Friday, February 18, 2011

Food for Thought

So, I’ve been flirting with a vegan diet for over a year now.  By “flirting” I mean that I am committed to it to the point that it doesn’t make me feel smothered, and I have fun with it without feeling the need to tell the world we’re exclusive.  By “vegan” I mean no animals or animal products.  That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the occasional cheese quesadilla or sweet treat that probably contains milk and eggs (although these would still be considered vegetarian).  Like I said, "flirting".  I don’t go crazy, but I do try the majority of the time. 

I don’t ever feel the need to tell people this because I want to avoid the dreaded question, “Well, then what do you eat?!?!” Or “I saw you eating sushi last week!”  People suddenly feel the need to judge everything you eat once you confine yourself to a specific category.  It’s like they’re your evil diet guardian angels reminding you of your chosen path just waiting for you to slip so that they can call you out for being a "hippie"crite.  So, no I’m not a vegan.  I wouldn’t even say I’m a vegetarian.  I am a person who does not eat meat and tries very hard not to eat or buy animal products.  I do it for many reasons.  One of my main reasons is that, sometimes I feel the only way that our voices will be heard is through our money.  This is a sad but true fact of our society.  YOUR DOLLAR IS YOUR VOTE, and I do not vote for factory farms and animal cruelty.

These days people are SO much more aware of the cruel practices of factory farms and the junk that the FDA continues to allow to enter our food.  For this, I am very grateful.  People are becoming more mindful of the quality of their food, where it comes from and how to shop smarter and kinder...your dollar is your vote, so cast it wisely.  

I am certainly no expert when it comes to a plant-based lifestyle, but it is something I am passionate about and love to continue to learn about every day.  I don’t ever push my beliefs on people – in fact some of my friends still aren’t aware of what I do and don’t eat anymore! – but I do like to share information.  So I decided to periodically post recipes and anything else I believe deserves a little recognition.  Maybe one day my friends will stop saying, “Wait, you don’t eat meat?  Then what DO you eat?”  Right now my only answer to that is, “No.” and “Lots.”

Unless you live under a rock right now, you are aware of the actress Olivia Wilde.  She's in the television show House.  She just starred in the movie Tron, and she will be in the upcoming film Cowboys and Aliens along with Harrison Ford.  She is talented, hot and yes....vegan.  She has an amazing recipe for "crab" cakes on her website.  I invite you to try them.



Give them a taste and see for yourself!
SERVINGS
10 cakes

INGREDIENTS
For the Cakes:
8 ounces tempeh (use the nori tempeh if you can find it, but plain soy tempeh is fine, too)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons Vegenaise
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard (stone-ground Dijon works, too)
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup very finely chopped red bell pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs, plus extra for dredging
1 finely chopped nori sheet or 1 tablespoon kelp granules (optional, if you like a little fishiness, which I don’t)
Oil for panfrying
For the Remoulade:
2 tablespoons Vegenaise
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard (stone-ground Dijon works, too)
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons capers (try not to get too much brine)

For Serving:
Lemon wedges

DIRECTIONS
Make ahead: Make the entire mixture and the remoulade the night before. In the morning, form into cakes and panfry.
First we’re going to steam the tempeh to get the bitterness out and also to give it some flavor with the soy sauce. Crumble the tempeh into a saucepan in little bits. Add the water, soy sauce, oil, and bay leaf. The tempeh won’t be fully submerged, but that’s fine. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, let boil for 12 to 15 minutes, until most of the water has evaporated. Stir once during boiling.
Transfer contents to a mixing bowl, remove the bay leaf, and mash with a fork. Let cool for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to hasten the cooling process. Make sure the tempeh is barely warm before you proceed, or the cakes may fall apart when you cook them. Add the Vegenaise, mustard, hot sauce, vinegar, bell pepper, ginger, oregano, salt, and pepper and mix well. Add the breadcrumbs and nori, if using, and use your hands to incorporate.
Once you are ready to form the cakes, preheat a thin layer of oil in a heavy-bottomed, nonstick skillet (cast iron is great) over medium heat. Pour a few tablespoons of panko into a bowl. Scoop a little less than 1/4 cup batter into your hands and form into a ball. Flatten between your palms and then roll the sides gently to smooth them. You should have ten 2 1/2- to 3-inch patties. Press them into the panko to lightly coat. They don’t need to be thoroughly covered, just a little bit for some texture.
Fry a batch of five cakes for 4 minutes on one side and flip when dark golden brown. Fry for 2 minutes on the other side and transfer to a paper towel or paper bag to drain. Do your second batch and in the meantime make your remoulade by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl.
Serve with lemon wedges.
From the book Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

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