Sunday, April 7, 2013

One way I cook with tofu

Tofu is like a dirty word to some - mention it in a group, and you'll instantly see noses turn up.  At first, I was clueless about how to prepare tofu and integrate it into our meals.

Fortunately, I have become more tofu savvy and cook with it all the time.  Now I'm on a mission to turn other people into tofu converts.  So here's one way we commonly cook tofu:

I buy the extra firm or super firm tofu variety for most recipes because it has more of a solid texture (it also comes in silken form).  Sometimes, I buy the already cubed tofu, but most brands of tofu come in large blocks that require you to cut it up into smaller pieces.  Because most tofu comes packaged in water, you will want to dry it out a little before cooking for an even firmer texture.  I pull out a couple of hand towels to soak up the moisture. Usually, I cut up the block into smaller pieces and THEN blot the moisture out.

After covering the tofu with the towels, I press down gently and then leave the towels on the tofu for about 5 minutes. Once I'm done waiting, into the pan it goes!

It is totally normal for the tofu to break up a little
 like you see in this picture.  
I add a few tablespoons of oil with my tofu and turn the heat up to medium-high.  I use a wooden spoon to stir until it becomes golden brown.  Then, comes the good part - flavoring!  Because tofu is really absorbent, you can marinate it in anything.

**As a side note, I always found the aversion to going vegetarian curious - almost every recipe with meat calls for outside seasonings or sauces for flavor - why not switch to a healthier alternative like tofu? Ok, sermon over.**

One last tip: if you don't like the soft texture of tofu, cut your tofu pieces smaller.  Big pieces of tofu have the golden brown outside and a lot of the soft-textured tofu inside.  The smaller your pieces are, the more of the crunchiness you'll have from cooking. 

We made an asian salad for this recipe, so I added some soy sauce into the pan.  In addition to the soy sauce flavored tofu, we combined:

1) bagged salad
2) dry roasted peanuts
3) raw water chestnuts
4) won ton strips

And that's it!

Get yourself a BIG bowl of salad (I eat about half the bag)
and enjoy the final product!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

We are human BEINGS not human DOINGS

I sometimes wonder if the show The Walking Dead (you know, the TV show about the zombies?) is more real life than we all realize!  So many of us are exhausted, worn out, dog tired, or dead on our feet.  Despite the toll that sleep deprivation and stress take on our relationships and health, we've become a culture that glorifies busyness.

How many times have you asked someone how they've been and they respond: "BUSY!"?  The response almost comes across as an boast and an invitation to ask about the person's activities.   Working towards goals and being engaged in our jobs, families, and communities can be incredibly satisfying and lead to fulfilling results.  Action is how we turn our dreams into reality.  But where do we stop?  And at how much does this productivity cost us?

It's as if busyness is a new form of "keeping up with the Joneses" and somehow, checking more items of your to-do list makes you a better person.  Or, blame it on the Protestant work ethic that has permanently left its mark on how we view society and shaped our opinions of how its members should act.  Or maybe it's even a way to bring meaning to our lives (your life obviously cannot be trivial if you are booked up solid all day every day, right?).

I can attest to feeling anxious or jittery when I'm not working on something.  I feel lazy if I'm not engaged in something productive.  Periods of time of inactivity and quiet are not a vacation or laziness.  Solitude, reflection, and times of idleness are necessary for our heath and allows us to take a step back to get a macro perspective of our lives.  It inspires us to make connections we wouldn't otherwise see because we've got our heads down in focused work.

I don't write this from a perspective of having this balance all figured out - I continue to learn what works for me and what doesn't.   Sometimes, I still over commit and have to lean on my family when I feel like I'm about to have a meltdown.  Thank goodness for a supportive family and a resolve to improve!