Archive forJuly, 2008

When life burns your baguette, make garlic bread

A shockingly large portion of my time in the kitchen is devoted to disaster recovery. (The shocking part is how bad I can sometimes be at cooking and yet have the audacity to have a cooking blog.) I think it’s important to be resilient to errors and able to turn mistakes into something edible. Tonight I inexplicably burnt the bottoms of two loaves of Peter Reinhart’s pain a l’ancienne, which I’ve made numerous times before and which I didn’t overbake. I still don’t know why the bottoms burnt. (They were also too flat, but I suspect they fell because they over-proofed.)

This is the better-looking loaf:

Upon withdrawing them from the oven, I sighed and announced, “it looks like we won’t be having bread with dinner.” But I quickly decided to try to salvage the sad-looking loaves. I sliced off the burnt bottoms of each. This didn’t leave a very tall loaf, since they were too flat to begin with. But if you put them cut sides together, it looked like one normal-sized baguette…one normal-sized baguette that I could smear with some sort of garlic paste and call garlic bread!

I had made garlic rosemary oil earlier in the day and had several soft rosemary-infused cloves of garlic sitting around. I smashed them and whipped in a couple tablespoons of the aforementioned garlic rosemary oil, a little bit of flaked salt, and some vegan parmesan, which I then smeared on each loaf:

Then I wrapped them in aluminum foil and stuck in the oven during the last 15 minutes of lasagne baking. Voila! An even more interesting accompaniment to the meal than I’d originally intended!

Speaking of bread, you may be wondering why it is that I’ve been on vacation all week and still haven’t made that sourdough bread post.

I guess I’ve been lazy:

Oh, I don’t know if that’s entirely fair because I have been cooking and baking a lot, and I spent a lot of time at various grocery stores today, but as for the rest of my time not spent shopping or in kitchen, imagine this picture:

… but me in a “swimming costume” instead of Tigger, on a raft in the pool instead of in the window (and with a book in my paws), and you should have a fairly accurate idea of what I’ve been doing instead of spending time with my computer.

And it’s been great.

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Entertaining the vegetable-hating Aussie

I am currently in the midst of a week-long vacation from work, staying home to entertain my close friend from Australia, Muck (because he’s Australian, he doesn’t always pronounce his R’s, so his given name Mark became Muck…although since my husband Mark is Smark, Muck is more often Smuck). Smucky and I couldn’t be more different in terms of palate: he’s a vegetable- and spice-hating carnivore with little sense of culinary adventure and I’m (obviously) a vegan with a taste for spicy food and trying new things. So I try to find some compromises when he’s here. He’s generally pretty good about at least trying most of the things I make and sometimes he even likes them! I do let him keep a quart of milk and sliced deli turkey in the refrigerator (the latter meaning the cats really like it when he’s in town) so he doesn’t starve, but I enjoy introducing him to new things.

Sometimes I am really surprised by the things that are new to Smucky. For example: bagels. I offered him a homemade bagel last summer and he said he’d never had nor even seen one before. What?!? How can you spend nearly three decades on this planet and never encounter a bagel?!?! The good news is he really took to bagels once he tried one. Now I feel obligated to keep a supply of them on hand when he’s here. They are fun to make, so it’s okay. After he took his jet-lagged self to bed early Monday night, I got to work and surprised him Tuesday morning with fresh everything bagels:

Somehow we’ve managed to go through 8 1/2 bagels already, so it looks like another batch is in my immediate future.

Smucky adulterates his with non-vegan turkey and mozzarella (and, surprisingly, sliced “beetroot”…apparently it’s a normal sandwich topping in Australia): he’s never had cream cheese because he “doesn’t like cream”. I, however, smear mine with Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, and in this case, jalapeno jelly from my mother-in-law in Charleston. Is it the healthiest way to start my day? Maybe not, but I’m on vacation, damn it!

Another thing Smucky’s never heard of is blueberries, which is possibly even more bizarre than bagels. He and I were in Wegmans tonight picking out sodas to buy for a party we’re having this weekend, when he suggested we try a blueberry soda. I said I was skeptical about the universal appeal of blueberry soda and asked him if he’d ever had it and it came out that he didn’t even know what a blueberry is: he thought it was just a flavor of “lolly”. Once I got over my shock, I abandoned him in the soda aisle, ran back to the produce section, grabbed some blueberries and returned stating he was going to find out what a blueberry was and not in soda form. Oddly, I did buy the blackberry soda he suggested without asking him if he knows what a blackberry is…maybe he just thought it best to keep mum about it.

One of the few meals I can think of that will satisfy both of our needs is Italian-style pasta. Usually we end up having spaghetti at some point when he’s here, but today I decided to go all-out and spring vegan lasagne on him. His eyes got big with excitement when I announced we’d be having lasagne for dinner, although he immediately asked, with concern in his voice, “but what about the meat and cheese? You can’t have lasagne without meat and cheese.” I told him not to worry his pretty little head about it.

Not only did I make lasagne, I decided to make my own noodles:

I made a very Veganomicon lasagne, with some alterations.

I substituted one spinach layer with commercial vegan “ground beef” in hopes of better appeasing the one who thinks lasagne can’t exist without meat and cheese. I’m very impressed by the fact that he ate two pieces despite the fact that I kept a spinach layer! (He did ask, suspiciously, “what’s with this green stuff?”)

(My homemade noodles didn’t retain layers very well, I’m afraid…)

One thing that I make that Smucky eats without hesitation or suspicion is ice cream, about which honestly I was at first a bit surprised. He’s such a fan of cow milk that I expected resistance to vegan ice cream…but he’s eaten about three quarters of a quart since yesterday!

Smuck’s favorite is mint chocolate chip, so I make it especially for him. Smark’s favorite is cookies and cream, so I made that tonight:

… although it looks like I’ll have to make another batch of mint chocolate chip tomorrow night. I also bought pistachios today in order to make pistachio ice cream for the party, although Smucky today informed me he hates nuts, so I guess he won’t be having any of that. Sigh.

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Spicy Teriyaki Tofu with Vegetables

At the nearby sushi restaurant, I often order tofu teriyaki, which they will make spicy upon request. I love spicy. Although we go to this restaurant many Fridays, I had tofu I needed to use up this week and decided I’d try to make something similar myself. My attempt turned out similar to the restaurant’s, although my tofu, which I baked instead of frying, was much crispier than theirs.

First you need to make the spicy teriyaki sauce, which you can use on many things other than this dish. Here is how you do it:

Spicy Teriyaki Sauce

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
2 Tbsp agave nectar
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
sriracha sauce to taste

Mix all ingredients together.

You would eliminate the sriracha if you wanted regular, non-spicy teriyaki. But what’s the fun in that?

I also wanted you to see how nicely my Pyrex bowl (which used to be my mother’s) goes with the sriracha bottle.

Spicy Teriyaki Tofu with Vegetables

1 pound tofu, sliced into triangles
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/2 cup soy milk or water
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 crown of broccoli, cut into florets
1 carrot, julienned
1 green pepper, julienned
1/2 white onion, sliced
3 scallions, chopped
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 cup spicy teriyaki sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Slice the tofu into triangles. I cut mine in half lengthwise, but I make a very firm and therefore very flat tofu. You may be able to slice yours in thirds or quarters lengthwise.

Create an “assembly” line for the breading of the tofu. In a small bowl, place the cornstarch, and in another the soymilk or water. I went all wacky and used a mix of water and sake, myself. It looks like soymilk here because the cornstarch got into it. I also used whole wheat panko, which I have only just begun seeing. Panko is usually white. The white stuff in this panko is cornstarch again. I got cornstarch all over the place last night.

Dip each tofu triangle into the cornstarch, shake off the excess, then dip into the soymilk or water. Finally roll it around in the panko. It helps to use one hand for dry ingredients and the other for wet. As you finish each triangle, place on a baking sheet. They don’t have to look pretty; you’re just going to be pouring sauce over them later. (Whole wheat panko seems to be a little harder to work with than regular panko, or maybe it’s just more obvious because it’s not the same color of the tofu you’re breading.)

Spray lightly with oil (optionally) and place in the oven and bake until crispy, about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Meanwhile, steam the broccoli. You can just stir-fry the broccoli with the other ingredients, but I prefer to steam it lightly first and just fry for a minute or so. I think it has a better texture that way.

Prepare all other veggies.

In a large saute pan or a wok, heat a small amount of oil (I used peanut with a splash of sesame oil), then add the onions. Fry for 2 minutes, then add peppers. Fry for 1 minute and add carrots. Fry for 1 minute, then add scallions.

Add the steamed broccoli and fry for another minute.

Add the sesame seeds about about a third of the sauce. You don’t want to drown the veggies in the sauce, you want them sort of delicately flavored with the sauce. Stir for a minute or two until the sauce cooks down.

Remove the veggies from the pan or wok and set aside. Add the baked tofu to pan or wok.

Pour about half of the remaining sauce over the tofu and stir to cover. You don’t need to coat the tofu completely with the sauce, you just want to soften the breading a little bit.

Serve with sushi rice. Spoon the remaining teriyaki sauce over the tofu on individual plates.

By the way, I owe you a sourdough bread tutorial and I’ve been very bad about getting it up. However, I’m about to hit the pool, so I’m going to continue to be bad. I’m off all this week, though, in order to entertain my dear friend from Australia, who is arriving on Monday, so I should have plenty of time for posting!

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Italian Wedding Soup

I received so many great suggestions when I asked for soysage suggestions that I was nearly overwhelmed! Last night I combined two suggestions and made peppers stuffed with red beans and rice. Since two people suggested it, I decided I’d definitely better make Italian Wedding Soup tonight. I’ve never made Italian Wedding Soup, so in my typical fashion I googled it and looked at a bunch of recipes, then with a general idea in mind, went into the kitchen and did my own thing. It looked like most recipes call for chicken broth, meatballs or sausage, and a bunch of green veggies. Spinach was called for most often, but I did see one recipe that called for a combination of broccoli and broccoli rabe and I really liked the idea of using the latter. (Other than Broccoli Cheez Soup, I’m not wild about regular broccoli in soups.) This soup turned out extremely well and I’ll definitely be making it again.

Italian Wedding Soup

1 1/2 cups chopped vegan “sausage” (I used Soysage from the New Farm cookbook)
7 cups vegan “chicken” stock
1 large leek, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (remember I LOVE garlic, so maybe that’s a lot)
5-6 leaves green cabbage, shredded
1/2 bunch broccoli rabe, chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1 cup small pasta, such as orzo or tiny shells
freshly-ground black pepper

Brown the chopped “sausage” in a large skillet and set aside.

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat a small amount of oil, then add chopped leeks and sauté for 3 minutes.

Add the carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté for another 3 minutes.

Add the broth, cabbage, broccoli rabe, and thyme.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes or until pasta is done. Season with pepper to taste. To serve, place soup in a bowl and stir sausage into individual bowls.

Makes about 4 large servings.

Note: if you aren’t using the New Farm Soysage, you may not have to cook and add the “sausage” separately. I happened to notice last night when I made the beans & rice, though, that the Soysage just about completely disintegrated as I fried it with the bean mixture, and I didn’t want my soup to take on the gritty texture of okara. Such a texture might be okay for beans & rice, or even a nice thick stew, but I felt it would ruin Italian Wedding Soup. I think the gluten-based “sausages” I’ve made in past would have held their form if I’d just fried them with the leeks. Honestly, I’m not in love with the Soysage. I guess okara and I just don’t get along.

Anyway, the soup turned out great. When Mark surfaced from his man-cave to get a second serving, he informed me it was great and told me to tell the blog it was great. In fact, he called it “the best soup ever”, although he is prone to superlatives when it comes to my cooking. I’m also supposed to tell you that this soup was like a peanut because “the goodness is all inside”. (Earlier he informed me that I was like a peanut because the goodness is all inside and I asked him if he was trying to say I was ugly. But apparently he’s just into comparing everything to peanuts today.)

Thanks to everyone who made suggestions for the Soysage – especially the soup!

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Italian Dressing and Simple Cucumber Salad

I don’t understand why some people don’t care for cucumbers. I love them! They’re crisp, cool, and yummy. In fact, as I was stuck in traffic on the way home from work tonight, trying to decide if I felt like stopping by the grocery store to pick up lettuce to make a salad to accompany the soup I planned to make, I realized the part of the salad I was really craving was just the cucumber, and since I had a cucumber at home and traffic was really irritating me, I decided to forgo the lettuce and just make a cucumber salad.

I wanted to dress it up a little more than just oil and vinegar, and I don’t tend to keep bottled salad dressings on hand because I usually just whip them up as needed, so I had to make one. A standard Italian dressing seemed apropos, if not necessarily creative. I really liked this combination for the dressing, though, so I wrote it down.

Italian Dressing

1/4 cup flax or olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried red bell pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp flaked (Maldon) or sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp chili flakes

Reconstitute the red bell pepper flakes by soaking in hot water for 2 minutes. Whisk all ingredients together.

It’s pretty hard to photograph a bowl of Italian dressing and have it look like anything.

This dressing would be good on any tossed salad, or try it on:

Simple Cucumber Salad

1 cucumber, thinly sliced (on a mandoline if possible)
1/2 white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp Italian dressing

Toss all ingredients together and chill for at least a couple of hours.

The mandoline …

… is one of the things Mark has gifted me with for no reason. He just sometimes randomly comes home with an expensive present. SORRY, LADIES – and gentlemen – HE’S TAKEN. The mandoline is a real boon for making very thin, very uniform slices.

Here’s the salad after chilling, when the cucumber slices have relaxed:

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Soliciting Soysage Suggestions

Oh boy, was I ever a good girl about my soy products this weekend. From the okara leftover from my soy milk and tofu, I saved enough to make SusanV’s Okara Crab Cakes tomorrow AND I made Soysage from the New Farm cookbook with the rest of it! Oooooh, AND my tempeh turned out. The one problem, though, is I didn’t think ahead and decide what to DO with the soysage. So now I have a couple pounds (and that was halving the recipe!) of vegan “sausage” and no idea what to do with it.

Here it is in all its glory:

I’m pretending it does NOT look like cat food. Anyway, this is where you guys come in. What should I do with all this soysage?!

(Doesn’t it look a bit like Tigger is pliéing in the background? Is pliéing a word? Firefox says no.)

In other news, this post is little more than a sneaky way to force you to look at some of the pictures I took in the park this morning. I have all the photos ready for an entry on sourdough bread, but the thought of writing up the post leaves me exhausted. It’s been a great weekend and I’m tired. Anyway, it will take you five days to make your starters, so I figure I have another four days reprieve! I thought maybe it would be wrong to make a post that had nothing to do with food, then I wandered into the kitchen, saw the soysage cooling and figured that would be a good excuse for a post, then I’d tack on the nature photos. But I really do want soysage suggestions! THAT’S SO MUCH SAUSAGE!

Now that that’s out of the way, look at how cute these ducks are!!!!

Mark and I were walking a trail that claimed to be wildlife-intensive and I’d been griping about the distinct lack of wildlife. Since we were by water, I said, “I wish there were otters,” because I think after cats, otters might be the cutest animals ever. No sooner did the words leave my mouth when baby ducklings swam into sight! Not otters, but CUTE!

It’s relevant to the blog because they are eating food.

I had to be very patient, but I finally got a picture of a dragonfly:

So how about it? What to do with all the soysage?

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How to Slice a Mango: A Tutorial by Mark

There is an oblong, somewhat flat pit in the center of the mango, so the first thing you want to do is make two lengthwise slices around the pit.

Here’s the first slice:

And the second slice:

Begin scoring the mango, cutting the flesh but not cutting all the way through to the peel:

Then score in the opposite direction to create cubes:

All along, make sure you are not cutting through the skin:

Here is the nicely-scored mango:

Flip it inside out:

Then start cutting the cubes off from the peel:

Repeat for the other half. Then you can remove the mango that surrounds the pit on the middle slice:

If you get tired of slicing around the pit, just eat around it like a monkey, in particular, the monkey in Indiana Jones, but eating a mango, not a date, the one about whom Indiana Jones says “bad dates”:

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Sourdough Starter

I bake a lot of bread, but I’ve noticed I don’t really mention it much here. I guess it’s probably because I don’t often make up my own recipes for bread. I usually bake breads from one of Peter Reinhart’s books, either The Bread Baker’s Apprentice or Whole Grains. I recommend both of them very, very much if you have any interest in baking artisan breads.

Although I bake bread just about every weekend – usually several loaves – I’ve of late neglected my sourdough starter and I recently had to throw it away. Bad Renae. But the first piece of good news is I documented making a new one for you! The other good news is that it’s really easy to do! Don’t be afraid! (Or, if you live in Northern Virginia, just get a starter from me; I often end up throwing some away when feeding it: there IS a limit to the number of baked goods I can make.)

It takes five days to get a starter going, which means if you start it on Monday, you can be baking your first loaf by the weekend. And it takes less than five minutes of attention per day. Here’s what you need:

dark rye (pumpernickel) flour, preferably organic
high gluten flour, preferably organic

Now, if you don’t live near any fancy flour stores, you may be casting a wary eye on this pumpernickel and “high gluten” flour nonsense, but never fear. I actually order mine from King Arthur Flour, but I can understand you may not want to go through the trouble of ordering special flour if you aren’t sure you’re definitely going to get into the whole bread-baking thing. The truth of the matter is you don’t NEED to use the pumpernickel or high gluten flours. Both whole grain and organic flours, though, contain more of the yeast organisms that you are hoping to harness than white, non-organic flours, so try to make the flour you buy fit at least one of those descriptions. Once the starter is, well, started, you can feed it with any kind of flour, so you don’t have to buy much. Rye is thought to yield better and faster results. “Pumpernickel” flour is whole rye flour, similar to whole wheat. I have made successful starters using regular or “white” rye flour, so if you can’t find whole rye flour, it’s an option. You could also use whole wheat flour instead of the pumpernickel.

As for high gluten flour, it’s a specialty flour that contains more protein than bread flour (which in turn contains more protein than all-purpose flour). I use it exclusively to feed my starter, and it’s called for in a lot of Peter Reinhart’s recipes. If you are serious about baking artisan breads, I recommend you get some high gluten flour. If you aren’t sure you’re ready to classify yourself as “serious” about bread baking, just use bread flour, which you can buy at any supermarket, instead.

Getting to the process, though, let’s break it down by day. The following are Peter Reinhart’s measurements from BBA (which is how we bakers refer to The Bread Baker’s Apprentice). I don’t really want to post his recipes because I’m not sure how cool that is, but this is pretty standard stuff and is pretty much exactly the same thing I did before I developed my huge bread crush on Peter. BUT I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU BUY HIS BOOKS!

Day One

4.25 ounces (1 cup) dark rye (pumpernickel) flour
8 ounces (1 cup) water

Mix flour and water together until all flour is incorporated.

Cover and let sit for 24 hours.

Day Two

4.5 ounces (1 cup) high gluten or bread flour
6 ounces (3/4 cup) water

On day two, your dough may or may not have risen. I’ve read numerous times not to expect it to have risen any by day two, however, I usually do get some rise.

Here it was on Day Two before mixing in the new ingredients:

Add the Day Two ingredients and stir until completely incorporated.

Cover and set aside for 24 hours.

Day Three

4.5 ounces (1 cup) high gluten or bread flour
6 ounces (3/4 cup) water

On the morning of Day Three (only 12 hours after I’d mixed in the Day Two ingredients the night before), I had a huge rise:

I just covered it back up and let it continue doing its thing. By the time I got home after work, it had fallen somewhat, so unless you are checking on it, yours might actually rise and fall without your knowledge. You can usually check the sides of the container; it will leave tracks when it falls. This is how it looked when I got home; you can see the higher level it had made it to earlier in the day before falling:

On Day Three, remove half of the starter and discard*. Mix in the Day Three ingredients until completely incorporated:

Cover and set aside for 24 hours.

Day Four

4.5 ounces (1 cup) high gluten or bread flour
6 ounces (3/4 cup) water

On Day Four, the starter was more bubbly. Here’s how I found it that night:

This is a little redundant, but discard half of the starter again and then mix in the Day Four ingredients.

Cover and set aside.

Day Five

16 ounces (3 1/2 cups) high gluten or bread flour
16 ounces (2 cups) water
7 ounces (1 cup) starter

By Day Five, your starter should be rising a lot – at least doubling in volume, and even better, tripling – and be quite bubbly and active. Here is how I found mine on the morning of Day Five:

As soon as yours has at last doubled and is bubbly – and falls easily when tapped – you can proceed with the Day Five instructions – it may not take 24 hours (although you can wait that long if your schedule demands it). I did the Day Five routine about 12 hours after Day Four. Here’s what it looked like after shaking the container a bit; it fell easily:

Mix the Day Five ingredients in a large bowl.

Cover and let sit for 6 hours or until doubled or tripled. It must at least double. If it hasn’t doubled in six hours, give it more time. Mine had more than doubled in six hours:

Transfer to a refrigerator-friendly container in which it has room to double and refrigerate over night. After 8 hours, the starter will be ready to bake with. And I’ll be back with a recipe – and instructions on how to feed your starter.

* You’ll hear the word “discard” in reference to feeding your starter, because you have to remove at least half of it in order to feed it, and, especially in these times of extravagant wheat prices, the idea of throwing away dough may upset you. Never fear, though, there are many things you can do with the “discarded” dough; I’ll try to share some with you over the next few days and as I get back into the swing of using my starter again. So in the future, when I say “discard the extra dough”, feel free to read it as “reserve the extra dough and make English muffins with it”.

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Breakfast Burrito

When I realized this morning that I had half a pound of tofu that needed to be used ASAP, leftover tortillas, and potatoes that also needed to be used up, breakfast burritos suddenly seemed inevitable. I didn’t document them for you, though, because I was busy documenting something else for you (coming soon!) as well as making tempeh at the same time, and I had no idea how they were going to turn out because I don’t know if I’ve ever even made a breakfast burrito before. I don’t make a lot of breakfast foods. But then Mark popped into the kitchen requesting a second burrito, exclaiming that they were “as the Italians say, ‘excellente'” and asking me if I was planning to write the recipe up for the blog. I said no, but then I decided that since he liked them so much and since it’s a great way to use up leftover tofu on Saturday mornings when I make the next week’s batch, I might as well write it up for no other reason than to remind myself what I did for next time. So apologies for the lack of photos. Once I decided I would write it up, I did take a picture of what remained of my burrito (I cut off the tooth marks out of politeness), but it turned out lousy.

Breakfast Burritos

Makes 3-4 burritos

2 small potatoes, small dice
1 large or 2 small shallots, or 1/2 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 pound tofu, crumbled
1/4 cup green salsa
hot sauce to taste
vegan cheese (optional)
1/2 can refried beans

Boil the potatoes in a pot of water until soft. While potatoes are cooking, prep the other ingredients. In a large skillet, heat some oil, then add shallots or onions. Saute for one minute. Add garlic and spices and saute for another minute. Add cooked potatoes and fry until beginning to brown. Add tofu and stir in gently. Add salsa, hot sauce, and optional “cheese”. For the cheese, I mixed a few tablespoons of Dragonfly’s Bulk, Dry Uncheese Mix with an equal amount of water, stuck it in the microwave for a minute, then stirred in 1 tsp of dijon mustard. You could also just toss some nutritional yeast into the skillet and mix it in.

To assemble, heat the tortillas up, the smear each with some of the refried beans. Then add some of the tofu/potato mixture and roll up.

Here’s my crappy photo:

Since I subjected you to such a horrible photo, I will share a photo of Tigger helping me make the item I’m currently documenting for a post later today:

He’s such a handsome boy.

Now I’m going swimming! But I will be back later today with a tutorial that’s been five days in the making!

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Super-fast Udon in a Simple Broth

I worked from home today, which meant I got to make myself a hot lunch that wasn’t leftovers heated up in the microwave at the office. I didn’t want to be away from my work for too long, though, so what I ended up making took little more time than heating up leftovers would have.

Super-Fast Udon in a Simple Broth

For one serving:

1 bundle of udon
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp vegan “beef” broth concentrate
4 oz tomato sauce (1/2 a small can)
1 clove garlic, pressed (or to make it even faster and easier, 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
1/2 tsp ginger, grated (or 1/4 tsp ginger powder)

Prepare the udon according to package directions (ie, boil in plenty of water until just al dente).

While the udon is cooking, bring remaining ingredients to a boil, then simmer until noodles are ready.

Place the noodles into a bowl, then pour the broth over them. Enjoy!

A brief story about my udon bowl: my paternal grandmother had these small bowls with colorful flowers imprinted on the interior bottom of them and she’d always make Jello in them when I was over there. I was for some reason fascinated with them and always very excited about tearing through the Jello to get to the flowers. Many years later, a friend of mine had a gift certificate for one of those pottery places where you can go paint something and pick it up a few days later after they’ve fired it, and she asked me to go with her. I chose to make an udon bowl as I’d always wanted one, and when deciding how to paint it, I decided I wanted to paint flowers inside it like my grandmother’s Jello bowls. It turns out, however, that I have no artistic abilities whatsoever, so I painted something more star-like than flower-like:

But every time I slurp through my noodles, I think of my grandmother’s bowls and all the wonderful things she used to cook. (I realize making Jello isn’t actually “cooking”, but she cooked a lot of other stuff.)

The problem, of course, is that this all transpired before I met Mark, so now he always complains that I get the “cool” bowl when I make noodles. Guess I need to buy (or make) another udon bowl!

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