Sauerkraut Noodles with Seitan

Every October 6th my father emails me to wish me a happy German-American Day. And every October 6th at least one food blog reminds me it’s National Noodle Day. So for dinner tonight, obviously I was having German noodles, right? The only trouble was the noodles involved in German dishes are always egg noodles, and even if I found a non-eggy noodle I thought would suffice, I’ve been eschewing the heavy dinners I feared anything “German noodly” would turn out to be. So I went browsing around Wegmans looking for a wheat-alternative noodle that would help me make a lighter dish. I found this rice spaghetti, which are absolutely, positively nowhere near being German. Nonetheless, I decided to try them. You could absolutely be much more authentic and use wide wheat noodle, although if you are vegan, you’ll probably end up having to use linguine or something similar.

Sauerkraut Noodles with Seitan

1 1/2 cups chopped seitan (I like to make a big batch on the weekend and freeze it in smaller portions)
1 cup vegan “beef” broth
3 Tbsp German mustard
2 Tbsp vinegar – I used malt, but really any kind would be okay
1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 white onion, sliced into slivers
14 oz sauerkraut
2 Tbsp vegan sour cream (optional)
noodles of your choice, cooked unless you are using rice noodles like me

Whisk together the broth, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, caraway seeds, chili pepper flakes, and celery seeds in a medium bowl. Chop the seitan and add to the broth. Let it marinade for a while, say, half an hour or so (or much longer in the refrigerator).

The directions on my rice spaghetti said to soak it in water for two minutes before cooking. If you are using any other noodles, cook them as directed and set aside.

Heat some oil in a Dutch oven and add the onions. Cook until they begin to get soft.

Drain the seitan, reserving the marinade.

Add the seitan to the onions and cook until the seitan begins to brown.

Stir in the sauerkraut. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any homemade, though I do have a pot fermenting that will be ready in a couple of weeks, so I had to make do with an authentic German brand from Wegmans.

Add the broth and the sour cream. I’m not sure the sour cream added that much flavor to the final dish so I wouldn’t go out of my way to include it next time.

CAT INTERLUDE. I have THIS whining at me the entire time I’m cooking anything:

I swear, that is SO like Tigger!

If you are using regular cooked noodles, boil off the broth a bit, or perhaps thicken it with a bit of cornstarch dissolved in cold water. I, however, needed to finish cooking my now-soaked rice noodles, which were softened, but not al dente. So I gently stirred in the noodles, lowered the heat a bit, covered, and let the noodles cook for 5 to 10 minutes. My original plan was to bake this dish like a casserole, but I wasn’t sure if the rice noodles would go soggy before everything else was heated through, so I kept it on the stovetop. The noodles stayed al dente.

And that’s all there was to it. I can’t figure out if that rice spaghetti was being marketed towards an Asian crowd (it seems proud to be a product of Singapore and I did find it in the Asian section) or a gluten-free crowd (it’s labelled as such) or what, exactly. I think it would seem more natural in an Asian dish, but then, I eat a lot of rice noodles in Asian dishes so maybe that’s just what I expect. You won’t get an experience like the European egg noodles that come to mind when you think “German noodle dish”, but I think I felt a little less fat after dinner than I would have had I used heavier noodles. Mark really liked this; he had three servings and informed me it was “elite”. So I don’t know, maybe my German ancestors would have found this meal absurd, but it was tasty and it’s hard to argue against something when you have people going back for thirds.

As I mentioned in my last post, we released some more raccoons a couple of weeks ago. Here’s a glimpse:

I think this one looks like he’s picking a lock…which by the way would be a great profession for a raccoon if he were human, and not just because they have built-in masks. I think that’s why I find this picture so hilarious.

Back inside, we have a few younger raccoons who will be over-wintering with us or who will be released around January. What is this one doing?

Gnawing on my camera strap, that’s what. If you want to know what kind of person I am, I’m the kind of person who will give a raccoon my camera strap when asked. I also give them my shoes, which they find just as fascinating.

Like I’m going to turn THIS face down.

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Mustardy Vinaigrette Potatoes with Broiled Tempeh and Sauerkraut

We’re back from the beach! Although now Mark wants to move to Charleston….

I did some refrigerator restocking this afternoon but have mostly been just relaxing today and didn’t make anything elaborate: just the usual tofu and pizza (I need to show you my new crust made with 00-style flour!). It was nice to be back in the kitchen with all my own stuff, although I did enjoy making Carolina Red Rice for Mark’s family one night at the beach. Next year I am definitely taking my own chef’s knife, however! Anyway, since I didn’t have time to make tempeh this weekend, I sucked it up and bought some, although store-bought just does not compare to home-made. The night before we left for Charleston, I had moved my latest batch of sauerkraut from its crock to the refrigerator after a 6-week fermentation and it is really, really good so I wanted to incorporate it into dinner tonight. Here is what I did:

Mustardy Vinaigrette Potatoes

5 medium red potatoes, chopped into bite-sized chunks
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp German-style mustard
2 tsp sugar or 4 drops stevia
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried or 2 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp coarse or flaked sea salt (like Maldon)
freshly ground pepper to taste

Wash and chop the potatoes …

… and the onion.

Boil the potatoes until fork-tender …

… then drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.

Put the cooked potatoes and the chopped onions into a bowl …

… and toss with the dressing.

Serve warm, room temperature, or cool.

For a protein, I made an improvised tempeh thing. I cut the tempeh in half, then cut each half into two slabs like this:

Then I whisked together a tablespoon of German mustard, a half tablespoon of soy sauce or Braggs liquid aminos, and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.

I brushed both sides of each tempeh slab with the mixture, then fried on both sides until golden:

I topped each slab with a slice of vegan “cheese” (I used the swiss uncheese recipe from The Uncheese Cookbook). I also put a dab of habanero sauce on each slice.

This photo is blurry, but I wanted you to see that when I removed the tempeh I was a little worried that the uncheese was setting up and baking instead of melting:

But I smeared it around with a spatula, mixing the hot sauce in, and all was well:

I tried heating up the sauerkraut to serve it warm, but decided it tasted much better cold, which meant it was raw and probably even healthier. Mark made a sandwich out of the tempeh and sauerkraut and some rye bread; I served mine without bread. Mark’s meal was probably a little better, though, because the tempeh was a little dry: smooshing it together with the sauerkraut probably improved it. What Mark had, therefore, was a super-healthy reuben, minus the fattening Thousand Island sauce!

As promised/threatened, I have some travel photos. Mark’s mom arranged a salt marsh tour for us and it was rife with photo ops. This is the Morris Island lighthouse.

There were a lot of birds on the island we stopped to explore. This guy didn’t budge regardless how close I got to him and had what I thought was a funny expression on his face.

My college roommate’s father was an artist who named all his works “Sentinel”. I named this photo “Sentinels” in his honor.

This guy left his post:

This one is facing the wrong way!

This one is a loner. I identify with him.

These pelicans didn’t let me disturb their wading.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m from Baltimore and that the single non-vegan thing I probably miss most is steamed crabs covered in Old Bay. As you buy bushels of crabs still alive in order to steam them, I’ve seen plenty of living crabs. My uncle thought it was amusing to chase me around the house with them during family crab feasts after I went vegetarian. However, I’m used to the appearance of Maryland blue crabs. We saw what I’ve identified as ghost crabs, which look quite different, scuttling around the island:

He ran away from me – sideways of course! – as fast as he possibly could (which is quite fast), but he needn’t have worried because I haven’t eaten a crab in more than 20 years!

I had another lesson in seafood on the boat tour as well. These are birds standing on oyster beds:

I never knew what oysters looked like in the wild. In fact, I’ve never even eaten an oyster and don’t even know what they look like on a plate!

The best part of the tour, though, was getting to see some dolphins just a few feet from the boat, and the captain kindly cut the engine for several minutes while I snapped away. It’s hard to get a picture of a dolphin, especially through a telephoto lens, because by the time you hear them surface and focus your camera, their faces are back in the water again and you have no idea (because the water is not clear) where they will resurface. Here’s what I managed to capture, though:

You can’t really tell from the photo, but the fin in front of the mama dolphin belongs to a baby!

And that’s how I spent my week at the beach: hanging out with dolphins, swimming in the ocean, reading, enjoying the company of Mark’s wonderful family, reading some more, and swimming some more. Pretty idyllic, really. It was sunny and hot in Charleston, and at an amazing 83 degrees, the ocean temperature was a good ten degrees warmer than the water in my pool when I left it. When I got home, I found the pool had actually also warmed to 83 degrees, which was nice. What was definitely NOT nice was that the filter broke while we were gone and my pool was a green, swampy – but finally temperate – mess. So while I thought I’d spend my transition day from vacation to work week poolside, what instead transpired is I spent an hour cleaning the pool, which I couldn’t get in, and then it rained and was overcast all day anyway. Yeah, hello, Virginia. Can’t say I missed you or your lousy excuse for a summer.

In happier news, however, Miss Brachtune missed the heck out of us. She hasn’t left my side for 24 hours. I’ve never seen a cat so incredibly happy to see a human being before. And she’s doing great! The cat sitter said she was a perfect angel when getting her sub-q fluids and she seems to have eaten pretty well, and she just looked healthy. So that was a relief! And now I guess I have to confront the fact that I need to be at work in 10 hours. I did realize today that thanks to the Fourth of July on Saturday, I have a 4-day work week – woo!

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