Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, a day late! I made “corned beef” last night:

I was going to share the recipe with you, then decided it’s not quite there yet, but worth working on. At least it was edible. Whenever someone says to me, “everything you make is so good,” Mark is always quick to say, “not EVERYTHING”. When asked to elaborate, he never fails to bring up “the corned beef”. I tried to make “corned beef” seitan about five years ago – following a recipe from the internet, I don’t know which one – and it was so salty it was completely inedible, and it’s saying something when Mark finds something too salty to eat because he’s a saltasaurus. A complete disaster. So I went very easy on the salt in my invention last night, although I think real corned beef is fairly salty. (I’ve never actually had corned beef. I know, I led a very sheltered life before going vegetarian! What’s weird is I think reubens would have been my favorite food ever had I ever had one.)

The other thing that I have made that was not good was the infamous “gasoline cake” that I baked for a friend’s birthday shortly after going vegan. However, that incident was entirely Fortinbras’ fault. It must have been a wacky cake because it had vinegar. Fortinbras showed up at my apartment to help decorate as I was mixing the batter, which I tasted and found to be “off”. I claimed I was going out to buy more flour and mix up a new cake because I’d ruined that one, but Fortinbras tasted the batter and said it was “fine”. I was still pretty new to cooking and baking and didn’t really feel like running up to the store, so with some misgivings, I listened to Fort and baked it up. I decorated it nicely and it looked quite lovely. After singing Happy Birthday, the cake was sliced and pieces were handed around. Suddenly people were making faces and politely putting their pieces down without finishing them. “What’s wrong?!” I shrieked. “It tastes like gasoline,” the birthday girl (never one to mince words) informed me. The only thing I can think of is I added too much vinegar. Only Fortinbras finished an entire slice, claiming it was “fine”, while I yelled at him because I’d TOLD him it there was something wrong with it and had wanted to make another.

A year or two later, though, I baked a cake for another friend who said it was the “most incredible cake” he’d ever tasted and who took the leftovers to his family who also said it was the most amazing cake they’d ever had. So I redeemed myself, just as I hope to redeem myself in regards to the corned beef incident.

I really like the texture I get from pressure cooking seitan, but I’ve been noticing that whenever I do, no matter how many flavorings I put in the seitan and in the broth, the finished product always tastes somewhat bland. I’m really quite baffled by it. Both the liquid for the seitan and the broth I made last night were very flavorful and I thought that seitan was going to be amazing, but it was just…seitan. Like all the flavor had cooked out of it. So I think I have the ingredients right, I need to work on the execution. I’ll try steaming this time. Has anyone else encountered this problem? Were you able to fix it?


  1. TJF Said,

    March 20, 2009 @ 7:45 am

    Speaking of reubens, we made it to Liquid Earth last weekend. Definitely impressed!

    I tried making vegan corned beef once, I think I simmered it in my crockpot. I feel like steaming it could be a very good way to go, it seems to lock in flavors as well as provide a nicer texture.

  2. renae Said,

    March 20, 2009 @ 3:25 pm

    I’m glad you liked Liquid Earth – I saw the review on your blog! Was that your first time in Baltimore?

  3. TJF Said,

    March 23, 2009 @ 8:29 pm

    Yeah! I really liked it. I was impressed that there was so much to do there. B. has friends who live in Silver Spring now, so we might find ourselves back there a few times.

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