Sunday, August 7, 2016

Vegan Hot Dogs, a Review (If you're looking for an actual recipe, this isn't the place.)

Recently, I decided to recommit myself to trying to eat better.  Mostly, I just need to stop snacking all day, because if you were here at the meals I actually fix, you would think we eat healthy and you'd be wondering how I keep gaining so much weight.  I'm tired of the weight, so I'm going back to what I know works for me, and that is to follow the principles in the Word of Wisdom. I've had some rather interesting (to me) experiences in trying my hand at vegan cooking and I was thinking that I ought to start a blog and share them with people, but then I remembered that I already had a blog that I wasn't using, since I am the world's worst blogger. Anyway, what follows is my experience in trying to find out if I could make a vegan hot dog.  I'm not sure why I felt the need to do this, since I haven't eaten more than a few hot dogs in the last 15 years, but the idea got stuck in my head, so I gave it a try.

I actually made two versions.  The first one I found to be amazing in its complexity and not so amazing in its delivery, so this was likely a one time thing.  You make these things by steaming potatoes, carrots and beets and then chopping them fine in a food processor. They end up looking like this:
 If you happen to dislike any of those veggies, don’t worry, because the finished product didn’t resemble any of them and was way worse than any aversion you might feel to any of them individually.  Although, for a substitute hot dog it really wasn’t too bad. But I’m getting ahead of myself.  So you process those together, along with some onion and spices until the stuff has the consistency of a very liquid mud.  I think the word “slurry” might fit that description.  Then, you add enough flour to make it into a dough.  Not a nice, workable dough like bread dough; no, this is very sticky, and you’re supposed to keep oil on your hands to keep it from sticking to them while you take hunks of it and roll them into hot dog shapes.  The beets made this a dark pink color which actually somewhat resembled raw meat.  That might be appealing to the hard core carnivores out there, but raw meat has never held any sort of appeal for me, even when I was eating a lot of meat (cooked), so that didn’t help this project at all.  Anyway, I would roll one out, wash my hands, put some more oil on them, do another  one, wash my hands, etc.  Time consuming and tedious.   And don’t even think that you’re going to be cooking these things in an easy way like just baking them in the oven.  Not even.  You have to steam them for, well, I can’t even remember, but it seems like it might have been around 45 – 60 minutes.  Okay, then can we eat them?  No again!  Now we have to fry them or broil them or grill them to try to get brown lines on them so they look like hot dogs.  I don’t have a grill (and I don’t want one, either, so don’t go sending my name in to the Ellen show or anything like that), so I just opted to fry them in a pan for a little bit. 
I have to say that the finished product was not terribly appealing.  Thankfully, everyone at my table knows better than to use crude terms to describe the food I have just slaved away preparing for them, but in all honesty, it kind of looked like grilled pooh logs.  You know that I am a very proper lady and all (not that the Queen has ever invited me to tea, or anything), but I do try to keep my language out of the gutter, but that is as delicate as I can be about this stuff.  It was not pretty.  In all fairness, the real ones have their own issues in the looks department, but I doubt that I can describe those and continue to be a proper lady, so I’ll leave it at that.  Anyway, I put one on a bun and slathered it in ketchup, mustard and mustard pickle relish, and you know what?  It tasted just like I remember hot dogs tasting, which is like ketchup, mustard and pickle relish.  By the time you put all of that on them, you pretty much forget about the “meat,” so it really doesn’t matter that much.  Amazingly enough, everyone ate them and there weren’t any leftovers.  Thank goodness.  The kids did tell me that they really weren’t hot dogs, but I said that they had that spongy texture and they said that it wasn’t the texture of hot dogs.  I’m probably going to have to just let them be right this time, since , like I said before, it's been a long time since I've eaten them, and it might be that I have forgotten what they really are like. I could have shared more pictures here, but from the description above, you can probably figure out why I didn't.

Next attempt: Carrot dogs!  Seriously, no one would even believe that you could do a hot dog with a carrot, right?  Well, guess what?  You sort of can, though never again with the recipe I tried.  The stuff had so much vinegar in it that when I opened the bag to take them out of the marinade, people in the next county complained.  Or maybe it was just the people in the next room.  I forget, but the smell was strong.  So here’s how you do it, not that anyone ever needs to know.  You take the carrots and peel them and then boil them until they are just fork tender.  You don’t want them to be mushy.  Then you put them in a zip lock bag in this marinade that has lots of vinegar, along with some soy sauce, liquid smoke, and some other spices, then zip up the bag and put it in the fridge for anywhere from 4 to 48 hours, depending on which blog you find the recipe on.  When they’re ready (and it’s really anyone’s guess what “ready” really means), you take them out and grill or fry them, again to get brown grill lines on them and to get them hot, then stick them in the bun.  It was pretty amazing, really. They look like this:

 They tasted like ketchup, mustard, and pickle relish, just like the other one, with a different texture and much better appearance.   I knew my family wasn’t going to be thrilled with the vinegar, and I was right.  They all said they’d prefer to just eat the carrots the way you’re supposed to eat them.  I guess I’ll have to agree with them, there, though I do wonder if I could just use a boiled carrot and forget the spicy marinade.  I’ve about decided that really what we want is a just a way to eat ketchup, mustard and pickle relish.   Don’t hold your breath on this one, but I may just try that sometime, boiling the carrot, just for fun, to use up the leftover hot dog buns.  One thing I will say is that if you’re going to make your own hot dogs, you can plan it so they come out in eights instead of tens and have them match the number of buns in a package.  Who was the marketing genius that came up with that idea, anyway? (Oh wait, come to think of it, maybe they were a marketing genius.) It makes me want to do things that proper ladies don’t do, which may have something to do with why I stopped eating hot dogs in the first place.

My conclusion, after all this work, is that version #1 is way too much work to bother with, even though it was the one that most of the family ate.  Version #2 might have potential if I really decide that I need a carrier to help me get my condiments into me, but I'll have to find a recipe with a lot less vinegar. My recipe for sunburgers here:  satisfies that need very nicely, though, so I probably won't mess with the hot dogs much.

Coming up in future posts I'll share some recipes for vegan pulled pork sandwich taste-a-likes and vegan bacon that are fabulous.