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Saturday, April 28, 2012

A COUPLE OF EXPERIMENTS, THOUGHTS ON FOOD WASTE, AND SOMETHING FROM NOTHING

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Tofu and Vegg Fritatta 

I must apologize for not posting much these days-- I'm trying very hard to finish up some experiments,  to find the time to review and cook from some new books I've received and want to do justice to, but I have some writing to finish, as well as my job and all else that life entails, so it's slow going!  In the meantime, here are pics of a couple of experiments I've been working on, plus a dinner I made the other night from what we had around-- a sort of lasagne casserole.

I've been wanting to really play around with The Vegg, an innovative new vegan egg yolk sub that comes in powder form.  It makes fantastic French toast, but I have alot of other ideas for it.  I tried their recipe for frittata (Italian omelet), but I found it too slimy for my taste.  (I never liked undercooked eggs in my egg-eating days.)  I decided to try using it half and half with tofu in the frittata recipe from my Italian vegan cookbook, Nonna's Italian Kitchen.  (A few other minor adjustments needed to be made as well.) 

It turned out quite well, but the frittatas were thinner and less substantial than my tofu version.  They were tasty, though, and not slimy-- good hot or cold.  The Vegg does add more of an egg-y flavor. However, I want to try it again with maybe 2/3 tofu and 1/3 Vegg and see if I like that better-- will report back, with more details, when I'm satisfied.

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As for that "something from nothing", I always feel good when I can use up food that might get thrown out if I don't think of some way to use it.  No Impact Man writes that "...food leftovers are the single largest component of the waste stream by weight in the United States. Americans throw away more than 25 percent of the food we prepare. We throw away 96 billion pounds of food a year." And, besides being wasteful in this economically-stressful time, that adds to greenhouse gas emissions."

He goes on: “The decomposition of food and other waste under anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions in landfills produces methane, a greenhouse gas (GHG) 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Landfills are the largest human-related source of methane in the United States, accounting for 34 percent of all methane emissions. Recovery (i.e. food donations) and recycling (i.e., composting) diverts organic materials from landfills and incinerators, thereby reducing GHG emissions from landfills and waste combustion.”

Meanwhile, food leftovers are the single largest component of the waste stream by weight in the United States. Americans throw away more than 25 percent of the food we prepare. We throw away 96 billion pounds of food a year.

The most important method of reducing food-scrap associated greenhouse gases, therefore, is to waste less food (see the diagram above for the EPA’s food waste recovery hierarchy). Here in No Impact land, we waste less food by cooking less, saving leftovers for later, and eating food before it goes bad (not particularly complicated or high tech). Scraps and rinds go to the worms." 

James McWilliams explains why we should care more about food waste in this article.


Anyway, the "lasagne casserole" I made from leftovers was pretty good-- I think I'd add more mushrooms and more pesto next time, but it was quick and easy and used up various things that I had around...like a bit of DH's delicious spaghetti sauce.


To which I added a little red wine from an open bottle in the fridge, some leftover juice from canned tomatoes, and 1/2 a package of Yves veggie Ground Round (hamburger substitute). I ended up with about 2 cups of sauce.

I had some medium firm tofu that I had opened and used a bit of, so the remainder was in a container with water in the fridge.  I also had some extra-firm silken tofu which I had opened and discovered that it had frozen when stored outside in the cold weather!  So I decided to make a version of the Tofu Cottage Cheese recipe from my book Soyfoods Cooking for a Positive Menopause:


I put about 2/3 cup of the medium-firm tofu aside.  I squeezed the frozen silken tofu until it was fairly dry and crumbly, and placed that in a bowl.  I mashed in the remaining medium-firm tofu and added a bit of salt.  I used an immersion blender to whip the 2/3 cup tofu with a couple of teaspoons lemon juice and a pinch of sugar.  Then I folded that into the other tofu mixture in the bowl.  It tasted quite nice and had a very "cottage cheese-y" texture.


Next, I sauteed some sliced cremini mushrooms that needed using-up, and then added some vegan pesto (only 1 tablespoon-- should have used more).

I cooked up about 6 ounces of farfalle (bowtie pasta) from an opened bag, drained and mixed that with the sauce.  I layered half of that in a casserole, topped it with the "cottage cheese" and then the mushrooms...


I layered the rest of the pasta over that, and topped it with the little but of my Okara Parmesan that I had left. (I could have made a  white sauce or a "cheese-y" vegan sauce, but I didn't want to get complicated, and, after all, my intention was to use up various items.)



Baked in the oven for 30 minutes, it was nothing to be ashamed of, and provided a tasty, thrifty, nutritious lunch entree for each of us on our next workdays!

                                                
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About that second experiment, I'll be announcing the recipe (which will go up on vegan.com) as soon as I get do a few adjustments and get some photos done, but I've been working on a second version of my vegan palm oil-free buttery spread, Buttah, a softer "tub" version.

                                                       So stay tuned!

           Have a great weekend!


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bryanna, have you tried using black salt, an Indian ingredient that apparently gives an eggy flavour to recipes? It sounds like it would be a good addition to a vegan diet.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

I have, Anonymous-- I have some in my cupboard, actually. I've used it in scrambled tofu, but it was too eggy for me. The Vegg actually has black salt in it! It stinks when you open the packet! When I get some time, I'll experiment with both side-by-side in recipes and see how it goes.

Sunday Driver said...

During high school, working in our neighborhood supermarket's bakery, even after the food bank would help themselves to the unsold products, I would be charged with throwing out massive amounts of food. Back then I was more upset about having to produce it (for minimum wages), and then discard it. But now, after having seen old pictures of bakeries in Russia without a loaf of bread and people lined up to receive unavailable rations, I'm more at ease with the concept of discarding food rather than starving humans.
Also have been thinking lately, if Agaricus mushrooms grow on composted animal manures, are they properly to be seen as a vegan food stuff.(#random questions)

Caitlin said...

The Vegg definitely was very stinky! It made my whole kitchen smell likes eggs (because of the black salt I guess). I'll be interested to hear what the results of your fritatta experiment are and if you find a good ratio of tofu to Vegg. I'm going to keep trying with the version of tortilla espanola I made with Vegg. Now after reading your post I'm wondering if I should do a mix of Vegg and chickpea flour (what I normally use in my tortilla espanola), just to thicken it up a bit. Looks like I need to try it out a few different ways!

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