How did you start your blog?
I’m from Beverley originally, and I’m back in Hull now, but I’m actually a physiotherapist and I studied in London. Where I was in South London there was a big fruit market, and I was really inspired – that’s really why I went vegan. There was just so much choice available, and I started developing recipes from that. I used to cook for all my student friends and they used to say ‘Can I have your recipe?’, so I was constantly scribbling out recipes. I just thought one day, ‘I’m going to start a blog’.
So how long have you been vegan?
I’ve been vegetarian from being really young, just because I didn’t like the taste of meat to be honest. It was a case of experimenting with different things and before I knew it I wasn’t buying dairy or eggs and I had just sort of become vegan. I went vegan in 2006 and even in that time the whole movement has changed. At that point if you wanted anything processed it was really hard to find, but now you can pretty much get anything.
Is there a common starting point or ingredient for a lot of vegan dishes?
For me personally I try and use what’s seasonal and what’s around. But a tin of tomatoes doesn’t come in wrong!
Is eating out in Yorkshire difficult?
No, there are some great places! The Pipe and Glass in Dalton have got a separate vegan menu, it’s absolutely fantastic. I’ve been lucky enough to go there a few times. And it’s quite easy to adapt. If you can see something on a menu that’s got cheese in it you can ask for it without cheese, that’s easy enough, but a lot of places these days will bring you a separate vegan menu.
Which is your favourite of your own recipes?
That’s a hard one. I don’t have much time because I work full-time and then I come back and do all the blog stuff. I quite like anything that’s quick. My 15-minute smokey bean pan casserole is a good one, and I also like spicy food – anything with good flavours.
How did you get involved in PETA’s Great Vegan Bake-Off?
I just saw it online and thought I might as well give it a go! I had a cake in mind that I was going to make for my sister’s birthday, the ombre vanilla dream cake with strawberry balsamic jam. There were 10 finalists and I was lucky enough to win.
How do you make a cake without eggs and dairy?
I don’t use any egg replacers or anything like that, but there are lots of ways. Like for example I can make a dairy-free buttermilk using soya milk and a teaspoon of vinegar. A lot of it’s trial and error.
Is there a common mistake people make in vegan cooking?
I think people can be terrified of it. Because I’m a home cook, the key is keeping things really simple, and not worrying too much about replacement products. I don’t really use anything like that, I just use whole foods. I think people panic that they’re not going to get enough protein as well. That’s a question I get asked every day – ‘Where do you get your protein from?’, and it’s just about beans, seeds, nuts, and you can buy those in bulk really relatively cheaply.
What’s your kitchen like at home?
It’s tiny, but it works. The most important thing in my kitchen is my notebook, where I scribble all my ideas down as I’m cooking.
Are they any chefs that inspire you?
Bruno Loubet, who owns the Grain Store and Bistro Bruno Loubet in London – he’s so ahead of his time. His restaurants aren’t vegan or vegetarian, but they have more of an emphasis on plant-based eating. And Jamie Oliver is great as well, you can find all sorts of vegan things on his website. I have a look every day.
Can you recommend any cookbooks?
There are a fair few vegan cookbooks on the market but I actually don’t use too many vegan cookbooks. I like to look at ordinary cookbooks and adapt things from there. I just try and see how I can veganise it. If that’s a word.
What’s the biggest compliment you’ve ever had about your food?
My own family now don’t eat meat, and I was from a big meat-eating family. I go to my parents’ house and they’ve got almond milk, they’re eating quinoa, and it’s completely their own choice. It’s become normal for them to think about different alternatives in their meals. The biggest compliment is when your own family looks at different ways of cooking, it’s really nice. I’m not one of these vegans that’s out there shouting about animal rights – that’s not what I do. I just like showing people what you can achieve without the meat. It’s not about being completely strict, it’s just about having that alternative. That’s what’s really important and that’s what I try and get over on the blog. It’s a choice.
Katy will be cooking live on Sunday 29th March at York Racecourse for Living North LIVE (27th–29th March). For more information or tickets go to www.livingnorth.com or call 0191 261 8944