Ginger mock chicken

When people talk about comfort food, I mostly understand what they’re talking about, but I don’t really get it, to be honest. I don’t know – I think I’m just not someone that really values food in the same way I see others value it. I have friends who truly LOVE food and I love going on foodie adventures with them and trying new restaurants around town and I truly do appreciate when food tastes really good, but they just have a totally different kind of appreciation than I do. They fall into worship for it, but I just kind of move on. Sometimes I wish I was more like them – that I could love the food the way they do or that I could feel the way a good meal appears to make them feel, but sometimes it’s plain old depressing. Sometimes I feel like I haven’t had a good meal in ages and I chalk that up to not having deep feelings for the food that I eat.

Here’s something about being vegetarian/vegan. There are some amazing and wonderful recipes out there, but there are also some pretty lame ones. I’m for ingredients lists that contain whole ingredients no matter what I’m cooking. I get it from my mom, but I’m not really into the whole can of mushroom soup, packet of french onion soup cooking style. I’m also not big on subbing in those processed stand-ins like veggies burgers, dogs, salami, pepperoni, etc. Most of the time.

There is one recipe, however, that gets me every time. I make it maybe once a year because it isn’t all that healthy – I mean the main ingredient is JUST THE GLUTEN after the starches from wheat flour have been washed away. But it serves as such an amazing stand-in for chicken or any meat, really. (If you’ve heard of seitan, this is it.)

I can’t claim this recipe as my own. Back in March of 2009, Sarah Kramer sent me this recipe to test. I have no idea if it eventually made it into one of her cookbooks or which one, but I’ve continued to use it ever since. And to this day, I have no idea who Linda is.

Linda’s Ginger “Chicken
This recipe has served as comfort food in the Sperling/Cuddington household for many, many years. It is good for colds, stomachaches, and bruised psyches. Enjoy! – Linda

The Mockchicken” can be made in advance of the Ginger dish to save on time and will keep in fridge for 6 days or freezer for 6 months.

MockChicken
1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
1 cup water

Broth
4 cups water
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp celery salt

Ginger Dish
3 – 3 inch pieces of fresh ginger, washed and sliced paper thin (approx 1 cup)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup dark soy sauce
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 green onions, finely chopped (garnish)

In a medium bowl, stir together the wheat gluten and water until it becomes elastic. Knead for 5 minutes and set aside. In a large saucepan, bring all of the broth ingredients to a boil. Slice gluten into 1-inch chunks and drop carefully into broth. Reduce heat, cover with lid, let simmer for 50-60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until broth has reduced. In a large pot on medium-high heat saute the ginger in oil for 3-4 minutes or until ginger starts to soften and change color. Add “chicken” and saute 2-3 minutes more, stirring often to prevent sticking.  Add the soy sauce, cover pot with lid and turn down heat to medium. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the sauce evenly coats the ingredients. Once “chicken” is cooked, in a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and water. Add into pot and stir together well until sauce is thickened.

Makes 4-6 servings.

This is a recipe that I’ve kept entirely to myself until recently. The first time I made it and offered some to Kevin (or at least the first time he actually braved trying it) he was astonished and said, “that is REALLY good.” Um, yeah. When I made it again last night, we devoured it.

I serve it with rice and a side of broccoli. Perfection.

The morning after & when decluttering sucks

There is a reason I never chirp other people and their teams. That conscious decision was justified last night when nothing but a couple of messages of condolences came my way over the airwaves. With the exception of one total asshole, it made me feel a lot better about the people I choose to have in my life.

Our Super Bowl correspondent sent texts, videos, photos & commentary from this exact spot

There are sixty minutes to play in a football game. The Falcons were powerhouses for only thirty of them. The Patriots took over the other thirty. At the end of the day, Tom Brady gets the win and nobody cares how much effort he put(s) into making America great again. But it is, after all, a sport and he needs but to be a good quarterback – no need to be a good person. As a Falcons fan it was interesting to note the praise that Aikman and Buck were able to turn on once the comeback had been started and one man led a team to victory from a 28-3 deficit. Disappointing that the man who led a team to a 28-3 lead and was voted Offensive Player of the Year and league MVP got none. I don’t want to sound like a sore loser, but they certainly did seem to be much more comfortable once the opportunity to jerk off to Tom Brady arose. Just sayin.

I never thought that game would be easy. And I am never satisfied halfway through a game. Tom Brady IS a great QB. The New England Patriots ARE a great team. Bill Belichick IS a great coach. That Julian Edelman catch WAS out of this world.

In the end they deserved it.

As I mentioned yesterday, people in America overwhelmingly wanted the Falcons to win. Friends tweeted and texted me that they were at parties or bars where everyone – in some cases literally every single person – was cheering for Atlanta. Sadly, that doesn’t put any points on the board. It does, however, make many of the things said in this piece very, very true: NOBODY is happy for the Patriots.

It was tragic and it was sad. I actually cried – real tears – not immediately after the game, but maybe an hour or so later.

We were in the perfect company. With another couple surrounded by amazing food. Once things started to spiral, the silliness ended, the joking was pushed aside, the room got quiet.

And the food! Chips and dip, mini pizzas, veggie chili, crudités, nine layer dip, fruit platter, barbecues hot dogs. This was literally my favourite meal ever. They even sent us home with leftovers. And icy squares. Which I ate for breakfast today. Whatever.

My carrot cake was fine, but I hardly tasted it. It just sat on the plate in my hand as I took a forkful every couple of minutes. We ate it post-game and now it just feels like a bad luck charm so I’ll probably never make it again, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. (Everyone else said it was great. Outstanding was Kevin’s word for it.)

I took the recipe from Canadian Living and it can be found here. It’s super easy.

•••

Now. I’m going to talk about something else now. Decluttering. I’ve been sharing my daily Minimalism Game posts on Instagram and adding to an album that I created on Facebook. Lots of stuff is on its way out the door and it’s been a good practice overall.

I mentioned yesterday that there aren’t a ton of gains to be had from my closet because I practice going through it frequently and even assessing each piece of clothing as I handle it for washing (okay, sometimes) and getting rid of it on the spot if I haven’t worn it, don’t feel comfortable in it, or if it doesn’t “spark joy” or whatever. My closet it where I am most efficient at keeping and getting rid of things appropriately.

Or so it seemed.

Ironically, I realized this week, my closet is the only place from which I also feel regret for having lost things. In today’s context, I’m referring to fan gear.

Over the years, I’ve bought and received tons of Falcons shirts, jerseys, dresses (yup, dresses!), hoodies, tank tops, toques, hats, scarves, you get my drift.

Leading into the Super Bowl, I had none of it. It seems that over time almost all of it had been decluttered and sent to the streets. Likely because I hadn’t worn it in a certain amount of time or because it was somehow rendered useless to me. This weekend I felt deep regret at having lost all of that and it made me sad to reflect on the catalogue of things I’d owned and memories of the people who’d given them to me or the places I’d picked them up. I would have worn all of it yesterday, damn it. ALL OF IT.

While I’m learning that there is pleasure in getting rid of things, I’m also learning that in some cases that shouldn’t be done in haste. I don’t know what the balance is, but I’m on the case.

•••

So, yeah, we were supposed to still be in Washington today. Kevin was supposed to be going to WWE RAW tonight. Instead, we are sleeping late, cleaning the apartment and starting to pack up in preparation for the move.

Sigh.

Happy holiday hummus

For each of three holiday events we’ve attended over the past couple of days, I’ve been asked to bring my hummus. I’ve always liked it, but this proves others do too. Sometimes you have to listen to the people.

If feelings can be had for hummus, mine would be labelled strong. I believe that hummus is one thing that should always be made at home. For one thing, it’s super easy. For the other, the stuff in the stores just doesn’t cut it. I know that because I’ve broken my unwritten rule enough to have tried them all.

Hummus is a magical snack because it’s easy to grab and go, it’s satisfying and offers a good dose of protein and fibre. Pro tip: pair it with cut veggies and it’s a great make and take for parties and other events if you want to make sure there’s something for you to munch on if you’re adhering to a limited diet. I also like to make up a batch at the start of the week for mid-afternoon hunger pangs at the office and/or to dollop on top of a salad or dinner bowl.

I’ve made and modified this recipe so many times that the only place it’s stored is in my head, but here’s how I do it…

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Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • one onion, sliced
  • five or six cloves of garlic
  • one 540 mL can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I like to set aside a few for garnish)
  • 3/4 cup of tahini
  • juice of one and a half lemons (or to taste)
  • one jalapeno (I like to seed half of the pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon of soy sauce
  • one teaspoon(-ish) of salt

Directions

  1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan and saute the onion and whole garlic cloves for a few minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Add all ingredients into a food processor. Process until smooth.
  3. Garnish with chick peas you set aside before processing. Serve in cute bowl with veggies, crackers or pita.

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