Jerky is a delicious, although expensive, protein snack, but this recipe won’t break the bank. You can customize it to make the jerky more spicy, add maple syrup to make it more sweet, or add Jamaican spices or barbecue. Keep in mind that the flavors will concentrate as the jerky is dehydrated during baking, so the finished product will taste saltier. There will be mostly medium to large pieces, which you can separate out and store for snacking, and save the smaller bits for topping your salads or vegetables. I find it hard to leave these alone, and they’re constantly calling my name from the fridge.

Ingredients:

8 ounces Butler soy curls

2 cups hot water

1 tsp. vegetarian soup base, such as Better Than Bouillon no-chicken

4 tsp. toasted sesame oil

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

½ cup teriyaki sauce

2 tsp. liquid smoke

½ tsp. cayenne (more or less)

Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Directions:

1. In a deep bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except the soy curls.

2. Add the soy curls. Stir them occasionally for about 20 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed.

3. Set your oven to 250 degrees.

4. Top a large sheet pan with parchment. Drain the soy curls thoroughly, squeezing out some of the liquid, and distribute them as evenly as possible on the parchment. I like to grind plenty of extra black pepper on top.

5. Bake the soy curls for 1 hour and 45 minutes, flipping them around every 20 minutes. This is where the parchment comes in handy, because you can just grab hold of the edges and toss. While you’re in the kitchen, now is a good time to clean out the fridge, wipe down your appliances, and swab the floor.

6. Allow the jerky to cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container. It will be tasty right out of the oven, but the texture is best after it’s been stored for at least a day. In a sealed container, it develops an even better chew, and any pieces that initially seem dry will reabsorb some moisture.

Editor’s note: The cashew cream cheese recipe below was originally supposed to be included with the Food For Life column recipe published Dec. 23, but was omitted. That column can be found here.

Cashew Cream Cheese

1 cup whole raw cashews

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp. cider vinegar

¼ tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. refined coconut oil, melted

3 Tbsp. plain unsweetened nondairy milk

Boil the cashews for 10 minutes, drain them, rinse them, and add them to a blender or food processor along with all the other ingredients. Process until very smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the vessel as necessary. The cheese will thicken as it chills. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

Wendy Andresen lives in Camden with her husband, Ray; her Sheltie, Sunshine; and her bunny, Rustle. She welcomes responses to her column at wendyandrayzer@yahoo.com.