Seitan Chicken Cutlet (Baked, Not Fried)

Drop the “s”, always drop the “s”. At least Fran would if a word ended in it.

The now defunct grocery chain was therefore Almac. Her favorite player: Ted William. And regardless of how many my cousin and I would be served – the two of us forever in some form of unspoken Joey Chestnut-esque display of machismo, each in competition for who could consume more, as if eating the most would allow one of us to somehow rise to the rank of “favorite grandson” (I was the first born grandson, game over) – these delicate tenders were forever referred to as, you guessed it, chicken cutlet.

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Lentils with Guanciale

Lentils were always on the ready due to their low cost and satisfying qualities. This is in addition to their ultra-savory appeal – made possible by chunks of salty/smoky pig’s head.

Traditional: the cheek/jowl flesh of a pig is rubbed with spice and aged for about a month.

Veganized: 1/2 package of May-Wah vegan bacon strips cut into fine pieces, seasoned with sage, black pepper and three drops of liquid smoke.

That’s how I make guanciale (gwan-cha-lay).


Brown vegan guanciale with diced onions.

Prepare lentils right on top of guanciale crisps (1 cup dry to 2 cups pipe punch or veg broth).

When liquid has been absorbed and lentils are done, add cubed sweet potatoes that have been boiled until tender.

Garnish with parsley and serve alongside garlicky greens.

And Then a Miracle, a Squash (I Can Never Grow Zuccha Anymore)

I’m gonna hide
If she don’t leave me a gourd
I’m gonna run – away


’cause you can never grow zuccha anymore

Listen. Does this sound familiar? You wake up every morning, walk through the garden every day, spend your nights staring at the moon,
just passing the time away.
Life is so lonely like a dirt-covered pepper without a wash.
Then a miracle, a squash.

And that’s called “glad.”

Now my garden is a good garden
and she loves me with all her soil.
But she said I was too greedy to have a harvest
and the squash and I would have to recoil.

And no matter how I ranted and raved, I screamed, I pleaded, I cried
she told me it was not really a worthwhile harvest,
but only my green-thumbed pride.

And that’s called “bad.”

(Never grow zuccha anymore)

Now if that’s happened to you, don’t let this.
I pulled weeds and hoed
and watered them every night.
Though she couldn’t promise me a yield
I was sure I was right.

And you know something funny??
I forgot that squash right away.
Instead, I remember picking tomatoes
and hearing my garden say…

(Hush, little vegan, don’t you cry)
(Garden won’t go away)


(You can never grow zuccha anymore)

I can never grow zuccha anymore

Listen, I’m not finished…
Do you ever get that feeling and wanna rake and till her? Do it now-
Show her you love her. Don’t do to your garden what I did to mine. She grew so lonely
in the end. Angels picked her for a friend.


And I can never grow zuccha (never) anymore

And that’s called “sad.”

I like the Shangri-Las.
This was written by Jerry Grimaldi.
Although I can’t be certain, I will assume that due to the fact he was an eye-tie, Fran and Sam liked his work.
Miraculously, a single summer squash plant grew back and I found the above, yellow yield.
Get it? Too bad.

Duh-may-duhz ‘n “Eggs” (Actually, it’s Tofu)

You say tomato, papa said duh-may-duh. One of his favorite combinations was something he called “duh-may-duhz ‘n eggs”. Pretty much scrambled eggs with garden fresh tomatoes. Served cold, as a sandwich or with toast acting as the shovel.

Here is my veganization:


-medium-sized pot
-choo-cha(d) aka stirring spoon
-medium mixing bowl
-Saran Wrap

-5 medium seeded tomatoes, chopped in 1/2″ pieces
-1 lb of extra firm tofu, squeezed of excess liquid and crumbled finely
-2 shakes of turmeric (or 2 tsp saffron “tea” – for color, not flavor)
-2 pinches sea salt
-6 twists of fresh ground whole black pepper
-1 splash white balsamic vinegar (for flavor, not color)
-2 shakes garlic powder
-3 sprigs of chopped parsley (plus two for garnish)

In a medium mixing bowl crumble tofu by hand and sprinkle with turmeric. Season with 1 pinch of salt, pepper and garlic powder. Stir.

Bring medium pot up to medium heat and add chopped tomatoes (no oil). Allow them to simmer for about 5-7 minutes or until they start to break down.

Add tofu “egg” mixture to pot and stir. Season with an additional pinch of salt and a splash of white balsamic vinegar.

Return back to the mixing bowl and allow to cool. Strain out excess liquid by pressing mixture against side of bowl with coo-cha(d) over sink drain. Mix in chopped parsley.

Cover in Saran Wrap and allow to chill through for a few hours – overnight would be ideal.

Garnish with fresh parsley and sliced tomato and serve alongside toast points and roasted garden vegetables. Nooch and hot sauce optional.
Yields approximately 3 hearty portions.


Gravy #3 – Sunday “Meat” Gravy or Perhaps a Bolognese Variant

Sundays mean family gatherings, relaxation and subsequently, at least for me, going over the recommended daily caloric intake like a true cavone. Usually gravy is involved.

Truth be told, I do not miss the myriad of meat that traditionally goes in to such a preparation. You see, I have been relying on this protein-rich alternative for some time and for me, it just hits the spot.

It’s sort of like Francesca’s Quick Gravy only thicker and with more nutritional value.

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