Saturday, April 30, 2011

recipe from vegan/vegetarian chef julia simon, pt. 2

all photos by julia simon

seitan mole tamales      *vegan-ification of a chow recipe

for the seitan, you'll need:

2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup soy flour
4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp smoked habanero powder
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar

wet mix:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
6-8 dashes or 2 tablespoons smoke flavoring
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup water mixed with mock beef or mushroom bouillon

to simmer:
4 cups water
2 tablespoons Mock beef or mushroom bouillon concentrate
3 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic, peeled

mix your dry ingredients thoroughly, and make a well in the center. mix your wet ingredients in a measuring cup. Using a fork first, then your hands, slowly pour the wet into the dry, working the dough as you pour. When you've emptied all of the liquid, use both hands to knead the seitan for a few minutes, until it comes together, then roll it into a short, squat cylinder.

in a wide pot, place your seitan (cut it into two pieces if need be) and pour your stock mixture over. bring it all to a boil. cover and simmer 1 hour.

no cheesecloth here, dears! you want a lighter, less dense seitan. also, putting the seitan in while the stock is cold gives it a better "crust" (thanks for the tip, ppk!).

we'll come back to the final seitan prep once we have our mole done, giving the flavors time to blend.

unlike many mole recipes, this one's free from straining - blend the sauce long enough and it'll be plenty smooth.

5-7 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded (how many you use depends on their size - if your pack is mostly small chiles, use more)
4-5 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded (see above)
8 garlic cloves
1/2 onion
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups reserved seitan cooking liquid, to be used as needed
3 super-ripe Roma tomatoes
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or earthbalance
1/3 cup raw pecans, walnuts, or cashews
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 ripe yellow plantain, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, for frying the plantains
2 tablespoons molasses or maple syrup
1-2 corn tortillas (these act as a thickening agent, use as many as you need)
1.5 ounces bittersweet vegan chocolate
1.5 tablespoons salt, or to taste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or earthbalance, for frying the finished sauce

in a dry skillet, toast your chiles until they have a bit of char on both sides. set aside.

toast your sesame seeds, tossing, until they're a bit brown. set aside.

in a baking pan, put your tomatoes, onion, and garlic cloves. broil 5 minutes, until they're all got a bit of char. set aside.

in your skillet, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil. sauté your plantains until they soften a bit, two minutes per side. set aside.

toast your thyme and oregano very gently in the same skillet, about 30 seconds. set aside.

put your tomatoes, onion, garlic, seeds and nuts into a blender. puree until smooth, about 2 minutes. with the motor running, add your chiles one at a time. how much stock you add here is up to you - you want to maintain as thick a consistency as possible while keeping the blender running, so add a little bit at a time until your sauce is moving again. add your herbs, the plantain, and the tortilla, and blend until the texture is very smooth, about 5 minutes - there will still be tiny bumps, but they'll be very small.

heat the remaining oil in your skillet and pour in the contents of the blender. sauté until fragrant, about 5 minutes. add your chocolate and stir until it blends in completely. taste for salt and sweet, adding either sugar or salt until you're satisfied.

for the masa:

3 cups masa for tamales
1 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
3 cups vegetable or mock chicken stock, warmed
2 tsp baking powder
Salt to taste

with a whisk or hand blender, beat the shortening until it's fluffy. you could also use a stand mixer here, if you have one, with the paddle attachments.

using a fork, mix the masa, salt and baking powder. make a well in the center. slowly add your stock while mixing with your fork, continuing to work the batter until it's uniform. it'll be pretty wet, no worries!

while continuing to beat the shortening with your mixer or whisk, add the wet masa by handfuls until you've emptied your bowl. beat on low until everything's well blended. the dough will be a little wet and very spongy. set aside.

one last step for the seitan:

slice your seitan into 1/4 inch wide strips and drain on a paper towel. in a large bowl, toss the seitan with about 1/3 - 1/2 cup flour, evenly coating the strips. the flour coating will give your faux-pork an awesome crust.

heat enough oil in a skillet to cover the bottom of the pan. add your seitan in batches (took me 3) and fry until browned on each side, about 3 minutes. drain, again, on paper towels.

chop your strips roughly, into pieces less than an inch long. mix your chopped seitan with the entire batch of mole in a bowl and set aside.

bring it all together, finally:

you'll need:
30 cornhusks
a steamer, or the set up described here
dexterity and a hungry belly!

tear 3-4 husks into strips to tie your tamales with. you'll need 20-25.

flatten a husk on a cutting board and using your hands, grab 1/2 cup masa. smooth it into a rectangle in the upper-center of the husk. press about 1/4-1/3 cup mole into the center of the masa, and using the sides of the husk, roll the filling into a package. then roll the husk around the package, fold up the bottom and tie it with a strip of husk. here's that pictorial how-to from last time. set upright in your steamer or pot.

repeat until you've made 20-24 small tamales. cover with remaining husks and lid.

this is a 2-3 hour active recipe - but it makes tons of tamales and they're superb. we usually make a big batch, take it off the burner, leave it covered, and show up at a potluck with the 'males still inside, all warm and ready to eat.

serve with soy sour cream or just nosh plain. enjoy!

thank you julia of no face plate for sharing this lovely recipe!

Friday, April 29, 2011

q&a with vegan/vegetarian chef julia simon, pt.1

one of my favorite food bloggers lately is vegan/vegetarian chef julia simon who is the author of no face plate.  julia was kind enough to do a q&a with me as well as share one of her favorite recipes (coming tomorrow with photos!)  she is a thoughtful lady and her recipes are absolute love.

courtesy of poprock photography

q:  tell me about your blog.

a:  no face plate began as a way to record what i was doing for my clients so that i could keep track of recipes and repeat them as needed. then someone gave me their old rebel xti and a 52 mm lens, and all hell broke loose.  now, it's a million things - a business card for my personal cheffing stuffs, a way to find other rad veg/vegan cooks and share ideas, products, recipes, a gallery of delicious vegan and vegetarian grub, and hopefully, in the future, the first step to writing a gluttonous, decadent, intensely illustrated cookbook.

q:  how long have you been a vegetarian/vegan?  explain your diet.  the new hip thing is "flexitarianism" as touted by mark bittman of the nytimes, do you consider yourself a flexitarian?

a:  i've been a pretty strict vegetarian since i was 15 - not including a brief stint of canned-tuna-eating when I moved to nyc for art school and was super broke (this was back in the day when tofu was more expensive than tuna).  i still eat artisanal/local cheese and free range, local eggs, as well as select non-vegan products (duke's mayo, for example - i know, gross). never any meat - the way i explain this to people is by describing my diet as free from eyeballs.  i transition to an almost completely vegan diet in the warmer months - and have plans to be totally rid of dairy and egg at some point in the near future.  i, like many aspiring vegans, have a cheese obsession that keeps me coming back.  butter's a problem as well.

i have no problem with flexitarianism as a way to eat - i mean, less meat is better, ya? - but you have to make your choice.  just as i know that my morals call for a vegan lifestyle, i feel like mark knows that eating bacon is pretty messed up.  it's hard to balance foodieism and food politics.  and by hard, i mean easier to put the politics aside and get lost in a pile of truffled pecorino than to adhere to rationality and abstain.  sigh.

q: what is your day job?

a: personal chef, dahling, to some gluten-free/vegetarian families near charlotte, nc.

q: are you interested in food politics?

a: of course!  while lately I've met many people who are transitioning to a meat free diet as a way to improve health (which is super cool) i eat this way for ethical reasons.  i was paging through my sue coe book just the other day, and my food not bombs patch (old and really dirty) fell out - totally got me reminiscing.  the combination of fnb and the punk scene in s. florida got me thinking at an early age about what i was putting into my body, and what i caused to occur by choosing to eat meat (i was also reading a lot of existential philosophy at the time - which is a lot about living with awareness of your footprint).  it's fascinating to see vegan/vegetarian culture become somewhat legitimate in the eyes of the mass media - i've always had trouble convincing family, friends, coworkers that abstaining from meat is not only better for your body but the planet as well.  when i decided to stop consuming animals, i was angry and teenaged and living with my pop - who was decidedly against my new diet, considering it disrespectful to him and an excuse to argue.  over the years, i've gotten my fam more on the boat - my ma's gradually transitioning away from meat altogether and my step dad ate heartily of the vegan brunch i prepared for easter.  of course, that process is 15 years in the making, so we're moving turtle-slow, but still, it's something.

i'm not the biggest oprah proponent but o could kiss her for the show she did on vegetarianism - hopefully, we'll see more media moguls advocate for less meat eating and consequently, see meat consumption plummet. i wonder and worry about the way the meat industry will combat that – with big-money scare tactics, propaganda and misinformation, to be sure.  those of us with media outlets of our own will have work to do to counteract the bs!

q: what inspires you?

a: lately, generosity's at the top of that list.  it's so ridiculously easy to get wrapped up in your work and digital life - keeping a macro perspective gets more difficult by the day, and taking the time to treat the people you love in a giving manner can be difficult to do consistently. 

q: are you a cookbook reader?  what is your favorite cookbook?

a:  i'm not a super avid cookbook collector, nor a precision recipe follower, no, but i have a couple of books that i go back to a lot - the millennium restaurant's cookbook has taught me tons of neat tricks, and I still use their seitan recipe and tamale recipe regularly.  i actually got to eat there thanks to a pal's generosity on a faux-honeymoon in san fran last summer and it was a mind-blowing (if costly) meal. the moosewood book got me started way back in the day - those recipes are simple and flexible, it's a perfect just-getting-started book.  the modern vegetarian kitchen, by a former chef at angelica kitchen in nyc, is process heavy and gorgeous.  and like a weirdo, i also collect old rotary club and church fundraising cookbooks from thrift stores, because some of the weirdest flavor combinations are in there!  they're super inspiring, in a really by-the-seat-of-your-pants-cleaning-out-the-larder kind of way.  it takes a fair amount of editing to make anything remotely resembling healthy fare from those recipes, but that's a blast, you know?

q: what are your favorite blogs?

a: food wise, a ton, but some of my favs lately:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

the phraseology project

submit a word to the phraseology project!  drew melton accepts submissions of words, letters and phrases and turns them into typographic art.  check it out...  

analysis paralysis
do best
analog blog
which is your favorite?

Monday, April 25, 2011

music maker relief foundation

cora fluker - photo courtesy of music maker foundation
the music maker relief foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support aging southern roots musicians.  all of the musicians are at least 55 years old and earn less than $18,000 a year.  the music maker foundation provides career support while tending to the daily needs of the artists.

i became familiar with this organization when my husband was recruited to play bass with cool john ferguson, a self-taught blues guitarist with a peculiar style. i tagged along to one of the gigs and was blown away and mesmerized by captain luke, a smooth 84-year-old blues singer!

cool john and captain luke - rainy night in georgia

and, singing lessons with captain luke...

get involved or donate here.

cassette tape love!

i have recently had nostalgic feelings for the ol' cassette tape because it is how i got my start listening to music.  i have enjoyed asking friends about their first purchase (my first was "working class dog" by rick springfield) and sharing that bit of music culture and history.  and what about the sweet mix tape with it's hand-drawn art and time devotion? to actually make a mix tape for a friend was such an incredible gift in comparison to the current ease of putting together an mp3 playlist.

so, my dears what was your first cassette tape? please share!

 i made you a mix tape hand cut 8x10 silhouette by jessica alpern's shop in austin, texas.

in my search for cassette tapes i ran across raleigh, nc, label diggup tapes who make cassette tapes for a handful of bands which are certainly worth a listen (oulipo and naps caught my attention.)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

egg mania

hundreds of children, hundreds of eggs.  

happy day to you all!  we have a picnic in our near future.
love.  juli + tula mirth.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

a poem

photo by hugh morton

my friend anna blaedel shared this poem via facebook and i thought it quite appropriate for easter and the spring season...

so, friends, every day do something 
that won't compute.  love the world.
take all that you have and be poor.
love someone who does not deserve it.
ask the questions that have no answers.
invest in the millennium.  plant sequoias.
hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
laugh.  laughter is immeasurable.
go with your love to the fields.
be like the fox who makes more tracks
than necessary, some in the wrong directions.
practice resurrection.

Friday, April 22, 2011

time for strawberries

tula mirth and i await strawberry season each year and we have now arrived in north carolina.  we made our first annual strawberry picking trip this week (tula wore her strawberry shorts in honor of the event) and we easily filled a flat with our excitement.  of course i need some new strawberry recipes now and i ran across this raw almond cookie and strawberry mousse recipe which is at the top of my list at the moment.

we've been able to gift many of the berries since there is no way the two of us can polish them off in the small window of time necessary to consume them.  there is something so very nice about arriving on the doorsteps of surprised friends with the first strawberries of the season.  

all photos by juli

Thursday, April 21, 2011

outsider artist renaldo kuhler

renaldo in his apartment, by juli courtesy of
part of what is so great about my job is meeting people.  one of my favorite raleigh people is outsider artist, renaldo kuhler, who has created a beautiful body of work over his years as a scientific illustrator.  renaldo started creating a make believe world called rocaterrania as a boy and has continued to create illustrations based in that world.  the pieces are brilliantly colored and are unique to renaldo's style.  a few years back, brett ingram made a great documentary about renaldo and his work.

rocaterrania, courtesy of renaldo kuhler

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

studio on fire

i just came across studio on fire via cmybacon.  lovely, lovely letterpress printing...

you cannot prevent the birds of sadness from passing over your head, but you can prevent their making a nest in your hair
golden rule.  hand-drawn by koen, age 6
mixtape wedding.  love it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

new belgium brewing company

new belgium's own airstream trailer
yesterday, my co-worker and i visited the new belgium brewery in ft. collins, colorado.  (yes, I am still in denver on business.)  we took a tour of the brewery and sipped free (!) beer all along the way.  at the end, we drank the ranger ipa, which was time-stamped literally 10 minutes before!  fresh beer!

look at all those ranger ipa bottles

what an impressive company!  new belgium was started in 1991, after co-founder jeff lebesch trekked all over europe on his fat tire bicycle visiting breweries and gaining inspiration.  his wife, kim jordan, is now the ceo of this employee-owned business.  paid holidays include valentine's day and earth day!

sustainability is a major part of new belgium's business philosophy.  evaporative coolers air condition the 55,000 sq. ft. packaging hall.  the methane resulting from the brewing process is used to create electricity and heat for the brewery.  new belgium also created team wonder bike, a group dedicated to biking more than 14 million miles in the coming year.

our tour guide said the company is looking to start a second brewery in the southeastern united states.  pick us!  pick us!

use the libation location to find new belgium beer near you! 

p.s.  this is our 100th post.  unbelievable!  i love sharing this art project with you, juli! 

thank you, readers, for being so sweet and supportive...

Friday, April 15, 2011

interesting civil war portraits

at the 150th anniversary of the civil war, there is a deluge of old and new photos being passed around.  civil war re-enactors are getting a lot of attention in particular as they are always a visually interesting group to spend some time with but many of the photos tend to be the same.  this portrait project published by time and shot by gregg segal is quite different than anything i have seen.  segal worked with the re-enactors to construct scenes at historic battle sites that have been compromised by modern development.  it is though-provoking project and worth some time.

your state motto

i am loving the grain edit blog, which features mid-century style (my favorite!) artists.  the blog led me to 50 and 50, an art project whereby 50 artists are invited to share their home state motto via illustration.

texas by curtis jinkins

south carolina by fuzzco

alabama by matt lane harris

north carolina by matt stevens

tennessee by matt lehman

Thursday, April 14, 2011

dandy lions

my daughter picks every "dandy lion" in sight these days which means that i am usually walking around with the small parachute seeds in my hair.  just a little moment i would like to hold forever.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

bar stool ideas

my husband's bff greg just built an original hand-crafted kitchen island for us.  my husband is home painting it right now while i am traveling for work.  hopefully it will be set up in the kitchen when i return home!  with a new kitchen island must come new bar stools!  we haven't had much time to shop yet, but i am having a good time scavenging the 'net for ideas...

design sponge

by delight via trendir

the k65 stool by alvar aalto (designed in 1933!)

reclaimed wood stools by edwards moore, via cmybacon

50's danish upholstered stools from enroute studio

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

a very special delivery...

photo by juli

recently, a co-worker and i signed up to share a weekly produce delivery service from our state farmer's market.  every saturday, we get a big box of fresh goodies on our doorstep.  it is fun and challenging to find ways to use all the fruits and vegetables.  last week we had a bunch of asparagus, which i cooked with butter, soy sauce, and balsamic vinaigrette.  yum!  do any of you subscribe to a csa or co-op?  what kinds of food have you been getting lately?  any spring recipes to share?

all of you farm-to-table folks, check out this farm letterpress calendar from one of my favorite press shops, 1canoe2.

Monday, April 11, 2011

robin wade furniture

solid oak modern couch from robin wade furniture

wood artist robin wade, who is based in florence, alabama, designs one-of-a-kind handmade furniture pieces from sustainably harvested hardwood.  this modern couch is one of my favorites but he has several really lovely pieces.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

one happy 8-year-old

when i was turning 8, the only thing in the world i wanted for my birthday was the dirty dancing movie soundtrack tape.  i was not allowed to watch the movie, but i was in love with the music.  i had two friends over for a sleepover, and when i opened my friend laura's gift, it was the tape, and i was so excited i pranced around the house!  we listened to the tape all night, and i'm sure there were some choreographed dance performances.  such simple happiness.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

just give me...

a couple of hours and my camera and there is great fun to be had.  i rarely have time alone.  i am either at work or being mama so when tula mirth attended a "drop-off" birthday party yesterday evening i felt amiss at what to do with myself at first.  silly me.  i am never lonely when i have cameras.  i spent some time catching up on some neighborhood graffiti and later drifted to a buddy's house (also a photographer) and well, we took lots of photos and laughed.  the last photo of the day was of the giant pink unicorn tattooed on my daughter's cheek during the birthday party. 

all photos by juli

Friday, April 8, 2011

charleston fashion week

courtesy of ben williams via garden & gun

check out a fun gallery from charleston fashion week via garden & gun.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

who loves cats?

i do!  i have one 7-year-old gray tabby cat named denise.  she is queen!

denise, the super green queen

some of my favorite cats from around the web...

from design sponge

dubious orange kitty
lucy the cat, by ashley oostdyck (love her work!)

edible communities

if you are a fan of food and of shopping locally, you might want to check out edible communities seasonal publications which focus on local foods and recipes.   the publications cover a range of culinary communities throughout the united states and canada.

Monday, April 4, 2011

escazu artisan chocolates

escazu artisan chocolates makes delectable, handcrafted works of art. this "bean to bar" shop started in 2006 with one bar made from fine venezuelan chocolate. currently, escazu has a thriving retail shop near downtown raleigh, nc and sells to wholesale buyers from all over the country.  they offer a variety of chocolate bars, hot chocolate, and confections made with real ingredients like ginger, habanero, and peach!

you don't have to live nearby to enjoy escazu's wonderful creations.  check out this list of places to find them.  they also make a great gift!

they're almost too pretty to eat...

passion fruit, lemon ginger, mojito
NC purple sweet potato with brown sugar & cinnamon covered in dark chocolate topped with hazelnut brittle
vanilla sour cream ganache, cashew-maple syrup and white chocolate kalamata olive

all photos from escazu facebook fan page
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