Monday, February 25, 2008
Truthfully, this Veganomicon recipe for Sauteed Seitan with Spinach and Mushrooms has good flavor. Bite sized pieces of seitan are sauteed in olive oil until they develop a bit of a crust. Onions are then added to the pan and covered to cook until softened. Mushrooms and spices dive in next, with more sauteeing. Finally, white wine and vegetable stock are added to deglaze the pan, then bright green spinach is added and cooked until wilted.
I think this could be improved with a bit more white wine, and perhaps a bit of lemon juice--maybe even a handful of capers. It's not that it was bad--I just could have used a little more flavor to overcome the wiggly, jiggly seitan. However, all is never lost when there is a bowlful of mashed potatoes and some crispy roasted broccoli to take up the slack.
So, if you haven't dug your heels in, resisting the temptation of seitan, this one is probably worth a try. For now, I'm tired and headed to bed. Sorry I have nothing truly entertaining to offer tonight, but tomorrow is always another day!
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Yesterday, we took our oldest granddaughter to see a local theater company's production of Goodnight Moon. I wondered how on earth they would turn that simple book into a play, but they did--and filled it with humor, wit, and wisdom. They incorporated another of my favorite children's books, The Runaway Bunny. We all had many good laughs; it was a sweet time. I am so grateful that she still values times with us. At 9 1/2, we realize that the years are flying by, and that someday, much too soon, a weekend with Poppa and Grandma might be just as appealing as purple gravy (which I'll get to later). For now, though, the times are precious and we wouldn't trade a second.
After a busy Saturday, though, I spent the first 8 hours of Sunday working. There is no feeling quite as good as finally walking out of my office and taking a shower. Yeah, I'm one of those who just sits down at the computer in pajamas and works 'til I'm finished. Otherwise, I tend to get distracted. But, finished I finally was, and headed into the kitchen to do some real cooking. I had my eye on a couple of recipes from Veganomicon. In fact, my eye was on them so firmly that I had stopped on the way home from work early in the week to get the ingredients to prepare them. Of course, the week went to Hell after that, and I didn't get to them until today. Anyway, this is where the purple gravy comes in. See?
This meal started with Chickpea Cutlets, a nice, meaty center of the plate recipe. Simple to prepare, chickpeas are mashed with oil in a bowl until all the beans are broken up. Additions to this mixture include bread crumbs, vital wheat gluten, soy sauce, and a variety of spices. A bit of kneading develops the wheat gluten as evidenced by the strands that begin to form. The mixture is formed into four rectangles (or any other shape, I suppose--the chickpea police probably won't come and arrest you if yours vary) and panfried or baked. I baked them, as I already had the oven on to roast sliced zucchini. I see great potential for these. They would make a great "no-chicken fried steak," or take a breading to become a base for marinara and vegan cheese. They would make a great sandwich with sauteed peppers, onions, and mushrooms. In fact, they might just take over the world, as the author of Veganomicon suspects.
While these were baking, I made the purple gravy, aka Red Wine Roux. The directions for this seemed strange to me, but I followed them to the letter. The margarine and flour roux is cooked for almost 8 minutes, then minced shallots, garlic, and celery are added and cooked for several minutes more. The mixture forms such a thick paste that I began to wonder if it would ever allow me to incorporate the vegetable broth warming on another burner. When the time was right, I poured in faith, and lo and behold, the water incorporated. I then added 3/4 cup of red wine and whisked my heart out. With my first taste, my heart sank. This was bitter brew; in fact, it tasted more like it should be ladled from a cauldron than a saucepan. However, I just left it on a simmer per the recipe. Within 10 minutes, it had turned to perfection--a rich, winey sauce which paired nicely with mashed potatoes and the very toothsome chickpea cutlets.
The Husband loved this. Although I do have to say that the meal looked weird (just like you are afraid vegan food will look), it made up for it in flavor. Sort of like the blind date with a "great personality." In this case, another date will definitely be in the works.
Monday, February 18, 2008
I tried out a new make-up look this weekend, and totally want to do it for work tomorrow. (Yes, I'm still a teenager at heart, even though I turned 48 this weekend. I like to reinvent myself a little on my birthday every year, even though it never lasts.) Anyway, if I do the make-up, I need 15 minutes for that part of my routine instead of the 2.5 minutes I usually allow for makeup. We'll see. I do have a killer dress I want to wear, too. I love it, and for some reason, rarely put it on. It's very professional, very sharp, very together.
We did get to see the family over the weekend. Birthdays are good for that, at least. We had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. I had some avocado egg rolls (something I would NEVER have thought of) with a tamarind cashew dipping sauce which tasted neither of tamarinds nor cashews, but was good anyway. And I had cheesecake, which I don't think I've ever done at the Cheesecake Factory. I tasted my son-in-law's banana cream cheesecake, and man, do I want to figure out how to do that! My Tres Leches Cheesecake was pretty doggone tasty, though.
So, right now, I have a project I want to talk about, but really shouldn't. I have no groceries, no menus, no nothin'. I have a squeezed-tight budget, so I need to cook at home, which means trying to get the dry cleaner AND the grocery store in tomorrow night, plus the work I never picked up this weekend. I need to go to the bank on my way to work tomorrow, and a visit to the post office (a stand-in-line-kind-of-visit) is on the lunch menu. Oh, and I was craving Lucky Charms today--with milk (which I'm allergic to). I did make it to the store for that, and I'm feelin' it now!
So, if any of you would like to give me a good e-kick in the butt and get me off my pity party, feel free. Hopefully, I can get my kitchen mojo back tomorrow. I'm taking Veganomicon to work with me tomorrow in hopes of picking out at least a couple of recipes to shop for. I only looked through 10 cookbooks today, and couldn't find one single thing to make.
Thanks for listening. If any of you are actual psychologists, send me a bill. I'll be happy to pay for services rendered.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names, linking to them.
4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.
Okay, five things about me:
My favorite time of day: When everyone else is asleep. I love a quiet house almost more than anything. It is the one and only time that I feel I truly get to live my own life and breathe my own air, without sharing with anyone. Sometimes, I walk up and down the hall just so I can stay awake a little bit longer. (I'm not really pitiful; I'm just an introvert, and my job requires me to be around people almost continually--sometimes with a line out the door.)
My favorite words: My youngest granddaughter is 14 months old. Last time I saw her, I was wearing a shirt with sparkly things on it. She kept running her tiny little finger over them, saying, "Pretty, pretty, pretty grandma." I felt young again!
My longest-running craft project: A Christmas stocking I'm cross-stitching for my oldest granddaughter. I started before she was born. She's 9. And a half.
The thing I hate most: Paying bills. I don't know why. I just do. I usually put it off until it just can't wait any more, then end up giving up some of my precious "the house is mine alone" time to do it. Hate that!
My weirdest childhood hobby: I was a ventriloquist. I was really sort of famous locally. My children, however, have never seen me perform. I quit when I was 14, and have never looked back.
Erika at Tummy Treasure. I "know" her from the CLBB and read her blog daily. She is just a nice person. Plus, she hasn't been feeling well, so hopefully this will distract her.
Alysha at The Savory Notebook. Another CLBB friend, she and I are like minded in many ways.
Ricki at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs. I've been noticing her blog lately, too, and enjoying it.
Josie, at 1 Kitchen, 2 Dogs, and a Girl. A brand new blogger, and I'd like her to come out and play.
Helene, at Le Cuisine d'Helene, a beautiful bilingual blog. I can barely keep up in one language. She amazes me!
Sunday, February 10, 2008
I'm continuing to cook out of Veganomicon, and still really loving it. Earlier in the week, I made Snobby Joes--another lentil version of that old family standby. DH and I both liked this one quite a lot. In fact, DH liked it so much that he took all of it to work before I got to have a proper portion. The night I made it, I hadn't had a chance to eat, and snacked so much before dinner that I wasn't hungry. Of course, I thought I'd get to take it for lunch the next day, but....Oh, well. That's over and done with. I vented to my friends and left him unscathed. Instead of copying the recipe here, I'm going to link to its location at the authors' website, The Post Punk Kitchen. Lots of cool stuff to check out there!
Friday night, I finally had a chance to really get into the kitchen. This Mexican Millet recipe, again from Veganomicon, had caught my eye earlier. Per the authors' suggestion, I served it with Black Beans in Chipotle Adobo Sauce. It made a really nice, comforting combination. I'd never really cooked with millet before--maybe once, in my murky past. Of course, that was my maiden name, so it always felt kind of weird. Like, what if there was a food named Jones or Smith--would you want to eat that? I didn't think so.
The Mexican Millet starts by sauteeing the aromatics, then toasting the grain in the same skillet. Next, broth, spices, tomato paste, and chopped fresh tomato is added, then a half an hour of simmering ensues. I couldn't resist a spoonful right out of the pot as soon as it was done. It had all the soft, almost creamy consistency that I was looking for, with nuances of jalapeno competing with the acidic bite of the tomato.
For the beans, I used Rancho Gordo Black Valentines that I had cooked previously. This recipe calls for canned beans which are enhanced by bay leaves and onion, and simmered for a good hour until they practically melt. This worked just fine with my homemade beans, too. While the beans simmer and soften, onions and garlic are caramelized, then goosed with some chopped chipotle and adobo sauce. Interestingly, this is supposed to be blended to make a sauce. I gotta tell ya', I went looking for errata in the book, because there is absolutely no liquid in this. Despite a good half hour of online searching, I found no recorded errors for this recipe. I did add a bit more olive oil, scooped the mixture into a small bowl, and used the immersion blender to mix it up. As you can probably tell from the pictures, it didn't drizzle. However, it did stir nicely into the beans. I don't know that creating the sauce and spooning it over the beans really does anything more than just stirring it directly into the bean pot, but it does make for a nice presentation. I'm also thinking that the "sauce" would make an awfully good dip stirred into some regular or tofu sour cream.
And last, I just thought this was the prettiest slice of beet ever. I had a bunch of red beets and a bunch of golden beets. I wrapped them all together in foil and roasted them, and as a result, some of the red beet juice stained the golden beats. I'm thinking I need to come up with some sort of alcohol-based vinaigrette for these, and have Tequila Sunrise Beets. For now, I have the slices marinating in a Raspberry Walnut vinaigrette, and plan to top them with some sheep's milk feta and toasted walnuts for lunch tomorrow. I don't know how much I'll be able to post this week, but stop back if you have time. I'll do my best!
Monday, February 4, 2008
Sunday, February 3, 2008
It was a cold rainy day, with Mother Nature shaking her fist at the organizers of the Super Bowl and the FBR open. Add to that the fact that my issue of Veganomicon arrived in my mailbox this week (possibly becoming my new favorite cookbook just for the writing style of the authors alone), and it seemed like it was just time to make some soup. This Chickpea Noodle Soup doesn't have a very fancy name--nor even a very appealing one. However, it is a very appealing soup. The broth is a rich brown as a result of a quick deglazing of the pan after sauteeing onions and carrots. Mushrooms and spices are added in, followed by chickpeas and water. Once things have made it up to a rolling boil, three ounces of pasta are dropped in, then the whole thing is covered up until the pasta is al dente. Finally, a liberal dose of brown rice miso is added, creating a complex, almost wine-y broth. This is good stuff. It could probably kill a cold--maybe even the flu. It definitely is going to have a permanent place in my heart, not to mention my lunches. In the meantime, I think I'm going to try to think of a better name for this soup. Any ideas? This little number is so deserving that I'll send it to the Presto Pasta Night Round Up. Check in there on Fridays before planning the week's menus--every week is rife with great pasta ideas.