A whole year

Last year on November 15 we moved Byron's dad from Canada to the U.S.  He's been living with us for an entire year now.  Seriously hard to believe.  In honor of this milestone, I made a special dish for dinner on Wednesday night -- our weekly family dinner with Herman.

Herman is mostly vegetarian, and he is a big fan of homemade gluten steaks, mashed potatoes, and gravy.  When Byron's mom was alive, she made legendary gluten (also called seitan, commercially). I had never tried to make it, but given the occasion I decided to give it a try so I dug out her recipe.  It's a cinch to make.  The texture turned out nice and tender, just like I remember hers being.  But the broth, which gives the gluten its flavor, wasn't quite right.  We decided it needed Vegemite -- something not in her recipe but something that we are pretty certain she added.

After making the gluten and simmering it a while in the broth, I breaded and fried the gluten steaks.  Our dinner also included mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy, a greens-radicchio-fennel salad, and pumpkin pie.  It was a hit.

Herman pronounced the meal "more than edible!," which I believe means he really liked it.  He tells me, however, that Elvie, a woman from his church back in B.C., makes the best gluten in the world.  Maybe I'll email her and see if she will share her secrets.

Gluten can be seasoned many different ways by changing the contents of the simmering broth, and it can be used in everything from stir fries and casseroles, to eating it alone or, as I have been known to do (and greatly enjoy) breading and frying it and making it into a sandwich on homemade bread.

Esther's Homemade Gluten

Mix together:
3 cups 100% gluten flour (Bob's Red Mill makes this)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour

add 3 cups cold water
Mix well and knead into a ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at least an hour, or overnight, in the fridge.

When you are ready for the next step, remove from the fridge and cut pieces of dough off the ball -- about half the size of a golf ball -- and stretch them thin (don't worry that the edges will be thicker than the middle).  Drop the stretched pieces into simmering broth (recipe follows).  Simmer the pieces at least 30 minutes, but an hour or more is good since the longer it simmers the more flavor the broth will impart to the gluten.  The gluten pieces will puff up as they cook.  After simmering, cool and remove the gluten pieces from the broth.  Store the finished gluten in the fridge for a few days, or freeze it if you won't be using it right away.

6 cups water
1 cup tomato juice
1 Tbs. McKay's chicken seasoning
1/2 cup soy sauce (I use more)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1Tbs. Vegemite (secret ingredient?)

The broth should be too salty to eat alone in order to flavor the gluten adequately.

Makes a lot.


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