Sunday, November 22, 2009

Seitan (save 83%)

We've been making Vegan Dad's Veggie Lunch Meat Seitan for a while now. A few months ago, however, our local stores stopped carrying vital wheat gluten in bulk and at $3.33 a pound, the online options are twice as expensive as our previous supply. So I decided to make a round, do a little substitution, and find out how much my seitan was costing us.


1/3 cup dried pintos
1/2 a bay leaf
1 clove garlic
1 tsp fennel
1/4 tsp peppercorns
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp tumeric
1 tsp sage
1 tsp Braggs or soy sauce
2 cups vital wheat gluten
2/3 cups high gluten wheat flour

To begin, you'll want a cup of cooked beans. I think this recipe is great with pinto beans, black bean in a pinch, but stay away from the white beans Vegan Dad recommends--they're too bland and make the finished product taste processed.

  • Soak 1/3 of a cup of dried beans overnight, then bring them to boil in two cups of water with half a bay leaf.
  • Reduce to a simmer and cook for 90 minutes

Save the bean juice

now, bring a steamer up to steam.

  • Put the garlic in your food processor and chop it until it's fine.
  • Grind the fennel and the pepper in a spice grinder, then add to the food processor.
  • Add in the oil, salt, paprika, onion powder, tumeric, sage, braggs, and cooked beans (but not the bean juice) and blend.
  • Measure the bean juice and add water until you have 2 cups. Add that into the bowl
  • Put 1/2 the gluten and all of the flour into a mixing bowl, then pour the food processor on top of the flour. Add the rest of the gluten on top.
  • Use your hands to mix all of the ingredients together until all of the liquid is absorbed.
  • Lay out a 12 inch by 24 inch piece of aluminum foil and shape the wet proto-seitan into a 10-inch log. Roll the log into the foil and twist off the ends.
  • Set your over for 350 degrees
  • Steam the seitan log for 45 minutes
  • Bake the seitan log for 45 minutes

This gives a loaf that's a little lighter and a bit less spicy than Vegan Dad's recipe. There's not really anything on the market that compares in taste, but a spicy version of LightLife's Steak style Smart Strips might be equivalent

1/3 cupdried pintos$0.20
1/2 a leafbay leaf$0.10
1 clovegarlic$0.15
1 tspfennel$0.05
1/4 tsppeppercorns$0.03
1/4 cupolive oil$0.35
2 tspsalt$0.00
2 tsppaprika$0.20
2 tsponion powder$0.35
1/4 tsptumeric$0.02
1 tspsage$0.30
1 tspbraggs$0.04
2 cupsvital wheat gluten$1.67
2/3 cupshigh gluten wheat flour$0.33
3 sqftaluminum foil$0.12

for a total of $3.91. I got a 30 oz log, for a cost of $0.13 per oz. Compared to those LightLife Smart Strips, I saved 83%!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Alton Brown's Granola

We're driving to California in three days and I just spent the afternoon baking snacks for the road trip. Cooling now are granola bars from Good Eats' "Power Trip" episode. Next time I'm going to see if I can make this less expensive (and drop the butter for margarine to make it vegan) but I wanted to do the math to see how expensive my endeavor was. (And I'll comment on the taste later... once I've had a chance to taste a bar.)

8 ozrolled oats$0.25
1.5 ozraw sunflower seeds$0.26
3 ozsliced almonds$1.83
1.5 ozwheat germ$0.83
6 ozhoney$1.25
1.75 ozdark brown sugar$0.22
1.25 ozunsalted butter$0.15
2 tspvanilla extract$0.60
1/2 tspsalt$0.00
6.5 ozdried fruit*$3.25

For a total of $8.64
*I used half apricot, a quarter cherries, and a quarter blueberries.

The best I can do in describing the taste of these granola bars is "a better tasting Quaker Chewey Granola bars and without the chemical aftertaste." So I'll use that as my comparison:

The recipe yielded 29 oz of granola bars, the equivalent of 34 and a half Quaker Chewey Granola Bars, which would clock in at $8.11 over at Amazon. So... not thrifty today. I saved -6.5%.

On my next pass I'll try replacing the dried fruit with rasins, which should bring me close to the taste of Quaker's bars while also saving me $2.08 for the batch. That would be 19% savings, putting it into the "thrifty" category.