Fresh Tortilla Soup

Fellow Vegan

That’s Cedric,  munching on a lettuce leaf.

Meanwhile,  this is what us humans had for dinner:   Fresh tortilla soup,  cole slaw and orange poppy seed cake.    I threw the soup together at the spur of the moment.  I had a baggie of cooked pinto beans in the freezer and half a dozen tomatoes in the garden.  Here’s the recipe,  if you want to call it that:

Fresh Tortilla Soup
5  or 6   ripe tomatoes
2 cups of water
2 or 3 cloves of peeled garlic
2 cups of cooked pinto beans
Some soy chorizo to taste.  (This will serve as the flavoring agent)
4 or 5 corn tortillas  (non GMO if possible)
A chopped onion
A handful of chopped cilantro
An avocado
Salt

Ok,  wash the tomatoes and throw them in the blender with the garlic and the water and whiz it around till it’s smooth.
Put it in a pot and add all the other ingredients except the tortillas, the  avocado and the cilantro.
Just bring it to the boil,  enough to cook the soy chorizo,  which I am not even sure requires cooking,  but just in case.
Cut the tortillas into strips and add to the soup.
Cook a little longer to soften the tortillas but you don’t want them to disintegrate.
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with sliced avocado and chopped cilantro.

Tomorrow I’ll give the recipe for the orange poppy seed cake we had tonight.

This is Day 3  of VeganMoFo and NaNoWriMo.

Today the Church remembers the monk Ilarion the Great.

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Veggie Meat

I make “fake meat”  (seitan) in two forms,  both using the same basic recipe  which I adapted from various recipes found over at Vegan Dad’s blog.   Style 1 involves steaming and baking, resulting in a dense, sliceable product that makes good sandwich slices or pizza toppings.  For style 2 the same dough is pinched off in bits or formed into cutlet-shapes  and boiled in a seasoned broth,  like dumplings.   This produces a fluffy,  spongy product that is good with gravy or as a replacement for meat in casseroles such as stew, soup and lasagna.    It can taste Italian,  Mexican,  chickenish  or Thanksgiving-like,  depending on the herbs and spices used in the dough.    The main ingredients are beans and gluten flour so it’s got a lot of protein.   The version in the picture is the boiled/ baked sliceable version.

Veggie “Meat”  (Seitan)

1.  A cupful of  cooked beans,  either canned or home-cooked.   The variety you choose will affect the color more than the taste.   If you are going for a Mexican flavor,  use pintos.

2.  Put the beans in the blender along with 2 cups of water,  a quarter cup of olive oil and herbs and spices of your choice,  depending on what you have planned for the finished product.  If you want an Italian flavor,  use oregano,  rosemary,  garlic,  salt,  pepper,  fennel seeds,  etc,  to your taste.  For a Mexican flavor,  add taco seasoning.   For a  Thanksgiving flavor,  use poultry seasoning,  sage,  thyme,  etc.   Other good additions include celery seed,  onion powder,  paprika,  etc.   Just taste the mix and see if you like it.  Don’t forget the salt!

3.  Combine bean mixture with 2 1/2 – 3 cups of wheat gluten,  which you can buy in bulk at the health food store.  Knead this as if if were bread dough,  which in a way,  it is.  If you have a mixer with a dough hook (like a Bosch) this step will take about 30 seconds to produce a soft mound of savory-smelling dough.

4.  If you are going to make this sliceable,   form the dough into a loaf shape and wrap it up in aluminum foil.   You will need a steamer.  No steamer?   Then better make the dumpling version.  But if you have a steamer,   put the aluminum-foil clad loaf  in the top part of the steamer and let it steam for about an hour.  After that you can bake it  at 350 degrees for another hour to firm it up.  Take it out, unwrap it  and let it cool.  I think you will be surprised at how delicious it is.   Slice it thin and put it in a sandwich with mayo and  sliced tomato.  Yum.

5.  But if you don’t have a steamer,  just get a large pot of veggie broth or water boiling.   I  add fake chicken broth powder to the broth as it goes well with all flavors.   Pinch off pieces of the dough and toss it in the pot and boil for about 30  minutes,  depending on the size of the pieces.    The dough really expands and you end up with quite a lot of product but happily you can freeze it in its broth.    You can combine the seitan with cashew gravy and serve it over noodles or mashed potatoes.   You can smother it in BBQ sauce and serve in on buns for sloppy Joes.   You can use it in stir-fries.  The uses for this stuff is endless.

I want to credit Vegan Dad for his blog-full of  seitan recipes,  which I adapted  and  did not entirely invent out of my own little head.  (You might prefer his original recipes to mine!)

Today the Church commemorates  Great Martyr Artemios.

It is also Election Day in the USA and the 2nd day of VeganMoFo and NaNoWriMo.

Vegan Extras

Generally I stay away from faux meat and dairy products.  Vegetarians are supposed to eat vegetables.  When I used to run a food co-op years ago,  the hippie who drove the delivery truck would scowl at the meat analogs and say “I stay away from food that I couldn’t make in my own kitchen if I wanted to.”   A lot of veg-friendly food is highly processed but I think if  you use them sparingly,  these “extras”  can add variety.

From left to right:

Fake bacon bits.  These are Bac ‘Ums  by Frontier Natural Products.  These tasty little crumbs  greatly improve scrambled tofu,  potato salad  and bean soup.

Soy creamer.   This carton comes from Trader Joe’s.   I am ambivalent about these fake creamers and generally take my coffee black.  But they sell it if you want it.

Earth Balance Margarine.   I really enjoy this stuff.  Good on toast,  noodles-  everything you’d put margarine on.  They sell it in cubes for baking, too.

Fake cream cheese and the like:   This tub is made by Tofutti.  Not bad on  quick breads.

Mayonnaise:  Pictured  is garlic flavored mayonnaise called Aioli by Wild Wood.  There’s other brands,  usually sold in the cooler.    Some sandwiches seem to need mayo and this stuff is delish in cole slaw and potato salad, too.

Fake Chicken Broth Powder:   That’s what’s in the mason jar.  I find this stuff to be cheaper and tastier than commercial veggie broth.  It’s good in soup.  Quite salty.   I buy it in the bulk bins at the health food store.

Fake Parmesan Cheese:  Good on spaghetti!

Sausages:   The one in the picture is made by the people who make Field Roast but I especially like Trader Joe’s  Soy Chorizo.   Frozen meatless meatballs,  such as the kinds sold at Trader Joe’s,  are good, too.

I think the less of this stuff you eat,  probably the better.    I would prefer to eat mostly fresh vegetables,  fruit and whole grains.  But a little bit now and then gives variety and encourages the reluctant vegans in the household to make the transition.    When I go shopping I would rather my cart be full of produce with just a few little processed goodies for pizazz.

[This is Day 1 of VeganMoFo.]

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