a fake-meat resources blog

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Hogtown Brewers

The Hogtown Brewers

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Seitan - a nutritious, practical meat substitute

The history of seitans origin and different ways to prepare the seitan.

Seitan (say-TAHN) is made from gluten. Gluten is the name of the insoluble protein in wheat, probably most familiar as the stuff that makes bread dough elastic. Known as Seitan in Japan, as kofu in China, and as "wheat meat" and "gluten" here in the U.S., seitan is a low fat, high protein, firm-textured meat substitute. It has been eaten in China, Japan, Korea, Russia and the Middle East for thousands of years. Gluten is often referred to in Chinese restaurants as "Buddha food", because of the claim that it was developed by pacifist, vegetarian Buddhist monks as a meat substitute. It is a food rich in tradition as well as nutrition.

As a protein source, seitan contains about 31 grams of protein per 4 ounce serving (which means it has more plant protein per serving than tofu), provides a modest amount of B vitamins and iron and contains no saturated fat or cholesterol. A 3 1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving contains 118 calories, 18% protein and less than 1% unsaturated fat. The same amount of beef has 207 calories and 32.2% protein and is high in saturated fats. As recent studies have shown, our need for protein is much lower than previously believed and any opportunity to remove saturated fats from our diet would be an excellent improvement.

Another dietary benefit of seitan is its low sodium content, although cooking often adds considerably to this. Most of the commercially prepared seitan contains a considerable amount of sodium (up to 100 mg. per ounce). If you choose to deep-fry the gluten, the fat content will jump from virtually zero to the number of grams in whatever oil is absorbed (at 4.5 grams per teaspoon). Moreover, like grain foods in general, this protein is incomplete and needs to be complemented with other protein sources such as dairy or legumes.

Many vegetarians' first experience with eating gluten is at Chinese or Vietnamese restaurants, where it's called "mock duck", "mock chicken", etc. When it's sold in little tubs at the natural/health food store, it's called Seitan again, probably because marketing studies showed that the word "gluten" lacks consumer appeal. It stands in for meat in many recipes and works so well that some vegetarians prefer to avoid it because the texture is too "meaty." However, for many vegetarians and others who are trying to make the transition to a meatless lifestyle, Wheat Meat" is growing in popularity.

Seitan usually starts out as whole grain wheat or high gluten flour mixed with water to obtain a bread dough consistency. The dough is kneaded vigorously for about 10 minutes, and then is left to rest so the gluten can develop. Next, it is rinsed many times under running water, which removes most of the starch and much of the bran. What is left is a firm, stringy mass of high protein gluten that is then cooked in soy sauce and water with other spices added for flavoring, often including the sea vegetable kombu. When raw gluten (wheat dough with the starch washed away) has been cooked in a broth of shoyu, ginger, and kombu, it's called "seitan".

It is now ready to be used in casseroles, stir-fry, sandwiches, and enchiladas or just about anywhere that you might previously have used meat. It can be oven-braised, baked, cooked in a pressure cooker, or deep-fried. Each version yields a different texture. Oven braising produces a texture similar to the chewy texture derived from simmering. Baking produces a light texture that works well when grinding or grating seitan. Pressure-cooking will produce a softer texture. Fried gluten turns soft and slippery when cooked with a sauce and absorbs flavor well.

- Written by Alyx Sandborg, Copyright 2002 by PageWise, Inc

Clarke and Westwood shape up for British Masters

Westwood has lost weight by eating high protein meat substitutes and has enjoyed such a lift from his better diet and fitness that he is being sponsored by a well-known meat substitute company (Quorn) for two years. After ending three years in the wilderness since his heady 2000 with two wins last year, Westwood, lying 64th in Europe and with only moderate performances on the U.S. Tour, is aiming to prove he really is back.

'I saw the benefits Darren was getting and I've felt like I needed to do something for a long time,' said Clarke's management stablemate. 'The great thing is, I've lost all this weight and on the (Reuters) statistics I'm (driving) 10-15 yards longer.'

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Yves Veggie Cuisine - Products

Yves Veggie Cuisine - Products

My favourite deli slices. Yves Veggie Cuisine pepperoni slices are great on a home-made pizza! Also, all street hot dog vendors in Toronto carry smoky-flavoured Yves Good dog that has only 77 calories, 2 grams of fat, 13 grams of soy protein and provides 53% of the daily value of vitamin B12, which makes it one of the best hot dogs around.

Transcript: What's Cooking Vegetarian...Fake chicken, contemporary vegetarian cookbooks, meat-free jambalaya...

Hosted by Kim O'Donnel
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Thursday, April 29, 2004; 12:00 PM
Released MAY 5, 2004
A graduate of Peter Kump's New York Cooking School, Kim spends much of her time in front of the stove or with her nose in a cookbook.

The transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


Kim O'Donnel: Hello out there. It's been a while since our last get-together. For those who are new, this is a monthly (usually) hour devoted to meat-free cooking, eating and shopping, held on the last Thursday on the month. Since we last discussed, I came across a fun piece on Yahoo! about a new term coined for people who consider themselves part-time vegetarians: "flexatarian." I think that would aptly describe my eating habits. Interesting piece because it brings to light that more and more people are eating less and less meat and choosing diversity among their food sources rather than the same ole same ole. So, tell what's happening in your worlds...by the way, my upcoming video series will feature some veggie items -- will keep you posted. Onward...


I'm a goin veggie huntin....: Kim!; Two questions: First, are you going to do another farmers market tour anytime soon? Second, what great things should I look for at the farmers market this saturday morning?

Kim O'Donnel: The nice people at Arlington Courthouse have been very patient with me as I've not gotten my act together on setting a date. It'll be sometime in May or June, probably June. Funny you ask about what's at market: my bit on WTOP this morning was all about my finds last weekend. Think green, kids. It's all about the greens -- green garlic, garlic chives, cilantro, parsley, chervil, asparagus, lamb's quarters (tastes like spinach, super easy to cook), baby kale, frisee, baby lettuce...such beauty and so tasty!


Frederick, Md.: I'm a strict vegetarian and have always loved the creative aspects of cooking. However, my diet restrictions have prevented me from pursuing any formal culinary training. Can you recommend any culinary programs that are vegetarian-friendly? (My goal is not necessarily to become a full-time chef, but a vegetarian food writer/cookbook author.)

Kim O'Donnel: There is a vegetarian cooking school in New York City that has a good reputation. Name escapes me at the moment; it might be Natural Cookery something something...there are also shorter-term culinary vacations that are veg-friendly. Check out shawguides.com


St. Paul, Minn.: My two-year-old is allergic to milk but can eat yogurt; he also drinks a little soy milk. I don't think he gets enough calcium. Any suggestions? And can you tell me how to make a smoothie? After I make one, how long can I leave it in the refrigerator?

Kim O'Donnel: Lentils are loaded with calcium. Spinach and broccoli also good sources...there's soy yogurt out there...don't know if allergy extends to goat's milk, but lots of new brands offering goat's milk yogurt...smoothies: I prefer with yogurt, and to it, I add 1 banana, plus any other fruits on hand, including a kiwi, a handful of berries, some pineapple, a half mango...blend. I don't add ice or juice because I like mine thicker, but you certainly can adjust to your tastes. Doesn't last long at all in fridge; best to drink within one hour.


Arlington, Va.: Hi Kim. Just got back from New Orleans and while I made an exception to my vegetarian leanings to try a bite of jambalaya, I'd love to make my own. Any suggestions? I'm thinking smoked tofu, maybe?

Kim O'Donnel: I think smoked tofu is an interesting idea, and you've got meatless sausage links as well as the Gimme Lean brand of tube-like sausage that fries up well...hope you're adding okra!


Prince Frederick, Md.: Can anyone recommend a good vegetarian cookbook that doesn't look like it was put together by a bunch of Sherpas in Tibet. Most of what I've seen were printed on course-textured paper, brown ink, rather depressing to say the least. I want to know which grains and beans and dairy can be combined to make favorful, healthy meals without a lot of fat. I still use dairy and eggs -- you don't need to kill a cow or chicken for those things.

I can go for weeks without eating meat; it's not a major portion of my diet. But what really turned me off about meat was reading "Fast Food Nation." It revealed how filthy and dangerous our meat packing plants are, what evils lurk in your meat which can make you very sick, and what underhanded management of the food industry is doing to us. I recommend everyone read it, as well as "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair.

Kim O'Donnel: Prince,
Vegetarian cookbooks have come a LONG way from the days of co-ops and communes...There are so many titles out there you may have trouble deciding. Immediately what comes to mind are titles by Deborah Madison, Jeanne Lemlin and then there's Crescent Dragonwagon's "Passionate Vegetarian", loads of titles by Robin Robertson...and all of them are very contemporary.


Washington, D.C.: Hi Kim,

My husband is trying to find out how to make this pasta sauce that is green and creamy, with gorgonzola and walnuts. Any ideas as to what it is?
Thanks a bunch!

Kim O'Donnel: The green is probably coming from either arugula or spinach. This is a fun one to make, pretty easy, too. You can mix some gorgonzola with a touch of cream, stir over heat, gently tho...you could puree the greens, drain out water, REALLY well...mix in with the cheese, add nuts, chopped, and then mix into your pasta...


Virginia: Does you have any suggestions for good-quality fake chicken or beef? I am looking for big pieces, not something that is "ground." I have tried a couple of things without much luck. Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: Many looking for similar products like the taste of Quorn, which is made from a mycoprotein (fungus similar to mushrooms)...they've got Quorn roasts, and patties and nuggets and all kinds of things...anyone else with fake meat ideas?


Anonymous: I have known people who can't drink cow's milk but are just fine with goat milk. They sell it at Whole Foods.

Kim O'Donnel: Thanks for chiming in...that's what I was thinking...


Silver Spring, Md.: For meatless jambalaya, I'd use tempeh, I like it better than tofu in a tomatoey dish. Some seitan might be good for texture also.

Kim O'Donnel: Ah, bueno. Thanks, Silver!


Reston, Va.: I'm sure you have answered this a billion times, but I hope you will humor me anyway... are there any year-round farmer's markets in the area (pref. northern va)?

Kim O'Donnel: Yes, yes, yes!
Arlington Courthouse, on Saturday mornings.
Dupont Circle and Takoma Park, Sunday mornings.


Veggie burger: I've been trolling through the archives, but can't find it. Can somebody offer up a good home-made veggie burger recipe? Not lentils, please (ewww...)

Kim O'Donnel: A few months back, there was a slew of ideas over a two-week period. Since then, I made chickpea patties, tinkered with some recipes and came up with my own variation. I did chickpeas and mashed potatoes, with herbs, garlic, onion...but I gotta get you the details. I don't have them here at my desk, but am happy to provide after I look through my papers at home...


Arlington, Va.: We like to eat Morning Star Farms "Chik Nuggets" - they also come in patties. My son particularly likes to have this when friends who "hate" veggies are over, 'cause they usually love them and can't believe they ate something NOT chicken.

Kim O'Donnel: Thanks for weighing in on this 'meaty' matter, Arlington.


East Falls Church, Va.: Hi, Kim!

You mentioned last chat (Tues) that you mash ginger in morter and pestle. I presume you peel it first, but I, too, hate grating ginger and would like to try this option. (for example, do you have to mash more than needed to get enough?).


Kim O'Donnel: Hey EFC,
Yeah, I cut off what I need, then peel it with a teaspoon, cut into a few smaller pieces and then pound with the m&p. Works really well, and no, you do get what you need.


Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: For your reader who inquired about the vegetarian
cooking school . . . yes, it's called the Natural
Gourmet Cookery School
(www.naturalgourmetschool.com) in New York City.
They also do dinners open to the public on most
Friday evenings. Sounds like a great opportunity to
sample great food from the students.

Kim O'Donnel: Hey, thanks for following up!


New York, N.Y.: Kim,

I need fruit help. I feel stuck between seasons--apples and pears on the way out, citrus is blah, but it's too early for summer fruits, right? What should I look for that's going to be tasty, that is, in season or almost in season? I'm 8 months pregnant and trying very hard to be good, when I all really want is to stop at Kripsy Kreme!;


Kim O'Donnel: It IS a tough time for fruit. I was just thinking the same thing while in the supermarket this week. Soon come: local strawberries, plus figs. Mangoes are coming in from various parts of the world where they are in season, fyi...


Re: Low Fat Veggie Cookbook: Moosewood has a low-fat vegetarian cookbook, and it includes MANY more things than what sherpas would eat. It has its fair share of twigs and berries, but also a lot of grains, beans, tofu, pasta, and cheese variations.

Kim O'Donnel: Thanks for reminding me...my Moosewood, with the international focus, is very dog-eared from years of use.


For Reston looking for farmers market in NoVa:: The Falls Church farmers mkt at city hall starts this week, on saturday mornings

Kim O'Donnel: Great news, and thanks for helping out a fellow reader.


Alexandria, Va.: Hi Kim!

When you mention farmers' markets, you often neglect to mention the Alexandria Farmers' Market, which goes year-round, and is the oldest in the area. It's open from 5:30am (ugh!)to 10:30am every Saturday.

Kim O'Donnel: Very glad that you've reminded me, Alexandria.


Virginia: I am so excited, I just have to share. For years, I have been trying to make mango lassis like the ones in Indian restaurants, but the ones I made were never as good. I finally found the secret: rosewater. You only need a couple of drops, but it makes all the difference. Also, the frozen mango chunks from Trader Joe's make lassi-making very easy, and I find the quality to be very good. I have been drinking them every day this week!

Kim O'Donnel: Funny you mention that - was just talking with the woman who's been consulting me on some Indian recipes for video series, and she was saying that very thing...but if you add too much, your lassi can taste like lipstick...thanks for sharing.


Silver Spring, Md.: Hi Kim -
I have been eating a wonderful whole grain mixture for breakfast - oat groats, millet, brown rice, seeds, etc... I've been mixing with apple and it's very yummy.

I'm thinking it would also make a great salad, with jicama, zucchini, red peppers and more but don't know how to dress it. Do you have any ideas?

Love your chats - you rock!

Kim O'Donnel: Squeeze of lemon or orange or grapefruit and some olive oil, Silver. Some fresh chopped parsley or cilantro, salt, pepper, garlic, scallions. Sounds nice.


Arlington, Va.: Hi Kim, I want to make a tofu and veggie curry...does tofu go with curry seasonings? Also, i'm not great with really spicy stuff, so can you give me a good mild (yet flavorful!) curry recipe to use with this? Would I cook the tofu at all before adding it in? I'm not sure where to start...


Kim O'Donnel: Do you want to do coconut milk curry? Talk to me.


Arlington, Va.: Hi Kim,
White bean bruschetta - I tried to make it
last night but forgot the ingredients - & I
bought the wrong kind of beans. Here's
what I came up with so far - what am I
missing (or how can I vary it)?

tomatoes, onions, lime juice, fresh basil

Kim O'Donnel: The beauty of bruschetta is that you can mess up and no one will ever know...in Italy, bruschetta are among the many "salatini" that are put out on bar counters as snacks,and often they consist of ingredients in the kitchen at that moment. You can vary this any way you want...one fun thing is to toast bread slices and then rub a whole clove of garlic on each slice...don't forget salt. Lemon zest is great. Rosemary is beautiful with white beans...one thing that helps is to keep you mixture fairly dry...


Fairfax, Va: Kim,

My wonderful, beautiful, patient wife is a vegetarian, and I'm a happy meat eater. I'd like to make her a special dinner some night, but I'd like to do it on the grill. What can I cook for her that will be flavorful and unique? (And how do I do it)?


Kim O'Donnel: You can make her skewers of pineapple, red onion (or pearl onions), bell peppers and squares of tofu. Brush the whole thing with soy sauce, sesame oil, a little honey and sprinkle some cayenne. Serve over rice. You, sir, can have that, after you grilled for your lovely wife, a steak or some fish kebabs...


Washington, D.C.: Hi Kim,
Speaking of farmer's markets, do you know what is going on with the one that started last year, on Thursdays in Penn Quarter (I think it was on 7th and E maybe?) Is it coming back? Do you know when? It was so nice to be able to do some quick shopping on my way home from the office since the area is bereft of any real supermarkets...

Kim O'Donnel: Yes, it is. Starting next Thursday, May 6, from 3 to 7.


Bethesda, Md.: Hello-
Do you know where one could go to pick strawberries and the like around here? Preferably in MD. THanks

Kim O'Donnel: Weekend section usually does an annual list which I'm betting will come out next month. Anyone with tried and true strawberry picking spots?


Rockville, Md.: My favorite Italian restaurant serves veggie ravioli with a killer pistachio cream sauce. In making this at home would you recommend the "plain old salted" bagged variety or using plain nuts instead...

Kim O'Donnel: Plain, unsalted. You got it...


Vegetarian Pigs in a Blanket: Does anyone have any ideas for how to make vegetarian pigs in a blanket? I am open to both synthetic meat and more natural options. Thanks!;

Kim O'Donnel: I'm throwing this out to you guys for thoughts, etc...


Washington, D.C.: Hey Kim, A quick question for you- whare are some good (tasty and healthy) snack foods you could reccomend? I'm trying to cut back on sugar, so I'd rather have some sort of veggie and dip as a snack after work instead of a cookie. Thanks

Kim O'Donnel: Making your own hummus or white bean spread is very easy, takes about 15 minutes. Can be used for dipping or as a sandwich filler...high protein, no sugar, good fats from olive oil...


soy bechamel?: Any reason not to use soy milk in a bechamel sauce? There's a recipe for a killer mushroom lasanga made with a bechamel sauce in the March Cooking Light that I'd like to modify. Thanks

Kim O'Donnel: Chemical composition of soy milk is different, but doesn't mean it can't work. I don't know for sure. My copy of "Dairy-Free Cooking" offers some "cream sauce" ideas...so why not??


Vege in Fairfax, Va.: To the question about Paneer from the What's cooking chat. One can drain it in Cheese cloth and tea sieve to hold the contents in. Keep in a cold place overnite. Remember to close the top of the sieve so that other odors from other products dont mix in.
Actually Mango lassi is not very common in India. Lassi is usually salty. I just buy low fat butter milk and make a spice mixture of roasted cumin, curry leaves, rock salt and white pepper(all ground together) and beat the lassi until frothy. Yummy
Try cardamon in your Mango lassi for the extra zing!

Kim O'Donnel: Thanks, Fairfax...great tidbits...I'm only just learning about buttermilk for lassis...


St. Louis, Mo.: Another cookbook suggestion: I started out veggie with the "Horn of the Moon" cookbook by Ginny Callan. Many yummy recipes, all vegetarian. A follow-up book, "Beyond the Moon," includes more recipes with an international/fusion twist (Carribean variations, tempeh burritos, etc.) Worth a look.

Kim O'Donnel: Not familiar with this one, St. Lou. Thanks for the tidbit...


Suitland, Md.: Does anyone know of a good Soy Cheese brand? Something that actually tastes like cheese? I am looking for a block that I can grate.


Kim O'Donnel: Who knows of soy cheese that can be grated???


Washington, D.C.: Hi Kim!; I have some fresh green beans and want to do something spicy with them, but without a trip to the store. I have oil, soy sauce, dried red crushed pepper, and fresh garlic. I was thinking of stirring them up in a pan, but would it be better to blanch them first? Thanks!;

Kim O'Donnel: Blanching them does help bring them along, Washington, even if you only do it for a minute or so...not a bad idea....


Bethesda, Md.: Hello Kim-
I have an eggplant question for you. I generally hate eggplant (hate the texture) but there is one way that I really, really love it. I know it is simple but can't figure it out. I usually have it as antipasto in Italian restaurants or when I was in Italy. It is basically sliced eggplant and balsamic vinigar. I don't know if it is cooked and then cooled to room temp or simply marinated. Can you help me? Thanks

Kim O'Donnel: Eggplant is one of those things that needs to be cooked, Bethesda. Was it in cubes, slices, all mushed up? Do tell...


Boston, Mass.: Hi Kim,

What can I do with Broccoli besides steam it?

Kim O'Donnel: I like roasting it, at 500 degrees. But first, roll florets in a mix of chopped ginger, olvie oil, garlic, paprika, salt, black pepper, stuff like that. It's a great treat!


Indian Head, Md.: Hi Kim! My new favorite meal: vegetarian tacos made with tempeh and browned onions. I am using a boxed mix, but would like suggestions on making the taco seasoning from scratch.

They are delicious with veggie cheese, tomatoes and julienned spinach on top!


Kim O'Donnel: Let's see...I'd do cayenne, black pepper, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, cloves (a dash only!), maybe even some coriander...


Washington, D.C.: My special someone has a birthday coming up and I wanted to cook something specatular and vegetarian for them. Do you have any cookbooks or sources or recipes in mind that I could try and use?

Kim O'Donnel: Spectacular and vegetarian...I'm thinking of a curry. I've got an interesting idea for a Thai-style tofu curry with pineapples and potatoes, but I think cauliflower, green beans would also go beatifully...let me know if this is of interest...


Oxford, Miss: I'm a vegetarian and one of my favorite meals is rice and beans, but I'm getting bored with my recipe. Do you have any suggestions for how to liven up this old classic?

Kim O'Donnel: Do you make a sofrito for your r& b? You know, a mixture of chopped onions, green peppers, garlic and some herbs...like a little thyme or oregano...I'd also add a chopped fresh chile...


Reston, Va.: Good morning Kim. Still struggling with the white sweet potatos. Any ideas?


Kim O'Donnel: Not very often that we see white sweet potatoes...I'd roast them, mix with lime, cilantro and sesame oil after cooking...or do some garlic and chiles, plus a little oil...fresh parsley is also nice, a little lemon zest...


Herndon, Va.: Oh joy - grilling time is upon us... but my
marinate recall has lapsed
please advise with some great basics for
marinating - I'm specifically thinking of the
little mushrooms and zucchini I bought
yesterday for BBQ skewers, but a good
marinate could work on most foods...

also, any hints on grilling veg on
thanks in advance

Kim O'Donnel: Salt really well. Use a brush. Olive oil, although simple, is a good standby...fresh sprigs of herbs are great too...indirect heat...pieces should all be the same size...


Reston, VA: Hooray for the mention of the Alexandria farmers'
market. My great-grandfather sold there every
Saturday morning and my great-aunt and my dad
tell fabulous stories about getting up -really- early
to go to market. There are also lots of stories about
my dad stealing strawberries out of the baskets that
were packed on Friday...

Kim O'Donnel: Nice story, Reston. Thanks for the memories...


Re: strawberry picking: Butler's Orchard, in Germantown (MD). You can call their phone line to find out what's available when.

Kim O'Donnel: Excellent!


Laurel, MD: Chiming in:

Rice and beans: I've been planning a reverse black beans
and white rice using white beans and some of the black
rice, seasoned with a South-east Asian theme.

Kim O'Donnel: Ooh...I like that...


Dallas, Texas - Arugala: Hi Kim.
Wanted to share a great sauce recipe. I sauteed fresh asparagus spears in some water (could use wine) and lemon juice, with salt and pepper. Then added a can of crushed tomatoes, and a little bit of sugar, garlic, and onions. Let it all cook together till the sauce thickens. I served it with brown rice, but it could be easily served with pasta. At the end, add fresh arugala - it adds incredible zip to the recipe. Very healthy and delicious. And with all the flavors, you won't miss the meat.

~Chef in training

Kim O'Donnel: Very nice indeed, Dallas. Keep sending reports of your experiments!


Washington, DC: This may sound a little strange, but what exactly are white beans? I.E. does the can say "White Beans" are is it like white fish and any number of varities could apply? Thanks for the insight.

Kim O'Donnel: White beans actually refer to only a few kinds: cannellini (which are really white kidney beans) and Great Northern beans. They are interchangeable.


Adams Morgan: How does one make a white bean spread?

Kim O'Donnel: A can of drained white beans. Whiz in a food processor. Olive oil, garlic, chopped fresh rosemary, cayenne, salt. Taste. Lemon zest is nice, too. Taste. Add more seasoning if needed. Taste for smoothness, too. You're good to go.


Arlington, VA: Hi,

I hope you can help me. I have a 7 year old who used to eat all kinds of vegitables. Ever since she started school, she stopped eating vegitables. The only vegitable she'll eat are corn on the cob or if I grind up veggies inside dumplings. I tried serving veggies with gravy/salt/cheese and she acts like she's in Fear Factor eating worms. I think it's a texture thing. Do you have any suggestions?

Kim O'Donnel: Take her to the farm market this weekend. Introduce her to a farmer. Let her pick out something that the two of you can make together. Obviously she likes veggies if she was eating them before; making the preparation fun could open her eyes. Let me know how it goes...


Kim O'Donnel: Out of time, folks. Thanks for all the good stuff. Take good care, eat well, and get out there to your neighborhood farm market! The air is now fresh, the new crops are for the taking! Promise to be back for end of May, and in meatime, join me for the regular Tuesday free for all..Best to you.


© 2004 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive

ctnow.com: Swanky Frank's, Norwalk and Westport


I recently spent the weekend in Chicago, the city of encased meat. Just about any poor critter that can be ground and stuffed in a swag of intestine, then boiled or grilled and served in a bun, can be bought for a couple bucks every few blocks at one of the ubiquitous hot dog stands there.

At Hot Doug's, for example, aside from the traditional pork and beef wieners there were chicken, pheasant, wild boar and lamb tube steaks.

But there were also rumors of a veggie dog, which is how my animal-munching friend Emily lured me to this popular bratwurst bistro. Because the fact is, although I'm a vegan, I'm a fool for fake meat. Or anything, really, that can serve as a vehicle for condiments and be eaten alongside French fries, the more lowbrow the atmosphere the better--diners, burger shacks, carnival snack stands. These food venues usually fall short in the fried-faux-meat category, as you might imagine. But I guess because Chicago's a city teeming with working-class hipsters--two-fisted liberals, as Studs Terkel refers to them--folks whose proletariat taste buds sometimes clash with their compassionate eating ethics, the local sausage slingers make concessions with their concessions. I, for one, thank Doug and his colleagues for this. That was one damn good dog. Char-grilled, with onions, a pickle spear, some neon relish, tomato slices and yellow mustard, all overflowing a squishy roll.

I returned home with an unabatable hankering for a faux dog with all the fixings, donned the first shorts of the season and set out with the crazy notion that I might be able to score a veggie dog at one of our local hot dog haunts. I dragged my boyfriend, Art, along to taste-test the real ones.

I f you want a guaranteed hostile reaction, head for the greasiest of greasy spoons and suggest they add a veggie dog to the menu. At the original Swanky Frank's, a worn-down wiener shack overlooking a scenic I-95 on-ramp, the owner, Bob, snorted, "That would be sacrilegious."

"But I was in Chicago, and--"

"This isn't Chicago, is it?" He said and walked away. Was he really pissed off, or just a grouchy guy in general? Maybe I was naïve to the subversive nature of soy protein. And here I just wanted one more place to spend my money on some good, cheap grub.

I sat on a rickety stool and ordered French fries and blathered on about writing a food review. The fry cook, who looked like Billy Bob Thornton playing a surly fry cook, shook his head in disgust and muttered something about how you can't write a food review if all you eat is French fries. These guys were in their 30s, early 40s tops, but they had the grumpy old geezer thing down. Their disdain was as thick as the mystery oil they were deep-frying--yup, deep-frying--the dogs in.

In all fairness, our server at the swankier of the Swankies, in Westport, was super-friendly. (Let's consider the first location Skanky Frank's, as to not confuse the two.) She smiled and everything. The place also looked like it had been intimate with both a paintbrush and a sponge in recent memory. Art highly approved of the deep-fried technique. "It makes the texture crackly, not snappy."


"Yeah, some hot dogs are snappy. The skin won't give right away when you bite it, then it snaps."

He also liked that the raw onions were self-serve. For the sake of quality assurance he ordered the same dog toppings at every stop: bacon, ketchup, onions. "The bacon's under the dog, where it should be," he noted.

The French fries were great: thin-cut, some skin left on for that dirty taste, super-crisp but not crisped through. We liked that our order was wrapped up in an old-timey cardboard box.

Dog: $2.90, Fries: $2.25

• • •

Rawley's Drive-In
1886 Post Rd., Fairfield, 259-9023

Rawleys' décor makes Skanky Frank's look positively posh. The wood paneling interior has decades of initials, names and declarations of love scratched into its surface, like a summer camp cabin. Two high-school-age boys flew around the kitchen putting orders together.

"So. Would you ever consider carrying a veggie dog, you think?"

"NO WAY!" The one working the grill yelled. "People freak out if we change anything here. We had to repair those walls," he gestured to two white walls behind him, "to meet health codes, and people flipped out. A veggie dog? They'd KILL us!"

They got every single thing about our order wrong--handed us someone else's food, gave Art the wrong drink, rang the order up incorrectly, made it "for here" instead of "to go." The more flustered they got, the more they messed up. I didn't mind a bit. It somehow went with the summer camp vibe, and I thought it was probably a fluke. They were extremely apologetic. "It was SO busy a minute ago, we were SLAMMED," the one at the cash register explained.

The word "Poop" was engraved in huge letters right below the counter.

The cook pulled Art's dog from the fry basket, split it and threw it on the grill. "It's deep-fried and grilled?" I asked, because I couldn't believe it. It was like a heart attack on a bun.

After a couple investigative bites, Art reported that he actually preferred Swanky Frank's single dose of grease, though the Rawley's dog also passed the crackly texture test, the bun was fresh and well-toasted and there was a generous amount of bacon draped over the dog.

I was still trying to interpret "snappy." "Is it that feeling of breaking the seal with your teeth?" I asked.

"Exactly," he said.

"I like that," I said.

"That's the thing. It's so hard to judge hot dogs, because they're such a historical food in a person's life." He gestured philosophically with his dog. "People are fanatical about these. This is the perfect hot dog if it's what you grew up with."

No one could get nostalgic about the fries, however, which were of the frozen, crinkle-cut variety, mealy and barely browned.

Dog: $2.40, Fries: $1.90

• • •

Super Duper Weenie
306 Black Rock Turnpike,Fairfield, 334-DOGS

I admit I was biased in favor of Super Duper Weenie to begin with for its name. And if I had to eat off any of the linoleum-checked floors, this would be the one. By now I was resigned that there were no take-out veggie dogs in my near future... when I spotted its cousin on the menu.

"How long have you carried veggie burgers for?" I asked the cashier, who turned out to be one of the owners, Lorin.

"Since we opened," he said.

"But you don't have a veggie dog?"

"Veggie dog? I can't say we've ever considered it." He appeared to actually be contemplating the concept.

"Would you consider it?"

"I don't think they'd sell."

"Do the veggie burgers sell?"


"So why wouldn't a veggie dog?"

"We're a greasy hot dog place."

"You could just try it out."

"We have tuna..."


"I'll think about it. We've honestly never thought of it before."

Art surveyed his super duper dog. Plentiful onions, two fat strips of bacon. But I could tell his assessment by the face he made when biting down. Snappy. He liked the flavor of the meat, if not the texture, but Swanky Frank's was his personal overall favorite dog of the day, no question.

We agreed the fries were stellar--the best of the bunch by far. Lots of skin, whittled-thin shapes, perfectly crisp with downy insides. Lorin gave the batch a generous shake of pepper as well as salt. Pepper on French fries! Kind of nouveau cuisine for a former hot dog truck, don't you think? I just know an animal-free frank is next...

Dog: $2.70 Fries: $2.25
Copyright © 2004, Fairfield County Weekly

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Meat Substitutes

Here is a little introduction to a few of them

Soya: Soya is a good source of protein and low fat. Can be used to produce milk, dairy replacements products, as well as to replace the texture and bulk of meat, usually in the form of textured vegetable protein. Is usually the basis for many meat substitutes.

Tofu : Manufactured by a process similar to cheese making, but from soya milk. Very good source of protein, calcium and low fat.
Able to take on flavours well — great for marinating. Can be used for stir–fries, kebabs, salads and just about anything savoury. Tofu also is available in a silken form which is used for desserts, sauces or flans.

Quorn: Not made from soya but is a mycoprotein. Made from the fermentation of a fungus, mixed with egg white. Usually found as chunks, mince, fillets, burgers or sausages.