Why we should change the name of our blog...

... to "smited."  Because wow, we have taken a huge nose dive here in posting.  But that's not to say we haven't been working!  We have.  We've just failed a few times, which isn't so encouraging when it comes to showing you guys some pictures.  I'm posting my failure anyway, which I suppose doesn't look like so much of a failure.  The picture above is, I guess, Arepas with (Vegan) Cheese and Corn.  They look totally fine, right?  Unless you hate cornmeal or are vehemently opposed to vegan cheese, you'd go for it with a fork.  Am I wrong?  

I (over)confidently approached this recipe – Arepas with Cheese and Corn – with absolutely zero doubts in my mind.  "Cheese?  Milk?  Pfffft.  Whatever," and I threw the vegan equivalents into my grocery basket.  

I was so wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  Maybe it was the vegan cheese I used.  Maybe I didn't let the frozen corn thaw enough.  Maybe I should have used soy instead of almond milk.  Maybe I should have adopted a deity in order to pray to it for vegan success.  Whatever the case, my batter ended up being a greasy, gooey blob in the bottom of the mixing bowl.  And in my attempt to thicken it, used 1/2 cup more cornmeal than the recipe called for, still being slightly too wet to work with.  But I'm jobless and can't afford to replenish my cornmeal every two days, so I said to hell with it, slapped the batter into my cast iron and pretended I was making pancakes.  Oily corn pancakes.

Amazingly, they held together.  Sort of.  I managed to salvage two of the "pretty ones" for photographic purposes and then ate the others as a sort of makeshift cornmeal arepas scramble.  Oh, and did I mention they were extremely chalky?  I'm pretty sure I didn't cook them all the way.  Mark Bittman would be proud.

Okay, okay.  I realize the ridiculousness of posting this, because it's already vegan, and Mark Bittman just recently whipped this up.  But it went well with our veganized dish.  And hey, who's to say we can't celebrate what's actually vegan in Bittman's column?  We did nothing to this fall potato salad recipe, except not follow the directions.  Gin may have been the culprit here.  Instead of roasting sweet potatoes with onions, we ended up steaming the potatoes and sautéeing the onions/garlic.  In any case, when in doubt, make shit up.  

No parmesan sprinkled on top, no feta inserted at the last second, here is a Mark Bittman recipe that is actually vegan: Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Black Beans and Chili Dressing.

Since Mark Bittman actually published a bona fide vegan recipe in the past week's Minimalist column I'm feeling as if we are already changing things. Okay maybe not, and to be honest, I was a little disappointed since I wanted a recipe that would be fun to veganize. But there are no shortage of those in the archives, and only a few weeks ago Mark Bittman published an article on Thai Style Crab Cakes that, given the release of Vegan Brunch just this summer, was dying to be veganized.

The Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes in that book are really awesome, and so delicious with the remoulade sauce. This Thai-inspired variation doesn't have such a distinctive sauce to go with them, but they also don't have pureed shrimp and egg as a binder like Mark Bittman's do.

Thai Tempeh Cakes

8 ounces tempeh (nori tempeh if you like, but I have never seen it for sale)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bay leaf

3 tablespoons vegan mayo
1 tablespoon Asian-style hot sauce (like sriracha)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons of fine chopped scallions
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs, plus extra for dredging
1 tablespoon of finely chopped nori or kelp granules (only if you want some "ocean" flavor)
peanut oil (sesame would also be fine) for panfrying

Crumble the tempeh into a saucepot with the bay leaf, cover with the water and a tablespoon of soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then boil for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring a few times to make sure it doesn't boil dry. This flavors the tempeh a little bit and takes out some of the supposed bitterness that I never notice. (It occurs to me that the bay leaf might be unnecessary or even unwanted here; we tried them with it and had no complaints but the flavor might clash with the Thai flavors if your palate is more delicate than mine, so leave it out if you want.)

While the tempeh is boiling, mix everything else except for the panko and oil in a bowl. When the tempeh is done, let it cool until warm and then add it to the bowl. It is important to let the tempeh cool before forming the cakes to help them stay together. Mash the tempeh with a fork and mix it all together until incorporated. Add the panko and combine. I would suggest adding it in half cup batches, since when we mixed all of it in the mixture was a little dry and we had to add more vegan mayo to make up for it.

Now form the tempeh mixture into patties. First put some panko into a shallow bowl, and then take about a 1/4 cup scoop of mixture. Using your hands, form it into a round patty shape about a quarter of an inch thick and a couple of inches wide. Then press both sides into the panko. The cakes can be a little crumbly if the mixture is too dry and then they fall apart in the pan, so if they seem too dry, add some more vegenaise.

Once you have finished, heat some peanut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the cakes in batches, cooking each side until they are a nice golden brown. Don't worry too much if lots of panko falls off and burns in the pan, or if there is some uncooked panko on the sides. Just make sure that they are in the pan long enough to get heated all the way through and crispy.

Serve with more sriracha and soy sauce, or plain. A peanut butter sauce (an easy one to whip up is equal parts peanut butter, soy sauce, and sriracha) would also be delicious.


Don't worry, you guys.  We haven't given up on MoFo so quickly!  We ate/made dinner insanely late last night, so expect a post about it ASAP.  Veganized Bittman recipes soon to come.

... and chewing thoroughly.

Talking to Leonard Lopate on WNYC earlier this year Mark Bittman said "If you want to do all that you can do for the environment, for your body, for animals etc, then the most consistent position is to be a vegan." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-7ZOoszUYc scan to around 5:30)

He supports eating a vegan diet and he thinks it's the right thing to do. He says he can't become a vegan because he is a food writer for the New York Times; one only has to skim the comments on his blog to realize this. Apparently he mostly just reduces ratios of meat in recipes.

That's great. But where are the vegan entrees? When I looked back, I found that two of the past eight recipes in the Minimalist have been vegan, one was a corn salad and the other a recipe for a soft drink. Seriously, a recipe for soda. The blog is not much better (although it did showcase experimenting with flax seeds as an egg replacer, not in a post by Mark Bittman).

So we are going to veganize Mark Bittman, because even if he really is eating celery and peanut butter all day before binging on cheese and pork (I suspect this might actually be the case), or even if his recipes only call for a pound of meat instead of two, we bet his recipes would be even better if he went all the way.

I’m really only doing this as an excuse to eat more food.  Or maybe because my other countless Livejournal/Xanga/Blogspot accounts all eventually came to a bitter and emotional end.

Uh, except no, really, I’m doing it because I got annoyed.  As a runner who subscribes to Runner’s World magazine, I recently came across an article written by Mark Bittman.  He wrote about “simple food,” about the benefits of eating mostly plants, about reducing meat consumption.  And then I saw three of his recipes published with the article, all of which contained meat.  I got confused.  Stir-Fried Tofu and Shrimp; Spinach, Bacon, and Sweet Potato Salad; and Cassoulet with Lots of Vegetables (the 2nd ingredient being a pound of a combination of meats).

I like Mark Bittman.  I’m glad someone is out there who recognizes how great veganism is, even though they still eat meat.  I just want to see more of his vegan side.  The majority of Bittman’s day involves vegan food; I want proof.  He could be eating celery with peanut butter until 6pm for all I know.

My goal with this blog is to prove that vegan food is exciting and delicious, with vegan recipes to boot.  So you can hold back from flavoring that salad with bacon.  Or… or tossing some shrimp with tofu (to flavor it?  I have no clue). 

And with a hefty swing of a champagne bottle to the hull of this Vegan MoFo ship, let’s veganize Mark Bittman for the month of October.