This year’s National Vegetarian week coincides with a rather special anniversary – twenty-eight years ago this May I had been vegetarian for 18 months when a dark-haired, blue-eyed boy swept me off my feet.  Mr TS arrived in my life with a selection of vibrantly coloured jumpers, a wok and a copy of the first Cranks Vegetarian Recipe book which still sits happily on my groaning recipe book shelf today!

The Cranks Recipe Book - My vegetarian story

Although food wasn’t top of my list in those early heady days of romance and Uni finals, us both being vegetarian certainly made life a lot less complicated and, at the end of a summer of festivals and fun, I moved down to Bristol to be with him. We cooked together and with our housemate Nev, trying out many of the recipes in the Cranks book and marking them out of ten as we went. The pages bear all the marks of a very well-loved recipe book and I still turn to it for inspiration to this day.

Cranks Recipe Book

Time ticked on, we cooked our way through various rented flats before buying our first home together in the early ’90s. Then, this happened…

Mr and Mrs TS

We didn’t have an extravagant wedding; a friend made my dress, another one took our photos on our camera, I arrived in my Mum’s Ford Fiesta with a green ribbon on the bonnet and we held our afternoon reception in our house and tiny back garden in Bristol. My biggest indulgence was to book a vegetarian catering company to come from London to feed us all on that happy day.

wedding reception

This is where I begin to see a rather lovely pattern developing and where my relationship with Cranks began to get into its stride. The catering company I booked was called Culinary Arts, the proprietor was called Nadine Abensur, and she and I spent quite some time on that day holed up together talking about our shared passion for really good vegetarian food.  Shortly afterwards Nadine took over as Food Director for Cranks and a series of fabulous vegetarian recipe books began to fill my shelves!

Cranks Recipe Books

I was delighted to see some of the dishes Nadine had created for our wedding buffet turning up in the Cranks Bible meaning I could recreate them myself and relive that day! You can see why I jumped for joy at the end of last year when Cranks themselves got in touch with me and told me that they would love to work closely with me and my blog. Cranks recipes have weaved their way through my married life and have helped me to raise four vegetarian/vegan children!

I think if I trace back the roots of most of our family favourites they will have started with a Cranks recipe – Cheese and Lentil Loaf is a regular on our dinner table, pops up at Christmas and even finds its way into our sausage rolls as a tasty filling, we reclaimed lasagne together, refusing to let it be consigned to the only vegetarian option on a pub lunch menu, bringing it out into the open and back onto the table and many of my tarts and quiches began life as one Cranks recipe or another.

Cranks are sponsoring this year’s Vegetarian Society National Vegetarian Week and I will be celebrating the happy synergy between our anniversary, this annual event and my blog collaboration with Cranks by designing a special spring Sunday lunch recipe which you can read here on Thinly Spread next Monday 9th May which – here we go again – happens to be my eldest’s 20th Birthday! The last time I came up with something for Cranks it looked like this – what do you think I’m designing this time?!

cashew nut roast

Disclosure: I am participating in a year long paid collaboration with Cranks food, all views here are my own – my enthusiasm and love for the brand and our family history with it is totally and utterly genuine! Keep an eye on the Cranks website for takeovers by several fabulous vegetarian bloggers over the next year, including me!

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