Vegan MoFo Day 12 – Where’s The Beef?

I posted recently about making some, (ok, an environmentally-friendly truck-load) of Seitanic goodness, and I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite Seitanic dishes…and never fear, for those who can’t/wouldn’t/don’t want to get all gluten-y, it’s ok. You don’t need to be a Seitan worshipper to love this dinner! And I I’ll stop with the trite Seitan clichés now. Promise. Wait…

The Seitanic Sauna

Though sometimes brushed-off as a Macrobiotic-only cookbook, Cooking The Whole Foods Way by Christina Pirello, is a wonderful vegan cookbook for anyone, Macrobiotic or not. Pierello’s wealth of experience as a whole foods chef is concentrated into this vast (it’s huge!) volume of 100% vegan meals, snacks, salads and desserts. I use this cookbook often, and whole-heartedly suggest checking it out at your local library if you can. One of my favorite recipes in CTWFW is her “Where’s The Beef?” Stew.

Stew was one of my favorite foods when I was a kid. It brings back memories of chilly Autumn walks home from school, rosy cheeks and steamed kitchen windows as my mum was getting dinner on. I think one of the other reasons I loved stew as a child was because it often meant baking powder biscuits, which were – and still are – one of my favorite treats.

There’s nothing too difficult about this stew : just dredge your seitan in some arrowroot & spices, fry it up a little in some oil to get it crispyish, then add in your veggies. What I use of course depends on what’s in my pantry or freezer, but I usually have some red onions, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, green peas and maybe some green beans in there. It’s a warm and healthy meal if you can manage not to pig out on the biscuits (which are not mandatory, but so yummy to dip in that stew!).

This stew is also just as good sin seitan. You could use any soy analogue or just the veggies. I’ve made this with no meat sub and it is also delicious, so don’t let the gluten stop you from drooling over my dinner!

On a non-food note, tomorrow is a big day for me. I’m going to try to quit one of my jobs. I hate it. HATE it. I started almost 2 years ago and never thought I’d still be there, but well, the money is nice for frosting the cupcakes if you know what I mean. It’s a part-time teaching gig at a vocational high school and it’s awful. I’ve finally decided that it’s taking a toll on my health, my happiness, and that the small amount of hours I get isn’t enough to justify the evilness…but I have to quit. I really like my co-workers, and I feel like I’m breaking up with them or something…which is probably why I haven’t already walked out – so many times I’ve almost walked out…in my mind anyway. By sharing this with you all I’m hoping not to lose my nerve and just getting it over with tomorrow.

Wish me luck!

And thanks, guys.

I need all the moral (or immoral, cause that’s fun, too) support I can get!

Vegan MoFo Day 8 – Gratitude…and a secret family recipe to share my gratefulness with you!

There are days when I am overwhelmed by waves of gratitude. I am able to look beyond the artifice of the superficiality our consumerist-bulimia so often imposes upon us. This shallow egotism, to which we are unwittingly yoked, is so often subversive and hidden… just discreetly clouding to the corners all that is really who we are… our substance, our essence. Who we are is of course the decisions we make, the choices which delineate diets… our politics, really. The life we live is the best suited spokesperson for what we believe in, and there are moments of serendipity where we can feel that what we’re doing is in harmony with what we want to be.

I’m so grateful for …

twirling through the forest trails

the last of the summer berries

some of the last tomatoes I’ll be buying before next Spring

the amazing aroma of garlic frying in olive oil, just waiting for the above tomatoes…

Very gratefully feeling better, I was able to set aside some time to enjoy my family, make a few litres of what my family calls “Garlic Gravy”, which is just the most amazing and most simple tomato sauce. I’ve got a good amount in our deep-freezer for Winter cooking. I never buy jar sauce, ever. I do, however, during the winter months, buy canned tomatoes. But my great-grandmother Antonia’s “Garlic Gravy” needs fresh tomatoes to really shine. This is our family recipe, but it is so terribly basic that you might be thinking, “she’s got to be kidding, this isn’t a tomato sauce recipe…”. Oh yes, it is. Let me reassure you…

Great Grandmother Antonia’s Garlic Gravy

this is for just a normal amout of sauce, for lasagne or for a pasta dinner…

  • 2 to 3lbs vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 1 bulb of purple or pink garlic, or just normal if you can’t find them
  • fresh parsley
  • about 30cl or a 1/4 of homemade ketchup or a few tablespoons of tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Now here’s the deal kids – cut up your garlic and tomatoes BEFORE you do anything else. Seriously. I have begun this thinking I could chop tomatoes like the wind, only to find that my garlic is burned and that my haste made nothing but waste.

So, once everything is all cut up & ready, cover the bottom of your pot with olive oil and heat it on high until it’s just terribly hot. Add your garlic, and while stirring it, *very* slowly begin lowering the temp, being very careful to not burn your garlic. If it looks even a little brown, get your pot of the burner NOW! Continue sautéing your garlic until you just know it’s about to brown on you and add your tomatoes. Now turn that heat back up until it begins boiling. Don’t forget to stir from time to time. Bring the sauce down to a simmer, and let it go, uncovered, for about a half an hour. Add your ketchup, parsley, and add your salt and pepper if you need, and let it go for a few more mintues. That’s it. Sometimes I leave it with the chunks of garlic and tomato, sometimes I blend it up and it looks just beautiful. The taste will bluff you, because you’ve done nothing incredible, but your sauce will taste as if you did.

I’ve never met my great-grandmother. She passed away before my parents were married – she was in her 80s, outside working in her garden (she chopped her own firewood until the end) when she suffered a what would prove fatal stroke. Despite all her talents, she never quite mastered English (she was Croatian), and she took coins from her pocket to communicate to the paramedics that my mum worked at “Penny’s” department store, and that’s how they knew to call her there. I feel very close to her despite never having seen her – genetic memory? – and feel so greatful that she shared this recipe with my mum, who shared it with me when I began making my own food, about two years ago.

What are you grateful for?

I’m so thankful to be a vegan, and to have wonderful, nutritious vegan foods to eat, and fabulous blogger pals like you!

Tempeh with Bulgur and Celery

Tempeh & Bulgur Salad


I have been so crazy-busy since my Mum got here that I’ve been rather absent from the blogosphere of late… so I’m hoping to make up for my lack of posts with one of my favorite (and rather quick) recipes: Tempeh with Bulgur and Celery.

My omni-Mum has been rather enjoying all the delicious (hopefully) vegan offerings eaten here at the Fish household, but this has been one of her favourites by far. She wanted to be sure to have the recipe before she left, so I decided it was blog-worthy and will share this healthy and tasty composed salad with everyone!

I love the marriage of cilantro (with just about anything) and tempeh, and adding the nutty-flavoured quinoa makes it just perfect. I often make this dish with bulgur rather than quinoa, and sometimes too with left-over brown rice or kamut. It’s all good…

Tempeh and Bulgur with Celery

Tempeh with Bulgur and Celery

  • 1 cup bulgur (or quinoa or your favorite grain)
  • 2 cups water
  • oil for frying
  • 1 package of tempeh, cubed
  • 4 cloves crushed or finley minced garlic (or more)
  • 5 or more green onions (you can add more or less to taste, cut them on the diagonal, they look perdy like that, or just chop them up if you’re in a hurry)
  • 4 tbs soy sauce
  • 4 tbs agave syrup or rice syrup
  • 5 (or as many as you’d like) celery stalks, diced (the smaller, the better)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  1. Cook your grain of choice, here bulgur, and while it’s cooking dice up your veggies & tempeh. I usually start by frying up the tempeh. The original recipe I adapted calls for deep-frying it, which I don’t always do. Often I just cover the bottom of the pan with oil, then sauté the tempeh until it’s crispy and golden. Deep-frying does give it a great sort of “burn bacon”-like taste (which my mom loved).
  2. Let your tempeh drain on some paper towels while you sauté the garlic, onion and celery until the onions are bright green and the celery softens up just a tad. Add the soy sauce and your syrup and let things bubble up a bit, then add the tempeh and stir until well coated, and finally add your grain and fold until everything is coated with this delicious sweet-tasting sauce.
  3. Once you remove from heat (I usually pour it into a large salad bowl) fold in the parsley (or cilantro) and serve. You can also drizzle some lime or lemon juice if you’d like.

I like to serve this as a warm-cold salad, but in the summer (and when I’m organized enough) I make this ahead of time and chill in the fridge and it’s just as good.

We are all having a great time with my Mum, though sigh-seeing has been halted by her being slammed by a horrible cold/lung issue, but the Guppy is getting tons of snuggles and is just elated to have her “Pamma” here with her.




Christina’s Tofu-Noodle Bake

Healthy comfort food! Casseroles and one-pot meals rock when you are in a hurry but want to resist the urge to cave and get take-out. The convenience of just mixing random ingredients in a pot or pan or whatever and tossing it (gently) in the oven is not to be over-looked. When you can manage to use healthy ingredients in said pan, well, bravo to you!
I was really curious about Macrobiotics about a year ago. I was aware of its existence and knew vaguely what it was all about, but I started digging around on the net and invested in a few books to find out for myself. I think there is a great deal that I can glean from the philosophy behind Macrobiotics, though a hard-core Macro lifestyle doesn’t really work for me. What does work for me is eating whole (locally-grown) foods whenever possible and avoiding processed and pre-packaged fare.
One of the Macro cookbooks I picked up along the way is Christina Pirello’s Cooking the Whole Foods Way- and I love it. This book is extremely user-friendly, and with 500 vegan recipes- has lots to offer everyone, Macrobiotic or not. There are some ingredients which may seem unfamiliar to some such as mochi or umeboshi paste (pictured above), but she’s got a great glossary section explaining everything, and really, many of the recipes can be made with substitutions.

This noodle bake is very, very easy to make, and I have added and substituted various veggies depending on what I had on hand. It’s rich and creamy and comforting, and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy (in a good way). The mochi, a sort of pounded sweet brown rice cake, and thinly sliced on top it becomes very melty and cheese-like and adds a richness to the casserole, but it is also very good without it, so don’t let that hold you back!

Tofu-Noodle Bake, adapted from Cooking The Whole Foods Way by Christina Pirello:

  • package firm tofu, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon white miso (I use more like a tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon umeboshi paste
  • 3 tablespoons tahini (you may want to use a little more)
  • 1 teaspoon brown rice syrup (I use more like a tablespoon. Agave works, too.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce (again, I use more, it’s to your taste, really)
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups cooked small noodles (use whole-wheat, for your health! Then you can splurge on cookies or cupcakes or something for dessert…balance, baby, balance!)
  • 2 shallots, diced (I skip this)
  • 1 carrot, diced (I use at least 2, usually more)
  • 1 stalk broccoli (including stem), diced
  • 4oz package brown rice mochi, very thinly sliced
I add to that 1 diced onion, a cup of frozen peas or green beans, courgette slices, whatevah.
Oven heated to about 400F/200C, put the tofu, miso, umeboshi paste, tahini, rice syrup, soy sauce and water in food processor and add enough water so you have a creamy paste.
Toss noodles and veggies together and add the paste, being sure that everything is coated nicely. If you’re skipping the mochi, just cover and pop in oven for around 40 minutes or so, taking off cover (foil works well here) for last maybe 10 mins so it’s a bit crunchy on the top.
If you’re going mochi here, just cover the casserole with the mochi and lightly sprinkle with water, then cover with foil being careful it’s not touching the top because it will stick and you’ll be sad. Check after about 40 minutes and if the mochi isn’t melted add a little more water and put it back in for another 5. If it’s still not melted you probably didn’t slice it thin enough, but it’s not the end of the world, you can probably still enjoy it.
With a little pepper sprinkled on top it is almost as good as the mac & cheese casserole I loved growing up as a kid. It’s very good with just a simple green salad, but, I doubt I need to tell you what to eat with it!