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Sweet and Spicy Tempeh


After the HH and I had been dating for about four months and he’d already passed the “willing to tolerate my multiple quirks and neuroses” test, I decided it would be acceptable for him to finally meet my family and old friends in Montreal.  I cajoled coerced begged invited him to join me one weekend as I headed east.  We arranged to stay at the CFO’s place, to visit with the rest of the family, to attend a dinner party at my friend Babe’s, and to spend the remainder of our time sight-seeing; the plans were all set.

And then, during the drive across the highway, the HH contracted some bizarre, sci-fi worthy flu virus and ended up spending the entire visit in bed–febrile, congested, inflamed and sullying tissue after tissue with unsavory bodily fluids.  My relatives encountered a slightly dazed, highly medicated, Rudolph-nosed guy who didn’t make the greatest impression (he’s made up for it since). 

Ever since that sniffling début, it’s become somewhat of a running gag in our house:  whenever the HH and I travel to Montreal, one of us is inevitably sick (most recently, it was my turn; I suffered a wicked sinus headache for the first day, but recuperated by the second).  The only time we both felt fine, turned out the CFO was the one with a terrible cold, which she unwittingly passed on as a parting gift to me. Two days after returning to Toronto, I was felled once again. 

It may be a cliché to say that men are babies when it comes to having colds, that they whine and complain and moan, even as a woman suffering the same symptoms would simply drag herself from bed and get on with it. Well, not my HH.  As in most things, he and I are total opposites when it comes to illness:  if the HH gets sick, he retreats to bed, lies inert for about 48 hours, then emerges, like Ripley out of a stasis chamber, exactly as he was before.  (The first time this occurred, I was truly alarmed: I was certain the guy had croaked on me, as he literally slept for two days without even getting up to eat or drink).  I, on the other hand, am more likely stricken with a chronic, pervasive, low-grade, not-quite-debilitating-but-definitely-quite-annoying set of symptoms that lasts anywhere from four days to two months. I can function, but I’m miserable while I’m doing it.

One weekend a few weeks ago, Chaser had her first encounter with the HH’s unique form of healing.  After he crawled into bed, I closed the door, as usual, so Dad could sleep it off. The Girls were entirely thrown off their regular routine. They moped about outside the bedroom, looking rather–well, hang-dog.

Finally, around 5:00 PM, the door swung open and there he was–and vertical!  The Girls were ecstatic (“Does this mean we get to go to the trail now??”). Even as hope faded when the HH plunked himself in front of the TV, a dull patina of illness still coating his visage and a network of sheet-wrinkles, like tributaries on a map, spread across his face, those Girls still stuck by their Dad. 

I headed to the kitchen to whip up something hearty for the HH’s first meal back in civilization. Before I could even grab a spatula, however, there were The Girls at my feet, staring patiently.  Ah, yes, I’d forgotten that 5:00 PM is dog dinnertime. (“Right, Mum.  Food trumps sick owner. Sorry Dad, but you’re on your own.”)

As to the humans’ dinner, I decided on tempeh, a food I love but don’t eat often enough. Pairing a vague notion of BBQ season with a half-consumed jar of apple butter, I had my starting point. I realize there’s a plethora of BBQ recipes out there around this time of year, from the archetypal Wingz at Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk to these recent lovelies at Happy Herbivore and another fairly recent version at Vegan Dad.  But I was determined to use that apple butter, so I just grabbed a few other items from the fridge and began to mix.  

The results were, after all, very pleasing.  The tempeh’s meaty texture works well with the slightly spicy, slightly sweet flavors of the sauce. If you like BBQ sauce with a kick, you’ll enjoy this dish.  Unfortunately for the HH, he missed out on that particular gustatory pleasure, as his nose was still too congested for him to really appreciate the taste.  Still, the high protein content of the tempeh worked well to help rebuild his stamina, and he was back to work the following day. 

But I think we’ll hold off on any more trips to Montreal–for a little while, at least.

Because of tempeh provides such a healthy source of protein, I’m submitting this to Sangeeth at Art of Cooking Indian Food for her Eat Healthy–Protein Rich event.


25 comments to Sweet and Spicy Tempeh

  • LOVE the idea of using apple butter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • Courtney

    That sauce sounds great, Ricki! I have been searching for a BBQ type sauce that does not use sugar, and I am excited to try yours. Apple butter is one of my all time favorites, so this recipe is sure to be a winner! I am not a huge fan of tempeh, but I have some tofu just sitting in my fridge…



  • I never would have thought to use apple butter! That tempeh looks simply divine!


  • Apple butter on tempeh?! What a terrific-sounding combination. I already have the tempeh, so now apple butter is definitely going on my grocery list. Thanks for the great idea.


  • My mouth is watering! Spicy, tangy, sweet and yum! Now, if only I were a little bit closer to Toronto, I’d drive over and help you eat the left-overs (since HH probably isn’t up to it!)


  • Oh, and I forgot, you’re *so* invited to our wedding…Celine & I just need to figure out dates, what to do with our pre-existing mates, you know, details!


  • bee

    i cooked with tempeh precisely once and it was disgusting. this looks drool-worthy. i have to try it.


  • Aly

    At first glance I thought this was some weird glazed pizza! But upon reading your narrative I saw that it was a delicious recipe for tempeh. Well done!


  • oh yes, a man-cold is something every woman dreads! Weirdly enough E used to get them very regularly but since moving from Scotland to australia he gets them much less! Yet another reason to live in Melbourne!

    But I can’t say I have ever been a fan of bbq sauce – but maybe this is just a prejudice as the ingredients look like a great combination and even remind me of a sauce i had a few months ago that was excellent


  • Celine

    I don’t make tempeh near often enough! I’m bad.
    as for the pre-existing mates, Shell: we’ll find a way. muahaha.
    come on over Ricki!


  • That sounds like a dangerous place to visit! Maybe you relatives should just come and visit you?

    The tempeh sounds good though 🙂


  • I miss tempeh. That looks incredible!


  • Ooh! Apple butter! What a good idea. This looks delicious.

    And P.S. On your last post, I was the creepy “anonymous” commenter who made your chocolate pate (and will make it again and again).

    I remembered to sign in this time 🙂


  • wow – these look amazing! and perfect for summer time & grilling, too! i think dan & i will give these a shot. nothing like some grilled tempeh, grilled veggies, and corn on the cob! ohhhhh my! 😀


  • Great entry..thanks Ricki


  • Happy Herbivore,
    Glad you like it!

    I’m sure this would work equally well with tofu–you might have to stir-fry the tofu a bit first, though to give it a firmer texture.

    If you like tempeh, I think you’ll like this. The apple butter gives it a nice tang. 🙂

    My pleasure!

    We can always leave the HH asleep in the bedroom. Invitation’s always open! Looking forward to the nuptials 😉

    Sorry about the bad experience! I had the same experience the first time I used tofu, and I’m glad I tried again. Maybe you’ll like it better this time!

    How funny! It actually DOES kinda resemble pizza. . .

    Well, you don’t have to convince ME that living in Australia would be good for my health 😉 And if you’re not a fan of BBQ sauce, just think of this as a tangy sweet sauce, or something!

    Oh, yeah baby, I’m there! 😉

    Sometimes, I think so! But next visit, my sister will be coming here. Hope SHE stays healthy!!

    I would miss it, too. Maybe this on polenta. . . ??

    Glad you like it! And thanks for unmasking yourself 😉
    Now I can feel glad that it was you who enjoyed the pate!

    Your meal idea sounds wonderful–can’t wait for the local corn to come out over here.

    Thanks so much! Looking forward to the roundup as well. 🙂


  • Such an enjoyable post to read! I do know what you mean about functioning while you fight of a bug, but suffering all the same. I think your HH is onto something 🙂

    Fantastic recipe. I’m always on the lookout for ideas for tempeh. Apple butter, oh yes! Just great. Will try for sure.


  • veganhomemade

    My boyfriend never gets sick! It’s almost crazy. He feels kinda lousy more often than not, but never full-on sick. When I get sick it’s usually full-on-knock-me-out.

    Apple butter in a tempeh sauce is a crazy but awesome idea. I actually have an opened jar of unsweetend apple butter…normally apple butter wouldn’t last that long around me, but the unsweetened kind isn’t doing it for me for just spreading on toast.


  • Ohh yum. I still need to find and/or make apple butter! I recently got some tempeh (which I’ve never had before) but I’ve yet to cook it up. Wish I could try out your recipe!


  • That’s so innovative! I can imagine the smoky apple flavor right now, pairing with the nutty, earthy tempeh.

    That sucks that HH couldn’t enjoy the flavor of the feast, but I’m sure he enjoyed all the textures! :o)


  • I’m absolutely intrigued by the apple butter! They look wonderful, grill or no!


  • sweet & spicy is always a winning combination :0)


  • My interest is piqued!! Now I just need to get me some apple butter…


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