Victoria’s Vegetarian Victuals

This is our friend and partner Art, plowing our driveway with our John Deere bulldozer. Following is an account of our efforts on Sunday, January 5, 2003. That deck is four feet above the ground. That’s our big green and white van in that snowdrift to the right of the driveway at the bottom. That vehicle isn’t going anywhere until March!

Someday this winter's weather will be history, too. Mom enters her ninth week with this bronchitis. She is an asthmatic, too. Says she doesn’t feel too bad, but the coughing hurts a lot, by now, and it makes her weak. She says that it’s worse at night. Why is that?

Friday, we had 22 more inches of snow. That's on top of the 32 inches that we had on Christmas Day. We had gone food shopping in the morning, and got home before the storms (3 of them) converged over central New York State.

The guy that Art sent had never properly plowed the driveway (the consensus is that the guy is new, and doesn't know his backside from his elbow yet). At any rate, we have been snowed in, though thank God we never lost power or services.

Art came on Sunday with his plow truck to dig us out, and the plow truck promptly got stuck in a drift 2/3 of the way down the driveway. Art then tried to push it out of the drift using Mom’s RamCharger. This is a heavy-duty 4-wheel drive SUV. The RamCharger immediately slid on a sheet of ice down the driveway, toward Art's plow truck. It stopped about 6" short of hitting it. Thereafter, of course, the RamCharger could not be safely moved in any direction. (All this time, you understand, Art is swearing, frequently using the Queen Mother of dirty words.)

We walked up the hill to the parking lot to get the bulldozer. It wouldn't start. Mind you, we are, all this time slogging through deep, unplowed snow, and drifts, all of which is endeavoring to yank the boots off our very feet.

Eventually, Art got the tractor -- which is attached to the brush hog -- started and unhooked the gizmo in the back. The rear tires on the tractor are taller than we are.

At the bottom of the homestead hill, opposite the foot of our driveway, the tractor ran into a snow bank and got stuck. The air on Quaker Hill Road was blue. We suggested that we call Grant and Mariann, who, after all, only live on the other side of this mountain.

Art, by now, needs a propane torch to:

  1. Start the bulldozer
  2. Thaw the ice under the RamCharger
  3. Thaw the ice under the tractor
  4. Thaw the ice under the plow truck.

His propane torch and all the rest of the stuff is in his other truck, which is on the other side of Brookfield -- about 6 miles from here.

Mom called Grant and Mariann. Mariann came over with her Bronco, and drove Art to his house to get his other truck.

With a little encouragement, the bulldozer started. That machine is now a member of the family. On that lovely little John Deere bulldozer, Art got up behind the RamCharger, and pulled it back up the hill, away from Art's plow truck. Mom got into the plow truck and Art tried to pull it backwards out of the snow bank. The line broke twice. Queen Mother of dirty words again. And this time I said it, too, at about the same time as Art did!

Mom said, “Vicky!” and fell on her backside on the driveway. Well, anyone would. It was very slippery. They hooked up a chain for the third try, and we got the plow truck out. Mom had to back it the rest of the way down the driveway onto the road, and all the while Art is yelling at Mom not to run into the ##@^***[email protected]@@@!!! tractor, which is still jammed into a snow bank opposite the foot of the driveway, right at his backside where he left it. Mom is also trying not to back the plow's backside into a 6-foot drift on her left. She didn't hit anything.

Mom parked the plow on the road, went back and got the RamCharger, praying all the while that she would not hit that icy patch again, brought it down to the road, and parked it behind the plow truck. She didn't hit anything that time either.

Now the driveway is clear of vehicles, the van having been parked for the winter at the foot of the lawn, out of harm's way.

Art plowed the driveway. He found one of the trashcans, missing since Christmas. Five are still missing.

Now he has to move the tractor back to our parking lot, ¼ of a mile up the road, because it is still on the road and in the way of the 3 or 4 cars a week that pass this house. The bulldozer, he parked behind the cattery. Mom turned the RamCharger around and brought it up the driveway to park beside the porch.

We discover that Art has run over a litter box that was buried under the snow in front of the cattery. For some reason this is hilarious. He has also ripped the bottom step off the deck (2nd time for this) and this is not quite so funny.

We are not finished. Both of his vehicles are now here, and he has to go home. He drove the plow and Mom drove the pick-up, and then he brought her home in the plow. On the way back, one of our neighbors (about 3/4 of a mile from here) flagged him down and asked him to plow out his place. Art agreed, and dropped Mom off here. She took a hot shower and 2 aspirin and went to bed. I suspect that Art went home after he dug out Mr. and Mrs. Gardy's driveway, and did the same.

I made some fudge for both of them, and it did not last the evening.

Why, you ask, do we live here?

There are two hand-painted bird feeders hanging on either side of the cattery door. Mariann did them. They are beautiful. One looks like a little covered bridge, and the other looks like Frodo’s house. We fill them every morning. I filled them as Art was still plowing, and the birds milled around me as I did so. One little guy lit on the left arm of my red jacket. They land on my person quite a lot. Fearless little sweethearts, they are. One lit on the zipper of Mom’s jacket and scared the dickens out of her. All the fluttering wings in her face, you know. But she stood still and once I had filled the trays, the little bird flew right to his breakfast. They meet us on the porch, first thing, for breakfast. If we lived someplace else, who would feed them?

Also, Spring, Summer and Autumn are beautiful beyond belief here. Even Winter, in spite of the cold and the inconvenience, is gorgeous. This year, we have plans to add a screened room to the cattery, so that the troops can enjoy the good weather when it comes back.

Enough of the cold! (It’s supposed to hit –2 by tomorrow night!)

Here’s something hot to make us all feel better.

Moussaka (Vegetarian Eggplant and Cheese)

Moussaka (Vegetarian Eggplant and Cheese)
This Moussaka does not have meat - result is a complete vegetarian dish with considerable dimension.
  • 2 lbs. (about 4) eggplant - stems removed
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. corn oil
  • 4 cloves garlic - chopped fine
  • 1/2 c. tomato sauce
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese - grated

Cut each eggplant lengthwise into 3 equal slices. Sprinkle with the salt and let stand for 20 minutes, Dry the slices on paper towels to absorb the liquid that accumulates. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a pan and stir-fry the garlic over moderate heat until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and water and mix well. Simmer the sauce over low heat until it becomes thickened, about 15 minutes.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a skillet. Dip the eggplant slices into the beaten eggs and fry over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Fry all the eggplant slices this way.

Assemble the moussaka in this manner. Put a layer of eggplant in a heatproof glass or metal baking dish.

Cover with about 1/2 cup of the cooked tomato sauce. Sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of the grated cheese. Cover this with another layer of eggplant, then sauce, then cheese. The last layer (there should be three) ends with the cheese. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 1/2 hour. Serve warm.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: about an hour

Vegetarian Meatloaf

  • 1 c. lentils - raw, brown
  • 1/4 c. wheat germ
  • 1 c. breadcrumbs - whole wheat
  • 1/2 c. brown rice
  • 1 onion - minced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 clove garlic - crushed
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp. tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

Cover lentils with water and cook on a low boil for 1-1/2 hours or until tender. Mash lentils coarsely and combine with remaining ingredients. Pour into well greased loaf pan and bake, covered, at 350 F for 45 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook for 15 minutes or until loaf is firm to the touch. Serve with your favorite sauce.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: approximately 3 hours

Savory Vegetarian Burger

  • 3/4 lb. firm tofu
  • 4 tsp. olive oil - divided
  • 1/3 c. minced green onions
  • 1 c. finely grated carrot
  • 1 c. finely chopped green cabbage
  • 1 clove garlic - peeled and forced through a press
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp. ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. finely minced parsley
  • 2 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 4 tsp. taco seasoning mix
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Several grindings freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 c. wheat germ
  • 4 hamburger buns - toasted
  • Assorted condiments

Drain the tofu and slice thinly. Place on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and a couple of cans to weight down. Let it drain for 45 minutes.

In a nonstick skillet heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, cabbage and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Cool slightly.

Process the drained tofu in a food processor until creamy. Add the flour, yeast, ketchup, parsley, sesame seeds, taco seasoning, cayenne, salt and pepper; process until smooth. Add the vegetables and process until the vegetables are finely chopped and incorporated.

Form the mixture into 4 patties and dredge in wheat germ. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the burgers and cook for 5 minutes. Turn and add another teaspoon oil; continue cooking 4 minutes, or until heated through. (Serve on toasted buns with condiments.)

Note: Nutritional yeast can be found in health food stores. If unavailable substitute 2 tablespoons wheat germ.

  • Yields: 4 patties
  • Preparation Time: about an hour and 15 minutes
Vegetarian "No Tom" Turkey
  • 2 c. brown rice
  • 4 tbsp. powdered vegetarian chicken-flavored broth
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 5 1/2 c. water - divided
  • 3/4 c. wild rice
  • 1 tsp. sage
  • 1 tsp. rosemary
  • 2 tsp. thyme - divided
  • 5 tbsp. butter - divided
  • 1 onion - chopped
  • 5 celery stalks - chopped
  • 1 tsp. dill
  • 2 tsp. onion salt
  • 1 lb. mushrooms
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 lb. Meat of Wheat chicken style OR 1 lb. Meat of Wheat sausage style
  • 1 lb. Monterey Jack cheese - grated
  • 16 oz. Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 tsp. poultry seasoning (or more)
  • Pecan halves - for garnish

Add the powdered broth to the brown rice and sauté the mixture in oil for 4 minutes. Add 4 cups of water and cook for 1 hour or until the water is absorbed. Cook the wild rice, sage, rosemary, and 1 teaspoon thyme in 1.5 cups of water for an additional hour.

Sauté the chopped onion and celery with 2 tablespoons butter, dill and onion salt. Slice and sauté the mushrooms with 2 tablespoons butter, garlic powder and 1 teaspoon thyme, until well done. Combine all ingredients with the Meat of Wheat, cheese, stuffing, salt and pepper and poultry seasoning. In a baking pan, shape like a turkey, garnish with pecan halves and bake for 30-45 minutes at 375 degrees. Serve with cranberry sauce and mushroom gravy.

  • Yields: 8 servings and terrific leftovers
  • Preparation Time: about 3 hours