Thursday, November 24, 2011

Could it be...Seitan?

Yep, my first vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner comes to you courtesy of the fake meat industry that thrives so that non-meat eaters like myself can indulge themselves without breaking any self-imposed rules.  For the unfamiliar, seitan can best be described as "wheat meat" or a high-protein substance made from wheat gluten.  Wheat's answer to tofu, if you will.

My original plan for Thanksgiving was a vegetarian take on Ina Garten's turkey roulade, but I was afraid that it wouldn't work with tofu no matter how much liquid I pressed out of it.  Plus there was the question of how fake sausage or vegan sausage crumbles would hold up in such an involved stuffing mixture.  So, I nixed that and Googled "vegetarian Thanksgiving" in search of a recipe I wouldn't have to change too much and found it here.

I did change it up, though, because to me the bread stuffing underneath the puff pastry seemed redundant.  Instead, I cooked all the veggies for the stuffing, made the gravy a little thicker and skipped the bread.  This basically left me with a seitan pot pie.  For broth, I used the liquid the seitan was packaged in.  Somehow, the combination of soy sauce and lemon juice tasted just enough like chicken broth to work.  Once it was ready, I put the mixture in a deep-dish pie pan...and here's what the mixture looked like:

...then I covered it over with the puff pastry and baked it per the recipe instructions.  Here's what it looked like when it came out of the oven.

Only having a top crust made the slices a bit harder to cut out, but the flavor certainly didn't suffer!  Live and learn: next time I'll either roll out the puff pastry a little thinner so that it has a bottom crust or I'll buy twice as much.  Something to be thankful for this holiday season - Steve liked it too!

The rest of the meal was pretty easy (pardon the sloppy photography) - green beans cooked in olive oil with salt, tomatoes and crushed red pepper went on last since everything else took longer.  Most of the work involved in making the caramelized butternut squash was the peeling.  (As you can see, I love me some Barefoot Contessa.) 

Likewise for the apple pie I whipped up for dessert - I thought I had a printed recipe but couldn't find it, so I winged it by adding to the eight or so chopped apples a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar and maybe a quarter cup of flour and eyeballed the cinnamon and lemon juice in keeping with my distance memory of making apple pies from scratch.  This was my first in at least five years.  Also yum!

So that was our humble feast.  Now that the dishes are washed and we're on to the Merlot that Steve just picked up the other day, it's time for one of my favorite things to do at Thanksgiving and/or Christmas - watch Babette's FeastWaking Ned Devine is another good one to watch during the holidays, I think.  If the library has it, maybe we'll watch Silas Marner for Christmas.  I read it in a couple of days of being snowed in while visiting the fam in Virginia last year and loved it!

Hope you're all having a wonderful Thanksgiving and counting your blessings, because they're everywhere!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Time for more juice

This made a nice combination side dish/dessert after warming up a vegetable teriyaki frozen entree for lunch today.  I had already thought about making another juice after finishing off the almost half-gallon of the Mean Green juice that I produced last time by making a double batch of the recipe, and Steve was helpful enough to pick up some more kale, cucumbers and a big bag of apples from Hendersonville, NC.  The apple, beet and carrot juice that I made today (second from the top in the recipe list) left enough of the kale unused that I'll probably make some more of the Mean Green in a day or two.

The Reboot Your Life website has a whole host of resources for people wanting to try a Reboot (juice fast) or just learn more about juicing.  As someone in the latter category, I'm already finding it very useful even though I've never even been a very enthusiastic user of my blender or Cuisinart.  You know, because of all the extra parts that have to be cleaned afterwards.  But a perusal of their juice recipes has helped me to realize that there's more to juicing than big bags of carrots or going to a lot of trouble to make fruit juices that are readily available at the supermarket. 

I'll say one thing...I'm not sure if it was the relatively high beet content or the juicer, but there seemed to be a lot of beet pulp in the bottom of the glass.  Maybe I didn't shake it well enough before pouring?  Still, it was a nice complement to the frozen entree, which, for me, is never enough food.  Must be a runner thing.

A couple more juice experiments will be happening soon...stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My initiation into juicing

Over the weekend, Steve and I watched a documentary called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, in which the overweight narrator chronicles his mission to improve his health through a 60-day juice fast.  Highly recommended, and if you live in Richland County, they have the DVD at the library.  (At least they will after we return it.) 

Anyhoo, one of the recipes featured in the film is a creation of Phil Staples, one of the people the narrator meets during his quest to lose weight and start feeling better, called Mean Green Juice.  For some reason I couldn't find the recipe on the movie website, but a Google search brought me to the blog of someone also undergoing a juice cleanse, and the blogger very helpfully provides the recipe here.  After seeing the movie and the impressive results achieved by the narrator and others, I figured it was worth my while to at least try out the juicing thing and start with a recipe from the movie.  As luck would have it, Steve inherited a juicer from an aunt who died a couple of years ago, so it was simply a matter of buying the ingredients and getting started.

I'll admit that I never really had any interest in juicing before watching the movie because it looked like more trouble than it's worth, and I'm not really into vegetable juices anyway (except for using V8 to make Bloody Marys).  I mean, if I'm too lazy to deal with the cleanup from making smoothies or daiquiris, why bother making a juice drink that I can buy at the store?

Well, as it turns out, it's really not that bad.  All I had to do was learn my way around the juicer, figure out how thinly the ingredients need to be sliced in order to fit through the chute and then take the juicer apart to clean it afterwards.  Steve was very helpful with all of the above, and the resulting juice was pretty decent.  I used a little less kale than what the recipe called for, just because the bunch that we had only added up to nine leaves and I made a double batch so that Steve and I could both have some.  All the other ingredients were in the same proportions as the recipe.  The smaller amount of kale may or may not have made a difference, but the result was very appley.  I'd actually consider having this for breakfast some time, even though I don't normally consume green things first thing in the morning. 

So now I know one juice recipe that I like, and I'll be trying my hand at some others in the near future.  If you have a juicer collecting dust like we did, break it out and give juicing a whirl!