Tortas are like mole: Everyone’s is different. The first torta tasted was decades back in an unrecalled location, maybe Chicago, or somewhere in Indiana, but it was served with an amazing sauce, recollected — as mole. So when we stopped into a dinky little spot in the old-town part of Lansing, mole was again asked for, and what was brought, was a delicious, spicy and very dark red sauce.
The next time we stopped there and ordered the very exact same thing, what was brought out was an oily, bright red sauce. It was not quite as good…
These tortas use both a tomato paste as condiment, and a powerfully potent red sauce:
This was heavily diluted with red bells, to make it palatable all around — perhaps to its detriment. It is a good sandwich, but not that exotic flavor either remembered or imagined, long ago.
Without expectations, the boys thought they were quite good.
Ala the Simple Veganista — this sounded fairly good, but was in fact much better. Wonderful flavor baked into the semi-decent Joe tempeh and soused along with asparagus in a sauce of miso, balsamic and o.j., with shredded basil added in.
The sauce was too good not to thicken for a better cling, and some slivered ginger or maybe a little minced garlic might add additional, good flavoring. Easy as it gets and delicious, even drawing muted praise from the sublime child.
The season of soup and stew arrived abruptly after an exceptionally mild and pleasant fall – presuming the little snow creature on the front lawn, with Brussel sprout eyes, is an apt indicator.
Not the first fall, at all – of snow: But the first in such mass, and with temperature low enough to hold. With luck much more will follow, as ideas be afloat to top the wicked luge run of last winter – that was big enough to sport two intersecting runs: One long and smooth, gaining speed enough to skid down the street approaching 100 feet. The other was omega-doggish, intersecting near the bottom of the first and steep, the intent to crash the proper luger’s run. There were many mighty and magnificent collisions, indeed, and the hill was complete with 3 stepped points of access and a snow cave! After exhaustively perturbing the neighbors, a good cup of soup is the perfect antidote to sodden clothes and chilled and more than likely, slightly contused bones.
Back in time, when living down on second there were not a lot of positives to take away, but one that carried through with fondness is of sitting on the sunken, Styrofoam chair by the bay window in the living room, in the middle of the winter, the lamplight casting a sense of serenity that could not be found with the harsher light of day – heat cranked as high as it would go, cut with a channel of cold breeze that flowed through one barely opened window. The memory is probably fond because those moments were rare, the apartments much more frequently frigid, due to failing boiler or stingy manager – the sound of rattling pipes was welcome, even if it clanged loose sleep in the middle of the night: There were many nights where the cold hampered sleep, where memory’s echo clanged tease.
They hadn’t found a way to regulate utilities, so cooking was a popular way to fight the chill – using the narrow, little range with four burners that could only fit four pots if they were pretty tiny… It had a crumb tray that pulled out beneath the dials and it was learned early on that had to be kept immaculate, otherwise it tended to attract the roaches which would scamper out when the oven started heating. On the inside of the oven door there was a baking guide that gave the temperature and time for baking a variety of things. One of the best remembered was attempt at making wheat bread, resulting with a ten-pound loaf derisively referred to as whole wheat adobe.
Feijoada was finally appreciated, coming from that stove, but it was not the norm to have everything needed to create anything of formality, not solely because of money; it was also difficult to find everything needed, conveniently: There was a little food co-op that had some vegetables and a small grocer down on Willis, but they didn’t have a lot nor everything of need, and there was a dirty little store near right across the street – where a box of cereal unloosed a colony of grayish bugs that, after battles of many months and generations formed an armistice with the kitchen dwelling cockroaches, staying mostly out of sight, most frequently being sighted crawling out of drains.
Further over, off of Mack there was a Farmer Jack: It was pretty run down, too, and far enough away that distance posed an obstacle – chance a bus, or take a hike, return trip weighted down by groceries. Occasionally dad came by on Saturdays as he headed to the market, or mom and dad would offer invite to share dinner: In either case they generously shared several bags of produce from the market — that cobbled into guilty-portioned meals at first, then rationed with increasing parsimony in correlation to the content volume in the ‘fridge.
Those later dregs of many eyed potato and onion peels, slimy cukes and grapefruits with more than a hint of mold upon their rind, were often when consumables were stewed together into something edible. Most would only be considered creative in as much as something was created and many blind eye turned; little went unused – over time they improved and a few stuck around for day two.
This complex, slightly spicy, slightly lemony, savory and mighty hearty stew is kindred to those back then, pulling little bits of what was left, satisfying the hunger and shiver of a chilly Saturday afternoon. End results have certainly improved, though, things are certainly now more varied and abundant: Tempeh, wheat berries, wine, sweet potato chorizo… Some of that would have seemed too fussy down on Second, but there’s no question that person who was hung up on by the Ann Arbor food coop – calling to see if they had shirataki – no doubt the contents would be approved.
Begin by sauteeing the onion, and while ongoing, sear the eggplant, cook the sweet potato if necessary – the swee-po chorizo likely just dissolved in the stew and added subtle flavors and a little spice. Once the onion starts to brown, add potato and cook until it browns (likely adhering to the pan). Add water to loosen and cook mostly off, then add garlic until not raw. Put the contents of the pan and everything else into at least a 3qt sauce pan and cook for about 15 minutes.
In the morning after all the smoke had cleared, they found the strangest thing above the mantle of a fireplace that was previously concealed: Everything was charred, walls blackened, but bizarrely, like it had been erased clean from soot, spelled out in spotless exposed brick was neatly framed to form, “1905-JCR-2008.”
One of those, there’s-nothing-in-the-bins little meals: Some leftover, seasoned tempeh, crumpled and combined with smashed avocado, minced and sauteed onion, minced red pepper and parsely — pan fried. Topped with a little mashed avocado – piqued by some soy and habenero and a little pickle juice – pan-fried rings of onion, thin-sliced red pepper and greens. Served on a toasted and buttered pretzel roll, and with a little salad and diced, oven roasted potatoes. Nice…
What a clever name for it! A silly placeholder that’s sort of amusing — so, thus it sticks!
A very simple little lunchable, a tortilla roll of simply sautéed tempeh — marinated in a broth of garlic, orange juice and soy: About 3 to 1 — with sautéed onions and pepper, and a sprinkle of cilantro. A fine, mid-day renumeration.
Ferrar lifted the sword and held it forward. “A wise man once told me, it is better to be miserable and know the truth, than to be deceived and walk in bliss.”
Asked, because of the evident fervor with which it is sought — because it is good! And sometimes scarce. The sorts, generally found in stores are bitter and unremarkable. They can be soaked and manipulated to edible function, but on their own — not particularly pleasant.
The Brinery tempeh doesn’t even need a soak, and actually induces craves — gentle flavor and a marvelous creaminess the others fail. Most of the restaurants that serve tempeh, serve theirs. It was not obvious why people chose to eat it, prior to the discovery of the theirs.
But it has become redundantly used, for breakfast sliders, lunch sliders, dinner sliders — also, late nite snack sliders. Mom seemed unimpressed, so became the impetus to think of other uses, what delivered a terribly tasty, tempeh tostada — sometimes simple is satisfactory.
It was intended simple, a quick bite before rushing off to get tires — just very, very, dull: quick seared tempeh, tomato, lettuce. Maybe, create a little sauce… Defaulting to the favorite: Tahini, tofutti… Added a little old bay seasoning — which brought to mind several items that have been lingering on the to-try list, for many whiles: Chick’n bites and fish cakes, both of which employ corn meal and get fried.
Eyebrow raised reflectively — a little cornmeal, flour, more old bay, and baking powder. The dusted tempeh looked unsatisfactorily prepared for a fry. Holding the marinade for later use precluded a second, dusted dip; the refrigerator offered almond milk, and with a second roll through the flour, provided a much more respectable coating.
Fried first — the tortilla — followed by the tempeh and topped with tomato, lettuce and cheese — easy/excellent feast, and fried/tostada/tacos, fill out the response.
This was inspired after a stop at the Green Dot, which lives up to its hype – all sliders, sides and cocktails are $2-3, and most of what sampled was delicious.
Theirs was enjoyed while suckling a horse’s neck at a shade before noon, and was dressed with wasabi mayo and wakame salad. The tempeh was suspiciously Brinery-like, with no hint of bitterness, very creamy and perfectly seasoned: Enjoyed with the mushroom broth and truffle fries!
Wasabi/wakame lacking, this equally well contrived edition wears Old Bay seasoned mayo, nori, avocado, tomato, shredded carrot and a little escarole, between halves of a soft dinner roll.
Edit! The marinade was almost forgotten! Swiped from Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes:
2 tsp liquid smoke
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup tamari
3 cloves garlic- smashed and roughly chopped
2 tbsp maple syrup 1 tsp vegan better than beef bouillon + 1 cup of water or 1 cup vegetable stock
This marinade is excellent for any tempeh preparation, and if the cloves are replaced with powdered garlic, can be held on hand for individual preparations, for a week or so.