Saturday, 30 January 2016

Review: Dee's Vegan Sausages

I'm not a vegan, but I'm not stranger to veggie alternatives to meat having spent five years as a vegetarian (and four shoddy months as a vegan). Now I eat meat and fish on a regular basis, but I also cook veggie meals because they taste good and, often, they're cheaper.
When it comes to sausages I never buy the meat version. This is because Gdad used to be a butcher and he will tell you stories about what goes into those fleshy little horrors if you don't buy the top of the range ones. Additionally, they're so high in fat I have to shun them for the sake of my thighs. And, have you tried the Linda McCartney ones? Because I have, and they taste just like Gregg's sausage roll meat without the imminent heart attack or the price tag of upmarket sausages.
Now that you know the background to this review, and that I'm not just a meat fanatic slagging off vegan food, let's talk about Dee's.

Serving suggestion: mushroom, 'sausage', bread,
tomatoes and disappointment sauce.

The product: The packaging is upmarket and reassures you that you're not about to tuck into some hippy-dippy fungus mullarky. However, the product information is more pretentious than a D4 housewife. Taking the front first, vegan is underlined, twice. On the back, Dee asserts herself as a nutritionist - a phrase we all know is an unprotected term, and also a synonym for food charlatan.
The ingredient list tells us not only what's in the sausage, but that the legumes used are sourced from an environmentally friendly crop (did we not assume this?) with no need for irrigation and nitrogen fertilizers. Well, blow me down. I didn't even think to worry about that.
Admittedly, I did wonder what would be in vegan sausages, and I would have assumed it would be a myriad of chemicals attempting to imitate meat. However, Dee's sausages contain a mix of pea protein, beans and seaweed (seaweed having been hailed as a superfood a few years ago), as well as some other bit and bats, so fair play to Dee, it appears to be all good stuff.
How they cooked: They don't hold their shape. At. All. Admittedly I didn't put any oil on them before I grilled them, like the packaging had suggested, because usually things that suggest oil cook fine without it. They stuck to the tinfoil like flies to honey. However, they browned quite nicely. Had I put on oil, they would have probably been aesthetically pleasing.
How they tasted: They first thing I reported to my family was, "You can really taste the seaweed." After that, there is a generic bean taste. For something that is 'spiced' with coriander, pepper and ginger there is an overwhelming sense of eating beany seaweed. Perfectly pleasant, but not something I would clamour for. Probably best served in a sandwich so that the slightly mushy texture goes unnoticed.
Shelf life: Each pack has a few weeks on it, however, once opened they should be eaten within one day. Does Dee know half a can of beans can last up to three?
Serving suggestion: Three sausages, and seeing as six come in a pack, this means you get two servings per pack.
Cost: €3.99!!! FOR BEANS AND SEAWEED. Absolute madness. You'd want a sneaky nip of pampered pork in these bangers to make it worth it.

Final verdict: Not on your life.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Barbie's Makeover

News broke today about the biggest transformation in Barbie's history, the release of three new sized dolls. The prized playtoy will now be available in tall, petite and curvy. What most likely prompted Mattel's revamp of our favourite babe is the backlash against Barbie's - apparently - unrepresentative and unrealistic beauty standards.
Of course, no one has taken a blind bit of notice about tall or petite Barbie, but let's give them some limelight for the sake of it. When scaled up, classic Barbie is reported to be 6ft already so one would wonder how tall this tall Barbie is going to be and, more importantly, whether she will fit into classic Barbie's car. And going by my own experience with off-brand shorter dolls, petite Barbie will likely be treated as a teenager, not classic Barbie's short friend.
Now let's move onto IT girl curvy Barbie. She's definitely all there and will be sure to appear in love rival scenes against classic Barbie, making Ken's smooth areas all tingy. It's great to see these new dolls because they encompass a wider range of beauty, but there's a danger of taking them too seriously and celebrating them for something they aren't.

How will outfit swapping work?

The thing I remember most about playing with Barbie dolls is the intricate stories I used to come up with. I had two Ken dolls to countless Barbies, so these two guys were showered with female affection and cat fights were an everyday occurrence. I had a Fisher Price dollhouse with solid plastic dolls that were less than an inch in height, who were inexplicably my Barbie dolls' cousins. My imagination ran wild every time I picked up those dolls and toys that looked different only enhanced the experience, so it's great that these new different dolls are available. Children will have so much fun thinking of new stories based on these traits. However, this is no major revolution for self-image because, this cannot be stressed enough, a child's perception of body image should come from their parents. Barbie is not the root of all evil, nor does playing with those dolls guarantee to warp your beauty standards. What's important is what you're told everyday by the people around you and, to an extent, the media (although children's programming is generally well censored and diverse). The problem of girls undervaluing themselves does not solely stem from a toy. We are the problem.
Additionally, it's incredibly patronising to assume a child will see a doll and not be able to distinguish reality from make-believe. When I was a child there was a somewhat diverse range to choose from, but the majority of my Barbies (and I had a lot) were the standard blonde Barbie. It never affected me in that I never disliked my own non-blonde hair. In fact, I never owned a ginger Barbie and I never asked for one. Barbies were toys to me, and I suspect to many others. I didn't want to mirror them. I just wanted to create a complicated murder plot involving a large-headed Bratz.

So let's try to keep our cool with these new dolls and not treat them as the end to all our problems. We still need to instill into children that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and that there is no one set standard for beauty. Yes, these toys can aid in that explanation, but it's the communication between parent and child which is paramount to achieving real change.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

My Life as a Desperate Third Year

There are so many brilliant people out there who faithfully read my blog, or at least there's one super-dooper person who spends all day refreshing their browser, and I feel quite guilty for not posting for a while. Well, it's one part guilt two parts fear that you'll forget about my blog and subscribe to some other whiney law student.
For the life of me I have nothing to say, that's why I haven't written in so long. I don't want to bore you with the kind of S-H-I-T-E that passes as writing on some sites, you know those feeds that seem to buzz with idiocy and leave you feeling like knowledge has somehow left your brain at the end of each article (read between the lines on that one). Nor do I delude myself into thinking that any of you give a toss about what's going on in my life unless it ends in embarrassment and/or pain or can at least be delivered with humour. Hence the radio silence.
For the last two months I've been writing essays which count for way too much of my grade for me to waste time having a life. It has been so sinfully boring I have no doubt that God Himself hasn't even bothered watching over me that much. The fruits of my labour are 2.9 essays (still not done, am I ever?) and one joke that I made up during a delusional state of Company Law boredom:

Q. What do gingerbread shareholders want?
A. Profit-eroles!