Rain soaked the roads overnight and continued coming down into late morning. On Facebook, posts declaring love for today’s weather abounded. Everyone in California loves the first few days of rain. Then we Californians remember that everyone here forgets how to drive in the rain and none of us owns an umbrella anyway. For now, however, everyone’s jazzed that they get to pull out the few cold weather items they have, grab a big squishy blanket, and, if they’re lucky, curl up with a mug of cocoa and stare out a rain-streaked window for a few minutes of their busy day.
Around here, Monday means everyone comes home tired and hungry – and maybe just a little grumpy. Full of news as well, everyone also expects a nice sit-down meal during which they can share their excitement and concerns for the week ahead. I try to feed those eager feelings with a dinner that gets everyone going back for seconds and spending extra time chatting and sharing. As my boys get older, that becomes more and more important to me every week.
Tonight I made seitan as the foundation for our meal. I used an amazingly easy recipe I found on Vegan Dad’s blog. http://vegandad.blogspot.com/2008/05/noodles-and-beef-seitan-in-black-bean.html
The first time I made this recipe, I did it on a lark. It looked so quick and easy. Could it taste good, too? I was thrilled to discover it did! Actually, I was so impressed by it that I jumped in the car and drove some over to a friend’s house so that she and her family could try it. The flavor and texture were unlike any seitan I’d made before. It demanded an awesomely simple recipe to dive into and make spectacular. It was just so good that I had to oblige. I’ve made it many times since then. So far, it’s been a hit every time!
I follow the recipe pretty closely, but I do double it. I also change the method of kneading the dough. After soaking the TVP as directed, I add the spices and flour and lightly mix it all together. Then, because it’s so easy, I dump the dough into the bread machine and let the dough setting do the kneading for me while I work on the rest of the meal. I’m not a big fan of kneading by hand, so this method almost certainly results in a better-kneaded seitan than I would create otherwise.
After the seitan is complete, I use it to replace the non-vegan ingredient in the recipe I’m using. Doing this means that the cooked seitan may replace an ingredient that is uncooked in the recipe. That’s not a problem. I’ve never had any difficulty using it exactly as the original recipe describes using the other raw ingredient.
For instance, tonight’s recipe would have required me to coat the original raw ingredient in a cornstarch mixture before cooking. I simply subbed in the cooked seitan at that point — and it was AWESOME!
Tonight, that awesomeness was found in a simple recipe for an easy b-word and broccoli stir fry recipe. http://chinese.food.com/recipe/the-best-easy-beef-and-broccoli-stir-fry-99476
In addition to the ingredients listed in the recipe, I also added a couple of minced garlic cloves and a bit of grated fresh ginger for a little extra kick. I finished it out by subbing the super seitan for the b-word ingredient and doubling the sauce to make sure all that seitan and broccoli would be saucy enough to keep us happily chatting away.
I served the broccoli and seitan over white rice. For sides, I steamed and then sautéed some green beans in peanut oil with minced garlic and about a teaspoon of crushed red chilies. I also chopped up a couple of kiwis, a couple of oranges, and a handful of strawberries to give the meal a touch of sweetness and a dose of vibrant color. The broccoli’s green brightened the plate, but I adore color diversity in a meal. The colorful fruit gave our plates a bit o’ bling!
The rain-streaked windows are dark now, but the house is still is still ringing with today’s stories and exciting plans for the week to come. The chaos of teenage boys unwinding is quieting to a low rumble. Soon it’ll be much quieter as the working part of the evening begins. That must mean it’s about time for me to grab that squishy blanket and cup of cocoa and plan my last full week of VeganMoFo! Last full week? Wow! Okay, then. Here we go!