xgfx.org, Po’Boys, a bread recipe, and Jeremy

This post is going to take a sad turn, so the first thing I want to do is give you some very good news. The website the world’s been waiting for, whether they knew it or not, xgfx.org, has gone live today. The brainchild of Kittee of Cake Maker to the Stars, Allyson of Manifest Vegan, and Jessy of Happyveganface, xgfx.org is the first major source of vegan and gluten-free recipes, tutorials, information, and community. I’m very excited about it (and not only because I have a tutorial available there), and I think you will be too.

Now onto less happy things. There’s a recipe after this and you are welcome to scroll down and skip the depressing stuff. Mark and I recently learned that one of our good friends passed away a while ago. Today would have been his 33rd birthday, so I chose today to make a small tribute to him here. I lived with Jeremy for a little over a year, and Mark lived with him for a total of several years, in I believe three different states. I’m still processing this news – it doesn’t seem real. One thing I’ve been doing a lot of is looking at old pictures. I know the vast majority of you didn’t know him (and I hope those of you who did aren’t finding out through this post; if you are, please email me or Mark), but I wanted to do something to mark his birthday and celebrate our friendship.

Jeremy in Washington Square in NYC, where we were visiting him for his birthday, in 2003:

Jeremy at the infamous party at V’s place:

Jeremy being silly – I think he’s actually pretending he’s Mark here (speaking of Jeremy and Mark, it was during an instant messaging conversation with Jeremy that I coined Mark’s nickname Smark; I accidentally typed, “it’ smark” instead of “it’s Mark”, then started laughing and declared I was going to start calling Mark Smark. AND I DID):

I really hesitate to post this one because it’s awful, but it’s the only picture I can find of the two of us together (this is what happens when you are the one who takes all the pictures) (but at least I’m wearing a Praise Seitan shirt!):

These are my favorites though; you can probably guess why.

This is the best because no one other than Mark and I was ever brave enough to pick Tigger up – especially when he was outside, as he tended to get testy out there. This was before Jeremy moved in with us, so although he wasn’t a stranger to Tigger, this was still an extraordinarily brave thing for Jeremy to do. And Tigger didn’t care! Amazing!

Now for the recipe. Jeremy’s mother lives near New Orleans, and Jeremy and Mark lived together in New Orleans for a while, and Jeremy loved New Orleans cuisine. So to honor him on his birthday today, I made Po’Boys. I used the recipe in American Vegan Kitchen (which is a great cookbook, by the way). Apparently the bread is very important in Po’Boys. I found this recipe on The Fresh Loaf and have veganized it for your pleasure. I hate using bread recipes written with volume, not weight, measures, but, hey, at least you won’t need a scale for one of my bread recipes. This bread is fast and easy (I’m not used to making breads that don’t take at least two days!) and can obviously be used for many sandwiches and purposes other than Po’Boys. But it made a damn fine Po’Boy, according to this girl who has never had an actual Po’Boy in her life.

Po’Boy Bread

6 (possibly up to 7) cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (this is one packet if you buy them that way)
2 Tbsp dry soy milk powder (I keep a cannister of Better Than Soy Milk on hand for baking purposes and milk emergencies)
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 cups warm water (not hot, it will kill the yeast)
1 Tbsp vegan margarine

Put the yeast, soy milk powder, salt, sugar, and 2 cups of the flour into the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk together. (I don’t bother mixing dry ingredients before adding others because it’s not necessary with my mixer, but it also doesn’t hurt, so I’m telling you to do it anyway.)

Add the water and margarine.

Mix on low speed (on Kitchen Aids, use the paddle attachment) for two minutes. It will be very soupy.

Add the rest of the flour in 1/2 cup increments as you continue to mix. This is how it looks after about half of the rest of the flour has been added:

If you have a Kitchen Aid, switch to the dough hook about the time you are adding the final cup of flour. Continue to mix another minute or two, adding additional flour if necessary to form a soft but not tacky dough. I took it out of my mixer so you can see the texture, but leave yours in.

Cover the mixer bowl and let rest for 15 minutes. Then mix again for 10 minutes. (Speed 2 on a Kitchen Aid. I think I did 5 minutes on Speed 1 in my Bosch and 5 minutes on Speed 2, but a Bosch Speed 2 is different than a Kitchen Aid Speed 2.)

Place in a greased bowl and cover with a plate, or use a fancy dough rising bucket like I have.

Let rise until doubled …

… then gently de-gas by pushing it back down (don’t “punch” it; that’s no way to treat a bread dough!).

Cut it in half with a bench cutter or serrated knife and flatten each half into a rough rectangle. Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes.

Use your fingers to pull and press each half into a rectangle about 10″x16″.

Roll up each rectangle to create a log about 16″ long. Seal the ends and the bottom seam by pinching them closed.

Tray them on a half sheet pan, using a Silpat or parchment paper.

Cover with a damp tea towel and proof for about 45 minutes or until nearly doubled in size. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Score by slicing 1/2″ deep cuts at a sharp angle.

Spray liberally with cold water.

If you can, prepare to steam your oven. I do this by having a (non-seasoned) cast iron pan on the bottom rack of the oven. It must be preheated with the oven; I just keep mine in the oven at all times; it’s dedicated just for this use (which is why I didn’t bother seasoning it). Just before loading the bread, carefully pour 1 cup of water into the steam pan and quickly close the oven door. Please use heavy oven mitts when you do this; steam burns. Then load the bread as quickly as you can. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. You can rotate the pan at 20 minutes for even browning. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack before slicing.

Here is the crumb:

Rest in peace, Jeremy. You are greatly missed, and I’ll especially miss talking about books with you. We shared many meals together and I wish we could have shared this birthday meal for you together as well.

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