Thursday, October 9, 2008

Vegan Mofo day 9: all hail seitan (roast). and a story.

Well, I was going to make soup last night, but got a request from Michael that we have a 'meatloafy' type meal.  Since I wasn't really in the mood to create another loaf-type meal just yet (the last one was a bit of a disaster, though fairly edible), I went for a seitan roast instead.  One of the things I used to make all last winter was roasted veggies, usually with tofu mixed in, so I went with that same type of idea here, but with a badass block of seitan in the middle instead of the tofu.  Here it is on our plates, in all it 'meat'-y glory.
sometimes it freaks me out how much like meat seitan really is..wheat meat, woo!

I started with the seitan recipe from VWaV, but added about a tablespoon of poultry seasoning and a couple teaspoons of smoked paprika for maybe a more chicken-ish taste?  I don't know.  But it turned out really tasty, besides the fact that I added too much lemon zest and it was a little lemony.  After wrapping the whole thing up in foil and steaming it for 40 minutes, into the baking dish (unwrapped) it went with lots of veggies!  I believe there was: potatoes, an onion, some turnips, loads of carrots, some garlic, broccoli...oh and just 2 stalks of celery.  I had a vegetarian (incidentally vegan as well) brown gravy mix that I stirred up with about 2 cups of veggie broth, poultry seasoning, dried thyme, and 1 tsp cornstarch.  Pour this over everything, cover in foil, pop that bad boy into a 425F oven and forget about it for about an hour.  Actually, after 40 minutes, I took the foil off so that the veggies would brown a little, then put it back in for 20 minutes.  If you make this, let it sit for about 15 minutes before you serve so that the gravy sets up.  It won't be really thick, but it'll be smooth, not ultra liquidy.  (I keep using -y on things today.  sorry.)
the seitan is like a king in the middle of a sexy vegetable harem

Slice, serve, eat.
we tried to get a cutting in action photo, but neither one of us had the patience...  we were hungry and this smelled deeeeelightful.

Seitan's really filling.  After 2 slices, I was totally done.  But that means, leftovers!  I had my part of the leftover roast today for lunch between slices of multigrain bread, some cheezy sauce I'd made Sunday, guacomole, and a big handful of spinach.  For being a strange combination of flavors, it was pretty damned awesome.

Tonight I'm making the leek and bean cassoulet from Vcon.  I'm a little late on the uptake on that one.  I've wanted to make it since before I even got the book...  I was hoping it'd be rainy and chilly this evening for it,'s like 70 degrees and beautifully sunny outside instead.  Oh well..  my only real concern is that it's going to be a lot like dinner last night.  But I have my heart set, so I'm just gonna suck it up and do it.

So...  something I was thinking about earlier: since becoming vegan, I am literally obsessed with food.  I think about it constantly.  As soon as I'm out of the shower in the morning, I'm thinking what to have for breakfast (i.e. what to put in my oatmeal that morning.  today it was frozen strawberries and maple syrup).  Around 11am, I start mentally doing inventory of my kitchen to think of what I can make really quick for a great lunch...or salivating over leftovers from the night before.  4 pm and wham! I'm hungry again and wondering what we've got at the house for a nice snack.  Then around 8 it's time to start dinner, of course.  This all seems fairly normal, except for the fact that every single moment I'm at my desk I'm looking through food blogs or I'm on the PPK or VegWeb talking about food, thinking about what would be good to make soon, copying and pasting and printing recipes.  It's to the point that I have more recipes printed out than I could ever make in a year, probably.  I'm always thinking about food, in some way.  And I'm starting to think that's a little weird.  

I don't have much to do these days, so maybe that's part of it.  And I love vegan cooking and seeing the cool results I can get from sometimes still-strange ingredients.  But before I was vegan, I didn't think about food much until I got hungry.  Then it was just like, ugh, what can I eat to get my stomach to shut up?  I mostly survived on canned beans (microwaved with cumin and a slice of cheese), bags of minute-rice with soy sauce, and spaghetti with plain jar sauce, even as an omni.  (I've never really cooked with meat, it always grossed me out to handle it.)  I mean, I ate good food still.  My mom and dad and grandma are all awesome cooks and I grew up eating some seriously tasty stuff.  I guess something happened when I went to college where I just stopped giving a shit about food.  It was annoying that I had to make it myself all the time or pay for it when I went out.  So my diet became that of what I described above and chicken sandwiches from Wendy's (I stopped eating red meat when I was about 19).  Blegh!  I didn't want to put in the effort to nourish myself properly.  As long as I could get up in the morning and get my work done, I was fine with that.  I seriously neglected my tastebuds.  And honestly, most of what I ate made me feel guilty because it was so unhealthy.  I craved all the stuff that's not good for you.  

And then one day, I met Michael.  And he was vegan.  And he wouldn't talk to me about it.  So I looked it all up online and that's where it started.  I wanted to bake him something.  Because he lived off of veggie sandwiches from various craptastic restaurants around town and spaghetti that he'd make in a slow cooker (sorry, hunny, but pasta loaf is gross).  So I made him lemon squares.  Then I wanted to cook him something.  So I made a vegan lasagna.  And they were both fricking awesome!  And the best part was that I didn't feel guilty eating them.  I knew what I was putting into the food.  Soon after, I became vegetarian.  I was only eating chicken or fish maybe once a week, and when I did, it felt wrong.  So out it went.  It took a lot longer for me to realize that cheese made me feel like shit too.  But eventually I was eating less and less dairy (I had cut out milk and eggs long before because I knew they were gross), especially after Michael moved in and I was cooking for him a lot more.  Then, one day, I was over it.  I'd read some stuff.  It made me ill.  And once I stopped eating cheese...well...  What was the point of not being vegan?  I'd stopped my M&M addiction a few weeks earlier, so there was no draw to the crappy candy that we call 'chocolate' here in America.  I mean, I still love good dark chocolate, but milk chocolate and candy bars were gone from my life.

And that's when this real obsession started.  Because I wasn't just cooking for Michael anymore, I was cooking for me.  For the first time in my life, I started giving a shit about what I was feeding myself (or not feeding myself, in some cases).  I stopped caring about being thin, for once, and started focusing on being healthy.  Goodness knows I haven't lost any weight as a vegan.  I've gained a few pounds.  And I'm totally fine with that.  Because I get to eat a lot more and not feel guilty about ANY of it.  Well, maybe once in awhile I feel some guilt after eating oreos or nachos, but not really.  Not that bad.  I'm nourishing myself in a way that I never have before.  And I love it.  I'm getting to eat real meals with the added benefits of my food being sustainable, cruelty-free, and pretty damned nutritious.  I've only been vegan for 5 months, even though I'd cooked vegan for Michael for much longer than that.  And I'm healthier and happier than I've ever been.  Not once have I been sick (this is coming from a pretty sickly person before).  I am more conscious of the world around me, in terms of environmentalism and what is and is not basically right in my mind.  I am living as much of a cruelty-free life as I have control over.  

I'm happy.  

So if my obsession with food is a little much...forgive me.  I'm still relatively new, I'm enjoying my healthy relationship with food, and I'm still excited about how much more awesome I am now that I'm vegan.  

Enough of that.  I didn't even expect to do that.  Sorry if it was a bit long.  I promised to link to a pizza crust recipe, I believe.  Here you go.  I usually add a dash of oil to the yeast mixture after it's done getting foamy.  It seems like a big crust, but as you could see from the pictures of my pizza, I take that extra and fold it up on itself to make a nice doughy crust for the edges.  Enjoy!


Tara said...

This was a great post! Awesome food, awesome vegan story.

Georgia said...

That roast looks awesome! If something so meaty could look that awesome... hmmm I am in two minds about meat analogues but my partner would really LOVE this. (Hence why I am delving into the world of seitan).

I too started to obsess about food soon after returning to veganism (I was brought up vegan then went vegetarian and then about 2 years ago decided that I should be vegan again... am I obsessive?? Yes - do I love it??? Yes - so all is well.
Thanks for all your lovely comments and your amazing blog - I get so much inspiration.

Celine said...

love this post!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the dough link! I've been vegan for about 4 months (such a newbie) and I too have food constantly on the brain- I hope it will settle down soon! I think it's kinda great that Michael wouldn't share his thoughts on Veganism with you- it led you to make the decision to go vegan on your own, for your own reasons. Great post all round me thinks :o)

Virginia said...

I am fairly new vegan as well...I became full vegan in January after becoming vegetarian the prior August. I loved food before..but yeah, let me tell you, I am obsessed with food now that I am vegan. It is just so so awesome!!! Vegans Unite!! =)

Anonymous said...

Great post! I made the cassoulet last night! It's freaking amazing!!!!
I don't think you're obsessed at all - it's just that when we eat whatever we can get our hands on we don't give a thought to the food or it's origins or preparation. Once you're vegan, you're committed to making those connections - and that's still newish for you is all. It seems to me you're doing a first-rate job at it! :)

jessy said...

wow! the seitan of deliciousness is making my stomach growl, Jessica. it looks so awesome! man, i wish my tummy didn't disagree with seitan. damnit! and sadface! the potatoes, onions, and carrots look sooooooo good - i really like the broccoli in there, too. damn, it looks so goooooooooooood!

thanks for the link to the pizza crust recipe! wahoooooo!

your transition to veganism = awesome. that's so cool that it all started with you making yummies for your boy so he wouldn't have to eat crappy food all the time. pasta loaf - ahahahaha. awesome. once we became vegan (just this past january) i started becoming OBSESSED with food, too. it's nuts! and before being vegan i was also like you - didn't think twice about foods and such, just ate when i was hungry. ya know?! but now - i am also the same, while at work i check out all the awesome blogs, the PPK, i browse TONS of online cooking magazines to see what i can veganize. and i've never eaten healthier before, EVER! it's such tasty and good for you awesomeness, my body is just like "feed me more gloriousness" all the time. i too haven't lost any weight be'n vegan - not that i became vegan to lose weight, but it's kinda funny - i thought "with all those tasty fruits and veggies, maybe i'll drop a few." naw, not really - but i feel AWESOME and it's nice to know we're not feeding our bodies the sh*t we used to eat. cruelty free = the best! wahoooooooooooooo for be'n vegan - it's the best! and thanks for sharing your story with us, too! squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Eric said...

Oh my, that seitan dish you cooked, with all those vegetables covered in herbs and spices looks sooooo good.

You've made me totally hungry now. I really have to try making something like that, it looks waaaay too good!

Erin said...

Your roast looks super tasty!

I enjoyed reading your story about becoming vegan, so sweet! Don't worry about being obsessed with food. It's so good, it's worth being obsessed. If you start thinking about food rather than working or sleeping or showering or other things you do, THEN be worried. You may also find that it comes and goes. Sometimes I think about food all the time and always want to cook fancy meals, then for a while I'll be cool eating canned soup and toast.

Lindsay I-F said...

can i hear a YUM!