Monday, October 06, 2008

Fun with Tofu

Yesterday I cooked with tofu for the first time. The whole experience was sort of miraculous, which had very little to do with the tofu, I'm sure. I was in my usual dilemma--it's Sunday evening, almost six o'clock, and I haven't started dinner. My husband mentioned this, and I avoided the question. I didn't want to disappoint him. I just wanted to start cooking without saying anything at all about it, but he cornered me and accused me of pulling a Sarah Palin by deftly changing the subject to avoid giving him a direct answer. Finally I confessed. I was planning to make a stir-fry.
I got started half an hour later. I had chosen a recipe from my new cookbook, Skinny Bitch in the Kitch (more on Skinny Bitch and its hilarious authors in another post). Normal people study a recipe, make sure they have the ingredients and go out and buy what they don't have, then carefully prepare the dish following the instructions, much as a Hogwarts student would do in Snape's Potions class. Me, I look at recipes as sort of general guidelines, which is why my family cringes when I tell them I'm making Special Surprise for dinner.
The recipe was for Tofu and Steamed Veggies with Brown Rice, or something like that. Forget the brown rice. I already had white rice prepare so all I had to do was heat it up. Fresh veggies? Do I look like I have time for fresh veggies? I had a bag of organic Thai vegetables from Whole Foods Market, so I just used that. I sliced up the tofu, tossed it into a colander, and shouted, "Drain!" at it, which meant that it rendered a good deal of water in the cooking. I was smart enough to saute it first before adding the vegetables, and, as an added last minute inspiration, I grabbed a handful of peanut my husband had brought back from his road trip. The sauce was easy enough--tahini, soy sauce, and safflower oil (because we are out of sesame oil). One hour later, bam! Dinner on the table.
My husband liked it well enough to take for lunch--high praise from him. My oldest daughter avoided the sauce and the tofu and grudgingly ate the vegetables, having demolished the rice instantly. My youngest daughter, who I normally count on to eat everything, found the sauce bitter. (So did I, and I plan to add at least a tablespoon of brown sugar to it next time.) She complained and frowned until my husband had me set a timer for her to finish her food or else. She tried eating one grain of rice at a time, and after we put a stop to that, finished by cramming generous forkful into her mouth. She let the sauce dribble down her chin, gagged, and was banished to the bathroom to spit out the offending mouthful. It so nice to have my cooking appreciated.
So the miraculous meal ended with my youngest daughter not throwing up and everyone getting to bed on time.

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