Archive forNovember, 2008


I didn’t bother documenting my preparations for Thanksgiving because I didn’t do anything unique, unusual, creative, or different, so I figured I’d spare the world a boring post. But then it occurred to me that I might be interested to know what I did this year, next year. I only cooked for me and Mark. We went to the parental homestead, but my parents make a traditional meal and there’s no way I could ever convince them to eat vegan on Thanksgiving. Maybe some other day, but not Thanksgiving. My mother does make vegan portions of her dishes where possible, so I was saved from making a few things like mashed potatoes. It took me about three hours to knock out the following:

1 seitan “turkey”
green beans
“turkey” gravy
cranberry sauce
1 loaf of bread

In the past, I’ve spent more than three hours simply trying to decide what to make, perusing my cookbooks and the internet, looking for recipes and ideas. I’ve found it’s so much easier to just go into the kitchen and make stuff up as I go along!

I cheated on the bread: I had frozen a loaf before the final proof on Sunday, and just popped it out of the freezer and into the refrigerator the night before, then proofed for longer than usual before baking. And it wasn’t for really for Thanksgiving as my mother had two different kinds of rolls. The bread was for leftover “turkey” sandwiches later. Mark was so excited about the “leftover” sandwiches he started eating them the night before!

Everything I made (other than the bread) was totally off the cuff, and since I wasn’t planning to post it, I didn’t even try to mind measurements. But here is approximately what I did:

Seitan “Turkey”

2 1/4 cups (1 box) vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup soy flour
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 cups vegan “chicken” broth

Mix dry ingredients together. Add broth. Form into log, wrap in cheesecloth, tying off ends like a Tootsie Roll, then pressure cook for 45 minutes. Remove from pressure cooker, set in foil inside a baking pan, and baste with some sort of sauce (I used one from the Tofutti site: some apricot preserves, soy sauce, pepper, and water). Bake at 375 degrees for an hour, basting periodically.


10-12 slices whole grain bread, sliced and cubed
1/2 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 half Granny Smith apple, chopped
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
1/2 tsp cracked rosemary
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup vegan “chicken” broth

Because my bread was pretty fresh, I spread the cubes out on a baking sheet, then after baking another loaf, turned the oven off, let it cool for a few minutes (it had been at 430 degrees Fahrenheit), stuck the sheet in the oven and let the bread cubes dry out for somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes. Then in a cast iron pan, I sauted the onion and celery until soft, then added the apple, sage, rosemary, and pepper and stirred, then mixed in the bread cubes. Then I poured the broth over everything and combined until the cubes were mostly soft. I moved the mixture to a Pryex baking dish, patted it down, and baked at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for half an hour. Mark was obsessed with the stuffing and tried to eat it all before we even made it to my parents’.

“Turkey” Gravy

2 Tbsp Earth Balance
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 cups vegan “chicken” broth

In a heavy-bottomed pot, melt the Earth Balance. Whisk in the flour and other dry ingredients to form a roux. Slowly whisk in the broth, adding a little at a time to avoid lumps. Heat until thickened.

Non-Casserole Green Beans

1 pound green beans, trimmed
shallot salt (from Penzeys)
fried onions

I used to loooove green bean casserole, although my mother always made it with cream of celery soup instead of cream of mushroom because I hate mushrooms. Even as late as last year, I would make vegan versions of the traditional green bean casserole. But the idea of adulterating green beans that way sort of makes me ill these days, so I cooked the green beans for 5 to 7 minutes in boiling, salted water, then drained, tossed with shallot salt, and topped with fried onions. They were almost entirely cooked, but I left myself a little leeway for continued cooking when reheating them the next day. If I were serving them right away, I would have cooked for another minute or two.

Cranberry Sauce

12 oz fresh cranberries
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup orange juice

Heat all ingredients in heavy-bottomed pot until cranberries have all burst and mixture is somewhat thickened (it will thicken more upon cooling). Refrigerate for at least an hour.

My mother made a vegan dessert! Look!

It’s wacky cake! Here’s the recipe:

Classic Wacky Cake

Serves 6 to 8

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
5 T. vegetable oil
1 T. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup water
confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in the prepared pan. Make 1 large and 2 small craters in the dry ingredients. Add the oil to the large crater and the vinegar and vanilla separately to the small craters. Pour the water into the pan and mix until just a few streaks of flour remain (but break up lumps). Immediately put the pan in the oven.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Cool in the pan, then dust with confectioners’ sugar. (The cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days).

Mum’s tip: don’t dust with the confectioners’ sugar until just before serving because the moisture in the cake will soak it up, causing it to “disappear”.

From “America’s Best Lost Recipes,” by the editors of Cook’s Country.

Per serving (based on 8 servings): 238 calories, 3 grams protein, 9 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 37 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 264 milligrams sodium.

After we humans ate dinner, my parents’ silly dogs got some dog treats. This is Shannon scarfing them down:

This is him smiling about it:

Those treats were lip-smacking good!

Sophie Mae didn’t want to be photographed eating, but here she is being wary of me:

And that’s it for today! I hope all my American friends had a great Thanksgiving yesterday (or last month for the Canadians), even if the Australian Muck accidentally wished me a Happy Independence Day instead.

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Broth-Braised Tempeh

Will I ever get tired of posting pictures of my tempeh?! Probably not; I’m always so shocked when it turns out. This was my best batch yet. I therefore wanted to show it off in a tempeh-intensive dish: one that showcased how well the tempeh turned out. I decided to simply braise it.

Broth-Braised Tempeh

1 lb tempeh, chopped into 3/4″ cubes
1/2 cup white wine
5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
3 Tbsp capers
1 cup vegan broth of some sort
1 tsp dried tarragon

Heat some olive oil in a large, hot frying pan. Add the tempeh.

Fry until golden.

Add the wine and then the garlic, mustard seeds, and capers. Saute for 2 minutes.

Add the broth and tarragon.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, loosely covered, for 20 minutes or until broth is almost completely dissipated.

Serve! I chose sauerkraut and baked carnival squash as accompaniments.

I started making my own sauerkraut tonight! Here’s a sneak preview:

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Barbecued “Ribs”

I don’t ordinarily think of myself as having any “signature” dishes because I like to try new things so often; in fact, I’m the type of person who will host a dinner party and serve all-new, completely untested or totally made-up recipes. I’m daring like that. But I guess if I were forced to pick a recipe that I’m known for, UnRibs would be one of the top dishes. (Spicy Tofu is another.) But just because the UnRibs are everyone’s favorite (including mine and Mark’s), that doesn’t mean I don’t try other “rib” recipes from time to time, so when I was flipping through some of my “neglected” cookbooks today, it’s not surprising that I decided to make the Barbecued “Ribs” from Bryanna Clark Grogan’s Almost No-Fat Holiday Cookbook. And although I usually improvise barbecue sauce, I made her smoky chipolte barbecue sauce as well, because Bryanna said it was good and Bryanna is almost always right.

Barbecued “Ribs”
From Bryanna Clark Grogan’s Almost No-Fat Holiday Cookbook

Baked Gluten Balls

2 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten (I just used one box, which is just about 2 1/2 cups)
2 cups cold water

Smoky Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
(I cut this recipe in half from the original and it made plenty; follows are the halved measurements.)

1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlrc, minced or pressed
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes (or whole tomatoes that you’ve crushed in a blender or food processor)
1/2 cup brown sugar or Sucanat (or turbinado sugar with 2 Tbsp molasses)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp chipolte chiles in adobado sauce
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp liquid smoke

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

I got the barbecue sauce cooking first. As it’s an almost-fat-free cookbook, Bryanna suggests “steam frying” the onions and garlic, but I just put a little olive oil in the pot and sauted as usual.

While the onions were cooking, I measured all of the other ingredients into my new Fire King batter bowl: another cheap find due to a chip in the rim.

When the onions are soft …

… add the remaining ingredients to the pot, bring to a boil, the reduce heat and simmer for half an hour.

While the sauce is cooking, place the vital wheat gluten and water in a medium bowl.

Mix until the vital wheat gluten is entirely incorporated and it looks like a brain.

Bryanna says to cut the gluten into eight dozen pieces, so using a bench knife I cut it into four pieces …

… then eight …

… then each eighth into eight to twelve pieces, not worrying too much about ending up with exactly 96 pieces, but rather mostly same-size pieces.

I placed them on two half-sheet pans.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until puffy and golden brown. I put mine much closer together than the “couple of inches” apart Bryanna recommended, so I just used kitchen shears to snip them apart where they had merged.

Most of the puffs will deflate almost immediately after removing from the oven.

When the barbecue sauce has cooked down a bit …

… puree it with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender.

Because I have my oven set up in such a way for bread baking that unless I start moving a lot of very heavy (and very hot if I’ve preheated it) items (a huge baking stone and a large cast iron pan I use for steaming), I essentially only have one baking shelf, I moved half of my gluten balls to a smaller, glass baking dish so I could stick it in side-by-side on the same shelf as my brussels sprouts:

I don’t recommend doing this though. Leave ’em on the baking sheet so they are spread out and can get a little crispy when you bake them again. Cover with some of the sauce, but not this much:

They were sort of drowning. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

I couldn’t resist taking photos of the balsamic-roasted brussels sprouts I made to accompany the ribs:

Serve! In addition to the brussels sprouts, I also made the Potato and Green Bean Salad that was on the page right after the Barbecued “Ribs” (although it was for a different holiday).

As Bryanna suggested, I decided to freeze half of the gluten balls for another day. I also froze the rest of the barbecue sauce, so now I have a super easy, super fast dinner waiting for me after some future long day at work.

I got some comments that people were missing the cats lately. They’ve been extra lazy lately and have been sleeping through dinner preparations, so I went hunting for them before downloading the pictures from my camera. I found Tigger on my reading chair; he was startled by my appearance.

But he quickly went back to sleep.

The Toonse was hangin’ out by the “water cooler”, one of her favorite spots.

By the way, if your cats are as demanding of fresh water as mine are, they and I both really like the Catit Cat Waterer. I’ve tried a couple other brands of cat fountains and they have all broken after a year or so, and also got clogged up with Brachtune’s long fur very quickly. I’m not entirely sure why Toonsey’s fur doesn’t get in the Catit fountain, but this thing stays amazingly clean, and Brachtune is ALWAYS hanging around it. She never paid much attention the previous fountains, but she loves this one; I think perhaps because she gets to lick plastic without me yelling at her. (They can either lick the dome, which has a thin film of water running down all over it, or drink out of the basin it flows into.) Tigger still demands that we turn the kitchen or bathroom faucet on for him (RIGHT NOW! I DON’T CARE IF IT’S 4 A.M.! WAKE UP AND TURN THE FAUCET ON, STUPID HUMANS!), but I guess he’s always going to be a special needs cat.

Here’s a more complete view of the fountain:

And that’s it for tonight! I’m going to be attempting to make homemade sauerkraut this week – too late to have it ready by Thanksgiving, unfortunately, but I’ve been wanting to try it for a while. I made pretzels for the first time yesterday and they turned out well; I’ll do a tutorial next time I make them. (This paragraph brought to you by the German part of my heritage.)

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Mexican Beans

What follows is not a very exciting recipe, but it was either get around to making a post, even if it’s boring, or wait around waiting for an exciting one and since it’s been a week, I figured I’d better make a post or you’d all forget about me. My life became very, very hectic last week, culminating in a business trip to Austin earlier this week, hence my internet silence. Today’s been the first day I’ve had to really do any cooking. I made use of some more of my dried beans. So here you go. It’s basically from Simply Heavenly!, again.

Mexican Beans

1 1/2 cups dried pinto beans, soaked (either overnight in cold water, or in hot water for one hour, after boiling for one minute)
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1 package soy chorizo
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper

After soaking, drain the beans.

Cook the beans, either in a pressure cooker for 4 to 6 minutes or in a pot for however long it takes for them to get soft (an hour, maybe?).

Meanwhile, dice the onion and bell pepper, mince or press the garlic, and remove the soy chorizo from its casing.

After the beans have cooked, drain them. Heat some oil in a large pot (using the bean cooking pot cuts down on dishes), then add the onions, garlic, bell pepper, and soy chorizo and saute for 10 minutes.

Add the spices and tomatoes and cook for a minute.

Add enough water, about 1/2 cup, to make it a little soupy so it doesn’t dry out while cooking.

Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and cook for an hour. I removed the lid after half an hour so it would thicken up.

Serve over rice or pasta.

I also made split pea soup.

In other food news, we had our annual company potluck Thanksgiving today at work and I’d like to announce how great it is to work for an Indian-American-owned company. Many of the employees of my company, including the owner, are Hindu and vegetarian, and at our potlucks the vegetarian dishes vastly outnumber the meat dishes. In fact, I only saw three meat dishes out of about 30 today, and they were segregated away from the veggie dishes. How awesome is that?!

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I’m out of WHAT?!@ Pasta

I don’t want to whine at you, but I’ve been having a somewhat stressful week at work. Don’t be alarmed, on the stress scale, my job is usually pretty low, so it’s no big deal, but I got home late tonight and was a little cranky and not feeling that great. So I put SPAM Week on a hiatus and decided I was craving good ole non-experimental, quick and easy pasta. I put a pot on to boil and set about gathering ingredients for my go-to last-minute pasta dish, when I was suddenly confronted with the startling and upsetting news that I have no tomatoes.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I use a lot of canned tomatoes. Mark recently informed me that all of my meals are very “red”. I probably don’t have a big following of people with nightshade allergies. I buy tins of tomatoes nearly every time I’m at the grocery store, and to come home and stare in my cupboard and see NO tomatoes…well, I was flabbergasted. Pasta with no tomatoes? HOW IS IT POSSIBLE?

I soon decided that some sort of garlicky sauce was in order. Only to be confronted with equally astonishing fact that I was down to a mere three cloves of garlic. WHAT IS MY WORLD COMING TO?!

Follows is the story of how I overcame these obstacles. I didn’t take any preparatory photos because all I wanted to do was make dinner as quick as possible and cuddle up with The Toonse (aka Brachtune) and a book, plus I’ve already told you how I usually throw together pasta. But after deeming my experiment a success, I decided to post the recipe after all, if for no other reason for myself to refer back to if ever I am ever unfortunate enough to find myself in this devastating situation again.

You may find it disingenuous that the recipe below includes tomato paste when I’ve just complained about having no tomatoes. I didn’t say I had no tomato-y products, though, I just said I had no tomatoes. What kind of household do you think I’m running here?! Not having tomato paste?! Impossible! (Oh yeah, I also had sun-dried tomatoes.)

Renae Desperately Needs to Go to the Grocery Store Pasta

8 oz dried pasta of any sort (I used multi-colored spirals)
1-2 Tbsp roasted garlic olive oil (or herbed olive oil, or regular old plain extra virgin olive oil)
all the garlic you can muster up (I had just 3 pathetic cloves)
1/4 cup capers
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 can artichoke hearts
1 can chickpeas
3 Tbsp tomato paste
3 Tbsp Dragonfly’s Bulk, Dry Uncheese Mix
1 cup vegan “chicken” broth
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red chili pepper flakes
freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Cook the pasta as directed on the package and drain. In a wok or large pan, heat the oil. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and capers and fry for 1 minute. Add the artichoke hearts and chickpeas and fry for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to distribute evenly, then add the Uncheese mix and stir. Pour in the broth and stir until evenly mixed in, stirring as it thickens. Season with oregano, chili flakes, and pepper. When the sauce thickens, mix in the pasta.

Maybe not the most exciting meal on the planet, but surprisingly good despite all the obstacles. A word on that Uncheese Mix by Dragonfly: you’ll want to make a batch of this and keep it around for just such emergencies as this. Also sprinkle it on popcorn, on pizza, on pasta: anything that start with a “p”, really. And based on how yummy those artichokes tasted in my pasta tonight, I’m thinking UNCHEESY ARTICHOKE DIP in my immediate future. Stay tuned.

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Polynesian Bake with Green Beans

As I warned, it’s SPAM week here at I Eat Food. Tonight’s recipe is another direct from the SPAM® website, and like the Spam Musubi, completely vegan other than the SPAM. It’s the exotic-sounding Polynesian Bake!

Polynesian Bake

1/2 – 2/3 recipe vegan Spam
1 can sliced pineapple
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice up your vegan Spam. I cut seven slices, because that’s what fit into my baking dish, but it happens to be how many the original recipe calls for so it’s even more authentic.

The original recipe calls for a fresh pineapple, which you cut lengthwise and then bake the “loaf” right in the rind. Although I was really tempted to do this for the cute factor, and although I love pineapple and rarely use canned anything when I could use fresh, canned pineapple is much easier and actually the perfect size for the vegan Spam. For a baking dish, I used a 1 1/2 pint Pyrex refrigerator dish. Alternating slices of Spam and pineapple, assemble a “loaf” in a suitably-sized baking dish.

Juice your lemon. One medium lemon should provide you just about exactly the 1/4 cup juice you need.

Combine the lemon juice, apricot preserves, mustard, and black pepper in a small bowl.

Whisk together.

Pour the sauce over the “loaf”.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, basting half-way through.

Remove from oven and serve.

I accompanied the Polynesian Bake with green beans. I googled “Polynesian green bean recipe” wondering if I’d find anything good to go with the Spam and found this recipe alleging to be from Disney. I didn’t photograph the whole process because I wasn’t intending to post it, but they went so well with the Spam dish, I figure I might as well.

Polynesian Green Beans

1 lb green beans, trimmed
1/2 red onion or 3 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce (or 2 Tbsp regular soy sauce + 2 Tbsp sugar) (I don’t quite get why the original recipe calls for low-sodium soy sauce AND additional salt…)
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp vegan “bacon” bits

Blanch the green beans in boiling water for 1 minute, then drain. Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat, add a bit of oil and bring to temperature, then add onion or shallots and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for another minute. Add the green beans and fry for 10 minutes. I deglazed the wok with a bit of pineapple juice instead of water or wine because I’m crazy like that. Also, the juice from my pineapple was sitting nearby and was handy.

Add the soy sauce and pepper and stir-fry for two minutes, allowing it to glaze the green beans. Add the “bacon” bits and stir-fry for one minute.


Verdict? I much preferred the texture of the vegan Spam when it was fried. Baked it was a little bit like a sort of Spammy polenta, if you can imagine that. It wasn’t bad and it grew on me as the meal progressed, but I think next time I’ll lightly fry the Spam slices, then top with the pineapple and sauce and broil for a couple of minutes. Ooh, or maybe grill it. I would like to revisit this recipe because the sauce was good and I have always loved pineapple and hammy things. I’m not sure of Mark’s opinion because he is downstairs obsessively watching Hell Boy 2, but when I went down there to collect Brachtune from his lap in order to pill and feed her, I noticed his plate had been cleaned, so he must have liked it to some degree!

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Vegan Spam Musubi

I suddenly found myself making vegan SPAM on Sunday. Trust me, I was as surprised as anyone. But then I had to figure out what to do with it. The only dish I have ever heard of that uses Spam is Spam musubi, that bizarre Japanese/Hawaiian hybrid of weirdness. So I did what any normal person would do: I visited the Spam website (Warning! Clicking on that link with your speakers on is…interesting.) There I found many, many Spam recipes, including one for, yes, Spam musubi. So, that, my friends, is exactly how I used up the first of what turned out to be more vegan Spam than I can handle. I was going to come up with my own recipe, but then I decided it would be funny to use the official SPAM recipe, which other than the SPAM itself, is vegan.

Vegan Spam Musubi

3 cups prepared sushi rice
1/3 – 1/2 recipe vegan Spam
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
olive oil for frying
1 -2 sheets sushi nori

Get the sushi rice cooking. (If you are not familiar with cooking sushi rice, see Maki’s tutorial on the excellent Just Hungry.)

Mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger together in a small, shallow pan.

Cut four slices of vegan Spam (for a total of eight pieces of musubi). I found a serrated knife worked best.

Cut each slice in half, then cut off outermost part of the arc of each (save the small arc-shaped piece for another use):

Place the eight pieces of vegan Spam into the marinade and marinate for half an hour, turning over after 15 minutes.

Meanwhile cut the nori into 8 strips 1/2 to 1″ wide. My nori is perforated for 1″ strips.

When the rice is done, let it cool enough to handle.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat, add some olive oil and bring up to temperature. The Spam seemed to want to stick to my cast iron pot, which is well-seasoned and usually very stick-resistant, so I had to use a bit more oil than usual. (I still didn’t use the 2 tablespoons the SPAM website called for.) Brown the vegan Spam on both sides.

When the rice has cooled a bit, wet both of your hands and grab a handful, smooshing it into a log-ish shape about the length and width of your Spam pieces. (Don’t try to do this with dry hands.)

Place a piece of fried vegan Spam atop each rice log.

Wrap a strip of nori around each Spam/rice pile, moistening the nori slightly at the end to seal it.

Repeat for each piece of vegan Spam.

I steamed some broccoli and carrots, then tossed them in some of the leftover marinade. The SPAM site also suggests dipping the Spam musubi in the leftover marinade. I prepared some wasabi and soy sauce for dipping because Mark loves wasabi.

When the vegan Spam was frying, Mark announced it smelled like real SPAM. “I have no idea what SPAM smells like,” I responded, “but I’m guessing it does not smell good.” Then he picked a piece out of the frying pan and said it tasted like real Spam, to which I responded, “I have no idea what SPAM tastes like, but I’m guessing it’s not good either.”

Despite – or maybe due to – the fact that I doubt very much vegan Spam tastes (or smells) like real SPAM, this turned out well! Mark really liked it, and despite the fact that he’s a complete rice fiend, when I couldn’t eat my fourth musubi and asked him if he wanted it, he only wanted the Spam from it. He also said he may make a Spam sandwich for lunch tomorrow. This was definitely a fun experiment!

And I have so much more Spam left to work with! Prepare yourselves for a very spammy week.

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Vegan SPAM

Why, it’s Mr Cluckers! What is he doing?!

He seems to be at the theatre. How droll! What might Mr Cluckers be seeing this evening?

It’s Spamalot! Mr Cluckers, Smark, and I took it in on the West End last year and until today it was the closest I ever got to anything related to SPAM™ in any way. As I mentioned other day, I was inspired by the dried bean section of Simply Heavenly! to start incorporating more dried beans into my diet, and to that end, I bookmarked several of the recipes in that book. I can imagine the result of most recipes I read very well, so well that I usually trust myself to make adjustments to it the first time around instead of abiding by the rule of “make it exactly as written the first time, experiment the next”, however, I found myself flummoxed by the recipe for “Soyteena”. Ground-up dry soybeans, tomato juice, peanut butter, cornmeal…what? But adventure is my middle name, so I decided I was going to try it out. Halfway through the steaming process it dawned on me: I was making vegan SPAM! And now by following these easy instructions, you can too!

Soyteena (Vegan SPAM)

1 cup dried soybeans
2 cups water
1 cup tomato juice
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup cornmeal

Chop the celery …

… and onion.

Place the soybean in a blender and pulse several times until they are pulverized to a powder. Add all other ingredients except the cornmeal.

Blend until smooth.

Place in a bowl and stir in cornmeal until completely mixed.

Oil two cans (the size 14.5 ounces of tomatoes come in; normal can size). Put half of the mixture into each.

Cover each can with foil and secure with a rubber band.

Place the cans into a Dutch oven or large pot and fill with water so they are 1/3 of the way submerged.

Bring the water to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer, steaming the SPAM for two hours (or longer). Remove cans from pot and allow to cool, then remove SPAM from cans. If you have an IQ as high as mine, it may take you only half an hour to realize that the easiest way to do this is to remove the bottom of the can and push the SPAM through.

Behold your can-shaped, slightly frightening vegan SPAM.

Tune in later for the first in my series What the Heck One Can Do With Vegan Spam!

My mom sent me a package of fun via my aunt by way of my grandmother’s house this weekend. Most of the fun was for the cats unless you consider mustard pots fun, which I do. My aunt’s cat Stormy donated some of her extra toys to my cats (which makes my cats sound like unfortunate needy cats, which I’m sure you can tell is definitely the case), and my mom made them some catnip toys. Brachtune was playing with one while I was making dinner. Brachtune is extraordinarily cute when she plays, but I can never catch her on camera because whenever she sees me so much as look in her direction, she drops everything she’s doing and literally RUNS to me. So this is the best I could get; trust me, she had JUST been batting that blue thing around like crazy:

Of course, once I start taking pictures, Tigger becomes alerted to the fact that Bracthtune is playing, so he has to put an end to that.

It’s hard to get action shots of my cats playing, but it proved strangely easy to get them of my grandmother’s cat on Saturday! Here’s Muffin:

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Creamy Potato Carrot Soup

On some nights, I have a brilliant idea for dinner. Other nights – I’d venture to say most nights – I whine “what do you want for dinner?” to Mark and stare blankly into the refrigerator assessing the vegetable situation. Tonight was one of the latter nights. Bizarrely, I think I ended up making vegan Spam, but you’ll hear more about that tomorrow. I had to put it in the refrigerator to constrict. Yeah, I know that doesn’t make any sense, but welcome to my world. Anyway, foraging around in the crisper drawers of the refrigerator, I found a head of a cabbage, celery root, and carrots. All of which I decided was going into a soup to accompany some barbeque beans suggested by my friend Abbott George.

Creamy Potato Carrot Soup

My apologies for the photograph you are about to be subjected to. Apparently I forgot how to focus. I usually take a couple of shots of the ingredients to make sure at least one turns out, but apparently not tonight.

4-5 large shallots, or 1 large onion, chopped
1/2 celery root, grated, or 1 stalk celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
4-5 red potatoes, diced
4 leaves cabbage, chopped (I used savoy)
6 cups vegan broth or stock
2 Tbsp vegan “bacon” bits
1 bay leaf
freshly ground pepper to taste

In a soup pot or Dutch oven, heat some olive oil, then add the shallots or onions and saute for a couple of minutes.

Add the carrots (my carrot was yellow, don’t be confused!), celery root or celery, and garlic; saute for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the potatoes and cabbage.

Add the broth or stock, potatoes, cabbage, bay leaf, and bacon bits. Season with pepper to taste.

Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat, and simmer for half an hour or until vegetables are soft.

Remove the bay leaf and puree, either using an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender, as smooth or chunky as you like.

Serve. I sprinkled a little parsley in the middle for the photo because I’m classy.

Mark’s assessment of the soup: “It may look like puke, but it tastes like happy.” It’s like I said: we’re classy.

Here are the barbeque beans. It was essentially just soy beans in homemade barbecue sauce.

I complained last time about Brachtune (who is currently sitting on my right arm – making typing extremely difficult – and purring loudly) sitting on my laptop, which has been her new favorite thing to do. When she signed me out of Ubuntu and then left my user name a cryptic “while you were out” message (which, again, I didn’t even know you could do), I decided it was the last straw and I set her up her own little pseudo-laptop. Here it is:

I took a heated cat pad that my mother gave me a while ago (I believe to combat the problem of Tigger sleeping on our laptops) and stuck it into a hooded cat bed that I bought Brachtune as a get-well present when her leg was broken earlier this year. She’s been practically living in it since.

This freed up my reading chair for Tigger.

In other news, I scored an awesome antique seltzer bottle at the antique store today, although I was sad to realize at home that it’s missing a part that holds the charger. Fortunately I found one on the cheap on eBay, although it’s coming from the UK so it may take a little while to get here. If you don’t hear from me after a week or so, it’s quite possible Ive managed to blow myself up in a horrible CO2/exploding bottle accident. Honestly, “seltzer bottle” seems like one of those things, like “kitchen torch”, that I shouldn’t be allowed to have, but fortunately for me you don’t have to pass a klutz test to buy one. Let the fizzy drinks begin!

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Summer Squash Casserole

This was another recipe scavenged from my mother’s recipe box, and another one that I don’t remember her actually making. It’s probably more of a summer dish, but I made it anyway. It’s called Summer Squash Casserole, which I think sort of implies it’s intended for yellow squash although I believe zucchini qualifies as “summer squash”. All I can get right now is zucchini, so I that’s what I used.

I won’t bother transcribing the original because all I did was swap out cheddar for nutritional yeast and a little dijon mustard, butter for olive oil, and Better Than Sour Cream for real sour cream.

Summer Squash Casserole

1 summer squash
1 small onion
1 tsp olive oil (original called for 1 Tbsp butter or margarine)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/3 cup vegan “sour cream”
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp bread crumbs (I used panko)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the squash …

… and the onion.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add olive oil and bring it up to temperature. Add the onions and squash.

Meanwhile, mix together the “sour cream”, nutritional yeast, dijon mustard, thyme, and paprika in a small bowl.

When the squash and onions are slightly brown, remove from heat.

Stir the “sour cream” mixture into the squash and onions and place in a small baking dish.

Top with bread crumbs.

Bake for 20 minutes.


This was okay. Honestly I don’t usually adorn side-dish veggies with sauce or casserolize them; I prefer them simply steamed or sautéed. I think this may be good with a summer meal. Mark, a certified zucchini hater, ate an entire serving, though, so that’s certainly a good thing. I think I may be conquering his zucchini fear, though. Maybe he didn’t realize what it was.

Also featured in the photo above is something else I’ve been working on, but I’m not quite ready for a post yet.

In cat news, I’m always trumpeting Brachtune as the “good” cat. I throw around phrases like “my little angel”, “my sweet little love dove”, and “my perfectly-behaved little princess” in relation to Brachtune. Lately, though, Brachtune has picked up one of Tigger’s annoying habits: internet hacking. I came into the library to upload my summer squash casserole photos and found this:

She had done a search on Amazon, Google, Wikipedia and seven other sites for “hhhhhhhhhggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhgggghhhghgh”, hidden a couple of my photo directories and password-protected them – something I didn’t even know you could DO in Picasa – and turned off my touchpad.

Meanwhile, Tigger is curled up in the cat tree right behind Brachtune (you can see it, but not Tiggs, in the background of the Brachtune-being-bad picture), sleeping half on a router and half on the lap of a headless doll. He’s really been loving that headless doll lately. These cats are weird.

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