Chad Clinger collumn: The kitchen is calling and I must answer

A.k.a. how I spend my weekends

By Chad Clinger -

The first weekend in August has now come to serve as a benchmark for me.

You see, that particular weekend is pretty much the last weekend that I have as a sports reporter where a sport isn’t officially being played. Soon it will be crunch time when it comes to previews, scrimmages and matches.

So, what does one do with that time?

Relax? I am not even sure that I know what that word means, let alone how to still do such a thing. Instead, I stayed busy around the homestead; cleaning, organizing, making trips to the grocery store to make sure that all necessary items are stocked (little black binder of savings in hand, of course) and cooking.

With my vegetarian/part-time vegan lifestyle, I have found myself enjoying cooking even more than in the past. It is quite the adventure tracking down new recipes online and then watching them come to fruition in the kitchen. The ambition is always great, but so is the anxiety of it all. Is it going to turn out like it should? What if it is completely disgusting and entirely inedible? Luckily, that has yet to happen and the lady is always reassuring me that I have not went wrong yet.

Last weekend, I dove into the art of vegan bacon and vegan pepperoni and yes, before you ask, those are real things. For the bacon, it is as simple as pressing out and frying up some firm or extra firm tofu. If you were like me and questioned the taste of tofu, remember that it is essentially like a sponge and will take on any flavor that it is cooked with. If it is prepared correctly. After the press and fry, simply coat the tofu with a mixture of seasonings (your choice really) and a mixture of low sodium soy sauce and liquid smoke. Coat, toss, stir and boom! “Bacon”!

I was a bacon fanatic in my carnivorous days and now, thanks to this handy little bit, I get it all over again and guilt free! The lady and I put it on a toasted hoagie with spinach, roma tomatoes and Just brand Mayonaise (it’s vegan) and just like that, the most delicious “B-S-T” (see what I did there?) that I’ve ever had! I know now what else can be done to make the joys of “bacon” really pop and dropped $15 on various spices and rubs at Sam’s Club to further enhance the flavor of this fantastic, virtually grease-free deliciousness.

As for the pepperoni, I knew that it was time to give the recipe a try after the success and life-changing status of my tofu bacon. It is a seitan base. If you are unsure what that means, look it up because me trying to explain it would just get you more lost. In simplest terms, it is made from vital wheat gluten, a staple in a vegetarian/vegans diet. Mix in a whole lot of seasonings, some listed in the recipe, some that I knew would just make the creation pop and in an hour and fifteen minutes you have pepperoni. Sure, the texture is a bit of as it is not made from over processed animal products but let me tell ya’ folks, the flavor is spot on! Now it will go on homemade pizza, possibly with some peppers, onions, spinach and sun dried tomatoes and I am drooling just thinking about it!

Now that I’ve told you about my cooking excursions and I have given you a glimpse into my free time, I’ll add one more thing about cooking.

If you can use a stove-top or an oven, you can cook! It may not always be the most delicious creation in the world but, just like with anything in life, if you never try, you’ll never know.

I used to think I could only cook chili really well. My chili will give anyone’s a run for the money. But I was thinking too small. The possibilities in the kitchen are endless if you have an open mind and a non-picky stance on food.

The moral of the story? Get online or into a book, find a new recipe and give it a shot! If it works, find out what you can add or subtract to make it entirely your own. Remember, recipes are just the basic blueprint of culinary creations. If it doesn’t work then hey, at least you tried.

And you can always order a pizza!
A.k.a. how I spend my weekends

By Chad Clinger

Follow Chad on Twitter @GalionSportsGuy

Reach Chad at 419-468-1117 x2048

Follow Chad on Twitter @GalionSportsGuy

Reach Chad at 419-468-1117 x2048