Archived entries for vegan & vegetarian

Tomatoes Coming Out Of My Ears

Heirloom Brandywine tomatoes

Lugging home 60 lbs of tomatoes from my parent’s garden in an oversize Olive Garden paper bag (double bagged) seemed like a great idea at the time. My parent’s 40 tomato plants were overflowing and they didn’t have the energy to deal with all of the fruit. Happily, my Mom helped me load up all I could possibly carry. However, when I got off the Monday morning train in Chicago, I could hardly carry the bag outside to a taxi. I pride myself on my strength but I had to keep taking small breaks every couple feet. Even Ira, who came to meet me at the station found it hard to muscle the bag, needing to wrap a shirt around his hand to protect his palms from being torn into by the string handles.

Why am I going into so much detail about the weight? If we had a hard time carrying this thing, imagine what the layers of delicate tomatoes at the bottom of the bag where like when I unloaded them. Total smoosh.

Half of the tomatoes needed to be dealt with immediately or be thrown away. I was super tired from having to be up at 6 a.m. to get the morning train back to Chicago; all I wanted to do was take a nice hot bath and take a nap. My 40 hour work week was beginning the next day, and I knew I wouldn’t have time until Saturday to take care of them. What to do?

A quick solution: Roasted Marinara!

I decided to slow roast the crushed tomatoes with some garlic and spices in the oven over low heat. This way, after the prep work, I could just throw the tomato mixture in the oven and forget about if for a while. You don’t need to stir it or anything. Super easy!

I went through and separated the tomatoes into piles of the ones which were crushed and the ones were OK enough to last through the week.

Using a paring knife, I cored the tomatoes removing the stems, rotten and bruised areas, and cutting the larger tomatoes in half.

I didn’t have any fresh herbs on hand, so a bit of dried thyme, rosemary, and oregano was added along with some delicious cloves of garlic given to us by Ira’s Mom. Adding some kosher salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil, this stuff was ready for the oven.

I set the stove for 250 degrees and put it in the oven in my new birthday present. By cooking at a low temp, the sugars of the tomatoes are really emphasized and the flavors of all the ingredients fuse beautifully. Best of all, I could go take my bath and nap, knowing this would be fine in the oven for at least 2 or 3 hours.

I woke up, well rested, with my roasted tomatoes all ready to be taken out of the oven. After letting them cool for a bit, I gently pulsed them in the food processor and viola, ROASTED MARINARA!

Here is a photo set of a roasted marinara I did earlier last spring salvaging tomatoes starting to get moldy. I love roasting marinara!

You Put the Lime on the Corn Cob and Eat Them Both Up

A corn stalk from Ira’s parents’ garden

In the Midwest, nothing says summer more than sweet corn. Whether you like it BBQ or boiled, corn is a staple for any harvest meal.

I grew up, like most other Americans, slapping tons of butter all over my ear of corn and chomping away. A couple of years ago, my friend Meena, shared with me her Indian family’s method for seasoning corn which is delicious, easy and low fat.

All you need is a few slices of lime, salt and garam masala. If you don’t have any Garam Masala, you can use curry powder or chili powder. On a small plate, pour out a small pile of salt on one half and the garam masala on the other half. Take your lime slice and dip it in the seasonings until coated.

Take seasoned lime and spread over corn cob so the juices of the lime mix with the seasonings and are pressed into corn cob. The lime with the seasonings tastes similar to the salty butter yet also add a spicy tang which compliment the creamy sweet taste of the corn.

That’s it, your corn is ready to be served with your dinner. Eat up and enjoy!

Make Your Own Vinaigrette

Why pay $4.00 for a bottle of vinaigrette when you can make your own for way less super fast! It’s really easy.  To pair with summer greens, a simple vinaigrette works best to bring out the fresh crisp flavors. I love to add a bit of raspberry jam or fresh crushed fruit to give flavor.  Here’s the recipe:

Quick Homemade (Raspberry) Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1/4 vinegar of choice (I like apple cider)
  • 1 Tbs honey mustard
  • 1 tsp raspberry jam or 1 Tbs fresh crushed raspberries

Find a jar with a lid. Mix together oil and vinegar in approximately a 1:1 ratio.

Here instead of vinegar I used freshly squeezed lemon juice for added freshness.

Use a strainer to keep the seeds out of the dressing.

Mix to emulsify the two together.

Here you have your basic base. I usually add a sweetener to balance the flavor of the vinegar or citrus juice and mustard to give it a little body.

Here I used my homemade raspberry jelly (you can use fresh smashed raspberries as well) and a small amount of honey mustard, but you can use any fruit or sweetener you wish to try. Shake it again, and your dressing is all ready to go.

Holy Guacamole

Guacamole is easy to make and even easier to eat.

There are a million different ways to make this classic green dish. There are those who like it subtle, using it as more of a condiment, and others prefer it to kick ass like a solo zapatista. Some like to jazz up the flavor by adding exotic ingredients like mango and papaya, while others’ priority is to protect the integrity of the avocado, a subtle flavor easily muddied. Whatever style you prefer, one absolute must ingredient which is usually the determining factor of good vs. evil in my guacamole guide is LIME!

Whenever I try a guacamole I don’t like, it is usually because it lacks the lime. The Guacamole at Chipotle is a prime example. They make you pay something like $1 extra for a small side, and when you taste it, it basically tastes like nothing. Plain avocado tastes better. I don’t know what they do to it, but it just stinks. However, if they were to amp up the lime, they could really boost themselves in my book (which is the last word in the matter, of course).

In my last post, I detailed how to peel an avocado. Click here for my Guacamole Recipe. Of course, I always make it a little differently, but I use this recipe for my basic structure.

If that isn’t enough, and you need more fun, try this…

Ahh! Grinch sandwich.

Check out for some more crazy guacamole ideas!

Making Homemade Seitan: Additional Notes and Troubleshooting

So, hopefully, you’ve gotten your hands dirty with our vegan recipe for making seitan from scratch. Here’s some additional info to ensure your recipe comes out well!

I’ve had a lot of variation over time with the consistency of my seitan. Sometimes it is very crumbly and moist and other times it is very solid. Many variables come from what kind of flour you use. I’ve used cheap Pillsbury flour with excellent results and organic wheat flour purchased from a Mennonite farm with poor results. Perhaps there is a better flour to use, but I’ve had varying results with similar flours. You can also grind down wheat berries. If you don’t have a grain mill, as I don’t, you can use a coffee grinder!

Patience is always the best tool! I don’t suggest skipping the step of making a dough and make sure to rinse the dough long enough to get out all the starch. If you’re cooked seitan is super moist and crumbly. Just crumble or slice it into a pan and throw it under the broiler or bake in oven, flipping it around occasionally until it hardens up a bit. Remember, these instructions above are just guidelines. Feel free to deviate and experiment. If your seitan doesn’t turn out exactly how you want, get creative to figure out how to solve the problem. I’ve been making seitan for 7 years and I am still experimenting. It may be a bit time consuming, but its never boring!

OK, so I know this is slow food for FAST living. So maybe you don’t have time, and would like the more albeit more expensive. Here is a great step by step with vital wheat gluten courtesy of Vegan Lunchcast.

Here are more seitan ideas. Although some recipes may call for vital wheat gluten, we can substitute our seitan instead:
Gourmet Sleuth
Fat Free Vegan
Eat’n Veg’n
Vegan Menu
Top Ten Sources, Vegan Recipes

Ok, these are a bunch of vegan sites, because Vegans know how to cook Seitan best. But the good news is, you don’t have to be vegan to enjoy seitan. Although it is a meat substitute, even if you are as excited about eating meat as I am, you can still enjoy seitan. Its not one or the other people (unless of course you’re vegan).


Although Forkable is omnivorous, we are vegan friendly! Check out my other vegan recipes:

HOW TO: Making Seitan from Whole Wheat Flour

photo courtesy of flickr user sweeteats.

Seitan, an Asian meat substitute, is made from whole wheat gluten, the protein of the grain. Whole wheat grain is comprised of gluten and starch. Seitan is made by separating the starch away from the gluten. Making Seitan from scratch is much easier than you would think. Many people make seitan from Vital Wheat gluten, where the gluten has already been separated from the wheat starch and is in a dehydrated powdered form. Much like an instant product, you need only to add water, kneed and boil.

I prefer to make seitan directly from whole wheat flour because it’s easier to come by, cheaper, and you can get more satisfaction and cred for making your seitan from scratch. Plus, its a great way to mess up your kitchen!

The main objective when making seitan from whole wheat flour is to separate the starch from the gluten through a series of rinses and letting the water wash the starch away from the gluten.

To begin, we’ll take a whole 5 lb. bag (about 14 cups) of flour and place it in a large bowl and add enough water to make a dough. Start out with a mixture of 2:1 flour to water.

Add more water a little at a time if you need it but do not add too much. You want to be able to kneed the flour into a good dough.

You DO NOT want a paste. Making a dough ball is important because it allows the gluten to begin to come together. If you add too much water and the flour becomes pasty, when you start the rinsing process, the gluten won’t stick together and will flow right down the drain with the starch which means no dinner!



When you’ve kneaded the dough into a solid form, place in a bowl and cover with lukewarm water and let soak for about 20 min. You’ll notice the water will start to turn milky white. This is good! This is the starch separating from the gluten. We like that.

After the dough has soaked for a while, start kneading the dough underwater and you’ll notice the water becoming even more milky! Now you can begin draining.

Drain the loose dough into a colander and allow all the milky white water to drain away. Place colander under the faucet, pouring lukewarm/cold water over the dough. Keep kneading and working the dough. The water will continue to turn milky white as it rinses the starch away.


As more and more starch is drained away, you’ll start to notice the gluten forming. It appears stringy and stretchy. It actually looks gross at this point, like some sort of alien mucoid muscle mass from a horror film. But don’t be afraid!

(Its getting better from left to right)

Keep kneading. I find a pasta claw spoon works really well for getting into the gluten mass and allowing the water in to separate out the starch.

Keep going until the water flows clear and the gluten appears more of a solid mass -although it will still appear a bit stringy or chunky. This ball should be all (or mostly) gluten and is now raw seitan. Some boil it till it floats to cook, but I prefer to put the seitan in a slow cooker with a soy/water broth with some onions and carrots to infuse the soy stock into the seitan.

I place the raw seitan/gluten ball in the slow cooker with a couple of quartered onions, a couple carrots cut in large sections, 1 cup of soy and fill the rest with water. I also like to throw in a couple of bay leaves and peppercorns. Put the cooker on high for 2 hours and then put down to low and let sit over night or while you are at work.

Once cooked, the seitan will float the top. Yum! Ready to eat! Once made, seitan will stay good in the refrigerator for a week or so. The most popular way to eat Seitan is to saute it with some onions and add BBQ sauce. Depending on the consistency of your seitan you can either crumble it or thinly slice it.

Having problems or want more resources for finding Seitan recipes: Check out my Setain Notes and Troubleshooting Guide.

Although Forkable is omnivorous, we are vegan friendly! Check out my other vegan recipes:

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