TVP and Seitan Attempt Number Three

Working from home might be the best decision I’ve made in the entirety of my professional life. One of the many perks is that I can still prepare food while I’m at work and I don’t have to rely on eating out and buying snacks to get through the day. Also, since I work until 10 PM, while at home, I can eat dinner at a more reasonable hour.

Today, I experimented with a couple of vegan meat replacers.

The first was TVP. It sounds like plumbing, doesn’t it? Or, if you’re a gamer nerd like me, it may sound like an arena-style player versus player match. Fortunately, it’s neither of those. It’s textured vegetable protein, or as I described it to the boyfriend, “dehydrated soy stuff.”

I rehydrated some of the chunky version in hot vegetable broth, squeezed it out a bit when it was ready, and then made a chicken salad-esque lunch by mixing the pieces with some vegan mayonnaise and chopped scallions, and then throwing it between two slices of homemade bread.

Sidenote: I love my bread machine.

I was a little iffy about it. In the bag, it looks a lot like unseasoned croutons and I didn’t know what to expect with the flavor, but it was quite yummy! It even had a similar texture to actual chicken salad (without the greasy film that cold chicken often gets).

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I wish I could say I had the same success with the seitan, but I at least think it came out the way it was supposed to. I used a recipe I found in one of my vegan cookbooks for “Better than Pot Roast Seitan” which called for seasoning the wheat gluten with soy sauce, ketchup, onion powder, salt, pepper, and thyme, and then cooking it on low in the crockpot for eight hours with some veggies and vegetable broth.

Sounds promising, but I think I just don’t like homemade seitan. This attempt tasted much like the previous two attempts, but this time I got the texture right. Either it needs more seasoning or it’s just always going to taste a little bit like wheat gluten no matter what. I don’t know the answer to that, and I’ve never been able to find seitan at the store to compare.

I have, however, tried seitan jerky, and it definitely has that wheaty, gluteny taste, and I just don’t like it.

Now, as I understand it, simmered seitan usually is best the next day, so while I dutifully ate some this evening, I’ll try the leftovers tomorrow and see if that makes a difference. If not, I have one more seitan recipe to try, before I give up on it. Steamed breakfast sausage seitan.

And if that doesn’t work, I still have tofu and TVP.

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Vegan Surprises Everywhere!

I have been a rather convincing vegan for two days now. Look at me go! I’ve acquired some new vegan products at the store (tofurkey is not nearly as gross as it looks!), I have strained my eyes reading the tiny print on a whole slew of nutrition labels (what the crap is sodium hexametaphosphate?), and I have googled “Is XXX vegan?” more times than I can count.

The real test, I think, will be the first time I eat out and I have to interrogate the poor waiter and then probably make a ridiculously complicated order.

My foods have ranged from highly processed items of questionable nutritional value to surprisingly simple items with only one or two ingredients. They have all been pretty good though. Today’s dinner was angel hair pasta with some of my homemade tomato sauce, which has always been vegan because people who ruin perfectly good Italian-style tomato sauce by putting chunks of meat in it should be punished.

(A reminder to the non-vegans: I still think meat is delicious, but it just doesn’t go in sauce. Or lasagna, for that matter. It’s wrong.)

Speaking of vegan cooking, look what came today!

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I finally cashed in my recognition rewards at work and got myself some books! I’ve already cracked open “Vegan Comfort Food,” and I can’t wait to try some of these recipes out.

That’s one thing I’ve noticed so far about veganism. While you can get by in a pinch with having a vegan grilled cheese sandwich (also yum, by the way!), you really have to plan and cook in order to make it work. Fortunately, cooking is my third favorite hobby.

The first is writing; the second is eating. Go figure.

Last but not least, I want to share some surprises I’ve discovered in these two short days. Panko brand plain bread crumbs are not vegan, even though bread generally is; Worcestershire sauce is not even close to vegan because anchovies, and oh my god, honey isn’t vegan either?!

When I think of honey, I think of plants. There’s clover honey, and orange blossom honey, and alfalfa honey. This sounds vegan. I would even go so far as to say it sounds extremely vegan.

Except for the bees. Crap.

In other news, I apparently need a new brand of chapstick. Burt’s Bees has always been my favorite. Doh!