This Vegan MoFo, won’t you be my neighbor?

Cadry's Kitchen - Vegan MoFo 2014Hello, neighbor!

When you think about it, Mister Rogers was the original blogger. He brought us into his home five days a week and checked in with us about his normal day to day life. He fed his fish. He looked forward to getting the mail. He dined with Chef Brockett. And of course, he offered up his trolley, so that we could visit his friends in the Neighborhood of Make Believe – King Friday, Prince Tuesday, Queen Sara, Lady Elaine Fairchild, Daniel Striped Tiger, Henrietta Pussycat, and X the Owl.

While many children’s programs of the time were flashier and faster, there was something refreshingly comfortable about his simple songs and the way he evoked the feeling of ordinary kindness for our selves and for each other. (I like you just the way you are.)

Avon Striped Tiger - Vegan MoFo 2014On stressful days, sometimes I feel like I could use more Mister Rogers in my life. And honestly, he’s one of the few celebrities that, one, I already felt like I knew, and, two, was sad that I would never get the opportunity to meet in real life. He seemed like a sincerely wonderful person. (And did you know he was a vegetarian too?)

Cadry's Kitchen - Vegan MoFo 2014With Mister Rogers in mind, I’ll be doing a series of posts this month for Vegan MoFo all about coming home. I’ll focus on foods that are the equivalent of putting on my favorite sweater and coziest slippers. They’re the foods that feel familiar and friendly. They’re often not fussy and feel comfortable in their simplicity. For September I’ll be sharing stories, recipes, and videos all about the foods that feel like home to me. I also have something fun and interactive up my sleeve that I’ll tell you about the next time we talk!

(If you’re not familiar with it, Vegan MoFo stands for the Vegan Month of Food. It’s the time when bloggers from around the world challenge themselves to write regular posts for one month all about vegan food. The goal is to hit 20 posts for the month. By the way, this is my fifth year participating in Vegan MoFo. Yay!)

I’m so looking forward to sharing some of the recipes closest to my heart with you this month. After all, you make each day such a special day. You know how. By just your being you.

Review: Gardein Golden Fishless Filets

Gardein Golden Fishless FiletsIt seems like there’s always one vegan specialty product or another that is on my “scavenger hunt” list.  In my pre-vegan days I might have heard about a new food item by way of TV advertising; however, most vegan foods don’t have that kind of advertising budget.  (Sorry, kale.)  Nowadays I hear about new products through blogs.  Once enough people have Instagrammed it, tweeted it, or written long prose for it, I am often pretty curious to try it for myself.

Only one problem – living in the middle of small town America means that it takes a long while before the newest vegan burgers, chips, cheeses, and spreads make their way here (if they ever do).  For things I’m particularly curious about or have tried and loved in other places, I’ll put in a request at one of my local grocery stores.  Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.

So I compile an ongoing list in my head of things that I want to keep an eye out for when I’m visiting one of those stores or if I’m in another bigger city where vegan specialty products arrive more quickly.  (If only every city had a Viva La Vegan, Artichoke Red, or Nooch.)

One item that I’ve been eager to try since last spring when blogger after blogger raved about them at Expo West is Gardein Golden Fishless Filets.  I’ve written about Gardein’s beefless burgers before, and David is in love with their 7 Grain Crispy Tenders.  They make a tasty dinner plate centerpiece on evenings when we’re not in the mood to cook.  Add some baked fries or steamed broccoli and dinner is ready.

Gardein Golden Fishless Filets - all veganAgain and again people kept comparing the Fishless Filets to Long John Silvers.  Admittedly, that may not sound like high praise.  However, when I was in junior high if you’d asked my favorite restaurant, I would have said Long John Silvers.  I was a fan of all manner of their strips, planks, and hushpuppies, and in love with their malt vinegar.  (It’s just ordinary malt vinegar, but that was the only place in my realm that had it.)  As an appetizer to a meal of fried, fried, and fried, I always added an order of crispies, the fried batter remnants that were sold for 25 cents per box.  So the 7th grader inside of me was very curious to try these new filets for myself.

I finally found the Gardein Golden Fishless Filets in Omaha through a tip from The Laziest Vegans in the World.  (Good and bad news: I later learned after babysitting three packages in the cooler for hours that one of our local stores where I’d requested them was now carrying them.)

We’ve made them a couple of different ways – first by baking them the entire time listed on the bag.  They were tasty but not quite as crisp on the outside as I was hoping.  The subsequent times we baked them for ten minutes and then shallow fried them in oil in a pan for 2 or 3 minutes on each side.  Perfection.

Supposedly there are 3 servings worth in each bag, but who are we kidding?  David and I split the bag (3 pieces per person), and that was a satisfying amount.  The filets aren’t too fishy in taste, and the batter has a terrific flavor.  With malt vinegar and a squeeze of lemon, it totally takes me back and no fish were harmed in the process.