Happy 4th!

bbq_tofu_july4

We definitely had to put our new grill to use on the 4th of July! I had never tried freezing tofu before but I heard that doing so can give it a chewier texture so I gave it a whirl. I drained two blocks of tofu then put them in the freezer overnight. I took them out this morning and let them thaw then drained them on a towel. Then I cut each block into 8 pieces, brushed them with homemade barbecue sauce and put them on the grill. I’m still learning about grilling and I had some hot spots in my fire so some of the tofu got a little too charred but still it was good. And freezing did give it a firm texture that help up well to grilling. On the side we had coleslaw and potato salad, made with cabbage and some nice red potatoes from our CSA.

I kind of winged it in making the barbecue sauce but it came out really well so although I didn’t write anything down I’ll approximate it here from memory. I just mixed all this stuff together in a small saucepan and simmered on low heat for about half an hour:

3 Tbs. tomato paste

1/2 c. water

1 Tbs. cider vinegar

1 Tbs. molasses

1 Tbs. agave

2 tsp. vegan worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. yellow mustard

1/2 tsp. onion power

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. salt

You could definitely add some cayenne or hot sauce too but I kept it mild for the kids. I made this up as I went along so if you try it you should definitely experiment with different proportions to suit your fancy.

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It’s Grilling Season

I finally got myself a proper grill! I had a tiny portable one that I used occasionally in the past but even that I haven’t used in several years. Last month I built a deck off our back door from the kitchen and once that was done I set my mind to getting a grill since I finally had a nice place to put one. Here’s the kid, quite proud of himself after helping me assemble it. It’s nothing fancy, just a basic Weber charcoal grill, but I’m really looking forward to getting some use out of it this summer.

grill

I decided to Christen it with that quintessential American grill fare, the burger. You know, a typical burger with lentils, mushrooms, walnuts and kale. OK, maybe not so typical but still very tasty. I used Scott Jurek’s recipe because I’ve made these burgers in the past and I knew they’d be firm enough to stand up to grilling. (Incidentally, if you haven’t heard, Scott Jurek is in the midst of attempting a speed record on the Appalachian Trail.)

veggie_burgers

The kale and onions in the burgers were from Bellair Farm CSA and on the side we had roasted potatoes and a slaw with red cabbage and carrots, all from the CSA also. And we topped the burgers with lettuce from our garden so there’s lots of local produce on this plate!

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Bok Choy, Napa and Tofu Stir Fry

stir_fry

We’ve been getting lots of bok choy and Napa cabbage from our CSA and they make for a good stir fry. We also added to this one onions, carrots, cashews, tofu, and even a little broccoli from our garden. You can stir fry almost anything you have on hand though. It’s all in the sauce. This is a recipe that we and the kids liked that’s adapted from the Beefy Asparagus Stir Fry recipe in Isa Does It. Just whisk all this stuff together in a bowl then add to your stir fried veggies at the end:

1/2 c. water

1 Tbs. cornstarch

3 Tbs. soy sauce

3 Tbs. hoisin sauce

1 tsp. sriracha (more to taste)

2 Tbs. lime juice

1 Tbs. agave

1 Tbs. sesame oil

1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

We often serve our stir fries over brown rice and sprinkled with sesame seeds. And with the kids, we make everything very mild but I do enjoy some extra sriracha on top too!

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Asian Slaw

asian_slaw

We’ve been getting some nice Napa Cabbage from our CSA and I decided to use some of it to make an Asian slaw. We had also just cooked a batch of chickpeas so in a clash of cultures we served the slaw with falafel. Since we were frying the falafel anyway we also fried some tofu. A tahini dressing for the falafel and tofu rounded out the meal. Here’s the slaw recipe:

What you need:

1 head Napa Cabbage, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced

1 large carrot, shredded

2 Tbs. minced sweet onion

juice of 1 lime

2 tsp. rice vinegar

1 Tbs. soy sauce

1 Tbs. sesame oil

1 Tbs. canola oil

1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbs. sesame seeds, plus more for serving

What you do:

In a large bowl, mix together cabbage, carrot and onion. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, vinegar, soy sauce, oils and salt. Pour over the cabbage and mix well, then mix in the sesame seeds. If you have time, allow to sit for half an hour. If desired, sprinkle on more sesame seeds when serving.

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Ethiopian Hand Pies with Collards

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We recently made an Ethiopian feast for dinner and Darlene had the fabulous idea to turn the leftover tofu wat into hand pies (or calzones if you like). Every culture has some sort of hand pie, though I’m not sure if you’d find something like this in Ethiopia. Regardless, they were awesome! Check out one of our previous pizza posts for a link to and discussion of the dough recipe. I don’t have a recipe for the tofu wat because I made it up as I went along but Google it and you’ll get some ideas. You could really fill these with anything though.

We had these hand pies with some beautiful collards from our Bellair Farm CSA. It’s so exciting to be starting off the CSA season again and we hope to showcase more of the beautiful produce we’ll be getting each week in our share. Our go-to method for collards is simply to chop a bunch of them into bite-sized pieces (removing any thick stems), then saute in a little olive oil for a few minutes. Then we add a minced clove of garlic, saute for another minute then add lemon juice. (The juice from half a lemon is about right for a large bunch of collards.) I also like to add a little sweetener – 1/2 teaspoon of agave or sugar does the trick.

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Barbecue Seitan with Coleslaw and Kale

bbq_seitan_slaw

When we got our Instant Pot we also got a copy of JL Fields’ Vegan Pressure Cooking and the recipe we’ve used the most so far is the Pulled Jackfruit Sandwiches. We’ve only made it with jackfruit once or twice but the recipe works equally well with seitan or tempeh. Here we used seitan (from one of our favorite seitan recipes that I also mentioned last post). It’s really convenient to do this in the Instant Pot but you could easily do it on the stove top as well. Just saute a small diced onion and minced clove of garlic in a little oil, then add 3 Tbs. tomato paste, 1 tsp. vegan worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. cider vinegar, 1 Tbs. maple syrup, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. yellow mustard seeds and about 3/4 cup water. Mix in about 1 pound diced seitan the cook on high pressure for 3 minutes (or cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so on the stove top).

We often like to have coleslaw with our barbecue and I don’t usually use a recipe but this is what I did tonight. Just mix all this stuff together:

1/2 head green cabbage, shredded

2 carrots, shredded

1/4 c. vegan mayo

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. cider vinegar

And we rounded out the meal with some sauteed kale. What we do with kale most often is just give it a quick saute in a little olive oil with garlic, then add salt and a bit of lemon juice.

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Some thoughts on meat substitutes

tacos

Beyond Meat and seitan tacos with cashew sour cream, avocado, kale and salsa

 

A few months ago I read an interesting¬†article about Beyond Meat. Around the same time I also happened upon a coupon Beyond Meat was offering for a free package of one of their products. We tried the chicken strips in a salad at Whole Foods once but had never cooked with the stuff. Since it was free I figured we’d give it a try and I picked up a package of the faux ground beef (retail price, $5,99 for a 12 oz. package). Then I put it in the freezer and didn’t pull it out¬†until recently. I sort of forgot about it but also it’s probably been 20 years since I cooked with ground beef and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Finally one day Darlene suggested we use it to make tacos so that’s what we did.

First, the package was a bit small and I wasn’t sure we’d have enough so I added some homemade seitan we had in the fridge (we got this particular¬†recipe long ago from the Real Food Daily cookbook and it’s posted here). Typically we might make tacos using only the seitan, or maybe some tofu or refried beans. I think people who are new to veganism (or are just trying to eat less meat) find these meat substitutes convenient because they’re not sure how else to make their favorite meals. That’s not an issue for us and it shouldn’t be for you either with just a little bit of experience (or just poking around on the interwebs).

beyond_meat

Can you tell where the Beyond Meat stops and the homemade seitan starts? I can’t.

So with a bit of experience and/or research on-line or in cookbooks, you can find plenty of fabulous meals to make without resorting to meat substitutes. To the extent that they provide a convenient alternative for people who might otherwise be eating meat, Beyond Meat and other similar products are fine with me. The main problem I have with them is the cost. The package of faux ground beef we used was $8 a pound and that’s a little much for us to be buying on a regular basis when there are so many less expensive alternatives. These products can also give people the idea that eating vegan is expensive when in fact quite the opposite is true. I applaud companies like Beyond Meat for bringing disruptive technology to bear in an attempt to change the world and I hope they’re successful. Until this stuff is selling at mainstream grocery stores for less than the cost of meat though that success will be slow in coming. I think they still have a long way to go because they won’t change the world with products that sell for $8 a pound at Whole Foods.

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