Monday, October 5, 2009

hearty 'beef' stew is for vegans, too!

My home is in such a state of disarray I could barely remember where I keep my cookbooks. They haven't moved, by the way, the chaos is just that overwhelming. Angst just sits in the middle of it, looking at me with big sad/scared eyes, wondering when Mister will stop moving his stuff around while he hides in the bathroom...all day, apparently.

So, I strapped on my apron and grabbed my cookbook to make the Brazilian Black Bean Stew...and remembered that I forgot to get a red pepper. After standing stupidly in the kitchen for a minute, I put the cookbook back and pulled out The Vegan Table and set about making Hearty Stew. This recipe came from Colleen's "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" menu and it is so Irish it hurts - all full of potato chunks and browned bits of "beef."
The recipe called for 8 oz of tempeh, but I think I've mentioned before that Mister is allergic to tempeh...or his digestive system just really hates it. Either way, unless I want to wake up 4 hours into what was a peaceful night's sleep to him rolling around and making noises like he's about to die, I don't feed him tempeh anymore. I wanted to add something for the texture and my first thought was smoked tofu (my favorite), but since the recipe calls for liquid smoke, I didn't want to go overboard with smoky flavors. I figured I'd just stand obnoxiously in front of the "fake meat" section of Whole Foods' refrigerator until I saw something that would be a fun and suitable substitute.

My first experience with LightLife Smart Strips was not a pleasant one, so I don't know what provoked me to try again. I guess it was because I was tired of using Tofurky sausages, didn't want crumbled fake meat, and the picture looked less frightening than the chicken strips. I don't know what horrible things they use to flavor the "chicken" strips, but they smelled so foul (pun intended) when I cooked them a few years ago that I almost got sick and couldn't eat my own dinner. You can take that as a non-recommendation.

In any case, the beef/steak strips were pretty darn good! I'm not sure a stew was the best place for them, though they did soak up broth and get tender the way real beef would have. I think they would be a phenomenal addition to a stirfry (their intended purpose, anyway, according to the box). It didn't occur to me until I was halfway home that they might not be vegan - I've gotten so used to Yves brand fake meat products that I forgot to check. They are certified vegan.

There's dinner, still in the pot because the pictures of my own little bowl didn't come out too well and Mister was too hungry to wait for me to take pictures of his bowl - I guess moving half of our furniture around the apartment single-handedly with the added pressure of "don't break my mother's dead mother's china teacups or I'll cry" will do that to a man.

It was really good - the broth was very rich and savory, the way I like it. My only regret is that I was too busy trying to clear all the stuff off of and away from the dining table to find time to make the accompanying Irish Soda Bread. That would have been fun to dip into that tasty, flavorful, and smoky broth!

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