I admit, I approached the recipe for “Homemade Seitan Barbecue Ribs,” from Food.com, as a type of “science experiment”: combine certain available ingredients and see what happens! Ingredients include vital wheat gluten flour, smoked Spanish paprika, nutritional yeast, nut butters, liquid smoke, and barbecue sauce. I have all of these in my kooky pantry, and was tickled by the idea of pulling them together. Seitan (or “wheat gluten”) is a fixture on the “fake meat” circuit. Personally, it doesn’t appeal to me on that level (you’re not fooling any meat-eaters here!). The spongy cutlets remind me of polenta, but with less natural flavor. Seitan cutlets shall always be beholden to their sauce.

Preparation is very easy. Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another (except the barbecue sauce). For my nut butters, I combined tahini and peanut butter. Any savvy vegetarian knows that nut butters are largely interchangeable. And the liquid smoke is so odd -- 2 tsp. perfume this batter with a potent hickory scent. When dry and wet bowls are combined, you’ll have a very elastic batter. This is elastic like taffy, thanks to that vital wheat gluten flour. As the loaf of batter bakes, you can’t ignore the strength of smoked paprika and hickory.

Once baked, I sliced my cutlets and grilled them in a grill pan on my stove top. I combined barbecue sauce with ketchup, and generously brushed the sides as I grilled them. Dave and I appreciated the seitan, although my young child was a difficult audience. I recommend this dish if you have any curious capacity for adventure; there’s no risk here, really.

I also made the “Sweet Corn with Baby Beets & Basil,” from the August 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living, because it was so simple. To make it even simpler, I used frozen corn kernels, rather than fresh ears. I used a colorful combination of baby beets, which I boiled for 22 minutes. An easy, free-form dish that delivers sweet happiness. Don’t forget to salt this.

Gold Beets (8 oz.) = .93¢
Chioggia Beets (8 oz.) = .75¢

RECIPES: once you collect some odd ingredients, seitan creation is easy; corn and beets play well together
eat saucy seitan cutlets after an hour of prep and cooking; corn and beets need half that time
TASTES: here, spongy seitan cutlets are smoky. Use your best barbecue sauce. Sweet corn + sweet beets + sweet basil = sweetness

Next time, I want to cook “Roasted Aubergine Soup,” from The Daily Spud, along with “Baked Macaroni and Cheese,” from Food Network. This should make you say, “Mmmmm.” Come back to my site on Thursday, November 4, to see what happens.