Adventures in Veganland

The following is a guest contribution from our friend Michael. To learn more about him, visit his blog.

Just to be clear, I’m not a vegan. I am however a fan of vegan cooking, and some of my friends are really good vegan cooks. So perhaps when the script calls for it, this actor can turn himself into a vegan when then scene calls for it. Would this character however be able to turn himself into a chef? A skill that may seem simple enough to pick up, but given the variables of a vegan audience, how would this play out? What follows is my attempt to create a dish for a vegan American thanksgiving hosted by the lovely vegan American Kaylie Barfield and her equally lovely partner Malloreigh H.

Malloreigh (left) Kaylie (right)

Before I go into my adventure, I should give some background into my food lifestyle. Growing up in the suburbs of Vancouver, I was not exposed to many food options that didn’t come from the Bovinae family. As I moved to the city, I began experimenting with different food lifestyles. For a while to make myself more conscious of what I was eating, I would give a name to the animal I was eating like Charlie Bovinae or Jimmy Tuna. I found the company I kept would influence me greatly though in my habits, so currently I am keeping up with a mostly vegetarian diet. However in conversations with Malloreigh she’s pondered what kind of variables it would take to convert someone to veganism. For me the only things that stand in my way are cheese and eggs. I love cheese. In fact when they do an autopsy of me they’ll find that I’m mostly made of bad jokes.

Apparently the only thing stopping me from being vegan.

I have found though that I can go stretches without those two ingredients, but it can be hard when I’m not cooking at lot to find vegan options at restaurants. So going into the thanksgiving dinner, not only have my cooking skills gone rusty, but I’ll be cooking for vegans who are all accomplished cooks. So I cranked my Tool (notable vegan band) and got to work.

My chosen dish was one that would be simple enough to create and fitting for the Thanksgiving theme.

This is how the recipe appeared on www.epicurious.com:

Leek and Wild Mushroom Stuffing

  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms*
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced
  • 1 pound button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 1/2 8-ounce French-bread baguettes, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1 large egg, beaten to blend

Obviously I would be using Earth Balance instead of butter, and will be just omitting the egg. I was unable to find dried porcini mushrooms so I just added more white mushrooms. Later on in the recipe it would call for using the mushroom soaking liquid to moisten up the stuffing before baking, but as you will see I just used Vegetable Broth as a substitute.

First off I wanted to get all my ingredients chopped and ready to go. There was a ton of mushrooms to be chopped, and after a while my back was starting to hurt. I wondered if my chopping technique was flawed so I went to youtube.com and found several videos showing the various methods of chopping. Thank god for youtube. Here’s some of Alex Trebeck’ s drunk Jeopardy outtakes I found while procrastinating the cooking. Good times on the inter web.

The recipe continues:

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add shiitake and button mushrooms; sauté 10 minutes. Add leeks and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add wine, thyme, and porcini mushrooms. Cook until almost all wine evaporates, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Pour mushroom mixture into large bowl and mix with the bread.

Now that I had gotten anal about my chopping techniques, I started to worry about the sautéing time. In these situations when my brain is consumed with tasks, keeping track of time can prove challenging. So what I did was mark the time by when a song would change. I would look at the track listing briefly, and when the song ended I would know how much time has passed. It sounds ridiculous I know, but it’s just the way my brain works.

I was getting pretty hungry at this point so it’s a good thing I bought lots of bread. Plus I had some bonus wine left over. So I had only the last step until I had time to relax.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Add enough reserved mushroom soaking liquid to stuffing to moisten (3/4 cup to 1 1/4 cups). Transfer stuffing to prepared dish. Bake uncovered until heated through, about 40 minutes.

Again I substituted the Vegetable broth for the mushroom soaking liquid because of the lack of porcini mushrooms.

So from the moment I compiled my list to go to the grocery store to the moment I pulled out the dish from the oven, it was probably a good 5-6 hours. Again ridiculous, but I was going slow, taking my time, enjoying the process. Could I become a Vegan? Who knows? I would have finally put the stuffing into Tammy Turkey of the Melagris family but she kept running away. So for today I was a Vegan.

Special thanks to my lady friend Bronwen Marsden for the support (panicked text messages) and inspiration on the dish.

One thought on “Adventures in Veganland

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Adventures in Veganland « Vegan Mischief » recipes, reviews, & more from a pair of queer vegans in Vancouver, Canada -- Topsy.com

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