The other day I fell down what one of Dan’s work friends called a ‘Pop Culture Rabbit Hole’. To be more specific it was a Miley Cyrus/Amanda Bynes/Kpat trip*. It started innocently enough. As many of you know last week a pipe burst in our ceiling and water was pouring out of all the light fixtures and seams in the drywall for a few hours. So there has been a lot of clean up – going through papers and books to find ruined belongings etc. I decided this would be good time to treat myself to an ultimate guilty pleasure and have a Twilight movie marathon** while I cleaned. I might be too much of a feminist to be enamored by the love story (it’s disturbing) but it has vampires and werewolves and so it’s Annie Bread & Butter.
Back to the rabbit hole… see it started with me googling the order of the movies because they aren’t numbered and I’m just a tourist not a Twihard. Then I found myself in series of celebrity gossip sites reading about how Bella & Edward had broken up again in real life and there are dueling sources claiming greater heartbreak. I’ve been in a scandalous love story before*** and it sucked. I can only imagine having literally the whole Western tween world feeling they have a right to involve themselves and to have a relationship with probably the only other person who can understand what it’s like to at the epicenter of something like the Twilight madness… it has to be hard for lack of a better word. Hope being millionaires helps them get over it.
Then I saw a list of all the people Amanda Bynes thinks is ugly and then I found myself lost in a Jezebel whirlpool. I had to google who Amanda Bynes was and only slightly remembered her from The Easy A. That lead to me watching Miley Cyrus’ new music video.
Now, I admit I only learned that Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana were the same person like 2 years ago. Again – not a fan. But I like her new hair. She’s way more interesting with the shaved head than The Real Wives wig look. She’s a beautiful girl and I think it’s cool she doing something different but did I like the new video? Not really. I mean it was fine and little too deliberately weird in a staged way but it’s a music video – whateves. But something hit me as the song was wrapping up… it doesn’t matter if I like this because this isn’t for me. The whole world isn’t producing things just for me. GASP.
I remembered when Madonna’s Justify My Love video was banned from Mtv and we had to wait for an edited one to come out like a week later****. My mom was not impressed but I didn’t care. Chicks with pencil thin mustaches… what’s not to love? Madonna was for me. Miley is for someone else and that’s cool with me. I can like her hair while I listen to Bikini Kill and Sleater Kinney like a little old blue hair.
So what does all this have to do with BLT Mac & Cheez? There are going to be some of you who are like “This is unhealthy” and immediately unfollow our blog while sending me a furious email about diabetes (?) or something. You’re not into it and there are other recipes like Strawberry Salad and Homecoming Soup for you – so I hope you can focus on those. We have a SUPER healthy swiss chard recipe coming tomorrow if it helps. This is a potluck Americana masterpiece we adapted from The Betty Crocker recipe using leeks to replace the lettuce that is usually the L. It makes a lot so I suggest making it on a Sunday so you can enjoy the leftovers for lunch next week.
So if savory vegan mac & cheez with smokey tempeh bacon, leeks and tomatoes sounds like your thing… this is for you!
Vegan BLT Mac & Cheez
1 Package Macaroni, we actually used Rigate because we found a vegan homemade rigate in Little Italy
1 Package Tempeh, you can also use Lightlife Smart Bacon or premade Tempeh Bacon and skip some steps
2 Tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids or Soy Sauce
3 Dashes of Liquid Smoke
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, you might need more if your skillet is large
1/4 teaspoon Sage
1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 Large Leek, cleaned and sliced
4-6 Roma or Campari Tomatoes, quartered or sliced
1/2 Cup Margarine
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
3 1/2 Cups Boiling Water
1 1/2 teaspoons Sea Salt
2 Tablespoon Soy Sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids
1 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Pinch of Turmeric
1 1/2 Cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes
A few dashes of Liquid Smoke
Smoked Paprika & Crushed Black Peppercorns, to taste
Slice your Tempeh into strips. I recommend making them short and stubby rather than long and thin. In your cast iron skillet, whisk together 2 tablespoons Braggs, 3 dashes Liquid Smoke, 1/4 teaspoon Sage and 1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika. Place your Tempeh strips into your skillet and flip a few times so they get coated. Heat over a low heat and flip often to make sure they cook evenly. Add more Oil 1/2 teaspoon at a time if your Oil cooks down before your Tempeh is crispy. Once it’s all crispy – move it to a plate to cool and cook your Leeks in your hot skillet until tender.
Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
In a saucepan, melt the margarine over low heat. Whisk in the flour until a paste forms than whisk in your boiling Water, Salt, Soy Sauce, Liquid Smoke, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Dijon Mustard and Turmeric and give it a taste test. your sauce won’t be cheezy yet but you want a light savory flavor – add a few pinches of Black Peppercorns and Smoked Paprika till you like the flavor and think it would compliment a cheezy flavor. Continue whisking until your sauce is creamy and bubbling. Then gradually add and whisk in the nutritional yeast flakes. Keep whisking until your sauce is smooth.
Then in your largest mixing bowl, gently mix together your Pasta, Cheez Sauce, Tempeh, Leeks and Tomatoes with a large spoon so you don’t crush your tomatoes. I suggest adding the Cheez Sauce a little at a time while you mix to make it easier to coat your pasta evenly.
Serve warm with a sense of humor, some celebrity gossip and maybe this song because why not? I mean you’re eating BLT Mac & Cheez for God’s sake! This isn’t serious business.
*I recently had a whole 3 hours I lost to Lindsay Lohan but I’ll save that for another post.
**I’m a girl, damn it! I wanna do girly things! Like fix up someone’s hair and get phone calls expressing romantic sentiments! But I admit I give a shit what two comic labels are crossing over characters and selling two editions of the book in varied-ink chromium covers. I also enjoy a good Godzilla bootleg.
***Dan and I are old married folks now but man back in the day there were conversations and emails that I think could rival anything Stephanie Meyers could dream up. Just typing this is making me blush with shame.
****The world moved so much slower than. Remember when you had to wait a year for a movie to go to video?