Sunday, March 29, 2009

Seitan, Mushroom and Veggie Stew

First things first. A recipe will follow but the main point of this post is to announce that I'm putting the blog on hiatus for an indefinite period. This is our 600th post but it'll also be the last for a while. It took two years to get to 500 posts and another year and a half to get another hundred up. Which says something about the amount of time we have now. Not that quantity is more important than quality, but I'm having a harder time with the quality these days too. I'm generally happy with most of the recent posts but I'm struggling more to come up with creative ideas for posts and more importantly, to find the time to actually execute those ideas. Most of our meals lately are repeats of things that have already been posted here. I do have a number of ideas rattling around my brain and I hope to eventually find the time for them. Maybe as I do I'll save them and get back to posting once I have some things in the can.

At any rate, a huge thank you to all our readers for the comments and inspiration these last 3+ years. Keep us in your feed readers or otherwise stay tuned - I hope we'll be back here in the near future. (We're not totally done with blogging either because Darlene is about to start a mommy blog - if you're interested in that, she'll be here.)

Now for the recipe - I had some seitan patties that were seasoned in sort of an Italian sausage style and I was looking for a way to use them. When I went to our local produce market I found some nice broccoli and yellow squash, and also a decent deal on dried porcini mushrooms, so here's what I came up with.

1 c. dried porcini mushrooms
1 c. boiling water
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 lb. seitan, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1/2 ts. dried basil
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 c. red wine
1 medium yellow squash, quartered and sliced
2 c. broccoli florets
1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste

In a small bowl, pour boiling water over porcinis, let stand for 15-20 minutes, then drain and dice mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Meanwhile, in a large pot, cook onion in olive oil over medium heat for a minute or two then add seitan. Cook for several more minutes until seitan and onion are starting to brown a little then add garlic, marjoram and basil and cook another minute. Add tomatoes and wine and cook a couple more minutes, then add squash, broccoli, salt & pepper, plus the mushrooms and their soaking liquid. Bring to a boil then cover, reduce heat and simmer until broccoli and squash are cooked to your liking, 5-10 minutes. Serve with rice or pasta.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Even Easier Curry

A few months ago I posted about this curry recipe I saw on Good Eats. It was quick and easy but nowadays I'm always looking for quicker and easier. Thankfully an Indian market recently opened right next door to my office. It was there I found this chana masala spice mix.

We tried it once with chickpeas and tomatoes per the package instructions, but I also figured it would be good to use with the aforementioned curry recipe. Oh sure, grinding and/or mixing your own spices is really the way to go but that takes time. For this shortcut I minced a couple cloves of garlic and cooked that in oil with a couple teaspoons of the spice mixture for about 30 seconds. Then I added some frozen veggies and a can of chickpeas and cooked until they were heated through. I added soy yogurt at the end and we had our "curry" over brown rice. Quick and delicious!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Blueberry-Walnut Scones

It was another morning where I woke up early and couldn't get back to sleep, so I went into the kitchen to make something for breakfast. Something different from our usual oatmeal that is. My first thought was to make something fun we haven't tried before but with creativity lacking at 6 a.m. I turned to a tried and true recipe - scones from Vegan with a Vengeance. I jazzed them up a bit by adding blueberries and walnuts, the combination of which I think is quite delicious. So now I'm going to cheat a little (ok, a lot) by essentially just copying Isa's recipe here.

3 c. flour (I used 2 c. white and 1 c. whole wheat pastry)
2 Tbs. baking powder
1/4 c. sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on top
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. canola oil
1 1/4 c. soy milk + 2 tsp. cider vinegar
1 c. frozen blueberries (or fresh if you've got 'em)
3/4 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400° and lightly oil a sheet pan (or 2). Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl then gently mix in the soy milk/vinegar and canola oil. Now fold in the blueberries and walnuts. Drop by 1/4 cupfuls onto sheet pan, flatten the tops just a bit and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes until slightly browned on the bottom.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cooking with Beer

I'm not a huge beer drinker but I do like to toss back a cold one now and then. I think it's fun to cook with alcohol too, so when I saw the article on cooking with beer in the latest issue of Vegetarian Times I made it a point to try some of the recipes (4 of the 5 recipes are vegan too - bonus!). Plus this gave me an excuse to pick up a variety pack of local brew. A few days ago I made the Tempeh in Hearty Mushroom-Lager Sauce. It was simple to make and tasted amazing. Basically it's a mix of button and shiitake mushrooms simmered in beer with fried tempeh added at the end. We had it over red quinoa with some nice chard on the side (that I also simmered in beer).

Last night I made the Ale-Braised Cabbage with Leeks, and this was also a winner. Especially with tasty seitan patties on the side. I still have plenty of beer in the fridge so maybe I'll try the black bean chili next.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Food for Baby

Our little one is eating more solids these days and we've been trying to make as much of his food as we can. We occasionally get the pre-packaged stuff but it's not that hard to make food for him ourselves. We buy organic fruits and veggies, fresh where we can but sometimes frozen, and cook them until soft. Then we puree them in a food processor and freeze individual portions in ice cube trays. We store the little cubes in a container in the freezer and then thaw one or two at a time in a ramekin with a bottle warmer (and when I say 'we' I mean the royal 'we' because it's mostly Darlene doing this).

What's been cool for us about doing this is that it's made us appreciate how tasty and beautiful plain unadulturated fruits and veggies can be. What we have on hand at the moment is shown below - apples, cherries, mango, pears, spinach, cauliflower, red lentils, sweet potatoes, carrots and red quinoa.

He's eaten all of these, though with varying degrees of enthusiasm. His favorite fruit is pears and his favorite veggie is sweet potatoes.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Vegan and Cheesey

Not long ago a wonderful vegan friend gave us a gift certificate to Food Fight Grocery. It's the best gift we've received in a long time, and that includes what we got each other for Christmas. We got some yummy snacks (Tings are so addictive!) but perhaps what we were most excited about was the opportunity to try Sheese, the vegan cheese that everyone's talking (or blogging) about. We opted for the sharp cheddar style and the blue style and we already had in mind an application for each one. In the last post I mentioned that we had the cheddar style on a taco soup, but what we really wanted to do was make tacos. We also got a boxed taco filling mix from Food Fight so this was a super-easy weeknight meal. We toasted blue corn taco shells and added the taco filling along with salsa, shredded lettuce and shredded Sheese.

It's been a long time since either of us has had cheese but this stuff really reminded us of the dairy-based stuff (but without the cruelty). It shreds well and tastes great - in fact I'd go so far as to say it's hands down the best vegan cheese I've had.

Another obvious application is pizza. We weren't sure about how tasty the mozzarella style would be so we went the very non-traditional route. Neither of us were vegan in college and we both have had our fair share of Buffalo chicken wings in the past, especially since Darlene grew up in Western New York. Wings are frequently served with blue cheese dressing and we were seeking to create a similar flavor profile using the blue style Sheese. The sauce for our pizza was a mix of equal parts hot sauce and melted Earth Balance margarine. On top of that was some chicken-style seitan; more hot sauce went on top of that, and our pie was topped with the shredded Sheese. It didn't melt all that well but that didn't bother us because this was one awesome pizza! I had some dough and a little of the sauce left so I also made bread sticks topped with the sauce. Quite the fun and tasty meal!