Friday, November 5, 2010

Vegan MoFo 5.1: Feline Adventures and Seitan Cutlets with Porcini and Brown Rice

(Pictured: Binky as he looked before surgery on one of his favorite faux furs)

I am going to start with Wednesday night to paint a picture of what has been happening here since my last post. We had to take up the food and water for the felines at 9pm. This sent Binky (aka Nicco) into full panic mode. He gets upset when he can see the bottom of his food bowl so no food bowl was completely unacceptable to him. We thought about shutting the cats out of the bedroom but since they are 9 years old and we never have done that before neither of us could do it. You can see who runs this house and they have four feet not two. ;-)

A large portion of Wednesday night was Binky bugging me to let me there was no food. He ran up and down the bed crying. When that didn’t work he grabbed my hair in his mouth and shook his head. His next move was to become the nibble monster. He uses his tiny front teeth to nibble whatever he can get to; in this case it was the bottom of my chin, my neck and ear lobes. Believe it or not this went on for hours. Needless to say I didn’t get a lot of sleep Wednesday night. Gee I wonder why? LOL

I left fairly early Thursday morning to drop Binky off at the vet while Dan got ready for work and to fly to Norfolk early afternoon. The trip to the vet is normally 45 minutes but in the rain it was an hour and half. I called Dan from the car to let him know to stay off the highway and when Binky heard his father on speaker phone he started crying. It was almost like he was calling his father to save him. I felt so incredibly guilty for taking him to the vet and leaving him there all day.

When I dropped Binky off I asked when I could pick him up and it was dependent on where he was in the surgical rotation. Of course I wanted to get him home and soon as possible but that doesn’t always work out. I get very upset when the cats need a medical procedure because we lost a cat about 15 years ago when he was having teeth cleaning. That situation didn’t help my general uneasiness with anything medical. Can you believe I worked in a hospital for almost 2 decades? I still find that amazing and I was there. I guess when you can out of the patient care areas it doesn’t really seem like a hospital. I know I am a weird girl. ;-)

I was able to bring Binky home Thursday evening at about 6pm. He was very happy to come home and put himself in his carrier at the doctor. He must not have felt good since he is never that cooperative. When we got home his sister (Luca Belle) and brother (Massimo) hissed at him in his carrier so I thought I should keep them separated at least until Dan got home from his trip late Thursday.

(Pictured: Binky after arriving home)

I scrunched up one of his faux fur throws so he could burrow in. He didn’t even feel like doing that he just curled up on top. Poor baby he really wasn’t himself. On the bright side he did drink, eat and use the litter box after being home. It is good that he has an appetite and that his GI system is working so soon after anesthesia.

I had planned to cook Thursday night when I got home from the vet but obviously that didn’t happen. It was much more important to spend some quality time with my little furry man. My baby had a very rough 24 hours. I cuddled with my baby until his human father arrived home to take over. Dan is Binky’s favorite human which means he was thrilled to see his daddy. There was lots of cooing and purring when Dan got home. We all had a good night sleep last night. Good thing too because I was running of fumes.

Cleaning Your Juicer:

This is probably going to sound a little crazy to you, because it did to me too. I read somewhere that the best way to clean the juicer screens and auger was denture cleaner. Sounds bizarre, right? I thought about it for a while and picked up denture cleaner at the drug store this week because it is very inexpensive $3.99 for 72 tablets. This morning I finally had a chance to try it. It definitely got off some of the orange film that I could not scrub off. I plan to let the parts soak overnight to see if they come completely clean. But in only 30 minutes I saw a big difference. I thought some of you that have juicers may want to give this a try. It is much easier and more effective than scrubbing. I am going to add this to my weekly routine for a while to see how it works. When I have more information I will let you know.

Salad for Lunch:

I have spent most of the day refereeing the felines. There is still plenty of hissing and posturing going on at my house. This meant I needed a quick lunch which at my house means salad. I used my new hand held shredded and a santoku knife and had lunch ready in 5 minutes. With the knife I shredded 1 kale leaf/stem, 2 ruby chard leaves/stems, ½ cucumber cut into chunks and 1 red pepper. I used the shredder to prep ½ large carrot, and 2 radishes. I added a little apple cider vinegar, a few golden raisins (maybe ½ tablespoon) and some soaked raw sunflower seeds from the frig. It was a mountain of salad but it was perfect for lunch today.

I choose these ingredients for various reasons. The kale and radish are both part of the cruciferous family which we can all use. The ruby chard adds the purple/blue food category as well as vitamins A and K. Carrot adds a touch of sweetness and carotenoids. Raw red peppers are packed with vitamin C. Sunflower seeds are a good source of vitamin E and selenium. Golden raisins were added for sweetness.

Seitan experiment:

My husband loves it when I make seitan. I can take seitan or leave it personally. I loved seitan when we were new vegans but I don’t feel the need to have “mock” meat any longer and I would never buy the commercials stuff that tends to have soy protein isolates as the first or second ingredient. However if seitan makes my hubby happy I will make it for him.

Today I thought I would make seitan using my steam/baked method but with a flavor and texture that was different from any prior version I have made before. Instead of mimicking meat I decided to go a different way completely and add mushrooms and brown rice. I wanted this seitan to have texture (from the mushrooms, rice and onions) and thought the rice would help to soften the overall texture cutlets. Here is what I did:

Mushroom and Brown Rice Seitan Cutlets/Chunks
Makes 9 cutlets, 1 per serving


½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms rehydrated in 2 cups of water
2 cups cooked brown basmati rice
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced or grated on a microplane
½ medium onion, peeled and very finely minced (should be about ½ cup)
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
1 tablespoon paprika
dash of liquid smoke (about ¼ teaspoon)
2 tablespoons no-salt seasoning
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (to brighten the flavor since there is no salt)
black pepper, to taste
2 cups vital wheat gluten (you may need a couple additional tablespoons see directions)
water necessary to form a “dough” about ½ - ¾ cup in addition to the mushroom soaking liquid
1 teaspoon canola oil for the pan


Heat the water and the mushrooms and allow them to sit for at least 30 minutes. Remove the rehydrated mushrooms and dice finely. Strain the soaking liquid to use in the seitan.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees convection. Line a half sheet pan (11 by 17) with parchment or easy release aluminum foil.

In a very large mixing bowl add the diced drained mushrooms, cooked brown rice, and the seasonings (everything between garlic and pepper listed above). Taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings to your taste. This mixture will be more highly spiced than the final product since the wheat gluten will dilute the overall flavor. Add the wheat gluten ½ cup at a time and knead it into the seitan dough. Alternate the wheat gluten with the wet (mushroom soaking liquid/water) until the mixture forms a ball. If it doesn’t form a reasonably cohesive mass add addition vital wheat gluten (about a tablespoon at a time) and continue to knead until most of the ingredients are contained in the ball. Form the seitan in 9 roughly even pattie/cutlet shapes.

Heat a well seasoned cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Oil the skillet with a paper towel you coated with canola oil.

Sear both the top and bottom of the cutlets in the cast iron skillet and move them to the lined sheet pan. When all the cutlets have been seared add ½ cup water to the pan and bake for 20 minutes. Flip the patties/cutlets over add another ½ cup of water and bake another 20 minutes. Flip the cutlets over, add another ½ cup of water and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and flip over the cutlets. If they are still wet you have two options. You can either sear them in a cast iron skillet before serving, or return them to the oven for 10 minutes to dry them out a bit. Either method should work the same since it has for all my other seitan recipes. I tend to leave them a little damp and then wrap and freeze them.

To serve reheat them in your cast iron skillet with a few tablespoons of water. It should take about 10 minutes on a medium low heat in a covered skillet to heat them through and finish the cooking. Then remove the lid and cook until the water evaporates and the bottom of the cutlet is crisp.

I had initially planned to serve these as cutlets but decided to use them more like “meat chunks” this evening. I cut them into bite sized pieces and dropped them into simmering tomato sauce for about 30 minutes. They worked well that way. I may end up using the rest of the seitan like that since it cuts down on the amount of seitan we consume. Next time I may roll them into balls brown them and then cook them in the sauce. That sounds like my next seitan experiment actually. ;-)

Nutritional information (for 1/9th of the total recipe):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 182.03
Calories From Fat (7%) - 13.53

Total Fat - 1.56g
Saturated Fat - 0.21g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 12.58mg
Potassium - 193.39mg
Total Carbohydrates - 20.35g
Fiber - 2.15g
Sugar - 0.38g
Protein - 22.76g


I really like the flavor of these cutlets the dried porcini mushrooms added a ton of flavor. The texture is not as good as my bread crumb cutlets but these are healthier and I prefer the flavor so it will work for us.  Dan is still mourning the bread crumb version, FYI. ;-)  I may have to make the less healthy version for Thanksgiving as a marital compromise.

The odd thing about this recipe is the little bit of oil that I used to sear the cutlets made them taste greasy to me. I never thought I would say that but my tastes have clearly changed since I know I didn’t use much oil. It amazes he how quickly we have adapted to a more healthful diet.

Signing out:

I hope to be back tomorrow with another recipe but whether I get into the kitchen or not is dependent on the felines. With a little luck they will stop acting out soon so I can get a few more things accomplished. Just think I get to do this all over again next week. Woo hoo? I must be nuts. *rolls eyes*

That is going to be it for me tonight. Now I need to catch up on your blogs. It is amazing how far behind I get in the blogosphere in just two days. I hope everyone had a great week and that you enjoy your weekend. Talk to you again soon.


  1. What an interesting way to stretch seitan to match that mountain of salad! It looks so fresh and good!

    Binky is beautiful, I hope he's feeling better soon.

  2. foodfeud,

    I tend to like to play with my food. The breadcrumb version of the seitan has the best texture of my experiments so far.

    Binky said thank you for the compliment. He is snuggling with his father now. He is feeling better but his big brother is still giving him a hard time.

    I hope you are having a good evening,

  3. I hope sweet Binky is feeling better. I hate it when my little fuzzy girl isn't feeling well. The seitan recipe looks so good. My husband likes it more than I do, and he's usually the one who makes it. I'll show him your recipe.

  4. That salad looks absolutely amazing!!!

  5. Oh, what an ordeal for you and Binky! So terrible that it took so long to get there, too. I am so glad that it is over for both of your sakes and hopefully you will catch up on the sleep tonight (don't leave too early for the farmer's market!) ;)

  6. Hope Binky is feeling better today! You salad looks awesome. Seitan is growing on me...this looks delish.

  7. Andrea,

    Binky is definitely bouncing back though his fuzzy siblings still think he smells funny. But the hissing is slowing down, thankfully.

    If you eat bread I recommend my seitan with bread crumbs. That recipe has the best texture but I would add the porcinis to it now.

    have a good weekend,

  8. Aimee,

    I loved the salad too. When something has all those beautiful colors it is hard to go wrong. ;-)


  9. Sarah,

    It was definitely worse for poor Binky. He is such a good boy though. I have been impressed by how well he handled the ordeal.

    I absolutely slept in this morning and it felt great. Tomorrow is our farmers' market thankfully so no alarm this morning.


  10. JL,

    Binky is doing much better thanks for asking. Mommy's baby is growing up. He handled the procedure better than I expected.

    I liked the flavor the porcinis added to the seitan. The texture of the seitan with breadcrumb is still my favorite but this is healthier.

    have a great weekend,

  11. Everything looks delish, Ali, especially the seitan, nom nom nom. So glad Binky is home safely, eating drinking, and pottying, and hope he's feeling even better today.


  12. LJ,

    Poor little Binky had a bad week but he is tough. ;-) Masi goes this week so I get to do it all over again. Lucky me! LOL

    enjoy your weekend with your friend,

  13. Don't worry, our furbabies run our house too ;-) Glad Binky made it through the procedure just fine. I worry about things like that too. Also glad the seitan turned out! Hope you're having a good Saturday so far.

  14. Heather,

    Thanks for letting me know we aren't the only ones living in a house ruled by four footed beings. ;-)

    Binky is acting like nothing ever happened. His older brother is still upset about it. Cats can be funny creatures.

    I liked the flavor of this seitan it was not at all bland.

    I hope you have a great weekend too,

  15. Binky is looking just fine - I hope everyone at your house is settling down again. I'm sorry to hear you lost a pet during a procedure.

    I like to read about your compromises. That seitan dish looks good with all the tomato sauce, breadcrumbs or not.

  16. Good Morning Jessica,

    Binky is definitely almost his old self again. I am not looking forward to the next procedure for Masi and Luca. Each time the babies need one I worry because of what happened in the past. Animals are just like humans anesthesia can be deadly.

    I try to keep our diet as clean as possible but I need to keep Dan happy too. I told him that I would make anything he wanted even if it wasn't what I would choose. Thankfully his requests aren't too unhealthy.


  17. I am glad Binky is doing okay :-)


  18. Courtney,

    Binky is doing great now, though he got hissed at earlier. Poor baby they just won't give him a break. I am already starting to worry about Masi's appt his week. *rolls eyes at myself* I am such an overprotective cat mommy. Oh well awareness is the first step. LOL

    I hope you are having a wonderful Saturday!


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