Friday, February 20, 2009

Seitan "meat,"vegan;VeganAlfredo Sauce w/Vegetarian "Ham"

It has been just about two weeks since I've posted. Work has just been overwhelmingly busy, very hard on my poor old legs and hips, so I've been coming home and not doing much at all in the evenings. On my days off, tho, I've still managed to do some "real" cooking, some of which has been wonderful, but with at least one new recipe that I didn't like at all.

Mostly I've just been trying to keep up with my email, posting on Beliefnet.com on the Depression forum, and reading...reading a lot, too. I just finished a book called "Art in America," by Larry McLarty, and if you like to read, and haven't read this one, I highly recommend it, it's a wonderful warm, funny book. Few books can make me literally laugh out loud, but this did, quite a few times. Other than those few things, tho, I haven't had the energy to do anything else, not even my house chores...thank goodness I live alone, so I don't have to do anything I don't want to, lol.

Ok, on to the recipes. I'd been meaning to try my hand at homemade seitan for a long time, and yesterday I finally made some. The recipe is called "Veggie Lunch Meat," and I received it in my email, in a newsletter from Nava Atlas, whose cookbook, "Vegan Express" is one that eventually I want to own. I've seen another recipe for homemade seitan in Isa Chandra and Terry Romero's book, "Veganomicon" that I will try another time.

Veggie Lunch Meat
This makes a lot, so freeze some for later.

1C white beans 2Cwater 1/4C oil
2tsp. EACH salt, paprika, onion powder
1tsp. EACH garlic powder, ground fennel, sage, pepper, soy sauce
1/4tsp. turmeric
2 3/4C vital wheat gluten

Get the water steaming in a steamer.
Place everything except the wheat gluten in a blender, and process until smooth. Pour into large bowl, and add wheat gluten, working it into a dough.
Shape into a log, as thick as possible, wrap in aluminum foil like a Tootise roll.
Steam for one hour.
Preheat oven to 350ºF during the last 15 minutes of steaming. Remove seitan from steamer and bake 45-60 minutes. Seitan should swell and press against foil.

Not a very difficult recipe at all, much easier than I had thought it would be. I decided not to use my usual steamer, and placed a large, metal colandar in my big pot, put the cover over the logs of seitan, and it worked just fine. The white beans I used were canned cannellinis, which I drained but didn't rinse. The only change I made to this recipe was one I couldn't help: I omitted the fennel and the onion powder because I didn't have any. Everything else I followed to at T, unlike most other recipes I try. And, just for the sake of a little information here, I found the bag of vital wheat gluten at Kroger, in their health food department. So far, they've carried everything I've needed with the exception of nutritional yeast and quinoa. Possibly I could suggest to a manager there to stock them, eh? Anyway.

Did I like this? No. Why? It's bread. Pure and simple, this is a boiled and then baked wheat bread loaf, spiced more than most bread is. The texture isn't all that "breadish," but the taste and color are. The taste isn't bad, please understand that, it's just that it's, well, it's bread, lol. It looks sorta like a roll of liverwurst, and the texture, well, it's hard to describe it, but it's sorta chewy, sorta soft, and somewhat moist. And, I'm not sure how to use it, now that I've made it, because I don't think it will actually make good sammichs, which is what lunchmeat is for. Oh, me! Oh, btw, the one teaspoonful of black pepper was too much for me, gave it a very "hot" feeling, which I don't care for too much.

Can I chunk it up and make a gravy with it? Possibly. I'll try, anyway. Can I slice it into cutlets, and serve with some kind of sauce on it? Probably. I'll try, anyway. Heck, I'm even going to try to make a sammich with it, a grilled cheese and seitan sammich on sourdough bread. And one of these days, I'm still going to try the seitan recipe in "Veganomicon." It's not as spicy as this one is.

This next recipe is a most definate winner. I loved it, in fact, I liked it better than the Alfredo with coconut milk, which I also liked a lot. Both of them are keepers!

Creamy Alfredo Sauce w/ Vegetarian "Ham"

2C soy milk 1/2C "cream cheese"(I used Tofutti brand)
1/2C "sour cream"(again, Tofutti brand) 2T Nayonnaise
1tsp. onion salt 1 tsp. dried parsley 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
5-6 slices "veggie ham," in bite-sized pieces salt and pepper

In medium saucepan, add 1st four ingredients. Heat on low, stirring constantly, until "cream cheese" melts and mix is smooth and creamy. Add next 4 ingredients, and season. Simmer about 10 minutes, add garlic, stir well, and pour over pasta.

I have no idea what "veggie ham" is like, didn't have any, so didn't use it. I also used real mayo, not Nayonnaise. Towards the end of the cooking time, I added some vegetarian Parmesan, and about four tablespoons of Blue Bonnet margarine, just for a little more richness. The recipe the way it is, tho, is vegan, but I'm not vegan, so changed it up just a tad. It's wonderful, it really is, and will be a do-again for me. The pasta I used was a tri-color rotini, because I'd never tried the tri-color pastas before. Couldn't tell a whole lot of difference in taste, but it did make for a pretty dish. Definitely a keeper.

And y'know what? I think I'm going to go chunk up some of the "lunchmeat," toss it into the Alfredo and pasta, and heat it up for lunch, just to see how it is!

Until next time, Happy Eating!!!

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