We dont just eat cake at the little Stieren house.  We also have birthday dinners, with deviled eggs.

We try to keep cool, but mostly we work on learning how to live with being hot.  This means coming to terms with the fact that if you are home doing house work, or running errands in a hot little car with no AC, you will have little to no energy by 4pm, so you better have a plan for dinner.  It means drinking water and ice tea before you feel thirsty, and trying to make most decisions early in the day.  Include late-night excursions to Mexican bakeries downtown.

MG told me the ancient Egyptians used to sleep in wet sheets to stay cool, but I convinced him he could hang a wet sheet in front of the window unit instead.  I prescribed eating cold local honeydew.

It’s been a good week for greenish things– chorizo verde from the farmers market, Texas Voigner (a deep gold-green wine, my only favorite white), and the melon (as ubiquitous as the TX zucchini).

And then there is just heat denial, or rebellion, depending on where you are at dinner time:  cooking a hot dish, using the stove and the oven, during the hottest time of the day, just because the recipe is something reliable and you know how it will taste.  Not another experiment this time.  Although most of my tries at new recipes have worked out this week (cakes), a few things were clearly not ready for unveiling (lamb with fruit).

So, triple digits or not, I needed to make something familiar, a meal I have made so many times, I dont need a recipe.  A hearty feast that will make up for all the hot cookstove action by providing several days of leftovers.  Something the lactose intollerant can eat…and after all the meat we ate this weekend (BBQ and lamb stew), we needed a few vegetarian meals to make us right.  Something green.

and something oozy…

Extra Fancy Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

adapted from the New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook

If you have never tried nutritional yeast, don’t be afraid!  It has a salty nutty flavor, and is great in sauces, or sprinkled on popcorn.  It comes in large and small flakes, and is often found in the bulk dry goods section of natural and fine foods stores.  It does not, in my opinon, taste at all like the yeast you would make bread with.  This recipe is great with added vegetables like diced tomatoes, spinach, onion, zucchini.  Just slice them thin and throw them on top at the end, so they get cooked in the broiler.  Or, saute them first before you add them.  The original recipe called for baking and then broiling, but I dont like the sauce to get too thick and dry, so I just broil it a few minutes.

1 lb dry pasta (Penne, macaroni, shells, whatever you like.  I used whole wheat pipe regate.)

1/2 cup earth balance non-hydrogenated soy free margarine (or other non-hydrogenated margarines)

1/2 cup all purpose flour

3 and 1/2 cups boiled water

1/2 tsp tumeric

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tsp ground mustard seed

1/2 cup white wine

1/8 cup canola or olive oil

1 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1/2 cup bread crumbs

Boil the pasta and rinse, reserving the hot water for the sauce.  Place the pasta in a casserole dish.  Melt the margarine in a saucepan, and whisk in the flour.  Cook on medium heat whisking constantly for about 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture becomes toasted and fragrant, just starting to brown.  This is a roux.  Add the hot water, spices, and soy sauce.  Whisk until it thickens and is smooth.  Add the wine, and continue stirring for about 3 more minutes.  Add the oil and the nutritional yeast. Continue whisking until the sauce is smooth.  Pour over pasta and sprinkle with bread crumbs.  Put under the broiler for about 10 minutes.

Tempeh Salad

We eat this about once a week, especially in summer.  Tempeh is sold at Central Market and other natural foods stores.  You can bake it, or grill it.  The key is a good marinade.  It soaks up flavor very fast.  Throw it on the salad while it is warm, or after it cools.  Make the salad with just lettuce and scallion, or add avocado, beets, cucumber– all good with tempeh.  It is salty like bacon, but more nutty and hearty.

1 lb tempeh

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespons vinegar of choosing (I used apple cider)

2 tablespons soy sauce

pinch of dried oregano or thyme

1/4 tsp garlic salt

1 tsp dijon mustard

several drops of smoke flavoring

Preheat the oven or grill to 325.  Slice the tempeh into strips.  Mix all the marinade ingredients with a fork in a shallow dish, like a pie plate.  Lay the strips in the sauce, turning them over to coat them.  Let them sit about 10 minutes. Cook them on a baking sheet and bake on a center rack for about 15-20 minutes (dont let them burn).  If grilling, turn them a few times.  They should be heated through, crispy on the outside, but not dried out.  Toss them in your salad, dress it as usual.

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