Meal Seven: Home with Carolyn

For this, the seventh Meal of MelRob, I took it easy and cooked for my roommate, Carolyn. As much as hitting the road with a suitcase full of kitchen supplies is, it was a huge relief to stay at home this week and keep it casual with Carolyn in my own kitchen. I have never appreciated the familiarly and intimacy I have with my own kitchen more.

So, what did I bring to the table?

The Menu:

– Mushroom and Seitan Goulash with Vegan Sour Cream, compliments of Vegan on the Cheap, p.208 and p.42 respectively

– Ginger (and Lemon) Muffins, from the Joy of Vegan Baking, p.44

MelRob and Goulash: A Brief History 

Growing up, I was served a dish we called goulash–it was a lackluster meal that was composed of tomato juice, ground beef, and macaroni-type pasta. I didn’t grow up eating particularly healthy, as the contents of the former dish may have divulged. I ate few fresh vegetables and, as a vegetarian, cheese comprised all too much of my diet (cheesitarian may have been a more accurate label). It wasn’t really until I became vegan two summers ago that I threw myself into a committed relationship with healthful eating and cooking.

Anyway, back to goulash. I’ve been making a point to revisit dishes that I may have not experienced at their full potential or in full vegan-force. For me, this meal was a re-imagining of a childhood meal in the best of company–Carolyn and my slow cooker. The lesson distilled: don’t discount trying your hand at a dish just because you’ve been disappointed by something under its same name. Or something to that effect, but more succinct.

Seitan and Mushroom Goulash Recipe:

(p.208 of Vegan on the Cheap, by Robin Robertson)

– 1 tbsp olive oil

– 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

– 8 ounces seitan, cut into 1/2 inch dice (I used store-bought, but seitan is one of the easiest AND most impressive meat substitutes)

– 8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced or quartered

– 2 cups sauerkraut, drained and rinsed

– 1 (14.5-ounce) can o’ diced tomatoes, undrained

– 1 tbsp sweet paprika

– 1/4 dry white wine

– 1 tsp caraway seeds

– 2 tbsp tomato paste

– 3/4 cup vegetable stock (this is also super easy to make–another post will detail directions)

– salt and pepper

– Vegan Sour Cream (Vegan on the Cheap, p. 42, detailed below)

– cooked hot noodles (I had brown rice noodles on hand)

Directions (Or, how someone made this once and wrote it down):

1. Turn 4-quart slow cooker on high, add oil, and cover while you assemble the remaining ingredients.

2. Add onion, seitan, ‘shrooms, ‘kraut, tomatoes, paprika, caraway seeds.

3. Mix tomato paste with around half of the stock in a small bowl, then add to slow cooker with additional stock. Add salt and pepper to taste, set cooker to low heat and cook until veggies are tender, flavors have blended–6-8 hours.

4. Mix Vegan Sour Cream in before serving over hot noodles. We layered the Sour Cream over the Goulash to control our own ratio, also adding dill and hot sauce to our own tastes.

Vegan Sour Cream Recipe: 

(makes 2 cups)

Processed vegan food really freaks me out. What unholy process makes plants resemble dairy products??

– 1 package silken tofu (10-ounce)

– 2 tbsp lemon juice

– 1 tbsp neutral oil (vegetable)

– 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

– 1 tsp sugar

– 1/2 tsp salt

Combine ingredients in a blender under smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, and enjoy–you have created something beautiful! Will keep for several days in a tight-fitting container in the refrigerator.

Give me Ginger:

I associate ginger with Carolyn, because she regularly enjoys it in dishes and smoothies alike. Armed with this knowledge, I wanted to make Ginger Muffins for/with her. I actually messed this recipe up at some point–first, I forgot to add the lemon zest and then I think I *may* have added some extra margarine. Oops. They were tasty, but a little off, so I won’t post/vouch for the  recipe, but I blame myself. And beer. Here are some teaser photos, though.

More Muffins, please!

A Glimpse into MelRob’s Kitchen, Life: 

Because sometimes only a photo-stream can capture the magic and mood of an evening…

Meet our appliance tower, where many of my appliances live. My worms for vermi-composting reside (and work) in the green tote underneath.

Carolyn being casual next to our "pantry" shelves.

Time to make dessert! With 'The L Word' playing shamefully in the background.

Mince-Master Carolyn, handling the ginger situation.

Too much fun.

Melting sugar and combining with minced ginger, all with the help of some Bell's Winter White Ale.

I struggled a little zesting the lemon.

Then, I realized I forgot to add the lemon zest to the batter AFTER pouring it into the muffin tins AND baking the batter for a couple of minutes. I made the decision to our the batter out in order to add the zest.

Having a moment with the forgotten zest--I'm not sure why we/I decided to document this mishap so thoroughly.

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