The last time I failed to post for several days in a row, I had the excuse of being extremely busy. This time my excuse is exactly the opposite. There is a direct correlation between the day they finally fixed my pool filter and the day I stopped having anything to post here. I’ve pretty much been either swimming in the pool, or floating atop it in my inflatable barge, reading a book. In short, doing nothing. Dinner’s been a rushed affair every night as I’ve been making up for all the swimtime I’ve lost while the filter was broken. Although I don’t have any exciting food to share with you, my weekend has been pretty idyllic.
I did spend all of Saturday morning in the kitchen, though. It was a soy extravaganza on Saturday, in fact. I recently purchased The New Farm cookbook to see if it held any secrets that would help with my tempeh-making. I made tempeh per its instructions (the main difference being that I cooked the soybeans for an hour an a half instead of just half an hour or so). Success!!
I think the problem last time was definitely cramming too many beans into the baggie. I’ll just have to weigh them from now on and make sure it’s exactly 8 ounces of dried beans, which results in the perfect amount for one sandwich-sized bag. I used a higher quality, thicker baggie this time and not only was it much easier to pierce it with the needle, but I was able to remove the tempeh without cutting it, so I will be able to reuse it.
In other soy news, I’ve been noticing that when I make soy milk, the liquid drains through the okara bag that came with my tofu press faster than it does the bag I made myself out of muslin, which I concluded was because the weave of my muslin was tighter than that in the other bag, and since the faster the liquid drains, the easier it is, I’ve been wanting to find a fabric even more loosely woven. So Friday night I went to the fabric store and discovered chiffon.
If you’ve ever been a bridesmaid, you may recognize chiffon as the stuff the bride made you wrap 200 tiny plastic bottles of bubbles, or Hershey kisses, or other wedding favors in. (No one had to wrap anything in chiffon for my wedding because my entire bridal party consisted of Fortinbras traipsing down the aisle carrying our rings on a wedding stick as we said our vows before all of six witnesses in a Scottish castle. I wore black, Mark wore a kilt, and there was no chiffon in sight!)
I may not have been interested in chiffon for bridal reasons, but I’m here to tell you it makes a great okara bag! Because it is slippery, it’s a bit of pain to sew, but it’s worth the small amount of trouble. The soy milk filtered right through it, and with just a couple gentle presses with potato masher, I had extremely dry okara. Not only that, but cleanup was a breeze! My other okara bags never get really clean, but the okara just slides right off the chiffon! And it dries very quickly. I also used a piece of chiffon to line my tofu press when I made the weekly tofu. This worked well because not only did the whey drain through it rapidly, making a firmer tofu faster, but it’s not as bulky as the big piece of muslin I had been using.
I think my tofu should marry my tempeh!!
Another new thing I’ve incorporated into the soy milk-making process is the Multiquick. It had never occurred to me to use an immersion blender to grind the soybeans; I guess I didn’t think they were powerful enough to do it. But one of the reviewers on Amazon said she used hers when making soy milk, so I tried it out, and it worked fine. So after they are finished soaking, I pour off the soaking water, add fresh water to cover, and blend them right in the same bowl I soaked them in. This is particularly helpful when making more than a quart of soy milk because I used to have to do it in batches in the regular blender.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m ashamed of how wasteful I am when I make soy milk and tofu. Because I haven’t had much success using okara, I usually just throw it away. Same with the whey when making tofu. This weekend, though, since the chiffon afforded me the opportunity to extract so much liquid from my okara with very little effort, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to dry it as suggested by Maki at Just Hungry. So I spread it on a pan …
… and baked it at the lowest temperature my oven allows (170 degrees Fahrenheit) until it was completely dried out. I’m not sure how long it ended up taking because I sort of did it in cycles, being “busy” in the pool most of the day. It was maybe 1.5 hours total?
Then I ground it up.
Now I will do something with it. I think Bryanna was discussing dried okara as a parmesan substitute recently; I’ll probably give that a whirl. Maki suggests using dried okara in baked goods, but ugh, I’m so disgusted with using soy byproducts in baked goods! I’ve tried using okara before and it turned my bread into bricks! I wasn’t using dried okara, and Maki claims the texture is much better with dried, but after baking a brick this weekend using whey leftover from making tofu – because the New Farm cookbook said it was good to add to bread – I’m about ready to claim that soy products have no place in bread!
I’ve become a bit of a bread snob; I rarely bake any “straight doughs”, that is, dough made and baked all at once, with no pre-ferments or sponges. But since I was too busy Friday night playing with my chiffon to put together my usual doughs to bake on Saturday, I decided to try the whole wheat recipe in the New Farm cookbook (which, as you can see, has gotten a lot of use since I got it), and at New Farm’s recommendation, I added some of the tofu whey.
Big mistake! It didn’t proof very well, which was the first sign that things were going badly, but I thought maybe I’d just put it in too large a loaf pan. But when I removed it from the oven, I recognized that signature pale, deathly color I’d seen in my previous attempts to use okara in bread. Look at it, it looks sick:
I hadn’t mentioned my whey trial to Mark, from whom I have to hide fresh bread if I don’t want it devoured within two minutes, and who cut himself a slice after it cooled. He took a bite and promptly came to me with a skeptical look on his face, asking me to taste it and tell him if it tasted, well, tasteless. It did. It tasted like cardboard. Mark threw the slice away in disgust.
So today, I decided to bake the same bread, but without whey. Look at the difference:
Now, to be fair, the bigger loaf was much better kneaded, because my mixer crapped out on the bad loaf before it was fully kneaded, and due to an injury sustained while making the okara bags the night before (my thumb tangled with a rotary cutter and lost – ouch!), I wasn’t able to knead it by hand very effectively.
So, speaking of the New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook, on Thursday night, I was making Vegan Dad’s Green Enchiladas and decided that instead of using my usual “cheese” recipe from Simply Heavenly!, I would flip through the New Farm book to see if they had any “cheese” recipes I could try out. I found one and was shocked to find myself looking at the very recipe I almost always use from Simply Heavenly! I don’t want to say Abbott George Burke is a plagiarist, and I honestly think most of his 1,400 recipes are original, but I just found this weird:
|Melty Nutritional Yeast “Cheese” from the New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook||Yeast Cheeze from Simply Heavenly!|
|1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 cups water
1/4 cup margarine
1 tsp wet mustard
Mix dry ingrdients in a saucepan. Whisk in water. Cook over medium heat, whisking, until it thickens and bubbles. Cook 30 seconds, then remove from heat, whip in margarine, and mustard. It will thicken as it cools but will thin when heated, or add water to thin it.
|1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 unbleached white flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 cups water
1 Tbsp nondairy margarine
1 tsp wet mustard
Mix the dry ingredients in a saucepan. Whisk in the water. Cook over medium heat while whisking as it thickens and bubbles. Cook 30 seconds more and remove from the heat. Whip in the margarine and mustard. This thickens when it cools and thins when heated. Water can be added to thin it more. This keeps about five days.
I have made the recipe on the right so many times I have it memorized, so I recognized it the instant I saw it in the New Farm cookbook…which was published 22 years before Simply Heavenly. Incidentally, although I feel lost, confused, and misled – like I did when I realized that Bauhaus’s song Telegram Sam was really a T.Rex song – I actually recommend the “Simply Heavenly” version because it uses 1/4 the amount of margarine (it’s the only difference!), and it’s plenty. Also, this “cheese” was really good in Vegan Dad’s enchiladas, which you really must make. Mark has been absolutely rhapsodizing about them ever since. I’m a bit afraid he prefers Vegan Dad’s recipes to my own! I guess if I’m second best to anyone, Vegan Dad might as well be the one.
Whew…that was a lot of jabbering on my part without posting a recipe! I’m sorry I don’t have anything for you, especially after deserting you for so many days. I can show you a picture of the Sweet and Sour Tempeh I made tonight:
It’s from – surprise! – the New Farm cookbook. I’m probably the last vegan on the planet to buy this cookbook; it’s been on my wishlist forever, but I just never got around to it. Maybe because I think I have half of it in the form of printouts of recipes that have been posted on various websites, forums, and mailing lists over the years. So I guess it’s about damn time I bought a proper version of it. I was surprised to realize, too, that Tofu Cookery, which I have had for years, is also by Louise Hagler and the folks at the Farm. I had no idea!
That’s all the food news from nowhere. Here is a picture of a turtle we rescued from the pool yesterday, though:
Isn’t he great? I named him Prince Harry. I don’t know why I named him that because I have no special interest in the royal family and in fact can’t tell Harry from William, but that’s the name that popped into my head. Prince Harry didn’t think much of me, I’m afraid. He was so eager to get away from me and my animal paparazzi tendencies that he walked right into a chain link fence and had to be helped by Mark, who relocated him to a safe place. Then Prince Harry toddled off somewhere as far away from me as he could get.
I discovered wild raspberries growing by the pool as well.