Sunday, November 22, 2015

Seitan Turk E. Loaf

In the United States, the annual Thanksgiving feast approaches. The traditional centerpiece of the family meal is, of course, a turkey, but I say that's a silly tradition! I made my first batch of seitan in 2008 for a vegetarian "friendsgiving" in Brooklyn. We had pies and stuffing and squashes and salads, green bean casserole, wild rice with hazelnuts, and probably a bunch of other delicious things that I can't recall.

Making seitan can be tricky at first, but it's worth the effort. Once you get the hang of it, you can make a batch pretty quickly and save lotsa moolah on faux meats. You can serve it as a roast, use it for stir-fry or curry, burgers or sammiches. All it takes is a few ingredients and an hour of your time.

I kept this recipe super simple, using ingredients that are easy to find at any grocery store. That way, if you're new to the vegan game, you don't have to go hunting for wierd things like nutritional yeast. A little nooch never hurts, but this is a family-friendly recipe, as in, your mom can get all the ingredients at Safeway. Vital wheat gluten can be found in the baking aisle at pretty much any supermarket, while liquid smoke is usually hiding next to the A1 and the BBQ sauce.

Turk E. Seitan
makes 1 loaf
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • For the dough
  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup thawed apple juice concentrate
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon herbs de provence
  • For the glaze
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons agave/maple/molasses
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 drops liquid mesquite smoke
  1. In a stock pot bring the veggie broth to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
  2. Stir the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add the cold water and apple juice concentrate and immediately mix with your hands. Knead until a springy, stretchy dough is formed.
  3. Shape the dough into a loaf and add it to the simmering broth. The dough will double in size as it cooks. Simmer gently for 40 minutes, turning the loaf occasionally.
  4. Watch the broth carefully and lower the heat if you need to; the broth should never boil, else thy seitan shall be mush.
  5. While the loaf simmers, heat your oven to 350°F and whisk the glaze ingredients together in a measuring cup or small bowl. Lightly oil a baking dish.
  6. After the dough has simmered, transfer the loaf to the oiled baking dish. Give it a coat of glaze and bake for 10 minutes. Continue to bake, adding new coats of glaze every 7 - 10 minutes until glaze is used up.
  7. Slice to serve

*please note: add 1/4 cup cold water to the recipe in the video!

One thing I'm looking forward to is eating all the Thanksgiving leftovers! Sammiches loaded with seitan and mashed sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce, maybe some balsamic Brussels sprouts...mmm! By the way, seitan makes a great plant-based lunchmeat! 

Dave from Colorado writes, 
"Rachael! Hey! Got a question for you. I'm refining my meat intake. What's a quick lunch vegetarians like? I've been tossing together a turkey sandwich for years... looking for a replacement but not finding anything that seems an equivalent. Fast, easy, nutritious. Thoughts on this?"

There's lots of easy vegan sandwich toppings - hummus, peanut butter, avocado, grilled portobello - and nowadays you can buy Tofurkey vegan turkey slices at most grocery stores. But if you're avoiding processed foods for health or environmental reasons, try making a batch of Turk E. Seitan. And Dave, thank you for adding more plant based meals to your daily routine! You rock!

Happy Thanksgiving, all! This year, please give your presidential pardon to the bird and try a plant-based feast instead! My Thanksgiving board on Pinterest is full of mouth-watering sides, soups and desserts. Check it out! If you have a favorite plant-based holiday dish, please leave a comment below.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Where Vegans Eat: The District

Happy Novembrunch! Denver is overflowing with vegan options these days. Most modern eateries are hip to the plant-based trend. The District is no exception. This popular destination on Denver's restaurant row has a seasonal menu that always includes at least one vegan dish for both brunch and dinner. I'm a big fan of their brunch, mainly because of the bottomless bloody mary & mimosa bar for $10/person. Bottoms up!

My boyfriend brought me there for a birthday brunh last month. The vegan option was breakfast tacos with sides of fruit and The District's famous home fries. I feasted!

If it's a warm, sunny day, try to snag a seat on the patio - it fills up fast! The District is located at 1320 E 17th Avenue.  Brunch is from 9-4 on weekends and dinner is served until 1:30 am on weeknights. Cheers!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

October News Brief

October was a beautiful month, but it blew by so fast! I celebrated my birthday, practiced yoga, and spent a lot of time outdoors soaking up the Colorado sunshine and enjoying the fall colors. I really truly meant to blog a few times - I guess I'll have to make it up to you by blogging regularly in November. I have some Thanksgiving themed posts and another round of #Novembrunch queued up for you!

My main activity in October was participating in a month-long yoga challenge on Instagram. The challenge was for each participant to post a picture of each of the assigned daily poses, with a goal of reaching 100,000 #octoberyogaspice posts on Instagram. The challenge was also a fundraiser for the organization Yogi Is Heart, who provide yoga scholarships for students ages 15-25. I'm really proud of myself for posting every pose! Here are all 31 days in a nutshell:

If you'd like to see these pics on a larger scale, and find out more about the challenge or the poses or who painted the murals, my insta handle is @wolfspriestess - and if you want to follow me, I'd love that!

My birthday was on a Saturday, and my sweetie took me out for a bottomless mimosa brunch at The District on East 17th. I had their vegan option: breakfast tacos with home fries, fruit, coffee, and lots of mimosas! Later that night I danced myself silly at at the Boulder Theatre to my favorite band, Beats Antique. I had been looking forward to this show for a long time - I purchased the tickets the day they went on sale. Beats Antique were amazing! I love when they play old theaters and I can get up close and just get sucked up by the rhythm; I don't care how crowded the dance floor is. I had a wonderful birthday - I even got to enjoy vegan gelato! It's true! If you're ever in Boulder, go to Fior di Latte on the Pearl Street Mall. That's where you will find the vegan gelato.

The next weekend, my boyfriend took me on a date to an enormous pumpkin patch north of Denver to pick out pumpkins for carving. It was an absolutely perfect day - sunny and warm -plus the mountaintops had a fresh dusting of snow. Blue skies, white mountains, orange pumpkins everywhere - so many to choose from. I haven't carved a pumpkin in years, but I knew I wanted a big one. The pumpkin I picked was so heavy, I could barely carry it back to the truck. I had so much fun! We carved the pumpkins on Halloween and made toasted pumpkin seeds.

October was a great month for me and also a great month for vegan newsMore People Opting for Plant Based Diet means millions of innocent animals were spared - thank you everyone for choosing more vegan meals! Maybe you did it for your health? This month, the World Health Organization declared that processed meats are equally as carcinogenic as cigarettes: Bacon and hot dogs cause cancer, WHO says, so bring home some tempeh bacon! To help raise awareness of the plight of farm animals, Jon Stewart Quits Comedy, Starts Animal Sanctuary. He and his wife Tracey opened Bufflehead Farm in the garden state of New Jersey as a sanctuary for rescued farm animals, and Tracey has written a new book for kids and all animal lovers titled Do Unto Animals.

How did your October go? Did you carve any pumpkins? Practice any yoga? Paint any murals? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Vegan MoFo Day 28: Tacos vs. Burritos

Totes Tacos!!!

I make tacos at least once a week, if not twice! Tacos are way better than burritos. For one thing, flour tortillas disgust me. They just taste weird. I don't like them. Every time I get a burrito, I end up just eating the filling. Tacos, however, usually come in tortillas made of corn. Plus, there's a tortilla factory only a few blocks from my art studio on Santa Fe that makes the best corn tortillas - so fresh and soft! Enchiladas are probably my favorite-favorite, but tacos are quick and easy when one is enhungered. 

Sometimes my tacos are simply spicy black beans with tomato, avocado, and hot sauce. Other times I incorporate leftovers, like the Field Roast kielbasa tacos below. Sometimes I like to get fancy - I'm experimenting with inventing my own "tofish" tacos as seen in the first photo. Tacos also go great with my favorite food group, beer. 

For as often as I make tacos, you'd think I'd blog about them more! But even in my blog posts, tacos are beating burritos 4 - 1, and the burrito post is from 5 years's the evolution of the Tacos vs. Burritos debate on Rubber Cowgirl:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010
black beans, black olives, quinoa, 4 different peppers, sweet corn and cilantro in a pita

Tuesday, September 14, 2010
broccoli, bulgur, garlic, peppers and onions in a whole wheat tortilla

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
sweet potatoes, roasted corn, black beans, rice and guacamole in blue corn tortillas

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
pinto beans and guacamole with cilantro and tiny tomatoes in tiny tortillas

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
tacos almendras - seasoned ground almonds, radishes, green onions, cilantro and lime
tacos aubergine - grilled eggplant dip, baby greens, black olives, garlic and cilantro

Tuesday August 26, 2014
sweet & spicy tempeh with cherry tomatoes and swill chard in corn tortillas

Notice how all these posts happened on Tuesdays? That's not entirely coincidence. I'm a teensy bit miffed that this post is going up on a Monday. I blame it on the burritos. 

What are your favorite taco fillings? Comment below!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Vegan MoFo Day 26: Cupboard Raid!

Scratching up an awesome dinner from what's in my cupboards has been an almost daily challenge for me this month. I've been forced to practice extreme frugality. My cupboards are nearly bare, though not as bad as Old Mother Hubbard's. For instance, there was this big can of hearts of palm that I had no idea what to do with, a sack of red lentils and another of split peas, and in the fridge some fruits & veggies that needed to be used immediately. Natural Grocers will sometimes take their damaged or expiring produce and sell $2 grab bags. I grabbed one with apples, golden beets, and carrots.

So what am I going to make with these random ingredients? Vedge again! I turned to my favorite cookbook for inspiration, and low and behold, there on page 125 a recipe for Hearts of Palm Cakes on Curried's almost like I planned this!

I added the carrots and beets into the lentil curry and used my immersion blender to purée everything together. I topped them with peppers from our Garnish Garden for extra kick. The lentils were tasty, but the hearts of palm cakes rocked my world. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and a perfect harmony of flavors. I'm really glad someone gifted me that can of hearts of palm! I might actually buy some more next time I go shopping. Apparently they make an excellent vegan substitute for seafood - my omni boyfriend loved the "crab cakes" as much as I did!

How about 'dem apples? Well, dem apples are for dessert! I made an apple galette with raw sugar and cinnamon. It was like eating a giant turnover. This dinner was a great success!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Vegan MoFo Day 23: Happy Autumn Equinox!

It's officially autumn - my favorite season! I can smell it in the air...

My boyfriend and I were invited to camp with friends of friends on their property near Fairplay, Colorado. I'm always willing to camp, and a trip into the mountains seemed like the perfect to way to spend the last weekend of summer. Up near the treeline, the golden glory of the aspens is already at its zenith. What glorious color! What spectacular views! And so cold at night - I swear that when I woke up at 5 and went to revive the fire, the temperature was less than 40 degrees.

I've been participating in a yoga challenge this month, in addition to Vegan MoFo, so I found some tall rocks to climb and did a little yoga up at 12,000 feet. This backbend made feel ridiculously dizzy, even though I was in no danger of falling. Leveling up in yoga is one of my goals this year, and the yoga challenge is helping me revive my practice.

Back in Denver, it still feels like summer, but the nights are growing colder. I decided to take advantage of a cool morning and bake something sweet before I left for work today...

(makes 9 bars)

1/2 cup vegan butter, room temperature
1 cup brown organic sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup soy or almond milk
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup dried apricots, diced

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Blend in vanilla and soy milk.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, then add to the wet mixture. Mix well to form the cookie dough.
Fold in the chocolate chips, almonds, and apricots. Pat the dough into an 8" square baking pan.
Bake 15 minutes, or until golden.
When cool, cut into squares and serve with coffee.


Happy Equinox everyone!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Vegan MoFo Day 21: Stranded on a Desert Island!

If I were stranded on a desert island, and all my nutritional needs were met, what 3 food items would I bring in unlimited quantity? I've deliberated over this question for many hours. I boiled it down into another question - what kind of a meal would I want to eat every day for the rest of my life?

Obviously, my first pick has to be Cold Beer. All my nutritional needs are met! And what's better on a hot beach than a nice cold beer?

To go with that beer, Edamame and Avocado Rolls. If avocado rolls don't count, then I'll skip the edamame and ask for endless avocados and sushi rice. I'm sure that on a desert island I can scare up some seaweed.

I really hope I get to bring some nice fat books with me to this island, and some art supplies. Otherwise I'll just sit around on the beach all day drinking my cold beer.

Hmm. On second thought, that doesn't sound so bad. Maybe I'll make this my retirement plan...