Saturday, July 10, 2010

Vegan Reuben, Part II

This is all about the Thousand Island/Russian dressing for your Reuben. This seems to be the basic gist of it:

Vegan Thousand Island Dressing

1/2 cup Veganaise
6 ounces of tomato sauce
1 tablespoon vegan sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sweet pickles, finely diced
2 teaspoons sweet pickle juice

Blend all ingredients in a bowl until well incorporated.


You could also try something more like...

Vegan Russian Dressing (makes 2-3 servings)

3 Tablespoons Vegenaise
3 Tablespoons ketchup
3 Tablespoons minced pickles
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

Blend all ingredients in a bowl until well incorporated.

You can also Google either dressing and find lots of alternative recipes, OR you can just buy some, because several companies now offer lots of vegan dressings.

Of course, many people claim that mustard is great on a Reuben, and that would certainly simplify things.

Next: Assembly and preparation.

Vegan Reuben, Part I

I don't know why I've been so obsessed with this; I've never even HAD a Reuben, vegan or otherwise. Maybe it's just because it looks and sounds so good.

Anyway, this weekend is rainy and muggy, and we're enrolled in dog training, so no vegan Reuben at a restaurant this weekend. I've decided to just plunge right in and start working out the recipe based on descriptions of the animal-based recipe.

Here are some tips from a recipe for a traditional Reuben:

Modern-day Reuben sandwiches are often open-faced and broiled, which dries out the corned beef and makes the cheese rubbery. Or, under the misguided belief that more is better, they are overstuffed. The main things to remember for a great Reuben are to keep the filling under control and in balance, so when you bite into it you get a harmonious and succulent mouthful; and to grill the sandwich slowly and under some pressure, so the bread gets toasty brown and buttery crisp, the meat gets warmed through, and the cheese is just melted enough to be oozy.
OK. So, this all pretty much translates to a vegan version: no broiling, no overstuffing, balance, slow grilling, pressure, crisp-warm-oozy. Sounds good! Now, all we need is a recipe.

Bread, vegan margarine and sauerkraut are all pretty easy to come by, so the two major obstacles would seem to be the vegan corned beef and the Russian dressing.

Let's start with the corned beef.

There are vegan corned beef recipes all over the place, so you could try one of those; alternately, you could probably use something like Lightlife Steak-Style Smartstrips. Or, you could try this one, which requires a steamer, but which I think would be just about right:

Vegan Corned Beef

- 1/2 cup chickpeas
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp dried mustard
- 4 dried juniper berries, crushed into powder (optional)
- 1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten

Get water on its way to steaming in your steamer
1. Place chickpeas in a food processor and process until smooth. Add everything else except the wheat gluten and process.
2. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the wheat gluten with a fork. Knead for a minute or so to get everything mixed.
3. Shape into a rectangle (about 8" x 5") and wrap in foil. Double fold the seams so the seitan will steam properly.
4. Steam for 45-60 mins. The seitan must swell against the foil, so make sure that happens before you remove it from the steamer.
5. Let cool briefly, then thinly slice for the sandwich.

OK, so let's say you don't have a steamer, but you still want a more hands-on method or you don't like pre-fabbed not-meats. How about this?

To make corned "beef", all you need to do is a make brine (salted water) and soak seitan in it overnight. So take these ingredients:

6 cups of water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cloves
3-5 bay leaves
1 tablespoon juniper berries (optional)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon all spice powder
2 packages of seitan

Pour all ingredients except the seitan into a pot and boil for five minutes. Set aside to cool.

Pour the brine into a plastic bowl and add the seitan. Put into the refrigerator overnight to brine.

To prepare the seitan for use in the sandwich, remove it from the brine, dry it on a paper towel, then slice thin.

NEXT: Vegan Thousand Island Dressing!

In Vitro Meat Habitat

It is exactly as bizarre as it sounds. Here are the crucial bits from the article by Andrew Michler at Inhabitat:

From the boundary-pushing team of archi-visionaries who brought us the fabulous Fab Tree Hab comes a new (and somewhat disgusting) way to grow a structure — using animal flesh! The In Vitro Meat Habitat is a futuristic concept home composed of meat cells grown in a lab. We can’t imagine that these residences are going be replacing suburban tract homes anytime soon, but it sure is a provocative idea! The creator of the concept, Mitchell Joachim, is a futurist with a twist– he says he is actually developing the concept in a lab.

Before you start crafting your protest signs, Dr. Joachim explains It is intended to be a ‘victimless shelter’, because no sentient being was harmed in the laboratory growth of the skin.” He envisions a wall in which tissues, skin and bones replace insulation, siding, and studs respectively. For fenestration, or openings of windows and doors, he envisions sphincter muscles that can open and close. Current prototypes are pig skin cells grown around a recycled PET plastic scaffold.

Dr. Joachin admits that the home is not all that pretty, but his work in exploring radical new ways to create futuristic buildings is a provocative reminder that sustainability requires a radical new vision of our cities and homes.

Um. Well. OK.

If this were a sci-fi novel, I'm pretty sure those meat houses would develop sentience and pose a new moral dilemma to humankind. Since this is reality, I'm pretty sure that everyone will be all, "Eww," and probably won't even want to eat it, much less live inside it. But still! Cruelty-free meat habitats! Oh Brave New World!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Vegan Dog food

I've tried V-Dog and Evolution vegan dog foods, and they were OK - I don't really object to corn and soy in dog food, but I don't love it, either. My dogs like everything, so rejection has never been an issue, but I've never found a brand that had really good-sounding ingredients in a good balance, so we haven't really clicked with any particular brand. I do like Vegedog as a supplement for homemade dog food, but I like having some kibble on hand. So I'm thrilled that Natural Balance has a really excellent vegan dog food! Just thought I'd pass it on.

No Reuben This Week...

We went to One World Cafe for our weekly "Satur-date"...but the Reuben wasn't on the menu. Apparently the Reuben is too powerful to be served before 3pm on weekends! Plus, it turns out that One World Cafe doesn't offer a truly vegan Reuben anyway - they can't guarantee that the soy cheese and the Russian Dressing are 100% free of animal products. So...I got this delicious wrap (sprouted grain tortilla, herb salad, shredded carrots, tomatoes, sprouts and guacamole) with garlic-herb dressing:

And it was super. So what to do about the Reuben? It turns out Liquid Earth has a Reuben Royale - I don't know if it can be made vegan or if the cheese is from cows, but it's worth looking into, I think. If all else fails, Great Sage went completely vegan this year, and they have a Reuben. We can always go back there and try that one!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Vegan Sammiches: At Last!

The IC and I went to Great Sage for lunch yesterday, and the IC had their vegan club sandwich, which is a big favorite of his. Here is a picture of yesterday's lunch:

As you can see, this sammie has lettuce, tomato, Vegenaise, and some sort of bacon and turkey substitute. Simple. So today we replicated this sandwich in hoagie form, with positive results!

Here's what we used:

One Italian roll
Tofurky slices (oven roasted style)
Several slices of Smart Bacon
Fresh herb salad
Sliced plum tomatoes

I toasted the Italian roll, smeared it liberally with Vegenaise, cooked up the Smart Bacon and sammiched it all up together. The light in my kitchen isn't as lovely as that at Great Sage, but still:

That's a pretty good-lookin' sandwich. The IC reported that it was delicious, and when I asked what could take it to the next level (avocado slices? pesto mayo?), he insisted that it was already at a very high level. So there!

Next Sandwich Challenge: One World Cafe in Baltimore has a delicious-looking vegan Reuben going on.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Vegan "Chicken" Breakthrough?

I don't really mind eating tofu and tempeh and stuff that doesn't taste like chicken or meat. But here's an article in Time about a new mock-chicken product that (according to the article) really really does taste like chicken. I think this bit:

Before an animal is killed, its flesh essentially marinates, for all the years that the animal lives, in the rich biological stew that we call blood: a fecund bath of oxygen, hormones, sugars and plasma.

pretty much sums up why I'm OK eating something that tastes like beans (they've been marinating in chlorophyll and sunshine!) or pretty much anything else that hasn't had "the benefit of sloshing around in something so complex as blood before (it goes) onto your plate."

If you've been waiting for the next major mock-meat appears your wait is over!