Saturday, January 25, 2014

Chickenless chicken soup

Learning to accept what the day brings forth is an almost unfathomable concept for most. My approach to what we will be eating today has morphed from "what am I feeling like eating today", into "what can I possibly make with these beaks and feathers". Although I imposed the current situation on myself, the very challenge of coping gives one a heightened sense of reality. The only difference between a horrible experience and a great experience is what you make of it. I'd like to think that I am a "glass is half full" kinda guy. In fact, I used to have a professor that would tell me, "You have a good disposition, and a good disposition is the greatest gift of God". Then, after a short pause he would add, "or it could just be lack of intelligence".
Ocean bight beach. Nothing to do with this article, but I just had to put it in.

So here we are, our supplies are low...really our meats and vegetables are low. We have plenty of carbs. I can only be the captain if the crew is happy, and nothing can make the crew unhappy like a bowl of plain white rice. However, I have a trick up my sleeve. Has anyone ever heard of "TVP", or "textured vegetable protein"? It is soy bean protein type product that comes in a dry form, like a grain. It had no real flavor of its own, like Styrofoam. It has about 90% as much protein as beef, but less fat.
These two companies should sponsor me, wouldn't you agree?

Here's how it works, before you use it you need to re-hydrate it at a ratio of 1 to 1, 1 cup of boiling water to 1 cup of TVP. What ever that water taste like is what your TVP will taste like, so add a bullion cube of chicken, or beef flavor and you have chicken or beef flavored something. It is actually very much like a ground meat product, like ground beef. In fact I once served it at a party in the form of burgers. and well, either I have very polite guests. or nobody noticed. I would guess the latter. If you buy bad bullion cubes you will have bad TVP (do I need to say this?). As long as you keep TVP dry it seems to last forever.
I have made a variety of dishes with TVP, beef and chicken tacos, chicken soup, spaghetti and meatballs, and yes burgers, all were a hit. If you want to make meatballs, or hamburgers you will need a binder, something to hold the granules together. While some recipes call for "vital wheat gluten" I just use eggs because they're readily available and inexpensive. The crew doesn't suspect a thing.

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