Saturday, April 2, 2011

Some Thoughts On Cheating

My Hoagie was so big I had to nestle it inside a small bowl to contain it for picture taking. It was delicious--if I do say so myself.

I cheat. A lot. Woe is me, vegan for less than a year, trying to come up with three meals a day and maybe a snack too. In the beginning, the whole process seemed an impossibility. My brain kept spinning at the thought of what I'd make for the next meal when what I really wanted it to do was think about the quilt I needed to finish or the hand knitted socks just short of being done. After all, I've tried for years to make food just a necessity of life rather than something my whole world revolved around. I have to say that I pretty much accomplished that goal. Until the vegan thing entered my life.

All of a sudden I was thinking about food all day long. For someone who hates to cook only slightly less than I'd like running with the bulls in Pamplona, I could forsee a future filled with sallow cheeks, droopy skin and hollow eyes. I'd have to just quit eating. My 70 year old brain had thousands of recipes in its storehouse, but none were what the doctor had told me to eat in order to be rid of the painful abdominal disease that had plagued me for decades. So I decided to make my own rules. I could still be vegan. I'd just cheat. So I took myself to the nearest health food store.

What an amazing array of tofu products I discovered. Sausages, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, pizza, and row upon row of pretend cheese--more food than I'd ever dreamed possible. And while it was on the pricey side, I decided that now that I live alone, it would be cost effective because I would no longer be buying meat or dairy. Besides, it would give me reason to experiment. I LOVE experimenting in the kitchen. I always have. For while I despise cooking, I thoroughly enjoy taking a product and changing it into something of my own. So I filled my cart with all manner of bland, tasteless tofu products formed to resemble something they are not and brought them home. I would work my magic on them and pass on the best of the best results to my vegan friends so they could cheat too.

Sausage, Cheese, Pepper & Onion Hoagie
Makes 1 serving

One tofu sausage, any kind you want
1/2  cup beer of choice
1/2 of a medium onion, sliced
1 tsp. herbs de provance
1 sprig fresh rosemary, bruised to release its essence.

With a toothpick, prick small holes in the sausage, then place all of the above ingredients into a plastic bag and let marinate for at least an hour to overnight. Retain the marinade in case you really like the finished product. It can be used again and again. If you do not enjoy highly spiced food, you may wish to change the spice amounts. I grew up eating food with lots of flavor from spices, so anything else is boring to my palette.

Peppers, according to choice. I used 1/2 of a red bell and 1/2 of a yellow bell, and 1 small jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed.
The other half of the medium onion, minced
Saute the above in 1 Tbs. olive oil and a splash of vegetable broth. Cook till the liquid is evaporated and the peppers and onions are barely tender. Remove to a plate to keep warm.

Add the sausage to the pan along with 1/4 cup of beer or vegetable broth and cook on low until the liquid is evaporated. Add the vegetable mix back into the pan and saute everything together for a few minutes. Do not overcook.

Take a warm hoagie roll, line the sides with soy cheese of your choice. Add the hot sausage and then scoop the pepper, onion mix all across the top. I chopped a few cold sun dried tomatoes and some parsley and dotted the top of the hoagie with them.

While the hoagie was a meal unto itself, I served mine with a small salad of shredded carrots and raisins, dressed with a mixture of mayonaise, sugar, soy milk, and a hint of freshly grated ginger.  

Since I was now too full to move, I took my latest mystery book and went outside to laze in the warm winter sun while I read. I probably would have dozed off had I not let the dog accompany me. It was in Bonnie's mind to play. Now where did she hide her favorite tennis ball? She looked at me as though she expected me to beat the bushes for it. I told it to go find it herself. I was too tired from all that cooking and eating.

Bonnie was my husband's dog. We adopted her from the Humane Society when she was two years old. She fit into our home perfectly because she was what Jim wanted and she liked cats--which is what I wanted. Bonnie is half Golden Lab and half German Shepherd and while it took her many months after my hubby's passing to be my friend, she is now my faithful guardian and I have not one doubt she would protect me with her life.

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