Monday, 27 May 2013

When is a child not a child?

When is a child not a child? When they go out for a meal, go on holiday or visit an event or tourist attraction apparently! As a parent of 12 and 14 year old children, this REALLY annoys me.

These money-grabbing companies have decided that childhood should end somewhere between 8 and 16 (and usually at 12 for some reason)...but strangely, our adult-children get no extra perks except for having the privilege of paying a higher price than their infant equivalents; indeed, most of these companies also state that children under 16 or 18 must be accompanied by an adult. If they'e paying an adult price, surely they should count as an adult?

Kids' meals
These seem to have the widest variation in age restrictions, with some restaurants even deciding on eligibility for kids' meals by height, which is hardly fair! 

I've always tended to ignore these age requirements and if my girls want a kids' meal, I order them one, however some places are stricter about this than others. Take Disney for example - in the magical world of Disney dining, childhood officially ends at just 10 years of age! This actually worked to our advantage when we were there, as we got free dining, so then 10 year old Miss Kahonie qualified for adults' meals, which had better menu choices for vegetarians. Those with fussy eaters may well want to order from the kids' menu though. This is possible, but only if you've paid for an adult meal! Surely parents should be able to choose whether their child eats from the kids' or adults' menu and pay accordingly? 

It would also be nice to be able to order a smaller or half portion from the adults' menu, especially for tweens and young teens. Some Indian and Italian restaurants offer this option, but this still seems a rarity in the UK. 

Theme parks, tourist attractions and museums
Most UK theme parks seem to have come to the agreement that childhood ends at 12, whereas major tourist attractions and museums (with an entry fee) seem to prefer to end childhood at 14 or 16.

The exceptions to this are of course the US theme parks, including Disney and Universal Studios, where childhood again ends at the tender age of 10. Even though you'll have to pay full price for your 10 year old, they won't be able to go on all the rides, as these have height restrictions.

Holidays and flights
12 seems to be the general cut off for most airlines and budget tour operators, whereas 16 seems to be the cut off for most major travel agents. Do 13 year olds, suddenly take up more space on a plane?

I would like to see a national age limit of 16 or 18 (if still in full time education) set for child prices in the UK. Of course most 16 year olds won't want a kids' meal, but they should certainly be charged a child's rate when visiting tourist attractions - after all, it's us parents who pay for them to get in! 

So there you go. Rant over for now.

Do let me know the most outrageous and annoying kids' age restrictions you've come across, by leaving me a comment.

Just in case you were wondering when childhood officially ends, here's the  NSPCC's Legal definition of a child'.

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Thursday, 23 May 2013

Spinach and Feta Croquettes With Pasta

Spinach and Feta Croquettes With Pasta
Here's my slightly delayed post for National Vegetarian Week!

This recipe was inspired and adapted from one of Anthony Carluccio's, but I've altered it slightly to suit the ingredients I had to hand. I think the spinach croquettes would look a little more attractive if they were deep fried, but I shallow fried them and they still tasted good, and not too spinach-y.

Serves 4

For the croquettes:
  • 300g/12oz fresh spinach, washed
  • 1 medium egg
  • 2 slices of bread made into breadcrumbs
  • 100g/4oz feta cheese
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • nutmeg and black pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
For the pasta and dressing:
  • 250g/10oz dried pasta
  • 50g/2oz sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 50g/2oz roasted peppers (from a jar), chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped sage, or 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 50g/2oz feta cheese, cubed
Wash the spinach and microwave in a covered bowl (no added water) for about 3-4 minutes on high.
Allow to cool and then squeeze out as much water as possible with you hands.
Add all of the croquette ingredients to the food processor and blend until you have a thick, soft dough-like consistency  If needed, add some more bread crumbs.
Heat 4 tbsp vegetable oil in a large frying pan and drop heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture into the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side and then drain on kitchen paper. 
Keep warm in the oven.

Meanwhile, make the pasta dressing by heating 2 tbsp of the reserved oil from either the sun-dried tomatoes or the peppers. Add the garlic and sage and fry gently for 2 minutes before adding the remaining ingredients, except the feta.
Cook the pasta until al-dente, drain and stir into the dressing.

Serve the pasta topped with the spinach croquettes and the cubed feta.

Alternative: You could blend the dressing ingredients to make a smooth pesto-style sauce if preferred.
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Friday, 17 May 2013

Paneer Tikka Kebabs

paneer tikka kebabs
These simple paneer tikka kebabs taste delicious cooked on the barbecue, but can be grilled or baked instead.
  • 200g/8oz paneer, cubed
  • 2 bell peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into quarters 
For the marinade:
  • 2 tsp tandoori/tikka spice mix or paste
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 heaped tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
For the mint sauce:
  • 1 cup of plain yogurt/dairy-free yogurt
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp garden mint sauce concentrate (the type you add your own sugar and vinegar to)
  • A few dashes of chilli sauce
Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl.
Add all of the kebab ingredients and coat well in the marinade.
Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for an hour.
Soak wooden kebab skewers in water for a few minutes (to help prevent them from burning), and thread alternate chunks of paneer, onion and pepper onto the skewers.
Grill or bbq for around 10 minutes, turning occasionally.
Serve in a warm pitta or naan bread with salad and mint sauce. 

To make the mint sauce, simply mix all of the ingredients together, adding chilli sauce to taste.

Alternative: Use diced meat-free/Quorn 'chicken-style' fillets instead of paneer if preferred.
For an easy camping version, just swap the marinade ingredients, for a ready-made tikka paste.
Vegan version: Use whole button mushrooms or firm, pressed tofu instead of the paneer.

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Monday, 13 May 2013

Vegetarian and vegan camping dessert recipes

campfire dampers cooked over the barbecue
Unfortunately, as the weather was so terrible last summer, our usual camping trips were curtailed, so let's hope we have better weather this year! We don't always have a dessert when camping, but if we do, I tend to prepare something simple, sweet and tasty using seasonal fruits and convenience products. 

  • Camp fire dampers - make up a sweet scone packet mix, reserving a small amount of the dry mix, for rolling. Add just enough water/milk to make a slightly sticky dough. Divide into golf ball sized pieces and roll each ball out into a long thin sausage using your hands and a little of the dry mix. Cover the end of some sticks in foil. Coil the scone mix around the foil covered stick, over-lapping the dough slightly so there are no gaps. Bake over the camp fire or bbq embers for around 10 minutes, turning regularly, until golden brown. Remove from the stick and fill with jam, cream, lemon curd, chocolate spread etc. (see photo). 
    n.b. The thicker the stick, the more filling you'll be able to add - They need to be around 50cm+ long, so that you don't cook your hands! 
  • Cookie pancakes - make up a cookie packet mix or buy a tub of cookie dough. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture into a greased frying pan. Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes, flip and cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve warm.
  • Barbecued bananas - cut a slit lengthwise down each fruit (while the skin is still on). Insert chocolate buttons/dairy-free chocolate along the slit. Wrap in foil and barbecue for around 10 minutes.
  • Fruit crumble - add some chopped cooking apples (and sugar to taste) into a pan with a drop of water. Simmer until the fruit is soft. Top with one packet of crumble mix. Cover pan and simmer on a low heat, until heated through.
  • Sweet wraps - Warm a tortilla wrap in a frying pan. Put a spoonful or two of jam, peanut butter or chocolate spread in the centre. Top with sliced banana or strawberries. Fold the wrap like a burrito and flip over to warm through.
  • Pancakes - re-heat ready-made pancakes in a frying pan, top with jam, chocolate spread, toffee sauce or lemon juice & sugar etc.
  • Fruit skewers with a chocolate dipping sauce - Melt some chocolate/dairy-free chocolate in a pan and stir in some cream, evaporated milk or vegan cream to make chocolate sauce. Make some fresh fruit skewers (which you can cook on the bbq if you like) and dip these into the sauce.  
  • Mini doughnuts with a chocolate dipping sauce - prepare the sauce as above.
  • Shop-bought cake and ready-made custard 
  • Barbecued fresh pineapple slices - cook on the bbq.
  • Fresh fruit
  • Strawberries and cream/vegan cream.
  • Eton mess - simply mix cream (use canned squirty cream, mascarpone or crème fraiche) with crushed shop-bought meringues and fresh strawberries or raspberries.
  • Deconstructed strawberry shortcake - make as above but using crushed shortbread biscuits (for a vegan version use dairy-free shortbread and vegan squirty cream).
Do let me know your favourite camping puddings and I'll add them to the list!

Find more camping recipes here.

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Thursday, 9 May 2013

Veggie news and a special offer

NVW bannerI thought I'd post a couple of things which may interest you, if you live in the UK...

National Vegetarian Week runs from the 20th-26th May '13. This year, the theme is Going Veggie – it’s not rocket science, it’s surprisingly simple! so there are lots of  tasty recipes, tips, ideas and events for existing, novice and wanna-be vegetarians. It's also worth taking a look at the but what do veggies eat? gallery with hundreds of everyday food photos, all created by ordinary vegetarians (including me!).

The V Delicious Veggie Good Food Show  is taking place at London’s Olympia, 7th-9th June '13 . The organisers have kindly offered  free printable tickets to all We Don't Eat Anything With A Face readers, saving you between £7.50 and £10 per person; not bad eh?

V Delicious will be a fantastic event, filled with vegetarian, vegan, ethical living and free-from stalls, product samples, cooking demonstrations, seminars, yoga and much more. The show opening times are as follows: Fri 7 Jun (10am-5pm), Sat 8 Jun (10am-5pm) and Sun 9 Jun (10am-4pm).

Integrity Statement
I did not receive any payment or incentives to promote these events.

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Friday, 3 May 2013

Paneer Makhani

paneer makhani in a balti dish
This is my version of paneer makhani (butter paneer masala) which is one of my favourite Indian restaurant dishes. The recipe is adapted from this one on Archana's Kitchen blog, but I changed the amounts of spices used and altered the ingredients slightly. I'm sure this doesn't give quite the same flavour, but the resulting gravy tasted pretty good to me (and the rest of the family). I made this recipe using my own home-made paneer cheese.

Serves 4
  • 1 tbsp butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 heaped tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) or 1 tsp ground fenugreek
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 whole green cardamom pods
  • 1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (add more or less to taste)
  • 500 ml/1 pt passata
  • 2 tsp sugar (add more or less to taste)
  • 3 tbsp double cream or 25g/1oz grated creamed coconut, optional
  • 200g/8oz paneer, cubed and fried in 1 tbsp vegetable oil
Heat the butter/oil in a pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger.
Fry on a gentle heat until the onion just starts to colour.
Add the remaining spices and cook for a further minute.
Add the passata and sweeten to taste.
Simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, fry the paneer cubes until golden brown, remove and blot on kitchen towel.
Add the paneer (or vegan alternative) to the sauce and simmer for a further 10 minutes before removing from the heat and stirring in the cream/creamed coconut, if using. 
Serve with rice, naan or chapatti.
Remember to remind everyone about the cardamom pods!

Alternatives: Use meat-free/Quorn 'chicken' pieces instead of paneer if preferred. Add to the sauce as above and simmer for 15 minutes.
For a mild, child-friendly curry, omit the chilli, remove the children's portions, checking for cardomon pods, and then add a little hot chilli sauce to the remaining adults' portions. 
For a vegan or lower-fat option, swap the paneer for pressed, firm tofu (fry as for paneer), or tinned chickpeas and sliced mushrooms (lightly cook the mushrooms and drain the juices before adding to the sauce).

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