If you’re a relatively new vegan you might not remember those glorious Post Punk Kitchen heydays. I mean, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero are doing pretty ok for themselves these days, but I miss those PPK episodes, those blogs, those year round-ups of all the cool vegan stuff.
I’m glad that the spirit of the PPK lives on though, through the PPK forum. These really are a super bunch of folks and I can often be found loitering in the forum’s many corridors and threads. This month, there’s an Ol’ Time Vegan Bowl challenge inspired by Zsu Dever‘s Vegan Bowls cookbook, and I decided to try my hand at the Irish Stew Bowl.
The whole bowl concept is a curious one to me. I’m born and raised in the North of England and I ain’t never heard of this bowl thing before I turned vegan. Bowl Food is apparently a ‘new craze‘ in the British Isles and it is TRYING TO LIE TO MY BRAIN. I wasn’t really aware of all that, but I like the idea of a big tasty bowl o’ food as much as the next person so I decided to give it a try.
I confess to making some subs here; I’m on a bit of a downer where cauliflower is concerned at the moment, so I threw in plenty of sweetheart cabbage instead. I also didn’t have any honking big elbow pasta lying around, so I subbed with gnocchi. Overall I thought this created a very pleasant ‘cabbage and potatoes’ effect and it felt a wee bit more Irish.
I think of an Irish stew as having a certain ‘beefiness’, so I tried my best to ‘beef up’ the stock here with the help of (vegan) worcestershire sauce and (yes indeed) a big ol’ glob of marmite.
I really enjoyed revisiting pearl barley which my Mum used to throw into vegetable stews all the time when I was a nipper; I am pretty sure she was on a diet from around 1982 through to 2000 (weren’t most women in the 80s and 90s?) and I have fond memories of those veggie stews, served up with ‘healthy’ garlic bread made with half pittas and a thin spread of garlic butter margarine (they were actually super crispy and amazing and I recommend trying it!)
All that happened in Manchester, though, and certainly not in Ireland. I did spend quite a few happy holidays in the west of Ireland as a ween, as my bestest pal and her family emigrated there in the summer between junior school and high school. It was all pretty devastating considering we spent nearly all our weekends with each other. I loved going to her house: an Uncle would video-tape The Simpsons off SKY TV OMG for us during the week and we’d catch up at the weekend; her Mum let me eat potato waffles, turkey burgers and pop tarts, which was a wonderfully verboten pleasure. They had a tree out front of the house that laid eggs, and they knew it because a couple of times a week a box of 12 eggs would magically appear underneath it. It was also close to a four-leaf clover patch so we knew it was pretty darn mysterious and special. Her older sister had a Commodore 64, or maybe an Amiga, and we would watch her play a game in which Frankenstein’s monster had to explore the locale and collect body parts for……who knows what? I don’t think it ever got that far. (Edit: I found it.)
Ahhh, those were the days. But then they all upped and offed to Ireland at that pivotal point between kid school and proper-vicious-puberty’s-gonna-hit-you-at-the-worst time school, and I was on my own.
I still visited as much as I could though. I would hitch a ride with their relatives or, in later years, my Mum would see me onto a worryingly teeny airplane at Manchester and I’d meet my friend and her family over in Knock (an airport built to more or less exclusively ferry pilgrimmers in from far off places).
Being ever so fond of bleak landscapes, dark clouds, the smell after rain, cottages and log fires, I’ve always harboured a huge soft spot for Ireland’s west coast.
My friend’s Dad worked in a paint factory when they lived in Manchester (having escaped that unbearable small-town-Irish life when he was a teen) and took up as a painter and decorator once they’d settled in Mayo (I’m told that he painted most of the houses in Westport when at his peak). A ladder injury eventually put a stop to that, and this most stoic (and occasionally stern) of men began to dabble in adult education, in Druidism (not kidding), and is now an established teller of folk tales and part time Santa.
Sadly I’ve lost a lot of my old snaps from my maaaaaany visits (and of course the first ones were taken on a Proper Camera). In the last few years, as Adult Responsibilities (and a lack of car, and fear of death-beast airplanes) have placed more restrictions on me, my visits have almost dried up. I sure hope to hop over again though, when life permits.
So, did this bowl remind me of the many happy times spent in the beautiful west of Ireland? Not really. But it did bring back a lot of memories nonetheless, which is awfully nice. I guess those hearty stews my Mum made for us were basically bowl food before bowl food was cool, right?
Did you make a vegan bowl for the challenge? How was it?
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