Vegan – Got the Jimmy Legs


Feed me Seymour

The local falafel cart has several chefs, and they all suck, except for this one kid. Bad acne and indecipherable accent, for some reason he takes this stuff seriously, dressing up a standard falafel on rice with a ton of vegetables, both raw and grilled. While other guys are content to throw some iceberg lettuce on rice and toss in some dessicated falafel balls, he always fries the falafel at order, and jazzes up the salad with red cabbage, peppers, scallions, carrots and broccoli. Oh yeah, and french fries and eggplant! I skip the mysterious 'white sauce' and ask for liberal amounts of hot sauce, although he put so many jalapenos in already I have to towel off my head, I'm sweating so much.

The other guys who work there on other days merely toe the line to an indifferent lunch crowd, why does he give so much extra effort when he clearly doesn't have to? I dunno. I certainly can't imagine doing the same thing at my day job. Maybe he actually likes what he does for a living; what a foreign concept!

Piece of cake

I cooked a lot for Thanksgiving. I sort of wish I had just heated up some tater tots and left it at that. I think of all that time I spent putting stuff together when I could have been lounging on the couch or sleeping just a little bit later. Jen and Michael had the right idea to go out for the holiday!

Of course, I say this now on Monday morning, when those previously-endless hours of paid time off seemed to stretch on forever, and I simply can't believe I spent all that time cooking when I could have been lazily dangling a string over the cat's head while I watched Judge Mathis.

The thing I like about cooking is also sort of its downfall to me: You can spend days cooking stuff, trying your darnedest to make something good, but either way it's all pretty much over with in a matter of minutes. Food is served, you eat it, and suddenly it's no longer an issue of cuisine, but an issue of who's gonna wash all these damn dishes? Evanescence, thy name is dinner.

Still, I must say that I got a chance to work on some recipes more complex than I usually can attempt during the week. In place of Tofurky (which Jeannine has deemed "the most disgusting thing ever"; I plan on attempting a vegan haggis next year!) I made pot-pies filled with vegetables and seitan. They came out really well, though, truth be told, a little pot-pie goes a long way. I didn't have ramekins or whatever and wasn't about to purchase any in case this turned out to be a one-time recipe. But all the shops on Broadway were selling foil pans of varying sizes, so I picked up a few smallish round tins. They were probably 8 inches across and probably about 2x the size they should have been. Considering that other elements of the meal included something we call "stuffing," the watchword should have leaned towards light fare. Instead we foolishly tried to consume the aforementioned stuffing with potatoes, bread with roasted garlic, the aforementioned pot pies, a couple of dessert pies, not to mention all the stuff our housemates made. Conclusion: pot pies, good; lack of portion-control, bad.

The upside of course has been the perpetuation of leftovers, which will follow us well into this week. Of course my tolerance for potatoes is waning, but I'm coping. Additional revelations of the cooking ordeal include making seitan. I never thought about making it before, but it's super easy (like kneading dough but easier and harder to screw up). As a meat replacer it's generally better than tofu, although I don't know if I would risk the seitan "turkey" described in this recipe.

The above link however did provide some good vegan dessert pie recipes. I made the pumpkin and pecan pies, both of which were quite passable. The pumpkin pie in particular could probably pass muster with a little tweaking. Unlike most vegan recipes, this one didn't call for tofu, which I think is what made it good. Really it doesn't have much in it besides pumpkin and some cornstarch; I feel that too often tofu gets thrown into these recipes when it's not really needed. Tofu is an amazing product, but I sure would like to use less of it.

The pecan pie was also tolerable, but I think I can do it better now that I've done it once. I should point out that none of this stuff can qualify as really vegan since I used ready-made crusts from the store, which has whey in it for some reason. I find it difficult to practice moral absolutism when it comes to stuff that requires a rolling pin.

Most of the other recipes I used were from my new cookbook, Veganomicon. The authors of the book are from Brooklyn, so there is a nice narrative bent that NYC residents will enjoy. I'm only a few recipes into it so far, but it's very handy to have a cookbook of basic stuff that I don't have to transpose into vegetarian terms (like I must in my oft-thumbed copy of Joy of Cooking). I still need to find a vegan cookbook for really lazy people who really want to just lie on the couch and dangle string for the cats.

P.S. I really wanted to try Abby's Crispy Kale recipe, so I picked up a couple bunches and started feeding them into the oven. However, a slight miscalculation: I got mustard greens by mistake! The result, while edible, wasn't quite ready for prime time, so we've got it stashed in the kitchen. I feel like such a dork for not getting the right stuff, I can only blame myself and the fact that the market had their bushels of greens out on the sidewalk, and it was already dark by the time I got there. I know what kale looks like! I'm sure I do! I do like mustard greens but they don't really require the extra effort of kale, which is probably why they came out looking like somebody beat rent money out of them.