Friday, December 16, 2005

And the rest is gravy

I hope you don't mind that I've still got nothing but food on the brain.
This week I thought I'd offer up some gravy recipes for those of us with more plant-based diets, as it can be a challenge to avoid being left out in the cold for all these holiday family dinners. (And I'll add pictures just as soon as make them again myself.)

The familiar scenario:
As the only vegetarian in your family, you awkwardly take your place at the table with the standard fare before you - holiday-appropriate meat, stuffing, gravy, roasted veg, steamed veg, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, butter. You spoon a few vegetables on your plate and wish for something wholesome and flavourful that will never appear on your aunt's table. Your uncle says "How do you expect to get your protein without meat?" in a harassing-disguised-as-caring tone as he reaches for the plate of dead no-way-it's-free-range bird.
Well this time, you tell 'em you eat beans, and you don't need to be a consumer of animal bodies and their bi-products to sauce up a good winter feast! Get everyone around the table to taste the gorgeous gravy you brought and maybe you'll get some converts.

Creamy Cashew Gravy

This recipe is adapted from one of my first vegan cookbooks - this seventh-day adventist book that Cheendana turned me on to called A Good Cook... Ten Talents by Frank and Rosalie Hurd. You really ought to keep your eyes peeled for it in used book stores - it's quite a cultural experience!

1 large or 2 medium cloves garlic, crushed or grated
2 tbsp. oil
1/2 cup cashews*, ground
1/2 tsp. celery seeds (optional)
1 1/2 cups filtered water
2-3 tbsp. tamari soy sauce
2 tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in an additional 1/2 cup water
freshly ground pepper to taste

* I prefer to buy raw whole cashews and roast them myself for 5 minutes and then grind 'em.

In a medium saucepan or skillet over medium heat, saute the garlic in oil for just a few minutes (don't let it get crispy!). Add the cashews, celery seeds, water and tamari. Turn up the heat. Stir in the starch mixture, and stir constantly until it all comes to a boil. Turn off the heat and grind in some pepper.
Serve over steamed or roasted veggies. Also great on Lentil Loaf or tofu 'cutlets'.

Rosemary Mushroom Gravy

2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. portabella, cremini or white mushrooms, chopped (organic preferred)
3 tbsp. tamari soy sauce
1-2 tsp. dried rosemary (or 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary)
a coupl'a good twists of the ol' pepper mill
1 1/2 cups filtered water
2 tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in an additional 1/2 cup water

Heat the oil in a skillet. Stir in the mushrooms, tamari, rosemary and pepper. When mushrooms are tender, add the water and bring to a boil. Slowly stir in cornstarch mixture and cook at a low boil, continuing to stir, until the gravy is clear and thick.

Miso Gravy

I reworked this recipe of Rebecca Wood's in Michelle's Sackville kitchen while dancing around to the Arcade Fire (having just seen them at the Halifax Pop Explosion). It was November-grey out and the perfect thing to serve with baked squash, sauteed mushrooms and some sort of steamed greens.

1 tbsp. miso (get the stuff that you buy from the health food store's cooler - the 'shelf-stable' stuff ain't as nutritious)
1/4 cup filtered water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium leek (root and green top removed), finely diced*
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
1 tsp. fresh / 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
3 tbsp. flour (light spelt, whole wheat, barley...)
3/4 cup organic soymilk (unsweetened preferred)
1 tbsp. tamari soy sauce
a few good twists of the pepper mill

*Leeks can be sandy - rinse 'em well. If you don't have leeks you can substitute with a small yellow onion.

In a small bowl, mix miso into the water and set aside. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Toss in the leek and garlic and saute until leek is lightly browned - about five minutes. Stir in the thyme and flour and stir constantly for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is lightly coloured and creamy rather than grainy. (Turn down the heat if needed to prevent browning.) Whisk in the milk and tamari and stir constantly until mixture thickens - about 3 minutes. Stir in the miso puree and cook for an additional 2 minutes - don't let this boil! Grind in pepper. Serve immediately over vegetables, beans or grains.

"Domestic affair... do you think it's a funny title?" I asked a friend.
"Funny ha-ha?" she responded, "well, no not really."
"But 'domestic affair', it's like what's going on in the nation, but it's also me, being drawn to all these domestic tasks - knitting, cooking, caring for small children..." I tried to explain.
"I like that it has the word affair in it," she concluded.

jae's first book!

Get It Ripe cover Have you seen my award-winning whole foods cookbook Get It Ripe: a fresh take on vegan living (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008)? Keep your eyes peeled for it!
To join the Facebook group for the book, go here.


about the blog:

about the cookbooks:

While I love hearing from you, and read each and every one of your e-mails, please understand that I just cannot respond to all of them due to the rate at which they're coming in these days!

If you have a question, I might have already answered it here.

in the press

live in person!

come see me:
* Vida Vegan Con in Portland, OR, August 26-28, 2011.

...but better yet, check the calendar for details!



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