I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Falling into fall

There will be no complaints from me about the cooling days and nights. All in all, we had a pretty mild year, although a very late and somewhat cool spring. Summer was beastly for only a few days compared to most years. And now there is a good excuse to break out the soup pot again for meals-in-a-bowl.

This is yet another reworking of a previously posted recipe, with a little less pasta, and the addition of a few more 'poultry' style seasonings. I also tried a red instead of yellow onion, and Note to Self and Everybody Else- the red in the onion skin can slightly stain the rest of your light-colored ingredients, making things look a little gray almost, so next time back to the yellow onion for me. The taste, of course, was just fine with the red onion, only the color was a little wonky.

I used Trader Joe's Chik strips again for this batch (Beyond Meat Chik strips are also very good), but have also recently done this quite successfully with well-pressed seasoned baked tofu strips. Forgot to take a photo of that batch, but you can find a recipe at Chef Skye Michael Conroy's Gentle Chef website. They are very easy to make and will absolutely hold up in soups or stews. If you haven't done so already, check out the site and the Facebook forum set up to discuss the recipes in his cookbooks. Lots of good work going on there, with lots of input and enthusiasm from the group. This is how we take back our food system, people- audience participation!

Chik Noodle Soup (Redux)

1 Tbs. non-dairy butter (or mild vegetable oil if preferred)
8 oz. vegan chicken-style seitan strips (or well-pressed, seasoned baked tofu), cut in bite-sized pieces

1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

6 cups water
4 tsp. vegan chicken-style broth paste, such as Better Than Bouillon, or equivalent powder to make 4 cups of broth (as an alternative, use 4 cups commercial vegan broth and 2 cups water, instead of 6 cups water and the broth paste/powder)
1 large bay leaf
½ tsp. salt, to taste (check the saltiness of your broth first)
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ tsp. crushed dried sage
¼ tsp. crushed dried savory
¼ tsp. crushed dried rosemary
¼ tsp. crushed dried thyme

2-4 Tbs. fresh parsley, julienned or chopped
3 oz. small pasta shapes (~ ¾ cup), such as small shells

Heat the butter/oil in a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Add the chik or tofu strips and sauté to brown a bit, about 5 minutes. Remove strips to a small bowl or plate and set aside.

If necessary, add more butter/oil to the pan and sauté onion through garlic for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are beginning to soften

Add the water, broth paste/powder, and bay leaf through thyme. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add the previously set-aside chik or tofu strips, parsley, and pasta. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes, or until pasta is just al dente. Adjust seasonings to taste if necessary. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Salad days

The breakfast sammies hinted at in the last post (lo those many moons ago) have not happened yet, but fear not! Other sammies have been more than happening. I have made this recipe three times in the last month, which is an absolute record for me given my short attention span. Tofu for people who think they don't like tofu- substantial, flavorful, toothsome, and not at all weird. An absolute contender in the egg- and/or chicken salad universe.

Curried Tofu Salad
(for best results, make a day ahead)

½ cup mayo
2 Tbs. soy milk or other plant milk
2 Tbs. sweet pickle relish or chutney
1 Tbs. prepared Dijon mustard
1-2 Tbs. curry powder, such as Madras (1 Tbs. is pretty tame if you are a curry newbie)
1 Tbs. fresh or dried minced chives
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper, to taste
¼ tsp. chile powder
1 crushed and finely minced garlic clove, or ¼ tsp. granulated garlic

14-16 oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained, rinsed, and crumbled in small pieces
1 large stalk celery, diced (about ½ cup)
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded (about ½ cup)
½ small green or red bell pepper, minced (about ½ cup)
6 scallions (green onions), sliced (about ½ cup)

In a 2-cup bowl, whisk dressing ingredients and blend well. In a large bowl, mix salad ingredients, add dressing, and toss to thoroughly combine. Adjust seasonings to taste and toss again. Chill at least two hours (overnight is best) to blend flavors.

Serving ideas: on crisp greens, as a sandwich or wrap, or in a hollowed out tomato for a retro fifties plate.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Down time

There has been a bit of, well, inactivity here at WTM. Won't be much today, and the activity is a reworking of a previous recipe (way to get out of any real work, Carolyn!) There have been a few more hobbies that have kind of butted in to the cooking and gardening aspect of life (vintage sewing machine collection! and quilting! in addition to kitten acquisition!) and the blogging aspect sort of got pushed aside.  

The kitten acquisitions, Sylvan and Terra, are pictured on the right from about a year or so ago, before they turned into Actual  Cats with Personalities. Today they are very happy to help with the new hobbies, such as laying on quilt tops, knocking fabric on the floor, playing with sewing machine parts, and various other destructive entertaining behaviors. But who's complaining? No really! 

There's still been some cooking going on (remind me to tell you about the Wild Rice and Mushroom Pilaf: a keeper; and Porcini Mushroom Stuffing: ditto) however someone forgot to record it. They were probably busy cleaning up sewing machine parts.

The scrambled tofu seasoning recipe offered today comes from a while back (as confessed above) and has been revised and herbed-up some. There was a little too much black salt (the egg-y, sulphur-y salt) in the first go-round for my taste and not enough herbs, so for your consideration, here is version 2.0. Next step- work the seasoning into little make-ahead tofu quiches that can be slapped on a toasted bagel shmeared with some Earth Balance. Breakfast on the run!

Scrambled Tofu Seasoning Mix

4  cups nutritional yeast
3 Tbs. onion granules
2½ Tbs. sea salt
2 Tbs. dried chives
2 Tbs. dried dill weed
1½ tsp. black salt (kala namak, found at Indian grocers or online if your local grocer/health food store does not carry it)
1 Tbs. dried cilantro
1 Tbs. garlic granules
1 Tbs. dried parsley
1 Tbs. dried crumbled sage
2 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1½ tsp. turmeric
1½ tsp. dried ground chile powder
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. ground celery seed

Blend all ingredients well or pulse in a food processor and store in an airtight jar. I keep the bulk of this recipe in about a quart sized jar in the pantry and a smaller amount (in a re-purposed olive jar) on the counter for spur of the moment scrambles. 

A good guide is to start with about a tablespoon per 4 oz. crumbled tofu (but use more or less to taste to suit your own druthers). Saute up some veggies first, if you want to be fancy (mushrooms, onions, and peppers are my faves), add crumbled tofu and stir fry to heat through, then add the seasoning and continue to saute to distribute seasoning evenly. If time allows, take the pan off the heat and cover for 5 - 10 minutes to allow the seasoning a little more time to infuse.