Canning, Foraging, New recipes, Seitan

Seitan and Japanese Knotweed

And how did yesterday go? Fairly well, but not without its bumps. I allowed my post nap munchies to get the better of me and demolished a third of a box of crackers before bothering to check the fat content (we are endeavoring to keep our daily fat intake under 10%). Needless to say, I often need to remind myself that when it comes to processed food, “baked” only means they added the fat directly INTO the cracker rather than frying it in the fat. Also, a far more serious slip occurred in cooking meals for a friend. Sometimes having someone else in the kitchen saying “Oh, are those your homemade meatballs?” with a touch of drool on their chin can be far more dangerous that expected. My resolve not to taste them melted like frosting on a hot dashboard and we both ended up tasting both the meatballs and the minced chicken I made for a Quiche. Bad, bad vegans!

On the positive side, last night we celebrated a belated mother’s day with the kids as well as our daughter’s 22nd birthday. I had picked up a copy of Julie Hasson’s Vegan Diner at our local library and decided to try the Not Your Mama’s Pot Roast with Roasted Vegetables. The picture looked amazing and I am such a sucker for a spanking new cookbook with pretty pictures. And the best part… it’s made in a slow-cooker. You’ll soon learn that the crock pot is my dearest friend as I spend enough time in the kitchen to love any appliance that cooks for me and doesn’t heat the entire condo. The recipe was easy, the ingredients on hand and the results, well… mixed, for us anyway. The simply spiced seitan “loaf” cooks under a blanket of veggies and savory gravy for 4 hours and is served sliced, drizzled in gravy with a side of succulent potatoes, carrots and onions. The problem was that I love pot roast and this was most certainly not like pot roast in taste or texture. So, essentially, I set myself up to not like this by buying into the name. Now, if you REALLY like seitan for it’s own sake, then this roast is right up your alley and I think that the recipe could be tweaked to make a really good meatloaf, but it is most definitely NOT pot roast. So, all in all, I’m giving last night’s dinner 3 out of 5 stars and 2 1/2 are for the veggies. *In the future I will include recipes that I come up with or tweak into my posts, along with photos, but in this case since it isn’t my own to post so instead I will strongly recommend checking out the book from your library and if you love it as much as I suspect I’m going to, picking a copy up.*

Japanese Knotweed Shoot

Lastly, a few days ago we headed over to a community garden near the University of Washington that has a particularly lush stand of Japanese Knotweed. (Japanese knotweed is an invasive plant that is loved by bees and has a young shoot that tastes a bit like a lemony cross between celery and rhubarb.) This is a doubly good find as we know that they need to keep the stand under control and being an all-organic garden and attached to an aviary, we need not worry about pesticides or herbicides. We picked about 10 lbs and hauled it home. Today is the day that I begin canning it. After a little research I believe that due to the acid content and my addition of honey, water bath canning should be sufficient. That being essentially how I can rhubarb as well. I will post pictures of the results once I actually leave the computer, toddle off to start peeling and slicing knotweed and, oh, get it canned.

One last thing, because I can’t help but do the happy dance… we have been cooking our rice in the oven using the Alton Brown method. It makes perfect rice but heats up the house something fierce on warm days, so we put out there that we wanted a rice cooker. I had priced them new at Uwajimaya and eventually came to the conclusion that we would need to take out a bank loan just to make a down payment (larger ones that could cook brown rice were between $200 and $300). So I am sending out a HUGE thank you and a hug to the kind soul that decided to re-home rather than throw away a beautiful, working, 20 cup rice cooker and was additionally considerate enough to include all the extra pieces like the cord, steam basket, and water collector. I was able to buy it for $4.99 at my local second-hand shop!