Let Them Eat Vegan and Thoughts on Being Broke
I think I’ll start with my thoughts on being broke. It sucks. Mostly the whole worrying about whether the bills will get paid is the worst bit, but also…I like food. And I like to experiment with my food. I like to buy fresh vegetables and peruse the grocery shelves for interesting food items that I’ve never tried before. I like splurging now and then on some fancy new vegan item. Because of this rather compulsive random food buying, I happen to have an extremely well stocked pantry. I forget things are even there, which means sometimes I buy them more than once and thus have twice as much as I need. So when things get thin in the financial district of Ciudad de Jessica, it’s not that big of a deal.
Unless that also happens to be the time when Vegan Mofo is going to happen, and then it’s just downright painful.
I know! I know I said I was going to do Mofo, and I was even going to use my spice hoarding as a theme. But my budget is kind of not allowing me to buy any groceries (save for kitty food and toilet paper) until…October. Like, seriously. Don’t worry or anything. Like I said, my pantry is well stocked. And remember how I was freezing stuff all throughout the spring? I’m not going to starve. By any means. And my parents are coming this weekend (for my birthday!) and bringing me tons of veggies from their garden, which I am going to freeze so I can at least have some green things here and there. But it does mean that I’m not able to commit to blogging every day with new and exciting dishes. Or even new and boring dishes, because most of it will be stuff from my freezer that you’ve already seen before.
Not to fret! I will still be blogging. You’re totally going to groan after reading about my 4th batch of socca and how it’s basically the only way I’m getting protein aside from those 4 packages of frozen bologna-style deli slices I stockpiled a month ago. (Which will surely taste great wrapped up in the socca!) But I’m not going to be on the Vegan Mofo blogroll. Still, check and see what I have been coming up with. I mean, I just saw that I have grits, matzo meal, two cans of jackfruit, packaged chestnuts (which I will actually probably save for that one Fall-ish casserole from Veganomicon that calls for them, since I’ve never actually seen them in, like, November, when you would think that packaged chestnuts would be out and about), several types of dried beans, and even a really old container of peppermint chocolate soymilk for if I get a sweets craving. Sadly, I am almost out of flour…but I have a ton of gluten free flours, so maybe something will come about from that. Who knows. I tend to get creative when I’m desperate (desperate being used rather loosely here), and creativity breeds some of the most delicious meals.
So…bear with me? Check back, even though I’m not on the blog roll? Pretty please?
All groveling aside, I do have some food photos to show. The lovely Dreena Burton almost never fails me when it comes to the tastiest of vegan recipes, and Let Them Eat Vegan is her latest (and greatest?) effort yet.
This is Tofu Baked in an Olive, Grape, and Herbed Marinade, served over Creamy Polenta. Sounds fancy, huh? It actually came together really quickly. You just sort of combine everything in a casserole dish and bake it. Voila! Fancy-sounding tastiness with minimal effort!
There were sun-dried tomatoes in there as well. The sweetness from those and the grapes greatly mellowed the briny saltiness of the olives. I do remember it seeming a little oily…but paired with the polenta to sort of soak all that up, it was divine. Naturally, a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley as a garnish makes everything bright and pop-py. The recipe also says to garnish with pine nuts, but I left them out because…meh. Also, as if fancy olives and sun-dried tomatoes weren’t pricey enough, eh? Anyhow, definitely a winner, and one I will make again once it gets chilly and I need a nice comforting casserole-type dish to warm me up.
I had previously shied away from the Peanut Thai Vegetable Stew because the ingredients list is really very long. It takes up a whole page, honestly. But one day it sounded good to me, so I examined said long list and realized that it was really just a bunch of spices and pantry supplies that I already have and some awesome vegetables. Won me over. It’s pretty much exactly what you would think it is: peanut-y, ginger-y, coconut-y, lemongrass-y, spicy…with lots of hearty veggies and some tofu cubes for good measure. Those cubes don’t absorb a lot of flavor, as they’re added towards the end, so use a tofu that you think has a nice, neutral flavor to begin with. You could probably leave it out, too, or substitute some chickpeas. I liked it as is, though. Nothing like a nice hearty stew to settle down with at the end of the day. Naturally, leftovers were doubly tasty.
Ha, and here is one that I avoided because it seemed too darned simple: Tempeh Tickle. Also the name weirded me out. But that’s my own thing. (Served with the Creamy Polenta again, plus Thai Green Beans [with some added zucchini] from Appetite for Reduction, which was a weird combination…but it worked somehow.) Dreena knows how to do right by tempeh. So many recipes don’t tell you that you have to steam or simmer it to release the evil bitter flavor inherent to the stuff, and then marinate the living daylights out of it to make it taste good. That sort of makes it sound like, ‘Why bother if it’s nasty?’, but the answer is, ‘Because it’s worth it, so shut your pie hole!’ Anyway, once you get the tempeh properly simmered and marinated in a lovely concoction of things that I never thought would go nicely together, you can basically cook it however you like. She suggest grilling it, but I prefer to bake it. So bake it I did! All methods for cooking are clearly instructed in the directions. I like that sort of thoroughness in a recipe. This tempeh would go great as a sandwich filling, but I enjoyed it just smooshed into the polenta (not pictured).
Ok, that’s it. That’s the last of my pre-summer, money-having meals. For the next month you get to watch me create my own stuff, which is generally what people seem to sort of want out of food blogs in the first place. Hope you’re happy, you’re finally getting what you want. (I say, as if I’ve never been so gracious as to give you an original recipe before.)