State Of The (Vegan) Nation

Over the last couple of years in Sweden, the interest for vegan food has flourished. The vegan shop Goodstore open in 2006, but it took quite a few years after its opening until we saw restaurants offering vegan alternatives. Now we have two pizzerias within a short driving distance that have seperate vegan menus. And we are not talking about simple vegetarian pizzas without cheese: salami, chicken, kebab, bacon, and garlic sauce are amongst the ingredients (just one of the places has seventeen vegan pizzas alone).

While the number of vegan friendly restaurants increases, the true sign of veganism’s popularity is the introduction over the last twelve months of two vegan cooking magazines. Britain, with its population of more than six times that of Sweden, has (I belive) two vegetarian mags. Vegan is a fashionable word here.

Our own personal collection of vegan cookbooks has subsequently increased in number and quality. We have three or four books to which we regularly refer, along with the two magazines, Vego and Vegourmet. If they were not enough, the internet (in particular, Pinterest) gives me so many ideas and so much inspiration that I do not have time to attempt all the recipes I want to.

I read somwhere that the average number of recipes used from any one cookbook is about six. Since gaining this information, correct or otherwise, I see my cookbooks in a different light. I now want to attempt as many recipes as possible from the books that we own. I would be happy with a fifty percent ratio.

Of course, it helps to have cookbooks that appeal, or have ingredients that are readily available, or that contain recipes that are actually worth the effort. I have been constantly disappointed by the amount of time I put into some recipes that don’t taste worthy of the time invested in making them. I want my food to be of a standard one would find in restaurants. The problem, of course, is that it rarely is.

There are certain styles of cuisine that can be emulated quite well in the home environment compared to the restaurant equivalent. Thai and sushi can be attempted without too much loss in taste, even if there are dining places that excell in those fields. Copying Britsh curry house curries is far more difficult, but I have found one or two sites having interesting Indian cuisine recipes that can be worth the time.

My quest will continue to find a stock of thirty or so (a month’s worth) standard child friendly, good quality, simple recipes to rely on. After trying several methods, I can make a good tomato sauce, one which I would be happy to receive in a restaurant. Rice-noodle stir fry with a hoisin sauce works well with the children, as does a potato gratin I am working on (from the Vego book). Many burgers have been attempted, and I will be happy when I find an above average one, as well as an agreeable marinade for grilled soya meat.

The biggest hurdle is time, but I feel well on the way. Just no more vegan magazines, please.