Fakin’ Bacon

I’ve had enough hearing about bacon. I mean real, ‘pig bacon.’ I know that it’s salty, crispy, fatty, and satisfying. But – it’s still pig bacon, and I’m having none of that. So – into the kitchen I sauntered, with a recipe for TOFU bacon that will hopefully make me feel all smug when my carnivore buddies start exulting their bacon experiences.

PART_1461159499265_IMG_20160417_133637

Compile:
Extra firm tofu (this Trader Joe’s is low-moisture and absolutely perfect)
Vegan Worcestershire or soy sauce
Maple syrup
Smoky paprika
Garlic powder
Black pepper
Liquid Smoke if you please, but I didn’t have any on hand

With a steady hand, slice your tofu thin. I mean, really thin. As thin as you can without crumbling it. These will eventually be your bacon slices.

Mix the marinade ingredients very well and pour into a shallow pan, such as a 9×13″ baking dish. Then place your really super thin slices of tofu in the marinade and make sure they get covered on both sides. Allow to marinate for a few hours in the fridge.

Heat a baking tray at 350, spray the tray with a little olive oil, and place  your slices on. Bake  until the tofu is firm (keep an eye on it to prevent burning), about 25 minutes. Voila, bacon without the oink! (You do want the bacon to be a little stiff, not soggy, when you take it out – this is why extra firm tofu is essential.)

Would be perfect on sourdough with a schmear of Vegenaise, a juicy heirloom tomato, and some baby butter lettuce. Heaven!

 

 

 

Reinventing the breakfast drink wheel?

You guys! I think I just totally invented a healthful, vegan version of Strawberry Quik.

I did this quite by accident, of course, and so many great ideas through the course of time have been made by accident, no?  Even better was the fact that I already had all 3 ingredients on hand without forethought.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Old Quik.

Take your blender, and do this – you’ll be hooked.

Handful of fresh (not frozen, but if frozen is all you have, then go you)

Rice milk, unsweetened

1tb of raw maca powder

Two or three ice cubes

Blend.

Drink.

Now, doesn’t this taste so much better (but at the same time similar) to Quik? Minus the weird chemicals and colors? Yes. Yes, it does.

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Maple

TonewoodMapleSyrupBlockProductThreeQuarterSide900_grande

Uh-oh, folks. This looks like a maple syrup game-changer.

Maple Sugar Cube

In the burger lab.

More and more, I find myself veering away from commercially-made veggie burgers to explore the healthier option of homemade. I’ve been having a hard time, though, of finding the perfect recipe. Either my homemade efforts have been too dry, too prone to crumbling, or bland. I also don’t want to use eggs to bind, so there’s that to deal with too.
IMG_20150926_114952

I did stumble upon a great recipe whilst trawling Pinterest, and the ingredients seemed to have that stickability factor – these babies should not/could not fall apart when cooking. The recipe is for sweet potato and black beans to be formed into patties, with various other ingredients. There are dozens of recipes that riff on the same bean & potato theme, so take a look around and see which one you dig best.
IMG_20150926_125538

Verdict: Burgers pre-cooked were very sticky to deal with, so lots of hand-washing is involved. I needed to add flour to “dry” them out just a tad without making them too dry, and to be confident of the binding. The burger patties cooked well in just a smidge of olive oil, providing a decent outer crust and a soft middle. I added a bit of cayenne and Old Bay seasoning to mine, but the gentle nature of black beans and of sweet potato lends itself to accepting a wealth of flavoring options.

I topped mine with mixed greens, avocado and a vegan garlic crema that I whipped up (and keep on hand to use as salad dressing or as a mayo sub). Feel free to experiment – and happy burgering!

Fall cleaning, spice cabinet style

We’re all guilty – whether it’s intentional or not – of hanging on to those ancient spices and herbs in our cabinets. I  know, because I’ve been guilty, too.

IMG_20150906_100151It happens with the best of intentions: you buy that huge bottle of nutmeg, or deign to try something exotic such as shichimi togarashi – and after  a few uses, it sits there in the darkness of your larder, waiting for another time that may never come.

Spices and dried herbs lose their punch pretty quickly if you don’t use them with frequency. Even if you do find yourself cranking that malabar pepper fairly often, it’s a good rule of thumb to replace any of your spices on an annual basis.

I can recall when my grandfather passed away in 1985, as we cleaned out his kitchen we found remnants of McCormick ground pepper and dusty tins of things like mace (who actually uses mace?) from the 1970s still withering away in the deep recesses of the cabinets – victims, no doubt, of the last time my then -late grandmother cooked.   No spice should be allowed to linger in your larder for 10 years!

To wit: respect your cooking and do it a favor (as I did above, last weekend) – take 10-15 minutes to go through your spice collection and toss those antiquated old jars!

Not so neat…

Have any of you tried Neat?

I was given two packages of it, and the first thing that popped into my head was, oh hooray! Meatloaf! At last!

That de-escalated quickly.

That de-escalated quickly.

But my attempt flopped faster than a deflated souffle. My meatloaf looked and smelled frighteningly exactly like the real thing – but when it came time to sit down and actually chew it, well, that part was difficult to say the least.

(Insert Mojave Desert references here.)

So if you have tried (and succeeded) with Neat-loaf (ha), please share with me!

Cauliflower-Carrot Miso Soup – and a caution

I was one of those kids who liked the weird vegetables that most other kids my age despised  – lima beans, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and cauliflower.

Cauliflower, along with its soul sister broccoli, are still at the top of my list because they’re fantastic eaten either raw or cooked. Plus: those nutrients! 

My cauliflower-carrot soup, kissed with white miso, black pepper, and scallion.

My cauliflower-carrot soup, kissed with white miso, black pepper, and scallion.

After many decades of being derided by my generation (“Ew! it looks like a brain!”) – cauliflower appears to has made a subtle entree back into polite society as a utilitarian go-to vegetable for vegans shying away from process meat substitutes. Almost gone – but not quite – are the days where cauliflower was sadly relegated only to a tray of crudite at parties. You’ll now find it’s been elevated to center stage, having found its star role as a “steak”: a generous vertical slab brushed lovingly with balsamic and olive oil, roasted, then served with gravy, much like a hunk o’ Salisbury steak.

Recently too, cauliflower has been discovered as a decent, low-fat sub for mashed potatoes (although I have yet to try and weigh in* on this matter – for me, the mashed potato is sacred) or as a gluten-free pizza crust option (ditto).

I’ve been playing around with the Big C lately. I love its heft, its clean, uncooked scent, its virtual indestructibility. Treated right, it lasts almost forever in the fridge or freezer.

My favorite turned out to be this creamy vegan soup, made with just a kiss of white miso for that savory touch, and a generous 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, which gives it that cheesy taste. Topped with home-made croutons or green onions, this is comfort food at its mellow best.

There are a million recipes out there for cauliflower soup – find one and make it your own – but be warned: you might just come away addicted!

*You’ll pardon the pun.