Mark’s Picks: Jerk “Chicken” and “Beef” Stroganoff

Often when I ask Mark what he wants for dinner, he answers, “I don’t care.” Then I’ll usually whine and say, “well I don’t care either, so think of something,” and we go ’round and ’round in that fashion for an hour. Lately, though, Mark’s been actually firing back requests when I ask him what he wants. Sort of without thinking, though, I believe. Saturday night I asked him what he wanted for dinner and he immediately responded, “jerk chicken.” “Wow, really? Where did that come from?” I asked. “I don’t know, I don’t even know what jerk chicken is,” he answered. Jerk chicken, though, was the perfect answer because I’d earlier in the day commented that I had a couple of habaneros I needed to use up. So I made him jerk “chicken”. Then tonight I asked him what he wanted for dinner and he said, “Beef stroganoff. I don’t know what it is, but that’s what I want.” Always happy for requests, I made him “beef stroganoff”.

Both of these meals used commercial vegan “meat”, so I didn’t mean to write either of them up as recipes for the blog, because I feel as if I’ve cheated somehow. But Mark urged me to photograph the meals anyway and also really liked them, so since I don’t have any more original posts for you, here are some examples of what we’ve eaten over the last few days….I’m still not back to cooking as much as I usually do, so I’ve been lazy.

For the Jerk “Chicken”, I pretty much followed this recipe almost exactly, substituting Gardein Chick’n Scallopini for the chicken breasts. I let them marinate while we went to the gym, then grilled them on the George Foreman when we got home. I served it with Jamaican-style “rice and beans”, which was long grain rice cooked in a can of coconut milk + enough water to make up the liquid called for by the rice, seasoned with some minced onion, a habanero that I stabbed a few times, some salt, and a can of red kidney beans.

Mark loved this – after eating two “breasts”, he ladled some of the extra marinade onto his plate and sopped it up with some stale bread he found in the kitchen. He also praised the rice, which I’ll admit I tasted a few million times as it was cooking (although next time I’m making it in the rice cooker because my stove is horrible at cooking rice). The greens, by the way, are callaloo, a can of which I rather bizarrely found in my cupboard. Which was perfect, but it just goes to show that you never know what you might find in my cupboard. Mark refused to eat the callaloo.

I had the leftovers from this for lunch today, prompting several people at the office to tell me my meal smelled wonderful.

If you examine it, Mark’s random request of beef stroganoff tonight should have been even more difficult for me to pull off, considering beef stroganoff consists of the following unvegan things:

  • beef
  • beef “juice” (broth, stock, consomm√©, etc.)
  • sour cream
  • egg noodles

…usually lavishly garnished with mushrooms, which both Mark and I despise. Really the only vegan and non-gross thing about beef stroganoff is onions. But Mark requested beef stroganoff and 20 minutes later, he got “beef” stroganoff.

I cooked 8 oz of bowtie (because that’s what I had) pasta. Meanwhile, I thinly sliced half an onion (that I wanted to use up) and a couple of shallots and sauteed them in olive oil in a Dutch oven. To the sauteed onions, I added a few cloves of pressed garlic and a couple of tablespoons of flour and made a roux, then I added about half a cup of red wine – what was left in a bottle I wanted to finish so I could open a new one to drink with dinner – using it to deglaze the pot. Then I added maybe a cup of vegan “beef” broth, some salt, dried tarragon, and lots of freshly ground pepper. As this was simmering, I added some Gardein Beef Tips and a spoonful of Better Than Sour Cream. When that was all warmed through, I served over the pasta. Mark said it was “really good”.

I’m sort of embarrassed about sharing those meals with you lest you think we’ve been surviving off nothing but processed food lately – actually we’ve been eating a lot of salads, too, or were until the weekend, anyway, although yeah, I do seem to have plowed through all the Gardein stuff I found at Wegmans and wanted to experiment with a lot faster than I anticipated. Speaking of Wegmans, the one near our house is now selling Daiya, and since this has been a rather pro-processed food post I might as well tell you that the minute I saw that, I decided the struggle is over: veganism is now mainstream. I can buy a tasty, melty, high quality vegan cheese at my regular, local grocery store: it’s all vegan cake from now on. I know Wegmans is sort of an upscale grocery store and that I’m very lucky to live in the part of the country and world that I do, and that my friends in the Midwest and in other countries are probably much less impressed with the selection in their local grocery stores, but finding Daiya at Wegmans was the day I’ve been waiting for for the twelve years I’ve been vegan. For me, it’s officially no longer more difficult to be vegan than it is to not be. Wooo!

In technical news, Mark and I (mostly Mark) have been migrating to a new server and even regular commenters may find their first comment held for moderation. Don’t be alarmed. Hopefully the new site will be a bit faster, though. And I’ve just remembered I need to re-do the blogroll because it disappeared…

In the process of moving all our stuff to the new server, I have been looking at old pictures. Let me tell you who I miss more than you can imagine:

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