First day of MoVeganBer was austerity day and vegetables rule

So first day of MoVeganBer, a merger of the very popular Movemeber and World Vegan Month. Today is austerity day.

I should be able to do austerity really well. I was a student for a long time, vegan throughout, and survived via Lidl. Vegan and austerity work. It just means you need to cook for yourself. Today the austerity theme is dominated by veg.

Veg is cheap and the easiest way to keep your meals cheap. Lidl is a great place for cheap veg. Alternatively, and probably better in the long run you can buy from your local market. Birmingham market is fab but there’s similar places dotted all over the country. Veg is fairly easy to buy cheaply if you go for in season veg. Simple.

Some vegetables are always in season, it seems. You can always get cheap potatoes. But this time of year your cruciferous vegetables (or brassicas come into season. There’s root veg like turnips, leaves – various types of cabbage and kale,  and flowers such as cauliflower and broccoli. And seeing as it was Halloween yesterday there’s pumpkins and squashes too.

Vegetables make great austerity meals

Oh yes they do. The absolutely most straightforward way to eat vegetables as part of an austerity meal is what Geeta calls a ‘gravy plate’. I love these dinners and eat them a lot. In essence, it’s steamed vegetables with a burger of some sort and gravy. Here’s what we had today…

gravy plate austerity day
‘gravy plate’ austerity day

So this dinner is mixed veg – potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, kale and red cabbage – one Dragonfly Tatties burger and home-made gravy. Fantastic, simple slow food. This could have been more austerity if I’d chosen some kind of breaded veggie burger or I’d made my own. However, I’m a big fan of these Dragonfly burgers as although they are processed they are good!

Cooking your austerity veg

Steaming is the way to go as it means you retain more of the good guys from your veg. You can use the steaming water in your gravy too, to aid good guys retention further. I really like to use a little bit of lots of vegetables. It’s easy with potatoes and carrots just choose a few. For broccoli, cauli and cabbage you just cut a few florets off or a few leaves for the cabbage. So easy.

Chop everything up and steam away for 15 mins or so. Easy.

Gravy for vegans

Vegan gravy is easy. Ready made stuff is quite pricy so I make my own. I always use a mix of quinoa flour and chick pea flower, 3:1 teaspoons in a cup and a bit of liquid. Use the bit of cold water to mix it up and add a cup of steaming water. But first, to make it special I always use onion, celery and/or garlic. Today I used all three. Lush. Here’s how

Slow fry the finely chopped celery for a couple of minutes. Then add your onion and fry a little longer. Finally add the garlic chopped, squashed and salted. Then add your liquid. For more flavour I add between a third and a half a veg stock cube and some herbs. I vary these to keep it interesting, today I used mainly parsley with a little basil.

Bring to the boil slowly then reduce the heat so it thickens nicely. Easy peasy! This gravy is not brown! If you really need brown gravy add some soy sauce or tamari and adjust the salt/stock accordingly. I don’t bother with brown gravy these days mine always tastes lush.

And the veggie burger is a simple matter of frying gently. Then serve the lot on a big plate. Beat that.

Improving the austerity

As I said, home-made burgers would be cheaper and plain cornflour would do the job even cheaper. But I’m not using that stuff if at all possible. So an alternative would be to use rice flour.

To err on the side of greater health and if you can afford it, then organic vegetables rock. In Birmingham go to Tom Vegetropolis. He’s great.

Tache progress

Day 1 + uneven

Well the beard has gone and I’m clean shaven. So this is what it looks like…. but with added uneven tache. To obey the rules the daft tache is now removed. It was just a sneak peek at what is to come!


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