Posts Tagged seitan

VeganMoFo: Native Foods

When I signed up for a conference in Newport Beach, I didn’t know much about the town other than the fact that it was the setting of Arrested Development.  Then, I found out there is a Native Foods there.  Then, I found out it was right across the street from the hotel hosting the conference.  Then, I found out it was under a ten minute walk from the hotel to the restaurant!  I had never had the opportunity to eat there, but could tell from their menu that it was the type of place I would like.

I ate there all four days of the conference, and I was really excited to post about it.  Then, my phone was stolen, along with the photos of my meals.  Sad face!

I’m going to tell you about the dishes I tried there anyway, because they were all so good!  Luckily, it seems like I can borrow other photos from the internet.

photo source blog.nativefoods.com

I first went for a late lunch on the day I arrived, after flying west across the country.  I wasn’t feeling my best and although everything sounded delicious, I knew that something on the healthier side would hit the spot.  I went with the Sesame Kale Macro Bowl – Grilled Native Tempeh atop steamed kale, brown rice, creamy ginger sesame sauce, tangy sauerkraut, gomasio and toasted sesame seeds. Green onion garnish and crunchy cucumber seaweed salad on the side.  I’m a sucker for sauerkraut, and my only complaint was that I could’ve used about triple the amount they gave me.

photo credit – blog.nativefoods.com

I also got an Oatmeal Creme Pie to take back to my room.  It was less authentically Little Debbie-esque than the one I had in Austin, but still very good.  The cookies were thick and a little crumbly, and the filling was like whipped cream.

photo credit – blog.nativefoods.com

Next, I tried their Classic Deli Reuben – thinly-sliced, deli-style Native Reuben Seitan piled high on grilled marble rye.  Topped with homemade sauerkraut, Native Horseradish Cheese and a slather of Russian dressing.  Told you I’m a sucker for sauerkraut.  I’ve had many variations on a vegan Reuben from many different restaurants, and never met one I didn’t like.

The seitan really is pink!  And, like this photo, I also ordered a side of potato salad, which was very tasty and not too heavy, with plenty of fresh dill.

photo credit – http://www.ocmenus.com

For an early dinner Friday evening, I went with what I really wanted: the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger and sweet potato fries.  Thinly sliced Native Original Seitan, melted cheddar, caramelized onions, and crispy Native Bacon on a bun slathered with BBQ sauce and ranch dressing, romaine, carrots, onions, and tomato. Topped with crunchy battered dill pickle chips.  This beast of a sandwich really was piled up that high, and was difficult to put together.  It didn’t really taste like a “burger” since the meaty part was seitan, but it was still really amazing.  Every bite had a different texture and flavor; the warm, melty cheese, the crunchy, smoky bacon, the cool dressing, spicy BBQ sauce and crunchy veggies.  And I adored the fried pickle chips.

Despite making it through that massive sandwich, I had room for dessert.  The Strawberry Shortcake Parfait is vanilla cake layered with almond creme and fresh sliced organic strawberries.  I like a biscuity texture for shortcakes, so the cake didn’t quite hit the spot for me, but the almond creme was kind of mind blowingly delicious.  It was smooth and fluffy and the delicate almond flavor played nicely with the vanilla and strawberry.

photo credit – http://www.ocmenus.com

For my last meal there I had to try one of the entree salads, namely the popular Ensalada Azteca – fresh avocado, cucumber, and jicama salsa atop quinoa, romaine, and an award-winning mango lime vinaigrette. Topped with currants, toasted pumpkin seeds, and cilantro.  It was a massive salad, definitely enough for a full meal.  There were lots of great contrasting flavors and textures going on.  And yes, it did come with a big mango slice and a whole sprig of cilantro like this picture!

I really love their approach at Native Foods.  They make everything in house, including the buns, cheeses, seitan and sauces, and you can tell that a lot of care is put into each plate.  If there was a location near me I would make an attempt at trying every menu item!

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VeganMoFo: Seitan Hot Dog

I love veggie dogs, any brand really, but they’re very much the definition of processed food, which I try to avoid.  I also really like seitan or soy sausages like Field Roast and Tofurky, but they tend to be a little calorie-heavy for what I want in one sandwich.  So when I saw the Seitan Hot Dog recipe on My Vegan Cookbook, I knew I’d be making it for tailgating season.  I really enjoy My Vegan Cookbook’s recipes; he doesn’t post very often, but when he does you can tell he’s put a lot of work into perfecting the recipe.

The dogs steamed up perfectly, with a firm but smooth texture.  The beans and wheat germ make them more tender than sausages made from just wheat gluten, and the nutritional yeast, liquid smoke and other seasonings give it a nice savory flavor.  They don’t taste quite as hot-doggy as the commercial variety, but they do taste great!  When I make them again, my one change will be to leave out the Old Bay.  I love Old Bay in general, but the celery seed flavor didn’t jive with everything else in my opinion.

with ketchup, mustard, relish, and grilled onions & peppers

They grill up beautifully, and freeze very well.  For tailgates I would take one out of the freezer in the morning and put it in the cooler.  By the time it was time to cook it would have thawed just enough.

As suggested in the recipe, I used the rest of the beans to make a chili dog (bowl), scooped up with toast points because we ran out of buns.

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VeganMoFo: OBR Week – Almost Vegan

I hadn’t seen Almost Vegan before I met Amber at Vida Vegan Con, and her charming ways immediately won me over.  Amber eats an “almost vegan” diet, and from what I can tell most of the recipes she posts are vegan, with a focus on raw food. She actually just turned in the manuscript for her first cookbook, an all raw cookbook.  Plus, her boyfriend Matt performs some mean karaoke.

A lot of her recipes were tempting, but on the day I was choosing this one-two punch of Latin food sounded fantastic.

This is Yellow Cilantro Rice, Venezuelan Black Beans and Cuban ‘Ropa Vieja’ Shredded Seitan, which were all adaptions from Viva Vegan.  Amber made this meal in three hours, I made this meal in…three days.  The first step was cooking the sofrito, a mixture of onion, peppers, garlic and oil.  I reduced the oil by half, because that’s what I do.  I also made seitan, from the recipe in Veganomicon.  The next day, I soaked and cooked the black beans.  Then on the third day, I finally prepared the meal!

The yellow rice is supposed to get its color from annatto oil, but Amber didn’t have any so she used turmeric, which worked just fine for me.  The black beans were seasoned with bay leaf, sofrito, tomatoes, cumin and brown sugar, and they were very delicious.  The seitan ropa vieja involved the same sort of seasonings, and reminded me that I don’t eat seitan often enough.  That’s some wilted swiss chard with onion in the back.  This was a darned delicious meal, and the recipes made a ton of food.  The flavors were mellow but good and harmonious, perfect for spicing up with Tapatio.

I’ve got my eye on more of Amber’s recipes, particularly the Single Serving Raw Blondie.

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Pot Likker

Lately, my blog hasn’t quite lived up to its name.  It’s been more like Vegan Stuff I Ate That Other People Made Outside My Home.  So here’s something I actually made, complete with a recipe!

Way back in February when I went to see Isa’s demo at the Ferry Building farmers market, I made a point to stop by Rancho Gordo’s booth.  Rancho Gordo sells lots of great stuff including beans, corn, chiles and rice, but I only had eyes for the beans.  I must’ve looked perplexed by the selection, because the guy working the booth offered some suggestions.  He highly recommended the Snowcap Beans, and mentioned that they’re good in pot likker.  Needless to say I bought them, and then had to find out exactly what pot likker is!

Pot likker (or liquor) is essentially the liquid left behind after cooking greens.  Here’s a very concise wikipedia description, and a much longer article that I did not read entirely but you might find interesting.  Because it’s a scrappy southern dish the traditional versions involve some sort of pork product or meat broth, so I set about making a vegan version.  I wanted mine to be a full meal in a bowl, with potatoes, turnips and seitan ham.  I couldn’t find a seitan ham recipe that seemed perfect, so I made up my own, based on the seitan recipe in Veganomicon.  The flavor of the seitan is perfect but the texture is a little soft, so if you have a tip for nice, firm seitan use it, and let me know!

Pot Likker

I used Rancho Gordo’s Snowcap beans, but any dry or fresh field peas or lima beans should work.  If the beans are very dry or old the cooking time may need to be increased.

2 Tbs canola oil
1 recipe Ham-ish Seitan, cut into bite-sized pieces (recipe follows)
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb dry beans, soaked overnight and drained
1 bunch collard greens, cleaned and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch turnips (about 4), cut into 1/2-inch dice, greens cut into 1-inch pieces
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
6 cups water
1/2 cup dry vermouth
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
hot sauce, to serve (optional)

1. Place the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the seitan and saute until browned, about 8-9 minutes.  Transfer seitan to a plate and set aside.
2. Add the onion, garlic, and a generous pinch of salt to the pot and saute about 6 minutes, until the onions are tender.
3. Add the remaining ingredients (beans through vermouth), and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat to simmer, and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, until beans and potatoes are tender.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot, topped with hot sauce.

Servings: 8

Amount Per Serving
Calories 434.84
Calories From Fat (13%) 57.13
% Daily Value
Total Fat 6.53g 10%
Saturated Fat 0.71g 4%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 384.95mg 16%
Potassium 1606.2mg 46%
Total Carbohydrates 63.54g 21%
Fiber 13.8g 55%
Sugar 6.1g
Protein 29.3g 59%

Ham-ish Seitan

1 cup vital wheat gluten
3 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 Tbs chickpea flour
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs maple syrup
1 Tbs olive oil
1/8 tsp liquid smoke

Cooking Liquid
4 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 cup apple cider
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 tsp liquid smoke

1. In a large bowl, combine the vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, chickpea flour and black pepper.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the water, soy sauce, tomato paste, maple syrup, olive oil and liquid smoke.
3. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix well with a wooden spoon, until completely combined.
4. Knead for 3 minutes, then let rest a few minutes.
5. While the dough is resting, combine the cooking liquid ingredients (vegetable broth through liquid smoke) in a large pot.
6. Cut the dough into three pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball and flatten a little.
7. Put the seitan pieces in the cooking liquid.  Cover and bring to a boil.
8. As soon as the liquid is boiling, reduce the heat to simmer.  Partially uncover the pot to vent, and simmer for one hour.
9. Turn the heat off and let the seitan come to room temperature in the liquid.

Servings: 6
Yield: about 1 lb

Amount Per Serving
Calories 139.8
Calories From Fat (19%) 26.81
% Daily Value
Total Fat 3.07g 5%
Saturated Fat 0.38g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 462.45mg 19%
Potassium 119.96mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 10.65g 4%
Fiber 1.9g 8%
Sugar 2.96g
Protein 18.64g 37%

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Roasted Seitan Fajitas & Chimichurri Tofu

That CSA delivery that I posted about last time and said I didn’t remember what I did with it?  I remember now, at least what I did with some of it.  Gosh, I’m so organized these days!

I had a bunch of little bell peppers on my hands, so I thought that I ought to make fajitas.  Fajitas are, after all, delicious as well as being a fantastic use of peppers. Fajitas, however, are not my friend in the way that I always put too much stuff in the saute pan and it ends up all crowded and hard to stir and doesn’t saute as much as cook down and get soft.  Also, you have to keep stirring the stuff around.  So I thought to myself that I could try sticking them in the oven to see if the oven would do all the work for me.  Work it did, indeed.

I also had a bunch of peaches and even though I love peaches the most just as they are, I decided I would try to make a peach salsa.  I looked at a few recipes online and decided in the end to just put what I thought would taste good in a bowl and see what happened.

The fajita filling turned out fantastic.  The veggies were cooked but still firm, the seitan a bit crispy on the edges, and the oil and mushroom juices were just enough to keep the whole thing moist but not dripping.  I show you a picture of just the filling because…

I didn’t really make fajitas.  I only had larger tortillas, so I went for a fajita burrito.  Just as good, and possibly less messy.  In the front we’ve got cucumber and jicama slices, Amy’s refried black beans in the back, chunky guacamole and peach salsa on the burrito.  The jicama was really awful and almost inedible.  Maybe it’s not jicama season?  Apart from the jicama, this was a really tasty meal.  The peach salsa was fantastic, if I do say so myself.  I didn’t even miss the tomatoes, although there were tomatoes in the guac just incase.

Roasted Seitan Fajitas

2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dried oregano
dash each of onion powder, garlic powder & cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp sugar
1 lb seitan, sliced into strips
1 large or 2 small bell peppers (red or green), sliced into strips
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced
1/2 lb mushrooms, halved or quartered
2 Tbs olive or canola oil
small tortillas

toppings
lettuce
salsa (regular or peach salsa, recipe below)
guacamole
vegan sour cream
shredded vegan cheese
fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Combine all spices (chili powder through sugar) in a small bowl and mix well.
3. Place the seitan, peppers, onion and mushrooms in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the oil over and stir to coat. Sprinkle on the seasoning mixture and stir well, making sure ingredients are well combined and coated.
4. Line a baking pan with foil. Transfer seitan mixture to the baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once after 15 minutes.
5. Spoon filling into tortillas and top with your choice of toppings.

Serves 3-4.

(I used the basic seitan recipe from Veganomicon, doubling it and freezing the rest for later use.)

Peach Salsa

4 small or 2 large ripe peaches, cut into small dice
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbs minced red onion
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 tsp salt
heaping Tbs chopped fresh cilantro

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Refrigerate and allow flavors to combine.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

I also had a big bunch of parsley that needed using, and while I love parsley pesto, I was in the mood for something different.  I had heard of chimichurri sauce but never tried it, so I decided that was the way to go.  I had also seen pictures of a baked chimichurri tofu floating around on some blogs, a tester for the forthcoming Vegan Latina cookbook, so I at least knew it would work on tofu.  Upon Googling, I found that there are about a bajillion ways to make chimichurri, and they all claim to be authentic.  I also came across this recipe for Grilled Tofu with Chimichurri Sauce, which looked perfect enough to make just as is.

I was intrigued by trying the dry rub technique on tofu and worried that it wouldn’t work, but it actually worked really well.  This is not a recipe for tofu haters – aside from the dry rub and the chimichurri sauce, it’s really just a slab of grilled tofu.  That’s fine by me though, I love me some tofu.

I forwent the garlic bread called for in the recipe and stuck with toasted, thick-sliced whole wheat bread.  In the end the recipe was easy to make, relatively healthy (didn’t need all the oil called for), and downright delicious.  I am now a fan of chimichurri.  Also, I don’t know why I felt the need to include two green veggies with my green-sauced meal, but that’s steamed spinach and roasted brussels sprouts up there.

That’s it for tonight, folks.  I’ve got planned posts to catch us up on laptop lunches, as well as a massive one to document the last four weekends, which were packed with food and fun.

On a personal note, I just acquired the entire NKOTB discography and will be listening like mad before I see them in concert next week.  I never got to see them when I was younger, so I’m pretty excited!  Don’t judge me.  I also finally sent in my application to a certain school that I really want to attend this Fall, and should hear back within a few weeks!

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Chicken n’ Beer

I couldn’t think of a better title for this post, so I’m going with it.

My thinking for this meal went:  I have four tart apples from my CSA that aren’t my favorite type for snacking on, I should make applesauce.  People put applesauce on pork chops, right?  I should put applesauce on some sort of meaty thing.  Seitan cutlets would work, but I really didn’t like the recipe from VCON.  How bout this recipe for chicken-style seitan cutlets?  Okay, and I’ll have baked acorn squash and steamed collards on the side.  That’s a whole lot of sweet in one dinner, what about something bitter to balance it out?  I had good luck with the balsamic reduction for my stromboli, I wonder what a beer reduction would be like?

Thus was born Grilled Chicken-Style Seitan Cutlets with Savory Applesauce and Pale Ale Reduction.

It turned out pretty good, all in all.  You can’t really see the reduction, the color blended into everything else.  The seitan cutlets are great, I would highly recommend them.  Good texture, and rolling them out with a rolling pin is MUCH easier than trying to stretch them by hand.  There are some leftover in my freezer right now, and that makes me happy.  The applesauce ingredients were minced red onion, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, lemon juice and peeled apples.  It was very, very tasty.  I loved the fresh ginger flavor that came through.  The beer reduction…well…I wouldn’t recommend anyone make a reduction from beer unless they really like beer flavor to begin with.  I used a pale ale, which was pretty hoppy and might not have been the best choice.  It became very bitter as it reduced, so I added a bit of sugar and salt to help it out.  It was okay.  If I try a beer reduction again I’ll use a lighter, less bitter beer, maybe like a hefeweizen.

Speaking of beer, I was tickled to come home one night and find this selection of beer looking out from our fridge.

I have to admit that we normally keep a pretty decent amount of beers in the fridge, but not this kind of amazing selection.  These were all either gifted to us, left at our house by a friend, bought as a single or the remainder of a six pack.  As Homer would say:  Mmmm, beer…

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Sweet Potato Chili & Thanksgiving

All my posts as of late have an “&” in the title.  I will try to find time to post more often and avoid the “ands”!

Last week I wanted to make a big pot of deliciousness.  It’s definitely chili weather here and it’s been at least a year since I last made chili, so chili it was.  I use this as my basic veggie chili go-to recipe.  If you follow the recipe you’ll have a tasty, meaty omni-friendly chili, and it’s great for variations.  It’ll taste good pretty much no matter what you do to it.  I’m trying to stay away from processed food though, so instead of faux meat I diced a huge sweet potato and tossed it in.

To go with the chili I made my whole wheat cornbread and wilted some arugula.

On to Thanksgiving!  This was my first Thanksgiving with bf’sfamily, so I didn’t want to get to crazy with the “weird” vegan food and I stayed fairly traditional.

When I made the cornbread above I doubled the recipe so that I could make cornbread stuffing, using this recipe from Vegan Chef.

This was very tasty!  Everyone else kind of looked at it funny, but that’s fine – more leftovers for me!  The only thing I might change next time would be to use a little less parsley and green onion, and a bit more broth to make it all mush together.

The best green bean casserole, from Fat Free Vegan.  This was a hit with everyone.  Well, at least everyone who likes green beans.

Robin Robertson’s Cranberry Relish.  I’m not a huge cranberry sauce person, but I got two bags for 99 cents, and this recipe looked really interesting, with additions like shallots and red bell peppers.  I liked it a lot, but it’s still not something I can eat a lot of.

My cashew miso gravy.  So good.

It’s very hard to get a decent picture of just gravy.

My plate.  BF’s mom left some potatoes on the side for me to mash with Earth Balance and soy milk.

For my “entree” I made seitan cutlets from VCON.  I have to say, I’m not digging them very much.  It might just be that I left them too thick, but the texture turned out so rubbery I have a hard time eating them.  For this meal I cut one in half to make it thinner, coated it in flour and pan-fried it.  It was pretty good this way, along with gravy and everything else on the plate.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the rest of them that are currently stashed in my freezer though.

Here’s another view of my plate, just because I think the picture turned out better.

For dessert I made Pumpkin Pie Brownies from The PPK, which I have been wanting to try for over a year.

They were really easy to make and the texture turned out great, but I thought they weren’t sweet enough, which is odd for me.  Normally I think desserts are too sweet!  The recipe called for bittersweet chocolate and I used unsweeted, so I’m sure that took a little sweetness away, but I was very surprised.  They were kind of an “adult” dessert, where the bitterness of the chocolate comes through.  If I make them again I will definitely add more sugar, maybe some chocolate chips in the brownies and whipped cream for the top.  Then I think they will be stellar.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am holding my very first contest!  Well…it’s not really a contest…more like a giveaway.  I am approaching 1000 approved comments, crazy!  To thank you all for continuing to come back and read (even when I’m only posting once a week), I will send a package of sweets to whomever posts the 1000th comment!  I won’t say how close I am – it may not even happen for this post.  But I will announce the winner when it happens.

Lastly, I only took two lunches for last week’s shortened workweek, so here they are.

11-24 better than cream cheese & pumpkin butter sandwich on wheat,
celery & carrots sticks, banana pieces, candy cane jo jo’s

11-25 sweet potato chili, cornbread, wilted arugula, a clementine

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and is getting into the holiday spirit!

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Cleaning Out My Kitchen

As previously mentioned, I am moving across the country in three weeks (ACK!!!).  In the name of not wasting food and saving money, I am going to try to eat as much of the food in my freezer and pantry as possible before I leave.  I knew I had quite a bit stockpiled, but going through my freezer is always a fun adventure.

I started the clean-out game last week with this meal, mini bowtie pasta with cheesy sauce, sauteed seitan beer brats, zucchini and red pepper, caramelized onions, paprika and roasted brussels sprouts .

pantry:  pasta, paprika
freezer:  beer brat, cheesy sauce
leftover from another meal:  zucchini, half an onion
bought:  red pepper, brussels sprouts

Last night for dinner I made a similar sort of concoction - rice, mushrooms, peas and tofurkey kielbasa with cheesy sauce, savory carrot salad.

pantry:  rice, salad dressing ingredients
freezer:  cheesy sauce, peas
leftover from fourth of july:  kielbasa, mushrooms
from the fridge:  carrots

Want to play the clean-out game with me?  Here’s the list of what I have to work with.

freezer:

one portion tamale pie
veggie broth
two seitan beer brats
pecans
alphabet soup
chocolate wafer cookies
veggie burgers
chickpea cutlets
chick’n strips
2 bags marinara
white bread
wheat bread
ww hamburger buns
seeded burger buns
ww hotdog buns
ww rolls
biscuits
english muffins
mini bagels
pie crust
blueberry waffles
strawberry jalapeno corn muffins
blueberry muffins
gf orange poppyseed mini muffins
mini bran muffins
oatmeal raisin cookies
choco-choco chip-walnut cookies
bit of broccoli
peas
lima beans
shelled & unshelled edamame
corn
mixed berries
bananas
onion rings
salsa

pantry:

can split pea soup
can corn
can rogan josh curry sauce
can chickpeas
cellophane noodles
1/2 c quinoa
shake n’ bake
ww orzo
4 ww lasagna noodles
spelt spaghetti
potato buds
panko
bulgur

I can figure out what to do with the cookies, muffins and soup (eat them!), any ideas for using the rest?  The breads in the freezer will make at least three pounds of bread crumbs.  Some ideas I have are:

chickpea cutlet parmesan (chickpea cutlets, marinara, pasta, shake n’ bake?)
falafel and tabouleh (chickpeas and bulgur)
succotash (lima beans and corn)

I don’t think realistically I can eat all this stuff in three weeks, but I’m gonna try!

Unrelated cute picture:  It rained a lot here yesterday; I got soaked walking home from the bus stop.  There is a pond in the courtyard of my apartment complex that is apparently full of frogs, and when it storms they go NUTS!  They were so loud that I had a hard time sleeping last night.  When I went in the hallway to take out the trash this little guy was glued to the wall.

I’m not sure how he found his way up to the second floor, and if I were a less squeamish person I might’ve returned him to the ground.  Here’s hoping froggy found his way home.

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Whirlwind Weekend

Greetings.  I had a great food and friends weekend, and I wanted to write this post Monday morning, but I woke up with a terrible sore throat.  Soon it became the kind of sickness that completely knocks you out, and by nighttime I had a fever.  Yesterday I went to the doctor and found out I have strep throat so I filled her prescriptions, took the pills, and again was knocked out.  Last night I was far too lethargic and nauseous to type anything, so here I am Wednesday morning, pre-med ingestion, to write out this post that’s been hanging over my head then resign myself to another day of boredom and nausea.

When I was in high school, if I spent a Friday night alone I would get really depressed.  Now I find I’m perfectly content to spend an entire Friday night at home cooking, and that is what I did on Friday.  I knew Saturday I was going to have no free time, so I cooked and prepped everything Friday night.  I also made pesto pizza for dinner using farmers market basil and tomatoes and VWAV pizza crust from the freezer.

pesto pizza

Upon taking the crust out of the freezer, I was reminded how awesome I am, because I had included this note to myself on how to bake it, so I wouldn’t have to look it up again.

pizza note

The pesto recipe and tofu ricotta were also from VWAV.  I put the red onion on sparingly, but afterwords wished I had put more on, because it was really yummy.

pesto pizza

Janeen had invited me to brunch Saturday morning, so I got up and finished up the food to take to her place.  I made what I’m calling Monkey Rolls – banana-chocolate-walnut cinnamon rolls.  I made the Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls from the Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk zine, subbing mashed banana for the pumpkin and adding chocolate chips and chopped toasted walnuts to the filling.  I also subbed canola oil for the margarine in both the rolls and the filling, as Janeen is allergic to soy.  I was most nervous about that substitution, but they turned out great.

monkey rolls

I had intentions of icing them with both vanilla and chocolate and almost skipped the chocolate part for lack of time, but I’m glad I went with both because I think the chocolate icing was the part that really took them over the top.

monkey rolls

I also made what I envisioned to be baked black bean & sweet potato taquitos.  Friday night I made the fillings, which were Refried Black Beans from Yellow Rose Recipes, and a sweet potato mash with lime juice, cilantro and minced chipotles.  Saturday morning I made my first homemade wheat tortillas from this recipe.  I made 12 tortillas instead of the 8 the recipe calls for, to make them smaller.

tortillas

They turned out really well for a first attempt, but they weren’t as pliable as I had hoped.  I wrapped each one around some of the black beans and sweet potato, secured them with a toothpick, and baked for about 15 minutes.  Right around the time I was trying to finish photgraphing and pack up for Janeen’s house, a crazy storm started rolling in and took all my light.  So I skeedaddled to Janeen’s just in time to beat the rain and took the rest of the photos by flash, and candlelight because Janeen is romantic like that.

taquitos

So the taquitos didn’t wrap up as I had hoped, but they tasted really good.  I served them with a quick guacamole and homemade enchilada sauce.  I like the enchilada sauce you can buy at the store (Old El Paso?) but felt like trying homemade.  I figured it couldn’t be too difficult.  I was skeptical about just how much a roux would do for an enchilada sauce, but it really did the trick.  The sauce had a silky mouthfeel that couldn’t have been acheived by just mixing ingredients together.  The only change I made was to add 2 tsp of sugar.  I like a sweet sauce.

Janeen made some excellent potatoes, cooked with a bruschetta mix and mushrooms.  These were really good.

She also put together a pretty fruit plate.

fruit plate

Here’s our candlelit spread.

brunch spread

We had planned a bike ride after brunch, but since it was storming we stayed in and ate like piggies.

brunch

Afterwards we went to watch bf’s band play at an afternoon benefit show, then retired to his house for a bbq.  I came home in between to clean up, and by the time I got there this was the spread on the coffee table.  Normally we’ll have out a bag or two of chips, but apparently that day we were partying like there were 20 of us even though there were only really 8.

chips

And for further exhibit of “how we roll”, here is the top shelf of the beer fridge.  Yes, there are two fridges and one is just for beer.

beer

For the bbq I made Apricot BBQ Sauce from VCon.  I was skeptical about how good this could be with no vinegar and such a small amount of tomato, but this is really good.  Make it now while apricots are in season!

apricot bbq sauce

I used this sauce to baste FatFree Vegan’s Barbecued Seitan Ribz.  So good.

ribz

I also made squash pickles.  You may recall that I first made them a while back, and wasn’t quite happy with the seasoning.  This time I got it right.  Nobody else seems to like these as much as I do, but I do like them.  So if you like squash and pickles, give them a try.

squash pickles

Squash Pickles

2 yellow squash and 1 zucchini, or 4 yellow squash, sliced
1 c vinegar (1/2 c apple cider, 1/2 c white)
1 c sugar
heaping tsp kosher salt
2 c water or enough to cover squash
medium to large shallot, very thinly sliced
1 tsp pickling spice
1/3 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp mustard seed
2 tsp celery seed

Put all ingredients in a non-reactive container and stir. Refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally.

For crisper pickles, salt the squash slices and let sit in a colander for a half hour. Rinse before adding to other ingredients.

My plate, with some grilled asparagus.

bbq

That’s it for now.  I have friends visiting this weekend and am concentrating on getting well before then.  And maybe going back to work, since that’s how I get paid.

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Annual Baseball Pilgrimage

Every summer a group of us take a road trip down to Tampa to watch the Rays (formerly the Devil Rays) play a couple weekend games.  We chose Memorial Day weekend so that we could recuperate on Monday, as one definitely requires a full day of rest afterwards.  This is my fourth year going, and every year the celebrations grow a little larger and a little wilder.  You can tailgate at Tropicana Field, so we show up a couple hours early and do it up right.

As most of my friends are quite content to eat hot dogs, burgers, and chicken wings all day long, I made quite a bit of food to take along and share.

First we have Joanna’s Beer Brats (the March 16th entry, currently at the top).  The recipe says that she made 10, and for whatever reason I decided to make them really big, and ended up with 8.  These guys were HUGE.  I selected a few bun-sized dogs for the road trip, and put the rest in the freezer.  A few of them were so large I’ll definitely have to chop them up small in order to use them in anything.  These were really tasty.  The texture is distinctively seitan-y, but the flavor as far as I can tell is dead on.  Very similar to Tofurkey’sBeer Brats which I really like, but about a million times cheaper.  Here they are posing with the beer from whence they came.  Next time I’ll use a nicer beer, this is just what I had in the fridge.

brats

I made a big batch of my favorite pasta salad, Wolfie’s Fiesta Pasta Salad from La Dolce Vegan.  The dressing on this stuff is unreal.  The original recipe is a little heavy on the pasta and light on the veggies for my taste, so I added extra peppers, peas and blanched broccoli.  And I used mini bowties instead of macaroni, just because they’re cute.

pasta salad

I also made a “fixings salad”.  The recipe is from the Food Network site, but I can’t seem to find it now.  I’ll post a link later if it’s still there.  All that’s in it is lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickle, olive oil and red wine vinegar, to go on burgers and sandwiches.  I thought it was a really cute idea, and nice since we wouldn’t have to cart all those things individually, but it didn’t go over too well.  It could be my friends just aren’t fixings kinds of people, or that the lettuce had wilted by the time we ate it (it tasted fine though), or that their burgers were mounded so high with mushrooms, bacon and cheese that there just wasn’t room.  Either way, I liked it and may make it again sometime for a cookout.  Just don’t mix it till right before you want to eat it!

fixings salad

Here we have VCON Chocolate-Chocolate Chip-Walnuts Cookies.  These got rave reviews.  They’re delicious and stay soft for days, and the recipe makes a ton so I’m still working on leftovers and have a stash in the freezer.  I can see myself making many variations on these in the future.

cookies

I wanted to take something for breakfast other than a Luna bar, so before we left Saturday I made FatFree Vegan’s Banana Coffee Cake.  I wanted to make it soy-free so soy-intolerant Janeen could partake, so I had to adapt the recipe.  My first instinct for soy yogurt replacement was mashed banana, but as the recipe already contained two bananas I was wary.  I asked Susan of FFV and she replied “you can never have enough banana”, and I tend to agree.  Because I’m a little insane, I made two variations.

coffee cake

For the first I subbed mashed banana for the soy yogurt and added 1/4 cup chocolate chips.

coffee cake

The other variation was peanut butter, because peanut butter and banana is the best.  I subbed 1/2 cup pb for the soy yogurt, flax and water, and added an extra 1/4 cup rice milk to keep the wet mixture at the right consistency.  I also added 1/4 cup peanuts since my pb was creamy, but I would definitely prefer to use crunchy pb in the future, as the peanuts got a little soft once baked inside the cake.  You can see the layer of bananas nicely in this one.

coffee cake

I forgot to sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the banana layer both times.  It would’ve been nice there in the middle, but the cakes were fine without.  My favorite was the peanut butter kind, although it was a bit more dense and crumbly.  I think everyone else gravitated towards the chocolate chip variation.  15 seconds in the microwave was the perfect fix to warm it back up after sitting overnight.

coffee cake

So yeah, I did all this the night before and the morning that we left.  I packed it all up to go in the cooler…

tailgating food

…and THEN we finally left.  The amount of food and drink (read:  beer) that we took for nine people was a little insane.  It filled up five coolers.  We got through most of it before the weekend was over though.

After the 2 1/2 hour drive, we were happy to find a nice spot in the shade.  Here is what I would look like if I regularly wore things like “hats” and “sunglasses”.  And I even remembered to put sunscreen on the first day!

tailgating

It was HOT that afternoon!  The forecast was for scattered thunderstorms and we brought a big tent just incase, but of course because we were prepared there wasn’t a drop of rain in sight.

For my tailgate meal before the game I had one of the brats on a bun with sauerkraut and mustard, my pasta salad, and another pasta salad Janeen made.  Hers had artichokes, roasted tomatoes, olives and cilantro and was delicious, as always.  She’s got me rethinking my stance on olives, just a little bit.  I also had too many chips, a couple beers, and probably a cookie or two.

tailgating

Here’s the view of Tropicana Field from our area.  This place is large and white and you can see it from very far away.  A lot of people don’t like going to games here because it’s enclosed and all artificial turf, but I like it just fine, mostly because it’s climate controlled.

tropicana firled

It was “70′s Night” at the Saturday game, which involved handing out blue afro wigs to the first 10,000 fans and an after-game show by The Commodores, which we didn’t end up staying for.  It also involved ridiculously photoshopped pictures of all the players.

baseball

baseball

The Rays (along with the rest of the world) are going green!  Any car with four or more people parks for free (which we did with two cars), and look at this cup our beers came in.

baseball cup

Although I don’t think that sentence is gramatically correct…

We stayed at our friend Nate’s parents’ lovely house in Tampa.  They live on a lake, have a pool, and don’t seem to mind if Nate’s friends come in and trash their house while they’re away on vacation.  We’re good kiddies though, we cleaned up before we left.  Saturday night we watched BJ Penn win his UFC fight, and the party lasted long into the night.  I layed down in this hammock for a couple minutes before I realized I had better get to bed, lest I spend the whole night in the hammock.

hammock

Here’s the view I had the next morning while I enjoyed my coffee cake.

lake

My eats at the Sunday tailgate, along with the requisite chips and beer, was a veggie burger with grilled mushrooms and onions, and a marinated portobello, both topped with the fixings salad.

tailgating

I also may have drank some champagne straight from the bottle with the aforementioned Janeen.  Well, we didn’t have any cups and it was the classy thing to do.

tailgating

There is a tank of live rays inside the stadium, so Sunday we went to see them first thing.  You can pet them, and you can even pay a few dollars to feed them, but none of us wanted our hands anywhere near there mouths.  Sea creatures and I don’t get along in a phobia type of way, so petting their wings was quite enough of a thrill for me.  These guys were hard to catch in a good picture, they’re fast!

rays

We had some debate about whether they like being in the tank and having people pet them all day.  They zoom right up to the side of the tank and let you pet them with no problems, although they might just be hoping for food each time.

rays

Courtesy of Adrian, a picture of me taking a picture of the rays.  Adrian’s camera has some neat-o function that singles out colors or something.

rays

Hope you enjoyed reliving my weekend through pictures.  Tonight it’s back to exercise and healthy eating.

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