Culinary Anarchy!

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I found this blog via the rather excellent VegBlogs (another new blogroll addition that collects a fine set of vegan bloggers together in one handy place). It’s a cracking piece of work too, with Emilie (the author) showing just how exciting and flavoursome vegan food can, and should, be. Her blog is packed full of inspirational writing, clever ideas and stunning photographs that made me drool all over my keyboard.

The very first post I read was the author’s tale of the inspiration she’d found from getting her hands on a copy of ‘Soy Not Oi!’ (the closest thing you’ll ever find to a vegan punk bible) the best part of 20 years back, and then, just a couple of years ago, meeting up with J@ck, one of the original authors, and then, just for the hell of it, creating a celebratory 40th birthday meal for him using her battered (battered as in well-used, not dipped in batter) first edition of the book as the starting point and then, while chowing down on the (very tasty looking) end result, deciding to do a twentieth anniversary version. Like you do.

I always liked to cook when I was a kid, but I was quite a finicky eater. Once I’d left home, however, I had the freedom to really play in the kitchen, to try food in new ways (no more boiled-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life cabbage), to challenge my own tastebuds and capabilities (although I still can’t find a way to prepare aubergine that makes it any more attractive than eating a well-spiced slug), to cook how I wanted to cook, and things quickly changed. The fact that this independence also coincided with my move to veganism opened up a whole new world of epicurean pleasure, one that I’m still exploring to this day.

Soy Not Oi coverWhen I discovered ‘Soy Not Oi!’, it chimed perfectly with my by then well-developed approach. I didn’t always know what some of the ingredients were (especially the commercial pre-packaged stuff that pops up now and again), and cup measurements took a bit of getting used to – back then I didn’t have a clue what the volume of an American cup was, so had to guess and do a lot of experimenting to get things just right with some of the recipes, where exact quantities are necessary for things to turn out roughly as you’d expect them to (and not as some inedible swamp-like sludge or dry-as-a-nun’s-chuff lump). Now I’ve got some proper measuring cups, it ain’t half as difficult to get things right first time. But I learnt a lot of useful things without ’em (not least that a stick of margarine is about 4oz or 115g in the non-American world).

I bought five copies of the book back in the day, gave four away as birthday presents and kept one for myself. Like Emilie’s copy, mine too became so much more than a few dozen pages cranked out and stapled together by some young miscreants. It became an essential part of my life. The food is just one element. The attitude is far more important, striking a deep chord that still resonates in me all these years down the line.

Sadly, my original copy was lost in action somewhere along the line a few years back. Happily, AK Press have reprinted it and made it available for the next wave of culinarchists (UK readers can get it for a wallet-friendly £4 from Active Distro). My new(ish) copy is now back where it rightfully belongs, ready for action on my cookbook shelf and still getting the creative juices and saliva flowing.

J@ck and Emilie are looking for contributions to the anniversary edition and are “hoping to collect new recipes and non-recipes, jumping off points for diy explorations to fuel a new generation of vegan masterminds”. If you’d like to join in, email Emilie at

While you’re waiting for it to appear, do what I intend to do and check out Emilie’s blog on a regular basis. Your tastebuds will love you forever.

OP’s opinion for both: Five

Chili Bean Spread

Another cheap n’ cheerful spread that can be made in minutes from things that are probably lurking in your larder and fridge.

  • 1 400g (approx) tin kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp harissa (or just use another tsp of tomato purée)
  • 1 tbs paprika powder
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp toasted cumin seed, roughly crushed
  • 1/2 tsp toasted coriander seed, roughly crushed
  • 1-2 good pinches of red chili flakes
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • Approx 3-4 stalks of fresh coriander or 6 fresh basil leaves or a mix of the two
  • A good grind of black pepper
  • Salt to taste

If you’re using fresh coriander, strip and use the leaves only (you can chop the leftover stalks and add ’em to soups, stews etc., or just put ’em on your compost heap).

To toast the seeds, put a heavy-based pan or non-stick frying pan on a medium-low heat and allow to get hot. Put the seeds into the pan and shake around for a minute or two until they start to darken and give off a good smell. Then give ’em a quick smash in a pestle and mortar if possible, otherwise;

Put everything into a (mini) food processor or hand blender jug (more work). If you don’t have any sort of electric blender, you can simply mash everything by hand with a fork – it works just fine, but you’ll definitely need to crush the seeds first. You’ll also need to finely chop whatever herbs you’re using.

Blitz until everything’s nice and smooth. You’ll probably need to scrape the sides down a few times while it’s being mashed up to make sure it all gets done.

Goes great on thick, crisp toast with some chunky slices of tomato, another quick grind of black pepper, and a few more leaves of basil or coriander roughly chopped and thrown on.

If you don’t have kidney beans, pretty much any other sort of tinned bean will do. The same goes for the seasonings (although garlic is pretty essential in most things IMHO). As with most things cooking-related, experiment.

Interesting garlic fact (that I’ve just found out) – the beneficial compounds in garlic are maximised if you smash or crush the cloves and leave for 10 minutes before using. Crazy allium chemistry occurs that makes garlic even better for you, and it’s damned good to start with. If possible, you should also only add it ten minutes before the end of cooking to retain these extra-healthy properties – the garlic will taste more ‘raw’, but I like that anyway. And seeing as this recipe uses raw garlic to start with, all you’ve got to do is smash it, make a nice cuppa and enjoy a little sit-down before you do the hard work of opening the tin of beans.

Music Mashup #1

01 – Supporting Caste (Propagandhi – Supporting Caste)
02 – PC Idiots (Stage Bottles – (We Need A) New Flag)
03 – Your World (Hellshock – Only The Dead Know The End Of War)
04 – Apathy And Fear (Extinction Of Mankind – The Nightmare Seconds)
05 – Stories of Old (The 241ers – Murderers)
06 – 3 Tone (Los Fastidios – Rebels ‘N’ Revels)
07 – Nazis Killed (Hellbastard – Ripper Crust)
08 – Dogmas Corrode (Wolfbrigade – Prey To The World)
09 – The End Of The War Years (The Fallout – Dismantlement)
10 – Histoire De Skinhead (Esclaves Salaries – Hate the State Vol. II)

Download MMM #1

The 241ersMurderers CD (Household Name)

241ers - Murderers coverJonny One-Lung seems unable to do anything wrong. Everything he gets stuck in to comes out just about perfect. If you don’t know the name, you’ll certainly know the voice (unless you’re one of those weird non-punk norms) – he was an integral part of The Filaments, is a key player in Suicide Bid, a welcome guest with Sonic Boom Six and a solo artist in his own right. Phew! Put him alongside members of The Stockyard Stoics, MDC and whoever else happens to be passing at the time, and you end up with the 241ers.

This offering sees Jonny and friends spit out some powerful acoustic punk with attitude. Don’t think soft jangly guitars and tambourines – this is no-nonsense political streetfolk on steroids. If you took Billy Bragg’s wordsmithery, Ian Bone’s mindset, and The Levellers turned up to 11, it probably wouldn’t be too dissimilar. Definitely one for firing you up on the frontline.

OP’s opinion: Five

Extinction Of MankindThe Nightmare Seconds… CD (Profane Existence)

EOM- Nightmare Seconds  coverGruff, northern British crustcore done right proper. If you remember the primeval power of ENT’s contribution to ‘Earslaughter’, multiply it by ten and throw in an atomic bomb for good measure, you’ll be there or thereabouts. Simple but not generic, and with an exceptionally tasty version of that Amebix crust classic ‘Arise!’, this is a no-brainer for lovers of disembodied throats and diabolic noise.

OP’s opinion: Three half

*The FalloutDismantlement CD (Insurgence)

Fallout - Dismantlement  coverThese politically-aware Canadians have a mind for intelligent insight and an ear for a wickedly catchy tune. There’s much about this band that reminds me of the early efforts of Stiff Little Fingers, but brought right up-to-date. It’s familiar, like my favourite underwear, but it’s fresh (insert punchline here). The Fallout make you wanna get up, dance and then go and do nasty but well-deserved things to animal abusers / fascists / cops while happily humming one of their delightful ditties.

OP’s opinion: Four half

HellshockOnly The Dead Know The End Of War LP (Agipunk)

Hellshock - Only The Dead  coverRe-release of the first album (from back in 2004) by these Portland crust giants. Various members have been around the crust scene for quite a while, and they’re obviously infused to the bone with it. This record has the dark atmospheric broodiness of Amebix, the heaviness of Bolt Thrower, the metallic cut of latter-era Antisect, the speed of Discharge and the voice of Satan all cleverly blended into a unique demonic sludge. Lyrics are typically brief, but have a hauntingly descriptive depth that’s sometimes missing from similar offerings.

There are only a few copies of this left on heavyweight purple vinyl (with a stylish matt black cover illustrated by Mid of Deviated Instinct infamy), and I reckon you need the solid plastic and menacing colour to get the very best from this.

OP’s opinion: Five

HellbastardRipper Crust LP (Agipunk)

Hellbastard - Ripper Crust  coverBeautifully packaged, remastered from the original studio tape and pressed on decently thick coloured vinyl, this is a classic edition of a classic recording. The sleeve is black with silver block printing, there’s a double-sided poster printed on high-quality card, a glossy 12″ square 4-page heavyweight paper insert and did I mention the coloured vinyl (white with red streaks)? And, IMHO, the sound is even more awesome than the original vinyl pressing (and far better than any of the original tapes that’re still knocking around). It may have only cost £25 to record this back in the day but it’s a priceless crustpunk gem, and this release really shows off its sparkle.

Oh, and there’s only been a hundred of this special edition pressed (with another 400 on black plastic but still with all the other trimmings).

OP’s opinion: Five

Los FastidiosRebels ‘N’ Revels CD (KOB / Mad Butcher)

Los Fastidios - Rebels N Revels  coverIt seems like this Italian crew have been around since forever (albeit with a few personnel changes along the way), screaming their defiance with no fear or compromise. Like a fine wine, they’ve matured and improved with age without losing that in-yer-face energy and edge that the best punk bands have about them. Although sung (mostly) in their mother tongue, it’s not hard to work out what these tracks represent – truth, integrity, unity and beer. Lots of beer. R’N’R is their best work to date and gives you a perfect taster of what you can expect from Los Fastidios should you have the chance to see ’em. Drink, dance, pump that fist and smash the fash. Lovely.

OP’s opinion: Four

PropagandhiSupporting Caste CD/LP/DL (G7 Welcoming Committee)

Propagandhi -  Supporting caste coverI long ago conceded that Propagandhi were never going to do a ‘How To Clean Everything’ part 2 (which is probably no bad thing – a classic wouldn’t be a classic if there was more than one of ’em, right?), but I’ve always thought that they’ve never quite reached the mind-blowing potential they so surely have. That is, right up until this little beauty popped through my letterbox. Age has deepened their wisdom (without dulling the clever humour when warranted) and allowed their already mega-talented musicianship to evolve to the point where, it’s safe to say, Propagandhi are just about the most crucial band in the world right now, punk or otherwise. OK, I know that most of the world wouldn’t agree with me, but what do they know?

Hardcore, metal, pop-punk, balladic refrains and cheesy noodling all have a home in this epic punk-to-the-core production. Everything, from the cover art to the recording and mastering, has been thought about and cared for to the nth degree. This is a labour of true love by some intensely smart and profound men who casually dismiss themselves as a bunch of dumb schmucks from the sticks.

Although that still doesn’t stop ’em looking pretty goofy and hick-like.

OP’s opinion: Five

*Stage Bottles(We Need A) New Flag CD (Insurgence)
Previously reviewed.

WolfbrigadePrey To The World LP (Agipunk)

Wolfbrigade - Prey To  The World coverThe third album from Agipunk that I spent my hard-earned moolah on this month (well, the postage was the same whether you bought one album or three, so it made financial sense in my little world). The Scandies took to the D-Beat sound like punks to cider and pretty much made it their own. And Wolfbrigade have taken that, added their own twist and distilled it into the essence of the style. It’s Discharge with knobs on.

In 2004, the band split for various reasons and crusty motherfuckers the world over shed a little tear. Then, from out of the blue, the band announced their reformation in 2007. This album was the result, and it doesn’t disappoint one little bit. It’s a battering ram attack that feels strangely pleasant when you’re in the right mood (i.e. you wanna fuckin’ destroy everything that’s wrong with this world).

It’s also another sweet package, this time on clear-with-silver-splatter vinyl and a slick cover to set it all off nicely.

OP’s opinion: Four

*VA – Hate The State Vol. 2 CD (Fire And Flames)

VA - Hate The State coverRadical German activist label Fire And Flames offer up a second helping of ‘never surrender’ streetpunk and ska to entertain the revolting masses. There’s a plethora of sussed and sharp bands from across the globe and, refreshingly, there’s not one English-spoken song here. With a budget price to boot, that should be all the information you need to go and grab this one.

OP’s opinion: Four

*available to buy from Iron Column Records

Label websites:
Fire And Flames
G7 Welcoming Committee
Household Name
Mad Butcher
Profane Existence