Lately I’ve been wanting to change everything.
This summer I stopped eating meat and I stopped having a drink every night of the week and I stopped wearing makeup every day and I tried to never skimp on time with friends. I want to be in the moment! I want to work hard in my new team at the office, to get better at swimming laps, and even though I increased my squats 100 pounds in a month with my new trainer (that’s way more of a brag on him than on myself), I want to keep pushing. I’m sore all the time and I’m alive, y’all. Time is a commodity and I seem to have given up making salad dressing completely and started dousing my daily greens in sriracha, which I’m not convinced was my smartest-ever decision. The vegetarianism is non-negotiable, the makeup still happens a lot. But in my own time; what do I want to have to show for my free time? Free time is precious — so rare, isn’t it, as we get older?
When I was young, I spent hours and hours in my room playing my guitar, standing up close against the closet door so that I could hear my voice back better. Music brought all my feelings to the front of my head and the top of my heart. Reading did, too. Writing, I’m terrible at it, but it helps figure feelings out. There was time for these things. I want to join a band again, that takes time. I want to learn more every day, really listen, and learn. I hate small talk about the weather, I want to know what people eat and what makes them feel feelings.
Challenges are necessary, I want to grow, and feel.
I want everything to change.
I turned 30.
I look 22.
I don’t dress my age, I haven’t stopped wearing Converse since I was in third grade — and speaking of that, the boy I crushed on from fourth grade through eighth grade (and never knew I existed) totally spoke with me the other day. I met his wife and I thought about that crush. He mentioned how I was the only girl who arrived at the baby shower on a motorcycle that weekend, and I thought about how much I wanted him to notice me when I was 11, and how weird and relieving it is that paths almost never take us where we might have hoped so hard to end up.
This summer has begun to refresh my feeling of feelings, especially smack in between our sixth wedding anniversary and my birthday, you know: the week Ryan Adams put out his new record. Ryan’s songs have always intensified the stuff on my mind. He gets me. God bless him, he and I have the same hair again right now! Just like when I was 16 and he was 26. And he is getting things figured out and I’m so glad he is happy.
I’m happy, too.
Even when I still ate meat and had no idea that would ever change, tempeh was a thing I really liked eating. It has a toasty flavor, and texturally can be dictated, depending on how it’s prepared. Banh mi remains one of my top FAVorite sandwiches of all time, and this meatless version is everything about it — shattery-light crust, chiles tasting of green and plenty of creamy mayo. But the tempeh holds its own here, sauced in a deep-orange lemongrass/sriracha marinade with plenty of umami-rich Maggi seasoning. It’s intense and it’s awesome and who even misses the pork.
I’m not discontent, but I’m pushing. I’m marathoning at everything. My feet hurt and I don’t think I know how to stop. I get worn out and then I had this thing on Instagram where I was like “aw, I wish I had time to make jam!” and everyone was like “you totally do!” but I totally don’t, and it’s because I’m working on my deadlifts or re-potting herbs or experimenting with banh mi, or my mom stopped by unexpectedly to bring me tomatoes and conversation which means I lost the light and never photographed that blog post and I so did not care, or I’m at Salad Night/Girl Talk at my bff’s every Wednesday and trying not to fall asleep until I’m all the way home.
Vegan lemongrass tempeh banh miMakes 3 sandwiches, with extra lemongrass “barbecue” sauce
Adapted from Andrea Nguyen’s fabulous Banh Mi Handbook: Recipes for Crazy-Delicious Vietnamese Sandwiches
For lemongrass tempeh:
- an 8-oz package tempeh
- 3 cloves garlic
- thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
- 4 green onions
- 1 medium stalk lemongrass, tough outer leaves removed
- juice of 2 limes
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/4 cup sriracha
- 1/4 cup Maggi seasoning (which is vegan, but can substitute soy sauce/tamari/aminos)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3 thin-crusted bread rolls (the rolls I get at a Vietnamese market do not list any dairy or eggs in the ingredients)
- pickled carrots and daikon
- mayo or vegan mayo
- cilantro leaves
- serrano chile, thinly sliced (I find serranos to be more predictable than jalapenos, which sometimes are SO HOT I can’t feel my face, and other times, so not)
Slice tempeh crosswise, about 1/4-inch thick. Roughly chop garlic, ginger, lemongrass and green onions before whirling in a food processor. After they’ve formed a rough mince, add remaining ingredients and pulse to blend. Pour over tempeh slices in a large shallow dish and let marinate for 30 minutes, or place in the fridge overnight (bring to room temp before cooking if doing the latter).
Preheat oven to 375. Remove tempeh slices from marinade and bake in a single layer on a parchment-lined sheet for 20 – 30 minutes, until crisped and browned. (This can be done ahead, chilled, and reheated in an oven or skillet later.) During baking time, slice the rolls (its ok to cut all the way through) and pop them in the oven for 5 or so minutes until the outsides get crisp. I like to remove a little of the bread inside each roll TO MAKE ROOM for fillings.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, let that marinade cook up and thicken, reducing by half at least if you’ve the patience. I added 1/4 cup sugar to this step because I thought it would be nice. It was.
Layer sandwiches with plenty of mayo, tempeh slices, cilantro, chiles, carrots/daikons, and extra dashes of sriracha or Maggi/tamari if desired. I had time to let the marinade reduce quite a bit, and I thought adding some of it to the sandwich itself was really wonderfully flavorful and great. I felt like my tempeh barbecued for me. How awesome is that!