Posts Tagged ‘maybe I am a Boulder hippie’

Several months ago, I tasted a homemade granola bar made by Kristin Clever….it was delish!  I live close enough to Boulder, CO that I feel that I should know how to make granola.  I mean….I don’t eat morning eggs without salsa anymore, and I voted for the legalization of marijuana, and I do a happy dance when it snows. That makes me a Coloradan now, right?

I’d planned to have a variety of fresh fruit out for brunch….pineapple, bananas, apples and Clementine oranges.  Brunch should have fruit, and you don’t have to cook it.  It occurred to me that it would be cool to put fruit over Greek yogurt, and then I’d have cinnamon out, and nutmeg….and then, of course, I thought of granola.  Which led me to my Tassajara Zen Buddhist Center cookbooks, which I haven’t used much yet….and I should dig deeper into.

So while a yogurt/fruit/granola bar for as a side for Thanksgiving brunch is an unusual choice….I like the idea far better than slabs of various pig parts.  I realize many people like their fried pig parts, but, well, it’s my party and I’ll serve granola if I want to.

source:  The Complete Tassajara Cookbook by Edward Espe Brown

either vegetarian or vegan, gluten – (I think…oats are okay, right?)

  • 4 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 3 c coarsely chopped almonds
  • 3 c sunflower seeds
  • 1 c safflower or soy oil
  • 1/2 c malt syrup or 1/4 c honey
  • 1/2 c maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c any of the following in bite-sized chunks:  raisins, dried apricots, currants, figs or dates

Preheat oven to 325 deg.  Put the oats, chopped almonds, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl.  Combine the oil, sweeteners, vanilla, almond extract, spices, and salt.  Heat this mixture in a saucepan until it becomes watery.  Pour the oil mixture over the dry ingredients, tossing until everything moistened.  Spread the mixture in a large baking pan or on a cookie sheet.  Bake in the middle of oven for about 20 minutes, or until the granola turns golden, stirring every 5 minutes so the mixture toasts uniformly.

Transfer to a large bowl or cool baking pan and toss occasionally until the granola is thoroughly cool and dry.  Add the dried fruit and toss to mix.  (More than once has someone tried baking the dried fruit with the oat mixture and found the fruit blackened 00 definitely not recommended.)  Store in a tightly covered container.


This makes 10 to 12 cups, by the way.  (I should have read that in advance.)  It’s quite good.  We have enough for a year, but that’s okay.  It’s very tasty.



I drive by Berry Patch Farms on my way to the hospital in the mornings.  I’ve been driving by there for two years, and since my drive-by times are 0545 and 1845 when I’m working, I haven’t stopped.  Today, I did.  Wonderful place.  They had more of those wonderful peaches when I first walked in, but there were only two left by the time I was done picking raspberries.  (Won’t make that mistake again.)  That peach tasted like pure happiness.

Mostly, I picked raspberries.  I chose the rubiest berries that almost fell off the vine into my hands.  Red raspberries are Mark’s favorite, so I thought I’d start there.  They’ve also got fields of ever-bearing strawberries and golden raspberries. ….Further types of jam likely coming.

No better time like partial-employment in September to make jam.

source:  Ball Blue Book:  guide to preserving

veganish, gluten –

  • raspberries, I had 1.5 lbs
  • sugar, 2/3 cup for every cup of berry you have

Combine berries and sugar in a large saucepot.  Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Cook rapidly to gelling point.  As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.  Remove from heat.  Skim foam if necessary.  Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  Adjust two-piece caps.  Process for 25 minutes in boiling canner at metro Front Range and foothills altitudes.

InSANEly good jam.

I have taken my inspiration from Bex Hodgkins and Janelle Edmondson, who’ve been cooking and canning/preserving food this month.  I’d like to learn how to preserve food in general.  Bex assures me that jams are easy, and indeed this recipe looks easy.  Canning just seems intimidating, with a touch of macrame and unshaven legs.  I’m told that it is 2012 and macrame and hair are bad things from my childhood, and there are adult women who happily can food without these associated memories.  It’s probably like knitting, crochet and quilting now….a generation had to pass for us to realize these things are not only cool, but have always been cool.  And smart.  And practical.

I chose plums to try because they looked good, they were Colorado local and my palette doesn’t have strong feelings about what plum jam SHOULD taste like.  I also may try mint apple jelly because I have more mint than I can possibly eat AND give away in my garden for the next three years….and mint apple jelly happens to be both my, and Chase’s favorite.  (And we are the only two people I know who eat it.)  Also, I’d like to do either a pear and/or peach cinnamon jam, because those, or fig jam, with goat cheese?  *swoon*  There’s bushels and bushels of beautiful Colorado peaches out there, too.

But let’s start with experiment #1.  Here we go.

source:  Ball Blue Book:  guide to preserving

“vegan” (if the vegan in question eats generic sugar, and many do not), gluten –

  • 5 c coarsely chopped plums (~ 2 lbs) (I used the seven plums pictured)
  • 3 c sugar
  • 3/4 c water

Combine plums, sugar and water in large saucepot.  Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Cook rapidly to gelling point.

I didn’t know what this meant, and if you do, skip this paragraph.  Gelling point:  dip cold metal spoon into boiling jelly.  Lift out a spoonful, and move away from steam.  Tip spoon.  When jelly comes off the spoon in “sheets” it is done (as opposed to syrupy).  I think it made more sense as I saw it.  My jam went from solid, clear cut shapes of plum soaking in what appeared to be a ponderous amount of sugar syrup, to looking like jam is supposed to look.  This took longer than I thought it would….about 45 minutes?  Maybe an hour.

As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.  Remove from heat.  Skim foam if necessary.  Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace (at the top).  Adjust two-piece caps.  Process 30 minutes in a boiling water canner at metro Denver or foothills altitude.  (Sea level:  15 minutes, Summit County, 35 minutes)

This came out inCREDibly good.  Got a big YUM! from Chase.  This made us 32 ounces total of jam….8 little 4 ounce jars.  I am not concerned about the immediate consumption of the jam (which starts tomorrow morning…..OH!  I wonder if I have a good muffin recipe!).  I do wonder how it’ll work out for longer term storage.  I don’t think these eight little jars will last long at all, especially since I’ll probably give some away, too.  (Because sharing at harvest time is fun.)  I guess we’ll find out. 

But I do feel like, now, that I can do this, and it really is pretty easy.  Time-consuming, yes.  But a perfectly lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon in the kitchen.  My house smells mouth-watering.  If you’ve been canning and doing this for years, you know all this already.  In case you haven’t, I blundered into it and the results (so far, I’m still processing) are astonishingly good.  I’ve made 32 oz of jam from organic fruit.  It contains sugar, but not high fructose corn syrup or anything else complicated.  It cost me a bit of an afternoon, and about $3.50.  For comparison, 30 oz of Smucker’s Red Plum jam, which has HFCS, is about $13.00.

I realize that I’m very slow to figure out that this is a good thing.  But I got there.  Yup.  Feelin pretty smug right now.  Eat your heart out, Betty Crocker.

I promise I’ll post the recipes Adisa and I made last week.  This recipe I made because I haven’t given up on having alternative protein to eggs in my morning breakfast burritos.  I’d prefer less cholesterol, and I may be stuck with Egg Beaters, but I thought I’d try seitan breakfast sausage.  Morningstar makes links that are really pretty good.  They’re also pretty expensive.

vegan, gluten++++

source: (I googled several recipes, and thought I’d try this….)

  • 1 cup tvp (I did not know what tvp was until this recipe…textured vegetable protein*)
  • 2 tbsp Braggs Liquid Aminos*
  • 2 tsp vegetable boullion
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 7/8 c boiling water
  • 1/2 c vital wheat gluten
  • 1/2 c chickpea/besan flour
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp garlic powder (yes it’s on here twice)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsps sage (I have no sage.  I left it out.**)
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke **
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp soy/tamari
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 c water

In medium bowl, mix tvp, liquid aminos, boullion, 2 tsp garlic powder and boiling water.  Stir well and set aside for ten minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Form patties and fry in non-stick skillet.

These are pretty good by themselves.  They don’t cook evenly, however…the outsides get very crunchy and the insides, without the crunchiness, don’t have the seitan texture that I love.  Since these are intended to be torn/chopped up and tossed in with garlic potatoes for my breakfast burritos, I may just try it again and pan fry the whole thing to make sausage crumbles.  The taste is good, not wow….but I’m not sure I’m looking for wow here. 

*  I’ve never cooked or known about tvp before.  I’m a little torn by some vegan products, because it feels like certain foods are heavily processed and that may be trading one evil (heavily processed food) for another (animal cruelty, for example).  Liquid Aminos falls into the same category for me.  For some reason, homemade seitan and tofu don’t fall into this dubious food product category for me, but they probably should.  Once I learned how agave nectar is processed, I switched it mentally from ‘wholesome food’ to ‘same processed crap as everything else’.  Because my reasons for eating vegan meals are not predominantly to prevent animal or bug cruelty.  Mostly, because I’m not convinced of bug cruelty.  I cooked with the tvp and aminos, and now I have them and can cook with them again.  If you don’t have them, not sure this recipe should make you run out and get them.

Makes me want to find out what IS liquid aminos….how do you get an amino acid fluid?  I kinda wanna know, since I put it in my food.  I have this because it was the vegan solution for the essential fish sauce ingredient in Thai cooking.  That bottle alone opens up my favorite Thai cookbook again…which is overwhelmingly meaty.  I used it heavily when I still cooked chicken and fish (in the early 90s).  I haven’t touched it since 1995.  When I found out last fall to look for liquid aminos, I did. ….and I should probably go find out if it’s alien blood or obtained from the torture of cabbages or something.

I may try down the line is making my normal seitan recipe with the other herbs/spices, to see what happens.

**Liquid smoke is something meat eaters have in their cupboard, not longtime vegetarians.  I don’t have sage for that reason, too.  Sage is something you put on fowl.  Yes, you CAN put it in other foods, but I’ve never missed it.  I haven’t needed sage in a recipe in at least five years.  I don’t know what else I’ll use liquid smoke for….I know I could make bbq or jerk tempeh.

There’s few enough meat foods out there I want to mimic.  Breakfast sausage was just an idea to substitute eggs.

I tried the skewers, and my potatoes fell apart.  Also, since my plan was to make this meal for:  dinner for Mark and me, plus both of our lunches on day two, plus at least three days’ worth of snacking for Jane, skewers weren’t practical.  If I like this enough to do for a barbeque party, I’m all over it.  This made us a great weeknight meal due to how it was easy to break into chunks of time, and that it will last us through a two-day work stretch for me.

source:  T. H. Romero, Viva Vegan!

vegan, +gluten (easy to substitute with meat to be gluten-free only instead)

  • 1/2 recipe (two loaves) of the steamed red seitan, or two palm-sized meat portions of your choice


  • 5 cloves garlic (aw heck, I finished off a bulb)
  • 3 tbsp “aji panca” paste, or 3 tsp mild ground red chile powder, such as ancho (I live in a place where mild red chile powder is easy to get and dirt cheap in the “Mexican” section of my grocery….buy the version labeled in Spanish only for a 75% discount over the same stuff labeled in English up the aisle)
  • 1/4 c red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil (I used peanut…richer taste)
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar or brown sugar (I used agave)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (I have no idea if my paprika was smoked first.)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Skewers/roast platter:

  • 1 lb wazy potatoes, preferably new potatoes (size of a bing cherry) (I got smallish red potatoes and chopped.)
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into 1 inch pieces (apallingly, I did NOT have a bell pepper, which never happens in my house…I assumed I didn’t need to buy any, and went without.)
  • 1 lg yellow onion, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 12 to 14 bamboo or metal skewers….if using bamboo, presoak

Slice seitan into bite-sized cubes, and place in a lg mixing bowl.  Add onion/peppers.  In a smaller bowl, grate garlic with a microplane grater (or do it the hard way), and grate into bowl.  Add panca paste/chile powder, vinegar, oil, agave/sugar, cumin, oregano, paprika, salt, pepper, and pepper….whisk until smooth.  Pour over seitan and veggies, toss to coat with marinade.

While marinating, place potatoes with skins on (clean first, duh), in a large pot with enough cold water to cover.  Boil.  Lower heat and simmer until tender but holding their shape….12 to 14 minutes.  Drain and cool until you can handle them.

Romero says fire up the grill, poke your goodies with a skewer, slather with excess marinade, and shish your kebobs.  This sounds fun.  This is not what I did.

I put everything into a 12″ pyrex pan, and turned on the oven to 350 degrees.  I placed it, and a separate pyrex that had my rice into the oven, until the potatoes seemed hot in the center.  It took maybe 25 minutes.  Then I spooned out a mound of rice, and in the center, spooned out some veggies and seiten.  It was fabulouso.

Ninety percent of the way through my meal, I remembered to take a photo.  This photo is the last few bites of my delicious dinner.

I’d initially joked that I’m not Boulder granola enough to MAKE seitan from scratch.  Don’t ask me why I tried it, anyway, but I’m glad I did.  Store-bought seitan is both expensive, and tasty.  I’ve cooked with it rarely, just because I don’t know how. I’ve been eating the meat substitute tofu for ages, predominantly in Asian food.  It’s tofu.  It’s okay.  I’ve been slow to the other meat substitutes, tempeh and seitan.  I don’t think of it.  When meat has ceased to be your meal’s centerpiece, you don’t require a substitute.  Veggies (or, okay, starches) are the hubs of my meals.

The few times I’ve tried it, the seitan’s been a big hit with both me and Mark.  We’ve gone decades without having a meat-ish texture, but we both grew up with it.  Neither one of us has any interest in going to eat meat ever, but the seitan is a nice echo to food we grew up with.  It’s chewy.  A vegetarian eats few ‘chewy’ things.  Nice thing about seitan is it’s chewy, and no creatures are hurt but some wheat plants, who were probably up to no good, anyway.

Turns out, seitan is stupidly easy to make, and kind of fun.  Mark Bittman (my culinary Yoda) does have instructions, and I will try his, too.  But I used Terry Hope Romero’s seitan recipe, which is a little different.  Loved it.  Wasn’t sure I’d be able to use four loaves of seitan within two weeks, and now I know I will.  Cooking this entire meal was done over a series of two busy days by cooking a half hour here, half hour there, when I had time.  Worked out great.

Steamed Red Seitan  source:  T. H. Romero, Viva Vegan!

vegan, +++++gluten

  • 1 1/2 c cold veggie broth
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed or microplane’d (I don’t have a microplane, and I forgot this entirely)
  • 3 tbsp mild soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 c vital wheat gluten flour
  • 1/4 c chickpea flour
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

In a measuring cup, whisk togetherthe broth, garlic, soy, tomato paste, and olive oil.  In a large bowl, combine your dry ingredients.  Pour the liquid into a well in the center and stir with a rubber spatula until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl.  Knead dough for 2 to 3 minutes to develop the gluten.  Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, knead again for 30 seconds.  Place dough on a cutting board and with a sharp knife, cut dough into four equal pieces, lightly kneading each.  Shape into loaves.

Tear off four 12 inch square sheets of aluminum foil.  Place each piece of dough in the center, and fold the short sides over ends, then long sides.  Foil should be secure, but leaving some loose space to allow dough to expand.  Place wrapped dough into a steamer basket and steam for 30 minutes.  Allow dough to cool to touch before chilling in fridge for hour or overnight.

Store in fridge, tightly sealed in plastic bag or container, for up to 2 weeks.  Seitan can also be frozen then thawed in the fridge for later.

I was lucky enough to live three miles from an Indian grocery at my apartment, at a time I was into trying to make flatbreads.  So I have chickpea flour (besan).  Vital wheat gluten is available in my generic grocery store’s Boulder Hippie section (which I frequent anyway), and a Vitamin Cottage grocery four miles north of my workplace had nutritional yeast.  The good news is that with all this stuff, I have enough for seitan all summer if I want.

Nutritional yeast is a vegan source of B12, because even vegans eat microbes.  I have dairy in my diet, but any source of B12 is also a source of fat for me.  This is certainly an easy way for me to eat this vitamin, which I probably lack. 

Cost isn’t easy to calculate after the fact…..but I know that a small box of pre-cut and packaged seitan is almost 4 bucks.  (I bought a box in case my homemade seitan flopped.)  I spent about 4 bucks on about 4 cups of gluten and maybe 3 cups yeast.  Chickpea flour at the Indian grocer is five bucks for over 8 cups.  This recipe makes four times as much as a single seitan box.  And my seitan tastes better.  Two loaves of seitan, half this recipe, will feed three people roughly three meals each.  Holy cow, that’s cheap.

The recipe looks long, as do the directions, but this was really easy and fun.  Romero also has a white seitan recipe, which omits the tomato paste (exists for color and a little flavor), and the spices are different.  I’m sure I will try it, too.  (Maybe something Cajun….?)  She suggests using this for dishes that are traditionally beef-based.  Of course, Romero’s cookbook is about making Latin cuisine, which is meat-heavy, and traditional dishes look more convincing with either pork or beef or whatever.  Mark, Jane and I are all vegetarian and we don’t care about our meals looking like they have meat in them.  Seitan is tasty, and I like the flavor of tomato in this.  I will definitely be experimenting with how to cook this further.

I guess I sorta missed ‘chewy’.  I didn’t realize.