Saturday, July 29, 2006

Seitan Bulgogi

I attended a "Rough Trade" BBQ with my friend Dale from LA today. Rough Trade is the largest GLBT guild in World of Warcraft, the largest Multiplayer Online game in the world at 6 million subscribers. I don't even play World of Warcraft (I stuck with City of Heroes until I quit online gaming to focus on Pride High), but I have several friends that do. It was a lot of fun hanging out with fellow gaymers and and geeking out.

For food, I decided on seitan bulgogi (vegetarian Korean beef strips). It's pretty much what I bring to any bbq I go to.

1 box Arrowhead Mills Vital Wheat Gluten (The brand actually does matter, as different brands have different protein starch ratios, which affect how much water you need. I learned this the hard way.)
1/3 cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes (gives the seitan a rich, meaty taste and enriches the amino acid profile)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cayenne

2 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
6 cloves garlic, minced *
2 in x 2 in ginger slice, minced *

Enough water to fill a large pot halfway.
1/4 cup soy sauce

D (Optional Marinade)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil

* Fresh ginger can go right along with garlic in a garlic press.

Mix A. Mix B. Slowly add B to A.

Knead the dough gently until it forms a rubbery mound. You may not need to use all the liguid depending on normal variation in each batch of vital wheat gluten (even in the same brand).

Place the uncooked gluten into C and simmer for an hour, turning it over once at 30 minutes. Remove and slice. Add D if you wish and marinate overnight prior to the BBQ.

Making a Comic Book, Part 6: Pride High on the air!

Pride High was featured on the radio show, Forward Forum, in Madison, WI this

Then at about 11:15 am, we'll begin a fun and fascinating discussion about gay and lesbian comic book superheroes. Our guests will be the illustrator and writer of the comic book "Pride High," which follows five teens who form a controversial Gay/Straight Alliance at their super powered high school.

Joining us in our studio is illustrator Brian Ponce, who is a longtime Madison gay community leader, recognized two years ago as OutReach's Volunteer of the Year. Among his many contributions to OutReach, Brian produces OutReach's monthly calendar, and designs its popular and colorful cover page. An artist all of his life, Brian also has extensive previous experience as a comic book illustrator, and has developed dozens of characters over the years, both for publication, and for his own enjoyment.

And on the phone from his home in San Francisco will be comic book writer Tommy Roddy. Tommy formed “Pride Comics” with friends Carl Hippensteel and Andrew Van Marle. He is also a non-SAG actor working in San Francisco. He had a principal role in his first feature-length film, Pandemonium, an independent production that was screened recently at San Francisco’s Opera Plaza Theater. A longtime fan of Star Trek, he also stars in a fan-produced video production currently airing on the Internet.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I was planning on eating tempeh, which I could've sworn I bought recently. However I couldn't find any in the fridge. For once, I wasn't in the mood for beans, so I ended up eating blueberry muesli, soy milk, and a granola bar for dinner. And then I remembered that I needed leftovers for lunch. I scanned the pantry and found an old bag of quinoa (pronounced "keenwa") that I bought in September of last year.

Most quinoa sold in stores is off-white, but like corn, there are varieties that sprout multicolored seeds. It's really an amazing food. It's not a true grain, but rather a botanical fruit. And though soy beans are usually touted as the sole vegetarian "complete protein," it's now known that quinoa shares this distinction. In fact, due to its superior amino acid profile (including generous amounts of lysine), mineral and vitamin content, and ease of preparation, quinoa is being studied by NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support program.

Quinoa, the "mother grain" of the Incas, almost went extinct during the Spanish colonization of South America. Along with its cousin, amaranth, quinoa fields were burned by the Spanish to disrupt the native food supply and undermine the non-Christian rituals that relied heavily on the grain and its harvest. We only have it today because a few remote villages kept growing the plant even though it was once illegal to do so.

1 medium onion diced
2 Tbsp olive oil

4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp celery seed

2 cups quinoa, vigorously rinsed (quinoa has a bitter saponin coating which helps it repel insects)
4 cups water
3 carrots, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp black pepper

Sauté A until translucent. Add B. Stir vigorously for about 1/2 a minute, then add C. Bring to a high boil, mix well, then lower heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes turn off the heat, fluff with a fork, then let it rest for 10 minutes. Serves 4.

The aroma of the finished dish was too much to resist, so I treated myself to two dinners :).

Quinoa with Carrots and Bell Peppers

On a sidenote, instead of spending my lunch surfing the Net, I went to the garden patio at work and did yoga. I really need to get back to a semi-daily yoga practice.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Rajma Rasmisa

I never get tired of kidney beans. They're just so hearty, especially when paired with a tomato-based sauce. Here's an Indian cousin of Tex-Mex chili, Rajma Rasmisa.

1 cup dry kidney beans

2 Tbsp oil
medium onion, diced

1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp coriander seed
1 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp anardana (dried pomegranate seeds)

4 cloves garlic, minced
2 in x 2 in slice of ginger, minced

2 cups tomato sauce
2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp turmeric

Soak A in plenty of water overnight. When ready to cook, rinse, replace water, and bring to a vigorous simmer for about an hour. Once tender, boil water down rather than rinsing the beans through a colander. While A is boiling, in a saucepan sauté B until onions are golden. Grind C in coffee grinder until it is a fine powder, then add to B. Vigorously stir and flip contents for about 30 seconds, then add D. Sauté for another minute, then add E. Mix well over high heat, then add cooked beans. Simmer for about ten minutes, then serve!

Rajma Rasmisa (Kidney Beans in Spicy Tomato Gravy)

I usually eat kidney beans with rice. But for a little variety, I warmed up some corn tortillas and ate the combo like a soft taco meal.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Palak Dal

Spinach, like eggplant, was something I avoided as a child. I didn't care how many times I heard that it was good for me. Even being a fan of Popeye didn't help. And then I was introduced to Indian cuisine.

The culinary ingenuity of the subcontinent transformed spinach from a childhood "yuck food" to something I regularly crave. Speaking of cravings, I love channa dal (small, split chickpeas). They just take forever to cook, which is why I eat quick-cooking masoor dal (pink lentils) more frequently.

1 Tbsp oil or ghee (I use olive oil for pretty much everything, regardless of cuisine)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp hing
2 black cardomom pods, pounded and broken
1 bay leaf

4 cloves of garlic minced

1 cup channa dal
6 cups water (or more as needed)
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp garam masala

1 can of spinach
1 cup tomato sauce
salt to taste (I didn't add any salt as the canned spinach and tomato sauce had plenty)

Sauté A for about 1 min in saucepan, then add B. Sauté for a minute more, or until garlic becomes golden brown. Add C to saucepan and stir well. Bring to a high boil, then lower to a vigorous simmer.

Depending on the age of the dal, it will need to simmer from 1-2 hours. A pressure cooker can really cut the time down on this, but sadly I no longer have one :(. Once the dal is well-cooked, add D and serve! I was hungry, so I chowed down on this all by myself, but this recipe can easily feed 2-4 people if served with rice.

Palak Dal (Spinach Split-chickpea Stew)

For the protein-conscious, this recipe packs a total of 62 grams of protein (48 from the legumes and 14 from everything else).

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Food on the Cheap II

This week I'm going to try to cook every weeknight except for Friday. I have a friend flying in from LA for the weekend, so I'll definitely be taking a break from cooking that night.

Here what this week's groceries cost me:


1 can black beans: $1.49
1 lb black beans, dried: $1.59
1 lb kidney beans, dried: $0.99
1 lb pinto beans, dried: $0.99

5 lbs brown rice: $4.99

1 can green beans: $1.29
1 can peas: $1.59
1 can spinach: $1.59
1 can tomato sauce: $1.69
1 red bell pepper, organic: $2.45
1 lb carrots, organic: $1.29
garlic: $0.59
zucchini: $0.88

2 quarts soy milk, plain: $3.99

2 quarts yogurt, nonfat non-rGBH: $6.58

1 dozen eggs, extra large fertile: $3.49

baking soda (instead of toothpaste): $1.39

Total: $36.87

When I'm being good, I eat 5-6 meals a day with the usual set-up as follows:

Breakfast: soy milk or yogurt
Snack 1: yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, or sunflower seeds
Lunch: plain beans
Snack 2: yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, or sunflower seeds
Dinner: various
Snack 3: yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, or sunflower seeds

As you can see, things are rather plain for most of the day. It takes some getting used to, but it definitely heightens the pleasure from eating a good, home-cooked meal later that night.

The number of eggs I eat in a week (10) might seem alarming. But there's a growing body of evidence that shows saturated fat has a much larger effect on LDL cholesterol than actual dietary cholesterol. Even with eggs in my diet, my overall saturated intake is very low, averaging around only 8g a day.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Food on the Cheap

With the money I'm putting into the comic book, I've had to tighten up my finances. Far and away my largest optional expense is food. I was spending around 20 dollars a day on breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I've gone for stretches of time back in my college years on very little money for food, so on June 25th I put myself back on the "off-campus college meal plan."

I bought a total of $26 in groceries last Sunday. I kept things pretty simple with bread, eggs, cheese, peanut butter, brown rice, and yogurt. With other items in my pantry, in particular dried beans, I've gone this entire week without eating out. And, glancing at the pantry and fridge, I have enough food to last another week!