Erica’s “chicken” Pie, vegan

pie crust

When I stayed with Erica recently she made up this recipe which I am unashamedly stealing. To be fair this is just what I remember her doing. Her pie was better, but this was still delicious.

NB this pie is vegan. The chicken is a New Zealand product.  Sunfed Chicken is made from pea protein and has a good texture which makes it work well as “chicken” in this pie. It’s not highly flavoured a bit like chicken it works well with a variety of dishes.

A tip Erica gave me was to not move the chicken pieces round a lot when frying, unless you are going for a mince effect. So I fry on a medium heat for 3-5 minutes a side and try to flipping it over only once.


  • 2 sheets vegan puff pastry (I used Homebrand)
  • 1 packet Sunfed chicken pieces
  • 3 tablespoons of jam (apricot or cranberry works well)
  • 100 gm Vegan cheese slices (I used angel foods cheddar)
  • 4 tablespoons margarin (I used olivano)
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 600 ml oat milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1/2 Cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons dijion mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 230 C.
  2. Fry chicken substitute 3-5 minutes a side
  3. Make up cheese sauce, see instructions below, but basically a flavoured white sauce.
  4. Oil your pie dish and lightly dust with flour and place in you bottom layer of pastry pressing gently to fit the sides. Trim the edges and bake blind for 12 minutes.
  5. Place the fried “chicken”pieces in the pie dish on top the prebaked pastry.
  6. Pour the mock cheese sauce over the chicken piece, then place mock cheese slices on top, then drop dabs of jam even over, it should no cover the whole layer but be dots here and there.
  7. Put pastry on top the lt and trim edges, make decorative slices in the pastry to let out steam and if you like decorate with left over pieces of pastry.
  8. Bake for 15.20 minutes until the top is nicely brown.
  10. Melt margarine in a pot, or use equivalent volume of oil.
  11. Take off heat and stir in flours returning to heat until it clumps.
  12. Take pot off heat again and add milk little by little, returning to heat when required. Add as much milk as required to make a pourable sauce. Cook until the flour in the sauce is no longer gritty or raw tasting.
  13. Add in remaining ingredients till the sauce tastes good to you.
Cuisine: Vegan, Vegetarian, pie, western, European | Recipe Type: main


If you are a vegetarian you could use real cheese for making the sauce or for the slices of cheese in the pie. But note that using nutritional yeast is a cost effective way of making the sauce and it tastes quite cheesy if you get the right nutritional yeast.




Tempeh “Chicken” and Grape Salad

Tempeh "chicken" and grape salad with boiled vegetables

Tempeh is one of the few vegetarian sources of vitamin B12, is high in protein, and low in saturated fats, with absolutely no cholesterol.

The firmness of the tempeh makes this a good replacement for the grilled chicken I used to use in this recipe.


  • 250 gm Tempeh, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 200 ml Tofu mayonnaise (or other mayonnaise)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • Several handfuls seedless grapes, halved
  • 1 handful basil, cut in thin strips
  • 1 handful Sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds or Almonds slivered (optional)


  1. Boil the cubed tempeh for 15 minutes.
  2. Add all  ingredients to salad bowl and combine, use more or less mayonnaise to get the result you desire, add at least enough mayonnaise to combine ingredients together, more if desired.
  3. Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This is one of those dishes that improves with keeping.
Cuisine: Vegan, Vegetarian, European, USA, | Recipe Type: Summer, Salad, Protein, Sandwich, Filling, Main, Cold, Tempeh



Serve the salad on lettuce leaves or in a pita pocket with salad.

I used Tonzu Tempeh.

My mayonnaise recipe is below, you can increase the mustard if you like.

Sometimes I use spring onions instead of red onion.

If there is no basil round I substitute with parsley, marjoram or oregano.

Sometimes I will toast the sunflower seeds in a cast iron fry pan

Tofu Mayonnaise


1 pack soft tofu (300 gm)
1 lemon, juiced
1 T Dijion mustard
Olive oil
1 small clove garlic, chopped finely
3 T nutritional yeast
Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Add tofu, lemon juice, mustard, nutritional yeast and garlic to jar and blend with a stick blender, or other blender and pulse till smooth.
  2. Add in glugs of olive oil and pulse till a good consistency is reached.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste, mixing through thoroughly.


This will make more mayonnaise than is needed in the recipe above. The excess can be used in the next week or frozen in portion sizes for future use.



Health Beliefs

I’ve titled this “health beliefs” when you may have expects “health facts”, or to be more click baitable, “Amazing Health Facts you Never Guessed are True!!!!!”

Why health beliefs? And not a more assertive title?

In the main this is as many “facts” are debatable even in the realm of science, without moving to the realm of supposition, confirmation bias and all the rest of things that makes us humans devinely uncomprehensable and yet highly successful as a species.

‘We all know the feeling of having learnt something is good for you, then a few years latter research comes out that says it’s bad for you, then a few years after that something comes out saying, no we did not quite understand the mechanism properly relax, it’s good for you.

The human body is complex and I am sure for many years yet to come there will be many discoveries and rediscoveries going on. Some of that will like you, change my mind. Some I will be more sceptical of. We each choose what we will believe in the end.

Sure there are some incontrovertible facts, but there is also a lot to learn,and some people’s bodies do work differently than others.

So I am going to try set out here what I think makes one healthy. It is my beliefs and as such they may develop over time as new fact come to my attention. Sometimes I will share some of these discoveries and others I will set out what in half a century on earth and interested in health has bought me to believe.

Half a century interested in health may be a bold claim. However my earliest memory on health was a lesson my Mum taught me on the value of calcium for a growing child. I was 5 or 6 years old.

I think the idea may have been to get me to drink my milk as I had developed a habit of giving it to my brother. He is 3 years younger than me and loved meat and milk. I got the habit when traveling. As we had been given horrid powdered milk, which he nevertheless-less loved.

Being curious as children are I asked what other foods had calcium in. In fact just about every food I ate I would ask “Does this have calcium in?”

One morning eating eggs my harried mother said I don’t know but the shells must have.

I then set on a course of crushing my eggshells in my mouth, crunchy at first then more and more grit like as the pieces got smaller. I convinced my (2-3 year old) brother he should eat the shells too.

My mother came back in the room, kept folding washing and spotted what we were doing. She questioned us why and I said for the calcium. Being a good mother she did not tell us to stop, but I could see on her face she was struggling with something.

A black hen sitting on top of a large pile of eggs.
Would you eat eggshells? Image from Library of Congress, Digital Collection.

After several times of eating shells I saw a light on my mothers face. She explained to me that while it was commendable we were looking after health by eating foods rich in calcium, shells were not human food. We did not have the teeth or the digestive tract for that. She said if we continued eating egg shells it was not bad for us but that it would wear down our teeth and we should probably stop. So we stopped.

I like that she tried to give us knowledge and work out from that what was good to do. That she trusted us to learn and make right choices.

It was from her I learned my first lessons on health and anatomy.

I remember her answering my questions on pregnancy even showing my photos of what my sibling looked like in the womb. Entrancing me so much that my drawings could be of my sibling in the womb, rather than more regular childhood subjects.

My mother was a pioneer, not only in learning about nutrition, anatomy and health while raising 7 children. But in introducing us to food from other cultures, ensuring we ate a wide range of foods.

Yes I have been interested in health for round 50 years, and for that I thank my mother for the great foundation she gave me and the infectiousness of her interest.

So with a devotion to my mother I now seek to set out what I believe is most healthy for us humans.

Tiger Tiger Graphic Design – Image making final project

I am doing a Graphic Design set of course through coursera. This is the third course and is about image making. This is my fianl assignment, the cuminaltion of the previous weeks work.

First we had to research a subject. I chose tigers.

Then, in week 2,we had to draw, paint and otherwise use our creativity to make images based on the research.

In week 3 we had to make spreads using the images from week 1 and 2 and show hierarchy of scale, space and figure/ground.

The final week, week 4 was to use the previous 3 weeks work and create a booklet about your subject.


Here is the final booklet in PDF form TygerTygerBookletFinal


And here are the JPEG files of the same.


The brief was as follows:


In this final assignment you are asked to pull together all of your imagemaking work and compositional experiments into a single 8-page booklet. Now is the chance to play around on the page! As described, you can complete this assignment on the computer (using InDesign) or by hand.

Assemble the images you have collected or made into one place.

If you are using InDesign, scan or photograph your images so they are cleaned up and ready to go as digital files. If you are working by hand, you might want to photocopy your work at a few different sizes so you have some options to work with.

Set up an eight page booklet consisting of three two-page spreads and front and back cover. Each page should measure 8.5 inches wide and 11 inches high, or about the dimensions of a single letter-sized sheet of paper.

Adjust or alter your existing compositions from Week 3 to this new format, trying to use at least one form of compositional hierarchy in each. How can you create a sense of narrative going from page to page through the book? Try moving images around, and consider the edges and center of the pages.

Consider and create a compelling front and back cover for your book. What images or strategies can you employ on the front cover to give readers an idea of what the pages hold? On the back cover, how can you articulate a sense of closure to your narrative?

IMPORTANT: You will be uploading each component of your book as separate image files, 5 in all, starting with the front cover, then the three (reader’s) spreads, then the back cover. You may present your page spreads as exported files from InDesign, or photographs of your final, assembled book.

Do not upload printer’s spreads for this assignment as it will be difficult for your peers to review your project. See this diagram for further explanation:

Additionally, write a short paragraph that describes your process of assembling the book. What are some things you learned in the process of playing with compositional hierarchy?

Review criteria

This is a required, graded assignment, as well as very good practice! Three of your peers will assign you a grade on your submission based on the following criteria:

  • Did you upload all the required components of the assignment (title, short paragraph and 5 page spreads)? (6 pts)
  • Does the front cover adequately announce the subject matter of the book? Is it clear what the book is trying to communicate? (2 pts)
  • Does each spread adequately articulate a sense of compositional hierarchy? (2 pts each)
  • Does the book articulate a sense of narrative throughout its pages? (2 pts)
  • Does the back cover give a sense of closure to the narrative inside the book? (2 pts)

How would you have marked me?


So am I in an unusual pocket of humanity or are folks turning more and more to eating a vegetarian diet?

It seems that people I know are one by one turning to a vegetarian diet or from vegetarian to vegan.

People I am meeting and getting on well with tend to be vegetarians.

glass water and beer  on a table, in the sun
Awaiting the meal

I have been a vegetarian a couple of times, once for a year, and once for 6 months.

I was for another year a raw foodie, which was mainly vegetarian.

Now though I am an omnivore again.

So what I want to know is, is this vegetarian thing becoming more normal or just a local phenomena?

Getting Arty 2

I have been trying to get my creative juices going of late and produced some art works. Some of which it is obvious I am learning new skills and the piece needs work still. Others that I am quite pleased with.

I am happy to be learning new skills and I am happy to share my better pieces with the world. So I have added them to various sites on the net. The latest is Red Bubble.

The science of sleep – Depression and the 24 hour mind

I am subscribed to Brain Pickings as it has interesting short articles on literature, quotes, science etc. Today I read one of their articles on sleep and depression. How depressed people have a different sleep cycle to the norm, and how this effects them. The article was based on infrmation from the book The twenty-four hour mind: The role of sleep and dreaming on our emotional lives by Rosalind D. Cartwright. A good excerpt of the book is on google docs, the book is for sale on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Better World BooksBokkliden, eBooks, FishPond, and many more.

I have not read the book but I plan to as it sounds facinating. I read Dream Power by Dr Ann Faraday, when I was a young teenager and have been facinated by sleep and dreams ever since. Dream Power tells you scientifically how to interpret your dreams. This new book will update that old knowledge I have from Ann as lots will have happened in teh field since I was a teenager. I look forward to reading how different sleep and dream patterns effect our daily lives and maybe learn how I can sleep better and be healthier and more focused in daily life from having refreshing sleep.

Natural ways to increase serotnin in your brain

Depression and other ailments have been treated by artificially raising serotonin in the brain ie by using drugs. However, latest research shows that there are a number of alternate methods for doing the same thing.

The first way is commonly used for SAD (seasonal depression) but is now being used for other forms of depression as well. Bright light, raises the serotonin in the brain and the sun is the best source of bright light. Until recent times we humans were outside, hunting or farming for a great deal of the time and this is thought to have contributed to the lower rates of depression in these times.

Another natural agent which raises serotonin has been found to be exercise. This is especially so when you exercise to the stage of fatigue. So I am guessing a good brisk walk on a hilly path would be better than a light stroll around the shops.

Tryptophan also seems to increase the brains level of serotonin. Tryptophan is an amino acid and is found naturally in a number of protein foods. Not all foods provide tryptophan that makes it to the brain however and there is thought that certain foods should be bred to provide more. In other words we should not so much think of making lots of food but growing healthier food.

The research even suggests that we have inately choosen varieties of food or cooking methods in the past that increase the available tryptophan. For example wild chick peas have less available tryptophan than cultivated varieties. Corn in South america was cooked wth an alkalai which enable more tryptophan to be absorbed by the brain, but this practice did not follow corn as it moved out of south america.

The research suggests that we should spend more time looking at natural solutions rather than pharmacueical solutions and we could have a happier healthier population.


Original source: How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs by Simon N. Young