Archive for July, 2008

Maybe I finally figured out how to cook tofu

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I’m good at cooking lots of things. I can do a million things with beans. I can make a mean pb&j (it’s an art! the proportion of pb & j needs to be perfect). I can bake just about any sweet you can think of-cookies, quick breads, thousands and thousands of french macaroons (remember those, Mom?). But one thing I’ve never been able to perfect is tofu. Yeah, I’ve shown a few recipes where I’ve gotten tofu right. But, for every tofu recipe I got right, I got about 5 wrong. Yup. 5. That’s a huge proportion of failure vs. success. I’ve tried baking it, searing it, sauteeing it, everything you can think of. And I’ve almost never gotten it right. There’s something about it that perplexes my mind. It ends up flavorless even if I marinate it intensely, it ends up falling apart, it ends up too spongy: it ends up not good. But, no matter how many times I’ve messed up, I never give up.

So, a while back (geez, maybe a month ago-possibly more?), I set out to bake up a block of tofu. Doing my typical make-something-on-sunday-to-eat-during-the-week move, it was going to be part of my dinner for several days that week. So, after pressing the tofu for about 30 minutes, I cut it up into about 8 or so pieces (although I really don’t remember-it was a loooong time ago), and set it to marinade in a loaf pan-my favorite pan to marinate/bake in. I marinated it in tamari, 5 spice powder, a little bit of rice vinegar and honey, for about 45 minutes. When I decided it was marinated enough, I stuck it in an oven at 375 or so (remember, long time ago). In the past when I’ve made tofu this way, which is pretty often, I’ve baked it for about 35-40 minutes. It hasn’t been great, but it’s edible. This time, after I stuck it in the oven…I forgot all about it.

I try to be responsible in the kitchen, but sometimes I’m not. My most common problem is that I forget about things cooking. I’ve burnt cookies this way, caused oatmeal to overflow, and once, while living in Spain, let a pot of boiling water evaporate completely and scorched the pot. This time, with the tofu, I did it again. I must have gotten distracted in some intense conversation with my roommate (probably about something important, like the upcoming election, or Gossip Girl), but all of a sudden, it was two hours later. I kept thinking it was really warm in the apartment and all of a sudden, I realized why: the oven was on and my tofu had been bakin’ away for about 2 hours. S***!!!!!! I was sure I was going to open up the oven and find 8 teeny pieces of black, shriveled up, hard as rock, things that used to be tofu. Instead, I opened it up and found 8, smaller, but scrumptious looking pieces of tofu. They were a gorgeous, caramel-y color that smelled fantastic. Yes-much smaller than what I normally have after I bake tofu, but 2 hours of sitting in a hot oven will do that to you.

When I ate some for dinner the next night, what did I eat: perfect, flavorful, chewy tofu. It. was. so. good. Look at the close up!

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You can see how the flavor inundated the entire piece as the water evaporated. And they tasted that way too-by far the best tofu I’ve ever eaten. Yeah-cause the pieces were so good I ate it really fast, but I guess that’s the price to pay for really really really yummy tofu. But hey, now I’ve got 3 good tofu cookings under my belt. 3 out of 11-not bad.

So, friends, tell me this: is the secret to good tofu just baking the hell out of it? Was this just a fluke accident that ended up with excellent yumminess? How do you make tofu to make it good?

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How to make an awesome salad awesomer-a photo essay

That’s correct grammer…right?

And…we’re back! After a very very very frusturating 3 weeks, my computer is completely up and running and working correctly. The “working correctly” part is what stalled me this past week. I never said I was a computer wizz…

And to celebrate the fact that I can write about food and post photos (!!!) again, let’s move on to a simple, but inspring (well, at least I think so), photo essay on how to make your salad even better. Get it? Got it? Good.

First, take a bunch of your favorite fresh herb (as fresh as you can get. If you have some growing in your backyard, even better. No-weeds don’t count.) I chose a beautiful bunch of dill I got for dirt cheap at the Farmers Market
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Next, chop up a fair amount-maybe 1 or 2 tablespoons worth. (oooo-blurry pic. Don’t strain your eyes!!)
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Put the chopped herbs in a jar ( along with your favorite salad dressing ingredients. I used a bit of good olive oil (spanish, of course. I actually really like Goya Extra Virgin. From Andalucia!), some rice vinager, dijon mustard, kosher salt and pepper.
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Shake. Vigorously. Until your arm hurts. No bicep curls needed tonight!
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It should look like this when you’re done. All emulsified and yummy.
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Pour it over your salad of choice full of the freshest veggies you can find. I’ve been using anything good I can find at the Farmers Market. Here I have carrots, radishes, baby fennel and arugula. Make sure you scrape every last bit of herb out of your jar onto that salad. Don’t make those bits of deliciousness go to waste!
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There you have it. The secret to an amazing salad: fresh herbs. They really do make good salads that much better. This has been my go to dinner countless times this summer and I’ve been trying to buy different herbs every week to mix it up. So far I’ve done dill (duh), mint (soooo good!!), tarragon, cilantro and chives. They’re all winners. And so am I. Cause I’m blogging again.

Sometimes I Just Want to Blog

Still no real blogging. I’m doing this on my lunch break at work.

I still haven’t connected my camera to my “new” computer, so that’s one thing that’s stalling me. The other is that I’ve been getting little to no wireless connection at the apartment I’m staying at. If I get it, it lasts for about 2 minutes then cuts and I can’t get it back up for the rest of the night. But, I’m back in my apartment next Monday (geez, that’s still a long time from now) so hopefully I can get things rolling then.

But, I just want to blog!! I have lots of pictures stored and good recipes and stuff to post. So, I’m going to do a super-short running update:

I’m training for a marathon. It’s true! The Marine Corps Marathon in D.C., the final weekend of October, to be exact. I actually made the decision to do this back in early March but decided to hold off the annoucement. Until today that is. I’ve been holding off cause I’m sooo superstitous and don’t want to jinx everything. It actually took a lot of guts to write this much in the first place! My sister can account to this. Everytime we talk and she asks me how training is, I start talking about it then cut myself off after about 5 seconds screaming “I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to jinx it!!!!”. I have to say though, it’s going well. And that’s all I’m going to say about it for now. Cause I don’t want another fiasco like with the half. And I’m wearing quite the knee brace to prove it.

But, I don’t want to talk about it!!! I don’t want to jinx it!!!

Until then, wish me luck.

My Computer: An Update

So, unfortunately, it’s going to be a bit more time before a new post. I thought the problem with my computer was super minor and could be fixed easily, but not so much. I needed a entire new hard drive. Thankfully, I have AppleCare so I didn’t have to pay for it (yeah-a HUGE thankfully. Thanks Ken for making me get it!). But, it’s basically like a new computer. None of my programs or files are on it. One thing I have to do is put the program on that works with my camera. But first I need to find the CD that is floating around my room somewhere that goes with my camera. This could be a process considering I’m currently apartment/dogsitting for my friend in Chelsea for the next week and barely have a chance to go back to my apartment.

So-to get down to the nitty-gritty: This could take a while. But, I will be back! Hopefully by this time next week my computer will be all set up and running smoothly.

I have so many recipes I need to share it’s ridiculous! And the running. Oh the running!!!!!

Please stay tuned…

Whoa-What happened to me?

I’m having some serious home computer issues and I can’t upload photos/I can barely turn it on most days. Because I can’t imagine doing a post right now without a mouth-watering photo of my good eats, no posts until it’s fixed. I’m taking the day off tomorrow so off to Apple store I go! And hopefully a new post then.

Coming up: How to dress up a salad
I think I finally made tofu correctly
I am a goddess garbanzos
Running updates again??

Stay tuned…