properly.

1 bunch of spring onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
4 mushrooms, sliced
200g firm tofu, crumbled
1 tbsp sun-blush tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Braggs

In a non-stick pan fry the spring onions on a medium heat until soft.

Add the mushrooms and garlic and fry until mushrooms are cooked, being sure not to burn the garlic. Add crumbled tofu, chopped tomatoes, turmeric, worcestershire sauce and Braggs, and stir thoroughly.

Let it sit until tofu has seared a little, then stir again. Cook through until most of the excess liquid has evaporated. Serve.

Butternut squash and mixed bean stew

1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp unrefined brown sugar
1 butternut squash, cubed
1 tin of mixed beans, rinsed
1/2 cup sweetcorn

In a large saucepan fry the onion on a medium high heat until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for another minute or so.

Add the cumin, salt, tinned tomatoes, sugar and butternut squash, and mix thoroughly. Simmer for 15 minutes until squash is cooked.

Add the mixed beans and sweetcorn and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve warm with a garnish of coriander.

Enjoy. πŸ™‚

Report 9 – Many new things, some failures, and a new haircut (Roast Vegetable and Quinoa Salad & Spicy Tomato Pasta Sauce)

Ok, I’m playing catch-up (again) with this damn blogging stuff, so let’s get to it!

First the recipes:

Roast Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

This came about as a result of my going gluten free (see below for more of that). It’s nice and simple to make, and really tasty too.

100g quinoa

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 courgette, chopped

1 onion, chopped

5 mushrooms, quartered

1 tbsp cashews, chopped

1 tbsp sun-blush tomatoes, chopped

1 tbsp sultanas

1 bunch of water cress, roughly chopped

juic of 1 lemon

olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Put the pepper, courgette, onion and mushrooms in a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil (toss if needed to coat the veggies), then put in oven for 25 minutes. 5 minutes from end sprinkle cashews over vegetables and return to oven to brown.

Meanwhile, wash quinoa quickly in cold water, cover with plenty of boiling water, and simmer for 10 minutes until cooked through. Drain excess water. Toss in sultanas, stir in, and put to one side.

Chop watercress and tomatoes whilst vegetables and quinoa cool a little, then in a large bowl combine everything, including lemon juice, and stir thoroughly. Can be served warm, but is also excellent as a cold salad the next day.

I’m considering a way to incorporate some harissa paste somewhere, to give it a little extra zing, but that’s something I’m going to have to work on. Maybe with a little olive oil or in with the lemon juice. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Spicy Tomato Pasta Sauce

This is a reprint of an old recipe of mine, because I didn’t manage to try the stew I’ve invented (that’s for tomorrow instead). It’s actually the first ever recipe I did where I didn’t reference anything; just went in the kitchen and made it up… and it worked. It’s simple, tasty, and quick to make.

Kiki’s Special Simple Tomato Sauce

2 small onions (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (to be crushed)
1/3 of a dried red chilli (chopped finely)
splash of olive oil
4 plum tomatoes (chopped)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1-2 tsp dried ‘italian’ herb mix (*)
salt & pepper (to taste)

a handful of dried pasta

Heat some olive oil in a medium sized pan. Add onions, garlic and chilli and fry until onions are soft.
Add chopped plum tomatoes, and tin of tomatoes, season with herbs (1-2 tsp depending on taste) and salt & pepper, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or so (ie: until it’s warm through, plus another 5 minutes).

Cook as per instructions on pack, but add a splash of olive oil before serving. Tastes great.

(*The Italian Herb Mix contains oregano, basil, bay leaves, sage and thyme. Next time I try it with real herbs :o)

Now the report proper:

New Things Done: A veritable cornucopia of stuff this week. Firstly I went gluten-free for a week, after my friend Sabera gave it a go with some interesting results. And it wasn’t too bad, I have to say. Giving up beer and bread were the big things, but I have to say even that was ok after a while. I learnt to cook other things to take to work (like the quinoa salad above) and I’ve gotten into my wine (I’ll get round to not drinking some other time) all of which means I’ve been less bloated and lethargic this week. Honestly, I was quite surprised at the results. I slipped up a few times, once with some noodles, once with some cous cous, and once with a Nana’s cookie, but apart from that I did the best I could. It was a pain having to go back to reading labels again (they do like to slip wheat into all sorts of stuff y’know) but in the end it was perfectly doable… for a while. I mean, I don’t think I’m going to do it forever – it’s hard enough finding stuff to eat out and about when you’re vegan, never mind adding gluten-free to that list – but I will be staying off the bread and the beer as much as I canΒ (I tried gluten free beer, and though it wasn’t bad, the fact that it smelt a bit of vinegar and had a weird after taste really didn’t sell me on the idea). I just feel lighter and a bit more energised without them, and that’s a good thing in my book.

I also went for a bike ride round Richmond Deer Park which, despite being not that far away at all, I’ve never been to before. It’s a really pleasant ride. Even getting there is nice for me (once I get to Kew) as I can go most the way along the river. And we saw some deer! though we did have to go most the way round the park before we did. All in all a great day out (check out the pics below). I’ll be doing it again come the summer. Most gratifying.

And finally I went to a new barbers and got my hair cut but by this comedy Polish dude with a thick accent, a crazy mohawk mullet, and who spent all the time I was there telling me how this wasn’t cold compared to where he was from (though he did admit he’d gone soft being in the UK for so long). Most amusing haircut I’ve had for a while anyway, so I’ll be going there again.

Recipes Done: Roast Vegetable and Quinoa Salad & Spicy Tomato Pasta Sauce

Writing Done: Not much… technically. I sat down and worked out a proper outline for the script I’m working on. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but a good outline is the bones of a script. Without that you’ve nothing to hang the meat on. And a bad one ends up looking all lumpy and mis-shapen. It really is vital to get it right, and I have this time. Kinks smoothed out, wrinkles ironed, and major flaws removed (hopefully).

I also wrote the opening lines for what could be the first bit of proper writing I’ve done in years. Check it out:

“I was glad when society collapsed. Seriously. I’d spent so long trying to live by it’s rules and failing miserably it was actually a relief to see it all go tits up.”

Trust me, it’s gonna be great! πŸ˜‰

Week 8’s recipes – Jerk Tofu & Carrot and Coriander soup

Jamaican Jerk Tofu

Another old recipe from my college days, this time with tofu instead of chicken.

200g Firm tofu, cut diagonally

4-5 tsp of Jerk seasoning (powdered)

2 tbsp Olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1/2 cup Boiling water

Mix the jerk seasoning with 1 tbsp of the olive oil to make a marinade (if you can’t get the lovely sticky stuff that is) then coat your tofu wedges in the spicy goo and leave to marinate for half an hour to an hour.

To cook, heat the remaining oil in a non-stick frying pan on a fairly high heat. Place the tofu in the pan and sear one side for 7 minutes (or until brown). Turn over and sear the other side for 7 minutes also, adding the onion around the tofu for the last 5 minutes or so. Take care not to burn the onion.

Once both sides are cooked add the boiling water and turn down to a low heat. Cover with a lid (or plate) and simmer for another 7 minutes or until most of the water has gone. If you put the rice on before you start cooking it should be done by now. Serve on a bed of rice covered with the spicy onions as pictured above.

Carrot and Coriander soup

A classic soup, and stupidly easy to make.

5-6 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 bunch of fresh coriander, chopped

1 tsp ground coriander

1 1/2 pints of vegetable stock

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

Fry the onion and carrots in a medium pan on a medium high heat for 5 minutes until soft. Add 1 tsp of ground coriander and fry for another minute.

Add the vegetable stock and salt, bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes until the carrots have gone soft. Take off heat and blend until fairly smooth. Add the fresh coriander, stir and serve.

Gluten free – first day failure (but another new thing)

I’ve tripped up on my first day of gluten free. Did ok with a scrambled tofu and fried mushrooms breakfast (with a dollop of delicious Wilkin & Sons brown sauce on the side), but when I ate out yesterday with my friend Sarah at this noodle bar in Ealing, I, without thinking, had a dollop of her noodles in exchange for a bit of rice and spicy aubergine.

That said though it was just a dollop, and since I drank wine all night instead of wheaty beer, I’ve woken up this morning not feeling all tired and bloaty as usual. Could also be to do with going to bed at a reasonable time (11:30pm. I was knackered!) and not eating a massive meal an hour before, like I did all weekend (one of the drawbacks of shift work, it really throws off your rhythm), so I can’t assign it all down to going wheat free, but it is reason enough to keep going with the experiment. Hopefully by the end of the week I’ll have more conclusive results.

And even though I’ve tripped up with my new thing already this week, I have been to my first ever wine bar, so that’s something else to add to the list. πŸ™‚