I'm pretty sure that this time of year indicates the need to reflect and "give thanks" for all we are grateful for on this earth. I find it most helpful to make a pros and cons list, thus the cons highlight the pros of the past year.
I met the woman of my dreams and am happily engaged.
I lost my reigning title as "Pimpstress of Mystery".
I have two adorable little doggies.
Said dogs do not always understand that outside is the bathroom.
My cookbook is getting published.
My desire to tackle my workload must now overpower my desire to smoke a bong.
I bought some new furniture.
The furniture was from Ikea.
True, the pros far outweigh the cons. I feel I've also grown a great deal as a chef, lover and human being in general. A year ago, I never imagined I'd be sharing my home with someone I care for so deeply. I never imagined my thoughts would wander towards the desire to start a family. I also never imagined I'd have so much laundry to do every week. Indeed, I have much to be thankful for.
But if so much can change for the good in just one year, it also makes me fearful for the year ahead. I want to believe that all will continue on a positive path. The past has shown me the many ups and downs of life, and I'm just not quite ready for any downs to rain on my parade...except on my wedding day, because I hear that's good luck. It's tough for me to imagine anything going completely screwy. To protect myself a bit, I find it important to note that, even during one of the best years of my life, there was a little bad in the good.
What am I truly thankful for? My future wife. Our life together. My family's undying support of my creative endeavors. My OCD cleaning tendencies that prevent our apartment from turning into a bachelorette pad. My new lime green vacuum. The Veggie Grill for opening up the street from me. The now 5+ restaurants that will deliver vegan pizza to my home. My new oven. Armor-All doggie training pads. The roses Jane bought me last week. My sister being amazing and graduating from college this year. My super cool neighbor that sells cosmetics to Sephora. And lastly, Best Buy for declining my credit card application and saving me excess debt.
2009 was a good year indeed.
stuffed with Saffron Wild Mushrooms
- 1/2 cup Tamari
- 1/8 cup Marsala Wine
- 1 1/2 cups tightly packed Fresh Basil Leaves
- 1/4 cup Fresh Oregano Leaves
- 1 TBSP Olive Oil
- Splash of Lemon Juice
- 1 1/2 tsp Salt
- Pinch of Black Pepper
- 2 TBSP Vegan Margarine
- Pinch of Spanish Saffron Threads
- 1/4 cup Shallots, finely diced
- 1/2 Leek, white part only, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup Oyster Mushrooms, sliced
- Large pinch of Salt, for Mushrooms
- Black Pepper, to taste, for Mushrooms
- 1 1/4 batch of Vegan Beef* (See specific preparation instructions below)
*When making the Vegan Beef, instead of cutting into steak size pieces before dropping into the broth, leave it all in one piece. Shape it into a long, flat rectangle that's about 7-8 inches long and about 4-5 inches wide. Drop into the broth and boil for 1 hour, turning every 15 minutes. Drain well, and you're ready to go. It should look like this...
Place the vegan Steak in a large, shallow container. Combine the Tamari and Marsala wine, then pour over the "steak". Allow the "Steak" to marinate for 1/2 hour on each side. When finished marinating, reserve the marinade for a dipping sauce. You can also reduce it in a saucepan if desired.
In your food processor or blender, puree the Basil, Oregano, Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Salt and Pepper until it forms a uniform paste. Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Preheat the broiler on your oven.
In a medium saucepan, melt the vegan margarine, then add the Saffron, Leeks and Shallots. Saute 5-8 minutes, until soft. Add all the mushrooms to the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes until tender. Set aside.
Butterfly slice the "steak" so that it opens like a book, being careful not to cut the "steak" into two separate pieces. Place the mushroom stuffing inside of the steak, then roll it up lengthwise and tie up well with twine. It will now look like this...
Rub the "steak" all over with the Basil/Oregano paste, then broil for 5-10 minutes per side until brown but not drying out.