monster vs. monster


on a food roll
July 19, 2010, 2:46 pm
Filed under: food | Tags: , ,

I feel a little food spoiled. Drawing from someone else’s fully-stocked pantry with every ingredient at my fingertips, spending entire afternoons simmering grains and kneading doughs, warming the apartment with a preheated oven on foggy mornings. It’s a little bit ridiculous, how good I have it. I remember thinking so many times during the school year how I just wanted to spend a single day cooking and knitting and reading Sedgwick. Just one day. And now I have a whole string of days to do just that. My appetite has been on seriously high gear the last couple of weeks, and I’ve been pawing through BW’s cookbook collection looking for ways to entertain my tummy. Right now I’ve got some rice on the stove and some gluten sausage roasting in the oven, so my hands are free to share with you the super successful seitan I made a few days ago.

The seitan recipe I used calls for 7 cups broth, 1 cup gluten flour, 2 tbsp Braggs, and 2 tsp seasonings, which I divided evenly between sage, oregano, pepper, and a fancy “pasta” spice which was really just basil, oregano, garlic and thyme. After blending 3/4 c broth, flour, and spices together I kneaded the dough for 15 minutes, let it rest for 5, then kneaded again for 5. This is really the trick to getting a perfect consistency. In the past, my seitan has come out rubbery and squishy, with too much air trapped inside. With the extra kneading, I got a firm, solid texture – and a full arm workout.

I also added some onion slices to the broth, which I think really helped to round out the seasonings.

With half of the seitan and most of the broth, BW made chicken and dumplings which was in-effing-credibly de-effing-licious. I was a very unadventurous eater in my pre-vegan days, and chicken and dumplings is one of the many dishes I never encountered in its more, shall we say, traditional form. But now that I’ve experienced this hearty, doughy, salty comfort food (and seen how easy it is to make!) I will be adding this to my winter food repertoire. Mmmm.

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Oddly enough, cooking sucks the appetite right out of me. Generally what I’ll do is cook a meal and immediately package it up and set it in the fridge. Then I’ll wash the dishes, tidy up the stove, go and check my email, maybe pour myself a glass of wine. And then I’ll eat. I don’t know whether I act this way because I prefer cold food or prefer cold food because I act this way. Suffice to say, it’s strange, and to most people it makes no sense. What it does mean, though, is that I can do a lot of weird disparate cooking and baking all at once, since I’m going to set it all aside anyway. Tomorrow I’m going to try to bust out some cinnamon swirl bread, lemon cranberry muffins, summer squash soup, and grits with greens. Oh, and maybe I’ll work on my translation project. Maybe.



suppertime
May 3, 2009, 12:14 pm
Filed under: food | Tags:

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Often I find myself without an appetite. I feel hunger but I don’t crave food, and eating is a chore. It seems like such a simple problem with such an easy solution, but it’s actually quite hard to just sit down and eat when food seems so unappealing. I’ve found that the best remedy for this situation is a bowl of fresh vegetables and whole grains – foods that fill me up and make me feel like eating is really worth my time.

I’m a baker, not a cook. I feel comfortable with cakes and cookies, swapping out flours and throwing in a little extra sugar, a little less shortening, a pinch of this or that. When I cook, I try to do as little as possible. A mere glance at the spice cabinet can send my meal into a downward spiral of conflicting flavors and angry tastebuds. Enter The Saucy Vegetarian, a book of simple, no-cook, vegan sauces that add a hint of flavor without overpowering the veggies underneath. This book is ushering me into the kitchen at dinner time and holding my hand as I learn the very basics of, well, food.

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I started with broccoli florets and sweet potato spears. I am on a big sweet potato kick lately. Something about the weather – grey and muggy one day, sunny and windy the next. Sweet potatoes feel right whether it’s hot or cold.

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Throw in some Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice, which comes out perfect every single time (and these days, as I wait to move in to an apartment with a rice cooker, this stuff is vital to my existence). Then blend up some white beans, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, water, and a bit of salt – and even with this, my first venture into cooking, I strayed from the recipe and it came out great!

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I couldn’t let the veggies cool too much, since the sauce was room temperature, so I kind of had to hurry to get it all together and keep it warm. I could see myself heating this stuff up to drizzle over leftovers on a chilly afternoon. Mmm. All together, the meal took about half an hour, and it was absolutely perfect. Fresh, flavorful, and filling.

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Best enjoyed by the window on a foggy day.