Tag Archives: cooking

Purple Tofu Time

I realize it seems like I talk about tofu sticks a lot, but you see, statistically, one could argue that the apparent proportion of tofu stick mentions is artificially increased by a perception of a proliferation of tofu stick-based posts. So, now that you’re all convinced that it’s fine for me to write another tofu stick post, here goes.

Hot off my big success making root beer tofu, I ran out to Harris Teeter to get ingredients for cheerwine tofu. Once I made it there, I got ahold of myself. Was I really going to deliberately enter the situation I had decried just weeks earlier? Surely cheerwine is better than root beer. Is it, though? I distinctly remember thinking I was going to enjoy that root beer when I bought it. Once I’ve bought cheap soda specifically to make a recipe, I can no longer claim to be the clever DIY’er making the most of the unfortunate circumstance of having such stuff in the fridge. So I classed it up. I bought cheap wine.

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I specifically picked red wine in order to give the tofu some color, and color it it did.IMG_20170909_111439616.jpg

I also added sesame seeds, sesame oil, and soy sauce. I should have added more spices, because the sticks turned out a little bland this time. The most tragic part, though, was that the purple cooked away.

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Glossy black is a fine color for tofu sticks, especially dotted with the light sesame seeds, but it’s no vivid purple. Like always, though, in the end the sticks proved to be the convenient, filling snack that I can constantly change the marinade recipe for and safely keep outside a refrigerator for hours. Expect many more posts on this delightful class of dish.

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The Curse of A&W

Last Thursday, the host one of my regular writing groups said he would provide ice cream as a snack. Wanting to contribute, but not wanting to compete with my host, I brought something I felt would go with the ice cream – root beer for root beer floats. One guest and I had root beer. I was the only one that put my root beer together with ice cream to make a float, and it wasn’t very good. I wondered whether I had ever really thought it would be good. The root beer guest declined to take the root beer home with him.

So, I took the root beer home. Naturally, I have options besides throwing something away and eating it straight – I can cook with it. Yes, even A&W root beer has recipes dedicated to it online. It’s also a reasonable shot to try substituting it for another popular dark soda – the ubiquitous Coca-Cola. This was my first experiment.

This experiment was cut short when, moments after my root beer sauce began to bubble, Alice fled from her room coughing. In addition to being unappetizing and unhealthful, A&W contained compounds to render the atmosphere of our apartment unbreathable.

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A&W root beer is specially cursed, even among soft drinks. It has 45 grams of sugar per serving.

After we spent some time eating supper on the porch and venting the house, Alice glanced at the oven burner and pointed out some egg that had fallen under and generated the deadly, invisible smoke. My experiments could continue! Nevertheless, I had soured on making a root beer sauce. Instead, I took advantage of the sheer quantity of the root beer to make a tofu marinade.

I added the same ingredients as for the coca-cola sauce, but proportional to the extra root beer. I added a generous helping of sesame seeds and left the tofu to marinate overnight. Then I cooked it for 20 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees. IMG_20170819_115442928 The result was delicious. Alice said she could taste the root beer. The best part? It nearly used it all up!

The remaining root beer went into a root beer chicken recipe. This used substantially less root beer, but made up for it with a full bottle of barbecue sauce. It’s no New York Times recipe, but it tastes a lot better than swigging the stuff straight.

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Now there’s only dredges of root beer left, and I have food for the weekend. Thus, the curse of A&W was broken.

My Mandolin and Sweet Potato Jerky

I bought a mandolin. A mandolin is a kitchen tool for making regular-sized slices of vegetables easily.IMG_20170423_101445951.jpg

Naturally, I decided I would make sweet potato potato chips with my mandolin. IMG_20170422_184320902.jpg

This turned out easier said than done. Even with a recipe and three tries, my sweet potato chips, which are supposed to be crispy and tasty, were instead crisp and burnt. This turned out to have to do with where I placed them in the oven. They burned when I put them lower in the oven, so I moved the lower grate up. I also turned the heat down to 200 degrees from 250. My oven could be hotter than it claims to be. This is not uncommon.IMG_20170423_082217923.jpg

This gave me “chips” that were tasty, but not crispy. They’re kind of chewy, but definitely tasty. I’m going to call them sweet potato jerky and serve them to my friends at D&D today.IMG_20170423_085049119.jpg

A more unambiguous success includes roast vegetables a la mandolin. Notice the wavy cuts on some of the vegetables. IMG_20170422_184105045.jpg

I cooked it with marinated tofu and a sauce of olive oil, soy sauce, scuppernong wine, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice and served it on quinoa for a popular lunch.IMG_20170422_184554604.jpg

No Chop Chop

My partner demands a diet high in vegetables. The problem is that vegetables take a long time to prepare. It has taken me a long time to figure out what was the main factor, but really it was obvious all along. Chopping vegetables is slow, laborious work.

Well, let me tell you something. What would you say if I’ve figured out how to prepare two vegetables with no chopping whatsoever? Impossible? No.

1. Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes

When roasting sweet potatoes they require puncturing with a fork and may easily be undercooked, especially if they are large. Not so in the slow cooker! Just wash them, add some oil and drop them in! Seven hours at low should do the trick! Throw in some garlic or something to soak up all the sweet juices that will pool at the bottom.

http://www.familyfreshmeals.com/2015/01/how-to-make-crockpot-sweet-potatoes.html

2. Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I bought a box of Brussels sprouts. That’s about 12 pounds of Brussels sprouts. I washed them, oiled, salted, and peppered them, and roasted them in three batches. The little stems were no issue and they did not require bisecting. 30 minutes at 350 degrees in the oven was all each batch required. This was one of three big bowls I filled. I piled a plate so high even Alice couldn’t finish it all.

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I did chop a few vegetables this weekend for a tofu dish, but I must say that having these no-chop options really sped my cooking duties along.

Cover image credit: https://www.9010nutrition.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/NO-CHOP-RECIPES.jpg