December 14, 2010

Black bean soup, Thai food | Seitan pot roast with roasted vegetables à la Rose

Broccoli and eggplant stir-fry in the wok

I'm continuing to highlight some of the dinners our youngest son has been cooking for us. He's cooked several meals since my last post, and I'm showing just a selection of what he's made, but first I'll share a little bit about his introduction to solid food when he was a baby. When Jordan turned seven months old, our family of five headed to Australia for half a year. He was nursing but not eating solid food, as he had rejected all our attempts to introduce solids into his diet. I decided to wait until we got to Australia to try again. Once in our host country, I met other mothers of babies his age, and all were feeding their babies solid food, so I gave it another try. I mashed up bananas, cooked applesauce, made rice cereal, puréed sweet potatoes — all to no avail. This was my third baby so I was not an inexperienced new mom, randomly flinging food at a bewildered child. I knew he'd eventually eat when he was ready, but I kept offering.

All grown up.

Finally, one day while I was consuming a bowl of miso soup with broccoli, I offered the now 9-month old a taste, and he was interested. He slurped it down like it was the best thing he'd ever tried. I handed him a piece of broccoli from my bowl and he gnawed it happily. So I began feeding him miso soup and broccoli. This was exactly what his older brother had eaten for his first food. I couldn't believe I had two babies like this.

I want to mention one more thing about our stay in Australia. Although it was more than 20 years ago, the availability of healthy-baby care seemed very different from what I was used to. We were living in the state of Victoria, so I can only speak about my experience there, where traveling pediatric nurses made scheduled stops at neighborhood centers, and the local mothers would all show up with their babies for check-ups and inoculations. Although I wasn't even a resident of Australia, it made no difference. My baby got weighed and measured with all the others — for free. There were no questions about whether we had health insurance, or whether we were eligible for care.

Back to our now-grown-up son's cooking. The first meal I'm highlighting is black bean soup and red cabbage salad. I love soup topped with avocado, and this spicy soup was delicious.

With the cabbage salad, he was trying to replicate a dish he'd eaten and enjoyed in Prague. It had rice in it which was kind of weird, but all the other flavors melded so beautifully, I loved it.

The next night, we had Thai food, starting with an excellent coconut curry soup spiked with lemongrass and lime.

To go with the soup we had an eggplant and broccoli stir-fry. I love when our son cooks — I hope there will be more dinners to blog about.


I cooked, too

Growing up, when my mother made pot roast, I refused to eat it. I couldn't stand the gooey stuff in the beef. Even now, I shudder to think of it. Still, when I saw Rose's seitan pot roast on her Dandelion Vegan Blog, I immediately wanted to make it. You should definitely go look at her photo, which is 100 times better than mine, and I know you'll want to bookmark the recipe. Mine really did look a lot like hers in real life, but the lighting situation here is absolutely driving me a little nuts, and wreaking havoc on my photos. Gah.

I followed Rose's directions but made a few minor additions and substitutions. Instead of vegan Worcestershire, which I didn't have, I doubled the tamari, and instead of ketchup I used tomato paste. My herbs were oregano and arctic thyme, and I added smoked paprika. I also subbed an herbed yeast flake mix that I had made previously, for the nooch. The most interesting addition to the recipe was 1/4 cup of urad flour. The reason I had the urad flour was because I kept reading about it on The Airy Way blog, where Zoa used it to make dumplings with fabulous texture and taste. I added some to the seitan mix to see how the texture would be affected, and I was amazed at the results. The seitan was so tender and soft, like actual pot roast. I've never had seitan with a texture like this before, and I have to do more experimenting with the urad flour in different seitan recipes. To go with the seitan, I roasted carrots, broccoli, potatoes and golden beets.


  1. Lucky you to have the live-in chef!!!

    Kailah ate no solid food until she was almost one. When we were hospitalized after our car accident, the nurses couldn't figure out why a 10-month-old baby would refuse anything they tried to feed her! In the end she took a bottle, and accepted a little mashed banana, but that was about it. They thought I was the worst parent in the world to not have been feeding my baby!

  2. Andrea, I am so totally writing the "urad flour cookbook"! I did another recipe today with my urad seitan--this time frozen and thawed--and it's like a miracle food. But I didn't take any pictures, unfortunately, because I thought it would be nothing special. Oh, so wrong. That's to be rectified tomorrow. Your pot roast must have been awesome, if it tasted anything like my "three cup seitan" of today. Anyway, thanks for the link:)

  3. Miso soup with broccoli is an unexpected first least where we're from! Your recount made me wonder what first foods are common in other countries/continents etc.

    Once again, Jordan's food looks and sounds stellar. Both soups are literally making my mouth water...esp. that coconut curry soup!

    You made the pot roast! Looks so good! Never mind about the lighting, your subs sound great, and the paprika would be a great addition! Jo Stepaniak's original recipe calls for liquid smoke, which I left out, but the natural and more subtle smokiness of paprika sounds perfect!

    I must get my hand on some urad flour!!! I mean Zoa already had me convinced, but I can see from yours that it really does look so tender. Where did you get the urad flour?

    And finally, I hear you! Ahh, how wonderful it must be to live in a country like Australia with a civilized attitude towards health care!

    PS: I don't like to get political on blogs in general...but since you mentioned it... :)

  4. Claire,
    I think Aaron was almost one and Jordan was close. Other people were more concerned than I was but it did make me nervous. None of our kids looked malnourished, if I recall.

    I don't remember your urad seitan — did I miss that? Anyway, I can't understand why urad is so different from besan. Have you tried making an omelet with it? The pot roast was awesome, yes — almost scary awesome.

    I'll have to look for Jo's cookbook. I have Vegan Deli and the Uncheese, but not the Vittles.

    Yes, I made the pot roast, and it was super –it looked great, too, but my photos all came out blurry and weird. I need my tripod which is back in Wisconsin. :(

    The urad flour came from a Pakistani grocery on Aurora Ave. N near 80th. Do you ever go to Uwajimaya? They probably have it there. I think the urad flour affected the texture, but I also followed your directions not to knead it.

    I hear you about not getting political. I don't do it often, but sometimes I just have to make a point.

  5. Your son sounds like an amazing chef! Lucky you. I am curious about urad flour since it's gluten-free. I will have to check it out.

  6. I can't believe that I live in the middle of Nowhere, Canada, and can get all this great stuff that people in American don't. My home must be way more awesome than I had previously thought :-) You can actually grind urad flour down from urad dal (if that's easier to get) in your blender. But I don't, I just buy the flour in small bags at Superstore.

    Urad *is* different from besan, but the reasons for this totally escape me. They're both beans, but...besan tastes great, urad has little to no taste. Besan doesn't seem much to affect the texture of the things it's added to, but urad does. My urad seitan is in my "lemon seitan" post--1 cup gluten flour to 3 tbsp urad flour and 1 tbsp rice flour.

    What I didn't say in my last post on this thread is how excellent your pot roast (and Rose's too) looked. And they do...and your son...I was talking with a coworker just the other day who said how disgusted she was by the taste of chicken and pork but how she just *forced* herself to eat them when she was pregnant for the health of her child. May posts like this one (and may there be many, many others) disabuse young mothers of this crazy prejudice! And you are so cool for feeding miso soup to infants...

  7. Those meals all look amazing; would your son consider sharing any recipes? I'm especially always looking for new ways to enjoy purple cabbage!

  8. Aimee,
    All three sons are great cooks. I'm curious about urad flour, too, and what it can be used for. It seems to improve the texture of food — I want to try it with baking.

    We can get all this stuff, just not in a "regular" grocery store. We have some amazing Asian markets, though, where finding exotic ingredients is no problem. Your home is awesome, no question. Cold, but awesome.

    I tried to encourage myself to eat seafood during my last pregnancy, but it only lasted for one meal. For the first two pregnancies I was vegetarian, and during the third, except for one dinner, I was vegan. Pregnant women are bombarded with all sorts of frightening information, and it's such a huge responsibility, you just want to do the right thing.

    I tried to pry a recipe from him but he claims he doesn't remember what was in it. I want to encourage him to make it again so I can follow him around with a notebook, like I've done with my other son. He doesn't like it, though.

  9. what a sweet post! It makes me want to go have children just so they will cook for me one day! I love that his food looks so healthy and yummy. You must be such a proud mommy!

  10. Everything looks so good! Question--when you put the urad flour in the seitan, did you add it in addition to the gluten flour, or did you replace 1/4cp of gluten with the urad flour? I actually have some sitting around here, and you are right--that post roast looks too good to pass up!

    Thanks Andrea!

  11. Broccoli and eggplants are two of my favorite vegetables and looking at them in one dish that you made just makes me want to cook up something like that. Who said veggies aren't delicious? They must be joking!

  12. Amey,
    Hmmm. If I'd known about the cooking, I might have had more.

    I added the urad as an extra 1/4 cup, but I didn't follow the recipe exactly. When I added the liquid to the dry ingredients, I added it slowly until the texture seemed correct. The important thing is to mix the ingredients as little as possible (a fork is good for this) to achieve a cohesive dough. In Rose's recipe, she isn't precise in her flour measurements, as there is some flexibility in mixing a seitan dough.

    I agree with you that veggies are inherently delicious.

  13. Boy, I almost thought the eggplant slices were shitakes! Your son is quite an excellent cook - very lucky. One of my daughters loves being in the kitchen, so maybe I'll be lucky in my future too! Well, I looked up urad flour and told my husband we need to get some apparently, to have amazing seitan! I've been working with some seitan recipes that have been turning out well, and I'll be posting them soon.

  14. Thanks so much Andrea--I will have to give it a try!


  15. Well, now I'm craving some seitan pot roast! I used to love seitan. . . *sigh*. And now I'm in love with Australia all over again! :)

  16. That's such a cute baby story! You're so lucky to have such awesome sons cooking for you. :-) The seitan pot roast looks great, I still gotta track down that urad flour. I can't wait to try it.

  17. Wow! This is interesting. I love the combination of the ingredients! I should really try this one.

  18. You lived in Australia for half a year? The more I find out about you, the more I adore you.

    And now I'm crossing my fingers that when my children grow up, they cook such amazing meals for me.

  19. Blessedmama,
    I think your kids will turn out to be fine cooks — the bigger question is where they'll end up living. I don't know why the urad flour affects the texture so much, but it does. It makes the seitan softer and less rubbery, which in some cases wouldn't be a good effect. Looking forward to your recipes.

    You're welcome

    I don't know if there's a gluten-free substitute for seitan, but if there is, I'm sure you'll find it. You can make a strange, chewy "cheese" from sprouted chickpeas that might work. But probably not. Australia is another story — no dietary restrictions on loving Australia. :D

    Chow vegan,
    The baby story is cute now, but it was a little hard to explain at the time. I want to try making something more traditional from the flour but haven't gotten around to it yet.

    Dining table,
    I know you're hoping people will follow your link to see your dining tables, but, whatever.

    Your kids will probably turn into wonderful cooks. I don't remember teaching my kids how to cook, but I do remember cooking a lot for them. A lot.


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