Saturday, October 1, 2011

A can of beer and Vegan MoFo 2011 - Mystery Pictures!

I am such a busy bee these days, embroiled in garden projects, renovations, and now, Vegan MoFo.  Lordy!  How will I do it all?

The veganic gardening experiment of the last few years has had to come to an end.  Gardeners, I have learned, must be cruel once in a while, if they wish to maintain some kind of order in the plant world.  My soil had become so compacted that a few extremely hardy species had finally come to flourish at the expense of all the rest (yes, I mean you, creeping Jenny, and you, lilies-of-the-valley).  How sad is this picture?  You see here two enormous "compost" piles of plants I have taken out, covered in two layers of plastic, and am hoping that the seven months between now and Spring will convert into compost.  Next year, vegetables!

While the flooring guys were doing their thing, for a day and a half I worked in the garden, splitting out perennials to give away, doing genocide on most of the creeping Jenny, replacing my broken-down 20-year-old composters with these beautiful new ones my parents and sibling gave me for my birthday:

I also re-made the bricked area in front, shown here still covered with loose sand.
...and just generally tidying up. 

So...after the second day of gardening, I was extremely weary, it was nice outside, I thought I'd have a beer.  For one reason or another (the main reason being that I've been drinking wine instead) I haven't had even one beer this whole summer.  I popped the can and took a sip and...decided I'd rather have wine instead.  Sometimes beer tastes simply heavenly, and sometimes it just doesn't.  Oh, well.  Still, it would be a shame to waste good beer.  So here are riffs on two recipes from Terry Hope Romero's Viva Vegan, both of which use beer as an ingredient.

First up, a variation on her Drunken beans with seitan chorizo.  This is not actually Terry's recipe and has a number of substitutions and changes (black beans and black bean broth from the freezer for dried pintos and water, asafoetida for epazote, fresh chiles for roasted, no tequila, etc.), but I was looking at it as I cooked.  The amounts were improvised, which is easy to do with a simple stew like this one. Start with frying up diced seitan, onions, garlic, asafoetida, and fresh hot chiles in a little oil until the seitan is a little browned and the onions are translucent:

Add canned diced tomatoes, cumin, and oregano:

Add yer black beans and black bean broth and some beer:

Cover loosely, and cook the whole mess down until it's nice and thick and stew-y:

I still had some beer left over, so I did the same sort of improvisation on the Pan-grilled vegetables in chile-lime beer, only as I'd eaten all my summer squash I used a mixture of eggplant, corn, and yellow beans and instead of marinating and grilling them (this was one of those days when I was just starving and had no time or energy to fuss with much more than chopping up stuff and throwing it into pots) I just chopped up the vegetables, threw them into a pot with the marinade, and braised them.  This worked well!

It turned out to be a pretty respectable meal, after all:

I forgot to mention the onion garnish for the beans, direct from Viva Vegan,
quick and delicious (and pretty!)

And now, without more ado, I am pleased to present my Vegan MoFo 2011 project.  What with housepainting, carpet and closet door replacements, and long hours at work, I won't have the time to do a whole lot of elaborate cooking or experimenting in October, but I really do love MoFo, and have come up with a creative compromise.  In addition to occasional recipes and food porn, every day in October, I'll be posting a food-related mystery picture.  Here's an example, a simple one:

What is it?  Go ahead and leave a comment if you want to guess!  At the end of the month I'll post the key to all the mystery pictures.  Meanwhile, while I'm not posting recipes and dishes of my own every day, I will be enjoying browsing through the MoFo offerings of others.  Merry MoFo, vegans!


  1. An agar shag rug??
    Nobody steal my guess!

  2. Nice beer save! ;) The food looks fantastic.
    As for the mystery photo...mushroom gills?

  3. I was thinking mushrooms, too, even before I saw Tiffany's response :).

    Good looking food! BTW, if you are so inclined, check out my blog for some Butler Soy Curl action:
    Ordered in bulk from Viva Granola!

  4. Told you this one was easy... It must have been mentioning the renovations that gave it away - it's amazing what they can do with agar these days!

  5. Wow, your agar rug is holding up much better than mine. Mine has jelled and become much too slippery to walk on.

    The food looks fab as always. I can practically taste the black beans.

  6. I spilled a drink on my agar rug. Alas, it was never the same again.