Converting Regular Recipes Into Vegan Recipes

| 2/15/2011 2:14:04 PM


Photo by Barron Fujimoto

When I eat at home, I like to cook vegan. However, I have seen a couple of tempting non-vegan recipes on the Internet recently: chicken-cauliflower salad and wheat berry pudding. After a bit of brainstorming, I realized that I could easily modify both recipes to be meat- and dairy-free by substituting tofu for chicken and coconut milk for dairy milk. I then found two vegan recipes: crusty white bread and avocado-corn salsa, that looked like they would pair well with my hybrid vegan dishes. Of course, if I was going to properly execute the veganization feat, I needed testers.

Hernán, a Peruvian who lives up to his culture’s love of meat — no beef heart or guinea pig is safe with him around — and says “vegan” like it’s a curse word. Marina, a spicy Brazilian who also embraces her native culture’s carnivorous cuisine. Colter, an Arizona alum who so missed a particular Tucson hamburger that he had a friend ship it to him … and ate it upon its room-temperature arrival two days later (don’t try this at home). Jennifer, a fellow Mother Earth News staffer, gardener and healthy foods enthusiast. Baker, my 16-year-old, fast-food-addicted brother who is visiting for the week and, he reports, living in a vegan nightmare.

Experience Making Vegan White Bread

I started on the bread the day before the dinner. I was curious to make it because, according to the recipe’s author, kneading is completely superfluous. I just had to use a simple bread-folding technique to develop the gluten in the flour. Some obstacles stood in my path, the most menacing of which being the temperature of my apartment. We have had very cold weather in Kansas lately, which apparently is not conducive to proper bread rising. Despite the fact that I stored my big bowl of dough in the tiny furnace closet — the warmest nook in my apartment — it took a while to rise. (Note: I know now that you can put the bowl of dough on an upper rack in the oven and place a bowl of hot water below it; shut the door and voilà, a perfect environment for rising.)

I left it alone overnight and when I woke up in the morning, I folded it again and tucked the dough safely back into its bowl. At around 4:00, I retrieved the dough from the closet and stuck it in the 400-degree Fahrenheit oven on a baking stone despite the recipe’s 500 degree suggestion; 500 degrees seemed, well, too hot. At any rate, the bread developed a nice, thick crust and a chewy inside.

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