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I have been a really, really bad Mo Fo this week. I have several tests and papers coming up, my roommate moved to New York, and I’ve been doing my best to spend time with Friendboy. It hasn’t been a vigorous week for cooking, but I have a few things and I’ve been remiss in not putting them up.

Smashed red potatoes topped with beef-style seitan simmered in a thin gravy, with blanched broccoli on the side. I think it looks unfortunately like something that might appear in a veg version of a cafeteria, but it was warm and tasty and required almost no effort.

The first part of this week was unseasonably cold for Charleston, with temperatures in the 40s and 50s. Today it was in the 70s and low 80s. Come on, South Carolina, get with the program. It’s fall, bring back the sweater weather! On one of the cold mornings, I made a warm breakfast for Friendboy and myself. Oatmeal with almond butter mixed in, topped with brown sugar and slices of local winesap apples. Usually I mix peanut butter into my oatmeal, but I bought some CRUNCHY (!!) almond butter the other day and couldn’t wait to use it.

Spinach udon in faux beef broth with red and yellow peppers, purple wax beans, snap peas, onion, and fried tofu. I drizzled some sesame oil over the top, and after I took this picture I added a little bit of soy sauce. The noodles and broth are cooked separately, the noodles are placed in the bowl and topped with the raw vegetables, and then boiling broth is poured over everything. I cover it with a bowl and let sit for a couple of minutes. Fast.

Tonight I steamed a spaghetti squash in the oven, scraped out the flesh, and mixed it with Smart Balance. I made a sauce out of canned tomatoes, diced red pepper, and garlic. Last weekend I bought some bok choy and I wanted to try something a little different from the usual Asian-style preparations, so I sauteed it in olive oil with chopped portobello mushrooms and then dressed it with balsamic vinegar and crushed red pepper. SO GOOD. I like bok choy in stir fry as much as the next girl, but it pairs pretty well with Italian flavors, too. I made some quickie garlic bread in the toaster oven out of “English toasting bread” (I don’t know, but it’s good), Smart Balance, and garlic salt.

Awesome byproduct of spaghetti squash:  spaghetti squash seeds. Everybody roasts pumpkin seeds, but did you know that acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash also have edible seeds? You can roast them just like pumpkin seeds. I put these ones in the oven on some foil at 275F for 20 minutes. They’re coated with olive oil, salt, fresh cracked pepper, and curry seasoning. I’ve eaten a couple of them, but they’ll mostly be my snack with a mug of peppermint soy cocoa while I watch Mulholland Drive.

I solemnly swear that I will do better in the next and final week of Mo Fo.

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I submit my dinner for your disapproval. If the Powers-That-Be had wanted me to “eat my colors,” they would have made golden beets, mushrooms, onions, quinoa, Russian fingerling potatoes, and balsamic vinegar more diverse in hue. The beets and potatoes were roasted with a little spray of olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. The portobellos and onions were sauteed with balsamic vinegar, and I paired them up with quinoa cooked in veggie broth.

And here are some pictures from yesterday’s bagel-making.

Unboiled lumps of bagel dough whose holes are quickly closing up. I’ll get the hang of it eventually.


Boiling the bagels before baking. This was the step that I was most concerned about and it turned out to be the easiest part.

Tray of bagels fresh out of the oven. It may not look like it, but there are faintly detectable holes in all of them in real life.

And a close-up. I used a recipe that Isa Chandra Moskowitz included in her post on “food migration” on the Powell’s Books blog. These are really delicious. They are almost all gone. I’ve never been to New York so I don’t know anything about genuine NY bagels, but the bagels I get around here are extremely dense. These bagels were considerably lighter, with all kinds of holes and nooks in them for catching extra toppings (jam, Smart Balance, and PB have all tested well so far). I just wish I had a stand mixer with a dough hook–kneading bagel dough by hand is an extremely sticky process.

Last night, I made a pot pie for dinner. It had faux chik’n gravy, chicken-flavor seitan, potatoes, turnip greens, and lima beans. It was delicious, but the pictures turned out horribly. I am not talented enough to photograph pot pie–it’s not a very photogenic dish. 

Now, it was a pot pie for one, so I didn’t need very much crust, but I still made a full recipe of the dough and put the excess away in the fridge. When I was a kid, my mother would give us the extra bits of pie dough to make “treats” out of, which usually involved folding some jam into them or sprinkling them with sugar and baking until crisp. As an adult, I still love to play with my leftover dough, and one of my favorite uses is “samosas.” Now, these are only samosas in the loosest sense of the word. I didn’t use the flaky crust that samosas usually have–I used an olive oil herb crust, because that’s what suited my pot pie best. It’s also not filled with completely traditional samosa ingredients. It’s filled with… tofu scramble! Think of it as a tasty hybrid of samosas and those gross breakfast Hot Pockets.

The filling for two samosas is ~1/4 lb of extra firm tofu, 1 medium red potato, and 1/4 cup of frozen peas, although you could use onions, carrots, cauliflower…whatever vegetables you want. I pressed, drained, and crumbled the tofu, and seasoned it with turmeric, ginger, crushed red pepper, black pepper, onion powder, salt, and coriander and made the seasonings a bit stronger than I usually would, since I’d be thinning the mix out with my vegetables later. I diced the potato and boiled it with the frozen peas and a peeled chunk of ginger root until the potatoes were just tender, but didn’t break apart when poked. I scrambled the tofu as usual in a small amount of olive oil, and when it was nearly done I added the drained peas and potatoes (remove the chunk of ginger root if you use it) and about 1/4 tsp of sesame oil for flavor. While the veggies and tofu were mingling on the stove, I rolled out my crust very thin and divided it into two pieces.


You’ll need either fresh or leftover savory pie dough. I used olive oil herb dough (1 cup white wheat flour, 1 cup unbleached AP flour, 1 tsp herbs of your choice, 1 tsp sea salt, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup cold water) leftover from last night’s dinner. The paring knife is provided in the picture for a sense of scale. That’s the only knife in my entire kitchen except for one wobbly steak knife and some butter knives, by the way. Every meal you see on this blog has been prepared with that knife.

I put about 1/2 cup of tofu and veggies in the center of each piece of dough, which left about 1/3 cup of filling for me to snack on. I folded the dough over the filling, then sealed the edges with a little bit of water and rolled the edges up. A small hole in the top to release any steam, a brushed-on coating of a little melted Smart Balance, and they’re ready for the oven.

The left samosa is done properly, I had some… technical difficulties with the one on the right, but it tasted totally fine, I promise. It’s just not as attractive. I baked the samosas on foil misted with olive oil for twenty minutes at 375. Now, at this point, if you wanted to make samosas for future breakfasts, you would bake them for five minutes, remove them from the oven, allow them to cool, then wrap them up and freeze them. When you want to eat them, put ’em back in the oven. Vegan breakfast Hot Pockets!

While the samosas were baking, I decided that I wanted chutney on the side. The problem is, chutney takes an hour or more to cook down, and my samosas were going to be ready in twenty minutes. So I took my basic chutney recipe and turned it into a deconstructed chutney, or (since “deconstructed chutney” sounds a little too Top Chef) a chutney salad. It uses the main flavor components of my usual chutney–tart apples, tomatoes, onion, ginger, vinegar, and brown sugar. This makes enough to eat with two samosas.

CHUTNEY SALAD
1/2 a large tart apple, like Winesap or Granny Smith, diced
1 medium or 1/2 large ripe tomato, seeded and diced
1 green onion stalk, chopped into segments
1 teaspoon peeled and finely diced ginger root
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Whisk the brown sugar and salt into the vinegar with a fork until dissolved. Toss all remaining ingredients in the dressing. That’s it, you’ve got a chutney salad.

After the picture, I spooned the chutney salad onto the plate and ate it in combined bites with the samosa. Because of the chutney salad, I ate this all with a fork, but if you’re eating this as a reheated Veg Pocket, it works very well as a handheld food.

This morning, I had a dream that my mother was sitting on the edge of my bed shaking my arm and saying “It’s two o’clock! You missed the farmer’s market!” and I jumped up and said “Why did you let me keep sleeping?!”. We started talking about other things, I calmed down, and said “It’s okay, I wasn’t expecting you to wake me up, Mom. I mean, you don’t even live here. Wait. What are you doing in my apartment?” And then I woke up, and it was only 9:30 and I got ready to go to the market.


The signs for The Sprout, a raw vegan restaurant with a lunch stand at the farmer’s market. Yet again, I didn’t get anything, because I spent more money at the Owl’s Nest Plantation organic stand than I should have.


Heirloom squash and shadowy, mysterious bags of arugula at Rita’s Roots.




Produce at the Joseph Fields Farms stand:  pumpkins and gooseneck squash; okra; muscadine grapes; carnival bell peppers. Not everything at the Joseph Fields Farms stand is local, but everything is clearly labeled as to whether or not it’s locally grown.

Decorative gourds at another stand.

The first round of fall apples at Owl’s Nest Plantation.


And the money shot. Clockwise from the peppers:  yellow carnival bell peppers, sweet white onion, organic Russian banana fingerling potatoes, organic Winesap apples, organic flying saucer squash, organic portobello mushrooms, plums, tomatoes. In the center are organic golden beets. All local, but the apples are from the midstate (~100 miles away). You can see one of my reusable market bags in the corner. One nice thing about the Farmer’s Market is that, while there are plastic shopping bags available, most people I see come with their own reusable bags or market baskets.

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 am a Russian studies minor, and a former officer of my college’s Russian club. As such, I have had considerable exposure to Russian cooking, including borscht, which is usually made with a meat broth. Since the only must-have ingredient in borscht is beets, it is incredibly easy to make vegan. Tonight I made it with organic local beets, onion, several cloves of organic garlic, two carrots, horseradish, broth, and paprika (which is a bit of a Hungarian touch, I think it’s not a traditional borscht ingredient). I also roasted some potatoes and turnips, which I ate as a topping on the soup.

Naked beets waiting to be diced up. I peel my beets before I cook them, I find it less messy and painful than trying to skin cooked beets. They ooze less when they’re raw.


My jar of horseradish and beet juice. I blame my Russian professor for my addiction to this stuff.


Beets, carrots, garlic, onion, and horseradish simmering away in broth.

Potatoes and turnips roasted in olive oil with kosher salt and crushed pepper. They may not look like much, but these are amazing. The exterior gets very crisp while the inside is so soft and tender that it practically melts when bitten into. I think this is due to high heat–I roast potatoes at 475 for half an hour.

Plated and ready to eat. I pureed the borscht and let it cool to room temperature, then topped it with the roasted potatoes and turnips.

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.

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