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Back in my corned fauxsage hash post, I mentioned that, since I made my own seitan, the hash was made-from-scratchier than most omni hash-from-scratch. Now I present to you an EVEN MORE MADE-FROM-SCRATCHIER evening of home cooking.

My religion and pop culture class has been talking recently about Carolina barbecue as a religious ritual. If you’ve never been through the American South, you might not be familiar with a “pig pickin.” Basically, men roast a whole pig in a pit, shred it up, drench it with vinegary mustard-based Carolina barbecue sauce, and serve it to a crowd. I was inspired by all this talk of barbecue to recreate the classic Carolina barbecue sandwich without the cruelty–and I made every component with my own hands, in my own kitchen, in one afternoon.

First up, I made seitan. I actually made two batches in two different flavors, but the basic recipe for both of them was adapted from the pumpkin fauxsage I made last week. I made one chicken-flavor loaf and one beef-flavor loaf. Now, Carolina barbecue is made with pork. I am not equipped to make pork-flavored seitan, so I made do with “beef.”

On the left is beef-flavor seitan mix with sage, dehydrated onion, granulated garlic, paprika, chili powder, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and cayenne. On the right is chicken-flavor seitan mix with dehydrated onion, turmeric, crushed rosemary, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, and Old Bay seasoning. This is possibly the only use I will ever find for my tin of Old Bay. I used “beef style” and “chicken style” meatless soup mixes to make the broth for the liquid portion. I replaced the pumpkin in the recipe with an equal measure of pureed great northern beans.



And the finished products. In the first picture, the top loaf is chicken-flavor and the bottom is beef-flavor. In the sliced picture, the darker left-hand slice is “beef,” and the right-hand slice is “chicken.” In the interests of science, these slices were fried in a bit of oil and eaten straight.

While the seitan was in the oven, I got started on making buns. I used this recipe from Vegweb, and made it with half unbleached all-purpose and half white whole wheat flour. Making bread is fun–my mom used to bake her own bread all the time and enlisted her children as baker’s apprentices–but damn my hands get tired from kneading. I’ve found that it goes faster if I watch TV while I work.


Rising on top of the stove…


…and the finished product. These came out very soft and and a little bit sweet, and I quickly scarfed down a small roll spread with Smart Balance and jam. Delightful! While the rolls were in the oven, I got started on the most important component of dinner:  Carolina-style barbecue sauce.


If you’re not from the South, you probably think of the thick, smoky tomato-and-molasses based stuff as barbecue sauce. While a Memphis-style sauce is very tasty and I like to keep it around, I have developed quite a taste for sweet bright yellow Carolina-style sauce, which is made with mustard and vinegar. There are a lot of different recipes–most of them different only in their proportions–but mine is based around a 2:1 ratio of prepared yellow mustard and apple cider vinegar. To that, I add white sugar, brown sugar, cracked black pepper, and cayenne and simmer it for half an hour. [EDIT: I’ve put my sauce recipe in the comments, but there are literally soooooo many Carolina sauce recipes available on the internet that if mine doesn’t fit what’s in your pantry, there is definitely one out there that will]

I cut up some potatoes and roasted them in the oven exactly the way I roasted the vegetables for the borscht. While the potatoes were roasting, I shredded up a chunk of the beef-flavor seitan and let it crisp up with just a tiny bit of oil in a pan. I let them “burn” a little bit on one side to get some of the smoke flavor that barbecue has. To the pan of seitan, I added several spoonfuls of the sauce and stirred it until everything was evenly coated. Then all I had to do was pile it on a freshly-baked bun with plenty of extra sauce and dig in!


If I were doing this properly I would have made sweet tea, but I didn’t think about it in time, so I have a glass of orange juice instead. Also, if this were a pig pickin’, there would be coleslaw, but unfortunately I didn’t have any cabbage. Extra sauce in the cup for dipping the potato wedges.

And now I am sitting on my bed feeling completely exhausted and sipping a cup of apricot tea. Was all the made-from-scratching worth it? Yes, but not every day. Besides, now I have a whole batch of sandwich rolls, loaves of seitan, and a container of barbecue sauce which will keep me from putting forth too much effort for future meals.

I love Sunday breakfast. For many people, Sunday breakfast is when the whole family sleeps late and then tucks into a traditional spread together. Or they go out to brunch after church. Or they host their own brunch for their friends with pitchers of mimosas. I eat Sunday breakfast alone. Friendboy is out of town today, but even when he’s here he sleeps until the middle of the afternoon on the weekends.

Yesterday I made pumpkin fauxsage using the recipe at Have Cake Will Travel, and then realized that I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with a massive one pound log of fauxsage. This morning I decided to recreate a dish that I loved as a child:  corned beef hash. If you’re thinking of the mush that comes in cans from Hormel, that’s not what I’m talking about. That stuff is just one processing step away from being dog food. I’m talking about made from scratch, and I feel somewhat pleased that, having made my own “meat,” my hash is made-from-scratch-ier than any omni hash that isn’t cooked up by a cowboy.

I cut up some red potatoes into tiny cubes and boiled them in salted water until just tender, then drained them and set them aside. I reserved about three tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Then I diced the pumpkin fauxsage, a portobello mushroom cap, and two giant cloves of garlic. I melted some Smart Balance Light in my large frying pan and added a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil to keep the Smart Balance from burning off. I sauteed the garlic just until I could smell it, and then added the fauxsage and a generous sprinkle of kosher salt. When the fauxsage started to look nicely browned on one side, I added the diced mushroom and stirred until they softened. I turned down the heat, pushed all the fauxsage and mushrooms to one half of the pan, and added the potatoes to the other half with a couple more pats of Smart Balance. I cracked black and red pepper over everything, stirring the potatoes in their half of the pan until they were coated with Smart Balance and spices. I then stirred everything back together and let it sit, coming back every two or three minutes to stir things around. When the potatoes started to look “fried,” I poured the reserved tablespoons of cooking liquid over the hash and let it sit over low heat until the liquid had absorbed and the fauxsage had begun to dry out again.

During the last stage of cooking the hash, I whipped together some waffle batter. I usually make waffles with Ener-G egg replacer, but I’m out, so I took a bit of a gamble and stirred in some applesauce in the place of an egg. The applesauce sub works fine in muffins and quick breads, but I didn’t know how it would work out in waffles. Verdict:  absolutely fine, they didn’t taste much different from the waffles I make with Ener-G. My waffle iron smoked a little more than usual, but the waffles themselves were not burnt. I regret not taking a picture of the waffle iron. It’s a battered old warhorse and is older than I am–my mother passed it down to me when she got a new, prettier model. My waffle iron has no safety features to speak of, the internal cooking surface is cast iron, and it weighs a ton. I hope it never stops working, I love it.

My waffles covered in three-berry preserves, surrounded by a moat of fauxsage hash. The waffles were good, but I am ADDICTED to the hash. Between this plate and all of the “tasting” I did, I ate half the pan by myself. It’s salty, starchy, and delicious–just like hash should be.

It’s true. Like many of you, I grew up in an omnivorous family. I became a vegetarian at age twelve, and after that my awareness of what meaty tidbits my family ate on a regular basis becomes a little dim. What I’m getting at is this:  I don’t know what omnivores eat on the nights when they’re tired and it’s late and they haven’t planned anything and they need to clear some things out of the fridge, but I do know what vegans eat in this situation. Stir fry. A concoction that often features Eastern flavor components like ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil, the contents of stir fry are often based entirely on what is at hand and have only the most nebulous relation to anything found in Asian cuisine. The abuses that we, as a group, have committed against the concept of “Japanese food” in the name of using up some fast-fading vegetables are numerous and surprisingly tasty.

There are times when a stir fry is planned in advance and executed brilliantly, and then there are stories like tonight’s. I fell asleep, and woke up at 8pm both hungry and unwilling to put forth hard work. “Stir fry!” I said to myself, thinking of half a packet of carrot udon noodles in the cupboard. I rummaged around in the fridge to see what lucky vegetables would be included.

Looks like tonight’s winners are some impulsively purchased green beans, the last quarter of an onion, a portobello mushroom cap (I feel like this is not an Asian mushroom), and a stalk of green onion. Unbidden, my mother’s voice comes to my mind:  “What about protein?” But then out of the freezer, like a bat, flies a bag of frozen edamame. Veggies, carbs, protein–this is beginning to look like a perfectly healthy meal. There is a hitch. I am completely out of both soy sauce and sesame oil, which as far as I am concerned come standard in stir fry. It’s too late, I’ll have to make do with crushed red pepper, cayenne, garlic, powdered ginger, and powdered onion soup mix. I fry everything up in vegetable oil, which does the job just fine even though it lacks the savory kick of sesame oil.

On the side I have a pile of “fridge pickles,” which are just slices of cucumber, radish, and green onion which have been marinating in vinegar and salt in the fridge. Don’t be fooled by their simplicity, they are a sign from the gods that we, the people of Earth, are loved.

I spent the whole afternoon cooking, although none of it showed up in my dinner. I tried to make oatmeal bread in my bread machine, which became a long and chaotic story and ended with finishing the loaf in the oven. It is quite edible but very unattractive, so I doubt that I will ever post a picture of the actual loaf. Simultaneously, I made the pumpkin fauxsage from Have Cake Will Travel using the pumpkin leftover from Thursday’s pumpkin muffins. I made one giant log of fauxsage, but in retrospect I should have broken it up into smaller links. It is tasty, but enormous and a little more spongy than I would have liked. The fauxsage will be featured in more detail during breakfast tomorrow, but I’d like to close with something that will probably not show up on any other blog during Veganmofo.

That is a slice of homemade oatmeal bread topped with a layer of Tofutti “cream cheese,” a piece of fried and salted pumpkin fauxsage, and horseradish preserved in beet juice. Sometimes my tastebuds channel Eastern Europe in very strange ways.

On Facebook, I referred to today’s baking spree as “Muffinocalypse 09.” I woke up this morning and decided that the way to kick off Veganmofo was muffins. I had promised Friendboy more muffins earlier this week, and had specifically promised pear-butterscotch and apple-pumpkin, and that’s what I delivered.

The first batch was pear-butterscotch, using the accidentally vegan butterscotch morsels sold at Food Lion, previously featured in my chocolate-butterscotch chip cookies. I used a basic non-vegan apple muffin recipe as a jumping off point, but I feel totally comfortable calling this “my” recipe, because the only things the final recipe had in common with the original were flour and sugar.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ cup vegan white cane sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup plain soymilk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
¼ cup vegan margarine, melted
1 pear
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ cup pear puree
1 ½ cups of vegan butterscotch chips, divided (1 and ½)
1 TBSP spiced rum

PEAR PUREE
1 15-oz can of halved pears in juice
1 TBSP vegan white sugar

Peel and chop your pear. Put in a covered bowl with 1 tsp lemon juice to prevent browning and stick it in the fridge. Make your pear puree—break up the pear halves in a 15-oz can of pears and place them in your food processor or blender, along with about 2 TBSP of the juice from the can and 1 TBSP white sugar. Process until relatively smooth—a few lumps are fine. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl. In a medium-size bowl, mix together the white sugar, brown sugar, and vegan margarine. Add ¼ cup of the pear puree and mix, then stir in the 1 cup of soymilk. Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, stirring as you do to combine. If the batter seems too dry or sticky, add another tablespoon or so of the pear puree. Fold in the chopped pears and ½ cup of butterscotch chips. Cover the batter and set it aside, it’s time to make butterscotch sauce.

Now is a good time to start preheating your oven to 400 degrees. On your stovetop, rig up a double boiler—if you don’t know, it’s a saucepan of water topped with either a metal bowl or another saucepan with ingredients in it. Bring the bottom saucepan to a boil, and put 1 cup of butterscotch chips and 1 TBSP of spiced rum in the top saucepan. I strongly recommend a nonstick saucepan on top. Stir the contents of the top saucepan continuously until the butterscotch chips have melted down completely into a sauce. Add this sauce to the muffin batter and stir once or twice, just enough to swirl the sauce through.

Spoon your batter into your muffin tin—should make twelve regulation-size muffins. Bake for twenty minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out “clean”—for our purposes, this means without uncooked batter, because there WILL be melted butterscotch on the toothpick. As tempting as these might be to eat right out of the oven, let them cool before removing from the muffin tins, as the butterscotch becomes extremely hot.

The second batch of muffins essentially followed this recipe from Diabetic Living, with the following changes: 1 ripe mashed banana in place of the two eggs, vegan buttermilk (soymilk + lemon juice) in place of the buttermilk, 1/2 cup of brown sugar instead of 1/4 cup, and 3 tablespoons of rolled oats instead of 3 tablespoons of wheat germ. I had no wheat germ in the house.

As you might expect from only 1/3 cup of applesauce, these muffins aren’t very apple-y. Next time I would definitely add some peeled, chopped apples to the mix to up the apple factor. But with only 2 tablespoons of oil and 1/2 cup of sugar, these are pretty healthy muffins. And I can be honest with myself: the main ingredient in the other muffins is essentially candy. The pumpkin muffins are not dessert masquerading as breakfast.

After so much muffin-tasting, my stomach sort of hurt, so I went super-simple for dinner. Vegetable soup with diced tomatoes, great northern beans, green peas, carrots, garlic, a Telva vegetable broth cube, crushed red pepper, and cracked black pepper. And the most important bit for an irritated tummy:  saltines.

Friendboy was feeling sick today, and spent most of the afternoon reading or napping and making sad, sick noises. I am a huge compassionate soft-hearted girl, so I offered to make him soup for dinner. I ran through a list of possibilities–tomato, carrot, bean and barley, pumpkin–but he didn’t have any preference, so I went with one of my favorite combinations, kale and great northern beans. I don’t usually make it with barley, but I wanted to get as much good healthy stuff into him as possible, so I tossed some in.

Kale and White Bean Soup (with Barley)
2 1/2 cups water (or broth)
2 cups shredded kale
1 cup canned great northern beans, rinsed
1 medium-size carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup pearled barley
1/4 sleeve of Gimme Lean vegan sausage, or about 3.5 oz of your preferred vegan sausage
1 vegan stock cube (I use Telva Kosher Vegetable broth cubes; omit if using broth instead of water)
1 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Grease your hands with a little bit of oil or margarine, and form the Gimme Lean into small balls (about 1/4 inch or so each). If using another kind of vegan sausage, dice/cube/roll as you see fit. Heat 1T olive oil in a pot, and brown the “sausage.” When the sausage is browned, add the garlic and onions and let cook until onions are translucent. Stir in the kale–two cups will look like a lot, but it will shrink down–and the carrots, and add one cup of water. Cover and let sit over medium heat for a few minutes while the kale cooks down. Crush and add the stock cube. Add the seasonings and the beans and stir. Cover and let it cook down for another five minutes or so, then add the remaining cup and a half of water and the barley. Cover and let sit over low heat until the barley is cooked, about fifteen or twenty minutes. Adjust the seasonings to your taste. Serves 2 as a main course, would serve 4 as an appetizer.

On the side were saltine crackers, plus ice water for Friendboy and orange juice for me.

I’m sure this seems ridiculous, but of all of the things I cooked over the past couple of days, I was most excited about blueberry pancakes. Not because I had a surplus of blueberries kicking around and not because I am particularly fond of blueberry pancakes, but because I have never IN MY LIFE successfully made pancakes before this week. They always came out lumpy, thin, translucent, burnt, or rubbery, no matter what recipe I followed. Scratch? Failure. Boxed mixes? Failure. Who messes up making boxed pancake mix? I do, every time.

But the stars aligned on Thursday morning, and I pulled off perfect light, round pancakes. Accompanying these blueberry-cinnamon pancakes are a cup of Greek yogurt topped with three-berry preserves, red grapes, and Gimme Lean vegan sausage.

Next up are vegan chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. The recipe:
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 16-oz can of pumpkin puree, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, Ener-G egg replacer (2 eggs’ worth), 1 1/4 cups vegan cane sugar, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, and 2/3 cup of vegan chocolate chips.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonguetrip/3957097056/in/photostream/

 

At Whole Foods the other day, I discovered that Gimme Lean (my favorite vegan sausage) also comes in a beef-style version, so I bought some to make meatballs. I thought about just serving them with spaghetti, but my friendboy had a meatball sub for lunch and it sounded good to me. “Meatballs” browned in olive oil, served on a toasted sesame bun with tomato sauce and an Italian six-cheese blend that my roommate uses for pizza. On the side are braised brussels sprouts with carrots and onions and a green salad with grape tomatoes.

I was not in a good mood today, so I went with something very lazy and comforting for dinner. The recipe comes from the Jif peanut butter website and is called “Easy Peanut Pasta Twists.” One of my former roommates used to make this dish, and while the ingredients seem kind of like a strange combination (peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, chili powder, crushed red pepper, garlic, ketchup), it’s spicy and creamy and delicious. I didn’t even bother to plate it, I just ate it out of the serving bowl with a tall glass of orange juice and a Law and Order marathon.

Veganmofo III is about to begin in October. While I didn’t have a blog until this year, I followed Veganmofos I and II. I am an ovo-lacto vegetarian, not a vegan, but I will be going vegan for the month of October to participate. I was a vegan for several years, and I “reverted” to vegetarianism after a period of serious illness during which I lost a lot of weight. I wasn’t gaining weight back fast enough on a vegan diet, and so I returned to eating eggs and dairy. It bugs me a lot, but I feel… fallen? Disgraced? Strangely religious language to use, but lacking a religion, veg*nism is an important part of my ethical views and I feel like I’ve let down myself and factory farmed animals by falling off the vegan wagon.

So I’ll be a vegan again for the month of October, eating and blogging exclusively vegan food every day for thirty-one days.

Once upon a time, my grandmother gave me a giant multi-pound bag of Israeli couscous. Nearly a year later, I still have trouble coming up with things to do with the stuff. Tonight some of it was incorporated into a straightforward pasta salad with radishes, grape tomatoes, diced red onion, diced cucumber, diced red pepper, garlic, and apple cider vinegar.

To go along with the pasta salad, I also made some cabbage steamed in vinegar and great northern beans with Gimme Lean vegan “sausage” and paprika.

Also, some seedless red grapes. I’m not a big grape-eater, but they were on sale, so now I have a very large bag of them and they need to be eaten.

The pasta salad was tasty, but I don’t care for the texture of Israeli couscous and I wouldn’t use it at all if I didn’t have a giant bag of it. The beans were great–I love the combination of beans and Gimme Lean. Usually I put them in soups together, but they’re just as friendly with each other like this. I didn’t care for the cabbage cooked like this, but I didn’t have the necessary two hours to braise it.

I had swine flu. No, really. It was very similar to the regular flu, except that I have asthma, and developed a lot of difficulty breathing because of it. I ended up on several different steroids, antibiotics, and expectorants to keep me from developing a secondary infection in my lungs. With all of these things together, I ended up not eating very much last week.

The night before I got sick, I had some friends over and I whipped together some Southern cooking for our dinner. Clockwise from the top left:  fried green tomatoes; fruit salad with raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and red grapes; butterbeans with peppers and onions; and spicy cheddar grits (made with stoneground Anson Mills grits, which I LOVE–I will never go back to quick grits). The butterbeans were actually the hit component of dinner, everybody liked them.

And the next day, I had a 101-degree fever and a persistant cough, and cooking got put on the back burner for the week. All day every day from Monday to Saturday, I had herbal tea, vegetable broth, electrolyte drinks, and applesauce. My dinner every night was Campbell’s Vegetarian Vegetable Soup with friendly little cheddar whales swimming about on top.

My first non-soup meal was on Saturday, just a straightforward bowl of couscous with peas and smoked tomato dressing. Very boring, no pictures. On Sunday I fixed myself a simple but tasty breakfast:  scrambled eggs with garlic, blueberries and raspberries, and Mayan Dark Chocolate “coffee.”

For my Sunday dinner, I braised a red cabbage that had been sitting in my fridge all week. I wanted to use it before it turned on me, and I had been planning to make a vinegary slaw for sandwiches, but I didn’t have anything else for sandwiches, so I threw together a carrot, a couple of cloves of garlic, and about 1.5 lbs of cabbage in a pan with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, onion broth, and some seasonings. It went into the oven at 325 degrees for two hours. On the side, I made smashed red potatoes with light Smart Balance and mushroom gravy and some steamed peas with garlic and salt. To round it out, I had a cup of unsweetened applesauce with cinnamon on the side.

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