Monday, January 14, 2008

What Is That?

In the warm months of summer and early fall, I often freeze excess produce from our CSA pickups to help get us through the winter. Sometimes my labeling of this produce is less than adequate. This weekend, I came upon two containers of something that might have been Chinese cabbage or might have been lettuce (there was a lot more than we could use some weeks). Its hard to plan how to use something when you're not sure what it is. I was tempted to toss it back into the freezer.

Instead I decided to use it in a recipe that either cooked cabbage or cooked lettuce could work in, simple vegan fried rice. My version of this is largely inspired by Stephanie Scarborough's one in her zine, The Complete Cheap Vegan.

I started by cooking some bulgur since I seem to be out of brown rice. I a seperate pot I began to defrost the mystery veggie mentioned above. Once it was partially defrosted I cut it into very thin shreds and set it aside. Next, I tossed in some frozen veggies we had gotten from our Winter Sun Farm pickup this weekend. While the veggies defrosted, in yet another pan, I crumbled and heated up some leftover veggie burgers that I'd made.

Once everything was heated through, I tossed everything into the largest pot and added some ginger (I used crystallized ginger crumbled up very small), tamari and a few drops of toasted sesame oil. The toasted sesame oil is what really gives it a great flavor. Having eaten the mystery veggie, I'm still not sure what it was but it worked very well in the recipe. Everyone devoured the tiny bit of leftovers yesterday at lunchtime.

Last night, Jim, the boys and I did the food prep for dinner together. We are embarking on a major cleaning in the boys' room and wanted to have dinner cooking while we got the process underway. We put together the Seitan Cutlets from Veganomicon, a quick tomato vegetable soup and (finally) the corn crackers from Simple Foods from the Pack. I felt like a crazed traffic cop directing everyone around the kitchen (ie. vital wheat gluten is in the cabinet to the left of the stove on the top shelf, right hand side - why do I know that??)

We served the seitan with mustard over couscous. The taste/texture reminded me and Jim of veggie hot dogs. I prefer the baked setian texture but I'm intrigued at the thought of creating my own veggie hot dogs.

The corn crackers went very well with the tomato soup which, by the way, wasn't the most complicated recipe in the world. It was inspired by the tomato soup recipe in The Complete Tightwad Gazette but, in the true spirit of tightwaddery, it was altered to use what I had onhand.

Tomato Vegetable Soup
2 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes plus whatever water it takes to get the residue of tomato out of the cans
2 tsp celery seed (this might be overpowering so consider starting with 1 tsp and adding the 2nd if you want more flavor)
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
vegetables (I used kale and chopped peppers)

Let the soup simmer until everything is heated through. Serve as is or add some plain soymilk to make cream of tomato soup. If you are going to add some soymilk, let the soup cool a bit first to avoid curdling.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the link. the food sound delicious!

Chile said...

I just inventoried our freezer today and reorganized. It had gotten so packed that I couldn't find what I wanted easily so I'd just quietly shut the door and pretend I didn't really need it anyway. Now I know what I have and where it is.

Anything in ziploc bags is labeled with a Sharpie pen. Other containers have a small yellow label taped to them.

Katie said...

That's usually my system as well, although my tape is blue. I must have bursts of amnesia where I just forget to label things!

Anonymous said...

You're such a mom! "What is it?" "I don't know, it's green, it's a it!" I can at least usually identify things once they're thawed! My main freezer problem is avalanche.