Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Yes, yes, I disappeared for a bit and then surprised everyone the other day by returning to my blog.

I have presented myself with a challenge, I decided to take off the pounds I accumulated while trying to get over my lower back issues. I am back to my old self, now is the time to make a new improved self.

I’m not following any traditional diet, I eat when my stomach growls and eat to what the Japanese call “hara hachi bu”, three quarters full, sated but not “full”. One of my main meals each day is to be vegan. One condition of this—the food must taste good, be interesting and this whole thing needs to feel like a challenge rather than a sacrifice. I am also writing down everything that I eat each day to make sure I am getting a good balance of foods and to keep myself honest, you will not be subjected to the daily details of that.

It does seem to be working.

I am stating this simply because the pattern of my recipes will change a bit, but they will still contain funky international stuff and experiments with old fashioned ingredients. I figure that a huge portion of the world population lives a near vegetarian life, not for philosophical reasons, but for economic ones, and as a result there has to be a wealth of recipes out there that taste good. I intend to find them.

My garden is bursting with greens at the moment, soon the cabbage caterpillars will win the collard battle, but until they do collards are a regular part of my days. Collards, for a Northerner, are a foreign food. So, when I realized that they are one of the most productive veggies in this climate, I decided that I needed to figure out what to do with them. I pick them, give the ones the caterpillars have won to the chickens and head inside with the rest. I strip the thick stem from the leaves, wash/soak them in a big bowl of salted water (take that, you nasty caterpillars!) while I prep everything else.

The recipe I made yesterday is in the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special cookbook, by the Moosewood Collective in Ithaca, NY. Of course, since I am incapable of following a recipe all the way through, and since I usually refuse to run to the store for a missing ingredient, it is a little different from their recipe. I have made this recipe many times over the years, Asian Beet and Tofu Salad, it has gone over very well, even with folks who I didn’t think would touch tofu. I substituted collards for the spinach and I did not have scallions on hand, so I put in onion and then added extra herbs.

Here is what I did:
1 can of beets (I’m saving the ones in the garden for oven roasting)
1 14-16 oz cake of firm tofu
A mess of collard greens, which down here is a measurement and folks are supposed to understand—just the average bundle of greens in the market would do.

1/3 c soy sauce
½ c lemon juice
3 garlic cloves
1 T ginger root
¾ of an onion
A mixed handful of basil, cilantro and mint from the garden, chopped

Wash collard greens and chop into small pieces. Place in a skillet with barely enough water to cover, simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until the larger veins are tender. Do not over-cook. Drain.
Cut tofu into small sticks or triangles, place on a plate covered with paper towels (or sack cloth/tea towel –I have some that I use for food prep only, draining tofu, yogurt and cheese, etc.) Place a layer of toweling over the tofu and then another plate and a weight of some sort-a cast iron pan or a can or two of tomatoes. Let this sit until the rest of the ingredients are prepped.
Mince garlic and ginger, chop onion and herbs. Drain can of beets (or cook fresh beets and drain them).
Mix all marinade ingredients together and place the tofu in the bowl. Let sit for ten minutes. Make a cup of tea (not required, but this is how I do it) and check the mail. Scoop the tofu out with a slotted spoon and arrange in the center of a serving plate. Place the beets in the marinade remaining in the bowl. Let sit ten minutes. Meanwhile, c heck your e-mail and read the news headlines. Use the slotted spoon to remove the beets and arrange them around the tofu on the serving plate. Place the collards in the marinade and set the table and wash the utensils, colander and pan that you have dirtied. Scoop out the collards, and arrange them around the beets.
For something a little different visually, use the fresh beets and put them into the marinade first and then put the tofu into the marinade. You will end up with hot pink tofu.
Tastes even better the second day, but it’s less visually appealing.

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