Thursday, May 15, 2008

Just a quick update...

Hello everyone!

First, my profuse apologies for not having posted for a while... I recently found out I am having back surgery on June 4 - a cervical laminectomy - and I've been running myself ragged trying to get my 4th book finished, wrap up copywriting projects, and finish a few household things I've been putting off. I'll be basically useless for a while after the surgery, so I'm running in high gear now.

Second, I've managed to create a few culinary disasters in the little time I've had to devote to cooking. Most notably, I made a vegetable korma that managed to be insanely hot and depressingly bland at the same time. I'm still puzzling over that one.

Then there were these lentil cakes - I was so excited about these babies - that somehow turned to a skillet full of tasteless goo with crunchy bits on the outside. Bah!

But hey, it happens. That's the thing about being willing to experiment - sometimes, you'll have raucous successes, and sometimes you'll have monumental failures. It all evens out.

Fortunately, my wife has been extremely supportive (and tolerant), and has refused to let me through away the figurative apron, no matter how badly my creations suck. Gotta love that - thanks Carla!

Anyway... since I have no deliciousness of my own to offer you, I'll take this opportunity to pimp another blog. Fat Free Vegan Kitchen posted a wonderful grilled asparagus and spinach salad recipe, which I tried last night. This recipe uses smoked paprika dressing, but I wasn't in the mood to drive halfway across Columbus to get white miso paste, so I just sprinkled paprika on the salad and doused it with seasoned rice wine. Oh, and I used chickpeas instead of walnuts.

Rest assured that I will be back very soon with something inspired and yummy. My cooking curse is about to lift, I can just feel it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Finally, Strawberry Yumminess of My Very Own

A few days ago, I posted a link to Teenage Vegan's blog. I've been waiting all week to try these strawberry crepes out for myself.

I was most certainly not dissapointed.

The only changes I made were the addition of a tablespoon of soy vanilla yogurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top of each crepe.

I used the basic crepe batter recipe I posted a week or so ago. For the filling, I threw 6 large strawberries and 2 tbsp of agave nectar in a blender (made way too much for 2 crepes), and layered sliced bananas on top. Then, more strawberry sauce, soy yogurt, and cinnamon on top, and these light and yummy breakfast treats were ready for savoring!

Note: I actually found agave nectar at Kroger (a large regional supermarket chain) in the natural foods section. So you might not have to find a specialty foods store to make these crepes.

Thanks again to Teenage Vegan for the inspiration!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Vegan Recipe: Spicy Marinated Tofu with Avocado Sauce

So tonight's entry went down something like this:

All day, I had it in my head that I'd like to try marinating tofu in adobo sauce. After all, you can buy jalapenos packed in adobo sauce, so I figured I must be able to buy the stuff in a jar by itself, right?

Nope. At least not at the Kroger down the street.

So I stood in the Mexican foods section, staring at the bottles and jars of things which, for the most part, I was entirely unfamiliar with. I found dry adobo seasoning, but I figured tofu wasn't really going to absorb the taste of that very well. Tofu is a rather recalcitrant substance, after all.

I realized I looked like some dumb tourist that had wandered off the beaten path in a Mexican village, and decided that I needed to come up with Plan B quickly.

So I grabbed a jar of something called "sofrito", gathered the rest of my groceries, and headed home, confident that I had salvaged my plan.

That is, until I tasted the sauce.

It turns out, sofrito has a pretty heavy green bell pepper taste. There aren't too many vegetables I don't like, but I absolutely hate green bell peppers. Bah.

So now what?

Clearly, it was time to improvise. So a quick scan of the pantry, a couple of irrational decisions, and a Hail Mary was launched to try to make this potential disaster work.

Amazingly, it did work. So here you go:

Spicy Marinated Tofu with Avocado Sauce

1 package extra firm tofu, frozen and thawed

1 tbsp olive oil

Marinade for tofu:

1 can (14 oz) tomato sauce

1/3 tbsp cayenne pepper

1/3 tbsp cumin

1/3 tbsp garlic salt

Avocado sauce:

1 avocado, peeled and sliced

Juice from 1/2 lemon

1/2 cup plain soy milk

1 clove of garlic, peeled

Pinch of cayenne pepper


1 small/medium tomato, diced

1/4 cup fresh scallions

Mix all marinade ingredients in a flat casserole dish.

Drain tofu. Wrap it in a dishtowel and press out excess water. The more water you remove, the better the tofu will absorb the marinade.

Slice tofu into 8 pieces, cutting across the longer side of the tofu block (pieces will be about 1/2" thick). Place slices in marinade, making sure that the tofu is completely covered. If it's not, you'll need to turn it a few times while it is marinating. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Remove tofu slices from marinade and place in a large skillet with the olive oil. Turn several times during cooking. I pan fried the tofu for about 8 minutes, which seemed just about right. Any longer, and I think the tomato sauce would have started burning.

Place all of the avocado sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Transfer tofu slices to plates. Spoon avocado sauce over tofu, garnish with tomatoes and scallions.


Not much to say, other than it turned out wonderfully, despite my trepidation. I really did use a lot of cayenne pepper in the marinade, but the cool, citrus taste of the avocado sauce balanced out the heat.

Oh, and it really is important that you wait as long as you can before making the avocado sauce - preferably until the tofu is almost done. Right out of the blender, it has a nice, vivid green color that compliments the deep orange-red of the tofu to create a visually appealing dish.

After dinner, though, I noticed that the leftover avocado sauce had turned an icky brownish green color - kind of like what it would look like if the neighbor kid rode his bike through your hostas right after a thunderstorm. About 12 times.

Anyway, the only thing I would change here is the side dish. I decided on baked tortilla chips (take tortillas, cut them like a pizza, bake on a nonstick baking pan at 400 degrees for six minutes) and fresh salsa... but that wasn't quite right. Not bad, just not right.

I'll have to ponder that. If you have any suggestions, I'd be glad to try them out.

On a completely unrelated note, I'll leave you with this picture I took of my daughter this morning as she was leaving for school. She was proud of her new dress, so I couldn't deny her a couple of pictures.

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