Orange-marinated Tofu

During dinner last night I commented, “this is a stereotypically healthy meal.” It was also a stereotypically vegan meal: brown rice, tofu, kale, and corn on the cob. While it sounds kind of boring, and it’s true that it wasn’t the most amazing meal ever, it was very flavorful and I felt good about eating it, so here you go:

Orange-Marinated Tofu
Lightly adapted from http://www.food.com/recipe/spicy-orange-tofu-136875
By “adapted” I mean I looked at this recipe briefly, went into the kitchen, and proceeded to pour mysterious amounts of what I thought I remembered were the ingredients together without measuring. So my measurements are guesses. I did eliminate most of the oil, however.

1 pound extra-firm tofu, sliced into 1/2″ slabs
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
squirt of agave nectar
6-8 dried red chilis, lightly crushed between fingers

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all the ingredients except the tofu together in a large shallow dish, then submerge the slabs of tofu. Let marinate for at least half an hour. When ready to bake, pour off most of the marinade, then bake for about half an hour.

My tofu was an herbed variety from Twin Oaks, which explains the specks.

For the kale, which was market-fresh, I just sauteed a bunch of (super delicious farmers market) garlic in some avocado oil, added the kale and stirred to coat it, then poured in a few tablespoons of vegan broth, then reduced the heat, covered, and cooked until limp.

My weekend has been raccoon-intensive, as I worked at the sanctuary both days due to volunteer shortages, and we have 43 – about to be 45, as two more were set to arrive after I left – raccoons. I literally had to clean several of the cages with a raccoon – sometimes two – on my head, which makes it very difficult. Some of them were so rambunctious, it’s worn me out! Here are four trouble-makers:

They are so anxious to “help”. Here an assistant fills his “pond” with fresh water for me:

Raccoons love, love, love water.

Actually, raccoons love just about anything they can get their little hands on. We provide a wide variety of toys and objects for them to play with. Wind chimes are fun for them to grab (and destroy), and pleasant to listen to.

I made the mistake of putting a paper towel down and completely forgetting about it. When I returned to the cage later to fill the pond, I found these two fighting over something it took me a moment to recognize: the shredded, soggy remains of my paper towel. Sometimes cleaning their cages is like taking one step forward, two steps backwards. No wonder I’m exhausted.

Raccoons are certainly not the only wildlife I see at the sanctuary. Currently the big show are the deer, including these twin fawns:

This morning in the drizzle, I encountered this doe …

… and this young buck.

And now, I must go get ready for the play Mark and I are going to see in celebration of the 11th anniversary of our first date!

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Poached Tofu Cutlets

Holy cats, have I been busy! I don’t know why, but October is always an insanely busy month for me. I guess part of it is both our birthdays, and our anniversary, and Halloween, and I always end up travelling – sometimes multiple times – in October. I’ve also been working a lot lately. All that that is why I haven’t been posting much.

We went to Charleston, SC a couple of weeks ago to visit Mark’s family. We left mid-week and right before we left, I did a quick sweep of the refrigerator for perishables and realized I hadn’t used the tofu I’d made that weekend, so I quickly threw it in a container and popped it in the freezer. I’m not a huge fan of frozen tofu; the texture doesn’t win me over as it does some, and it is so sponge-like it always seems to absorb so much salt it tastes too salty. Nonetheless I wasn’t about to waste homemade tofu, so in the freezer it went.

I was looking for a way to use it and came across this post on the wonderful Just Bento. This idea is totally ripped off of Maki, but for my broth I just started pouring things into my Dutch oven, trying but not really to keep the sodium down.

Poached Tofu Cutlets

1 block frozen tofu, thawed
3 cups vegan broth (I used “chicken”-flavoured)
1/4 cup red wine
2 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
4-6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

cornstarch

Slice the tofu into four slabs like this:

Whisk together the remaining ingredients except the cornstarch in a Dutch oven or wide saucepan then add the cutlets. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently for 20 minutes or longer. I think I left mine for 45 minutes or so.

Remove the cutlets from the broth …

(In the wild, poached tofu is the same color as bamboo chopping blocks in order to elude knife-wielding cooks.)

… and coat with cornstarch.

Pan-fry on both sides in olive oil, or do as I did and grill on an electric grill (I brushed the grill with oil first):

Meanwhile you can thicken the (strained) leftover broth with some cornstarch (add the cornstarch to a small amount of cold water then whisk it in and heat until thickened) to make a gravy, though that’s optional.

Look at these baby sweet potatoes I got. LOOK AT THEM!

I love baby vegetables almost as much as I love baby animals. They’re tiny and sweet…just like Torticia! (By the way, upon hearing what they were, Mark informed me he hated sweet potatoes, but he tried them anyway and liked them! I know because he actually ate them! Baby vegetables are awesome!)

Plated meal:

Wow – this was the best meal I’ve made using frozen tofu, and though I’d be hard pressed (haha, like my tofu) to call the broth low-sodium, it wasn’t too salty. The texture was good too: chewy, but not overly sponge-like. Very flavourful. I think I still prefer my tofu fresh but it’s great to know I can make something really good with it even if I end up having to freeze it. And actually, frozen homemade tofu is probably better than non-frozen store-bought tofu.

In other news, I had pre-ordered then forgotten about Harold McGee’s new book Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes and was therefore pleasantly surprised to find it on my doorstep this evening. It’s almost as big as the mega-wonderful On Food and Cooking, though not nearly as dense, and looks like it contains a bazillion helpful hints. I’m almost (but not quite) sorry it arrived today, because I’m feeling a little overwhelmed between work, social obligations, and the seven or eight “spooky” books I just bought for Halloween, which were added to my queue of..oh geez, 37 books. (In other news, I’ve read exactly 100 books so far this year!)

And …

Gomez, light of my life, fur of my clothes. My kitten, my cat. Go-mez-ian: the tip of your tail twitching to and fro across my toes. Go. Mez. Ian.

He is Mez, plain Mez, in the morning, standing on my chest. He is Mezzie when he plays. He is Mezzaluna in the kitchen. He is Gomez on the vet bills. But in my arms he is always Gomezian.

…and for Halloween he is Dracula!

Which is extra awesome because growing up I had a cat named Dracula, who prior to Tigger, Brachtune, Gomez, and Torticia, was the greatest cat who ever lived, and though he now has to share the title, still has a very special place in my heart. (And my skin; I have a tattoo of him.)

(My mom made Dracula’s Halloween costume just like she made all of mine!)

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Grilled Marinated Tofu with Gravy

I know I have been remiss in posting of late; I guess I haven’t been very inspired in the kitchen these last few weeks. Frankly, I’m making tonight’s post more out of obligation to post at least once a week than because it’s anything special. In fact, although it’s an easy, quick, and tasty meal, grilling tofu seems a little stereotypically vegan in a way I generally try to avoid on this blog (I’m trying to prove we don’t just eat tofu). Moreover, this is far from original. Nonetheless, Mark WAS scraping his plate clean after this meal (I offered to just go ladle him a bowl of the gravy for dessert), so it’s husband-approved and it was a good weeknight meal.

Grilled Marinated Tofu with Gravy

1/2 -1 pound tofu (I only had about 8 ounces of tofu, which may be fine for two normal people, but wasn’t really enough for one normal person and a Smark)
1 cup vegan broth (any flavor)
1/4 cup white wine
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp thyme
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

for the gravy
all of marinade above
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp flour

In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients (everything above except the tofu and gravy ingredients).

Slice the tofu into 1/4″ slabs.

Put the tofu in the marinade and marinate for 1/2 hour or longer (up to 24 hours in the refrigerator).

Remove the tofu, reserving the marinade.

I grilled the tofu on my George Foreman grill. You could also do it on a stovetop grillpan, or pan fry it, or bake it.

Meanwhile, to make the gravy, in a small saucepan, stir together the olive oil and flour to make a roux.

Slowly whisk in the marinade (you can optionally strain it first as I have done here).

Continue to whisk until gravy is hot and thickened.

Grill, fry, or bake the tofu until lightly golden.

I served my tofu with roasted asparagus: doused with a vinaigrette of olive oil, fresh lemon juice, pressed garlic, salt, and pepper then roasted at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Also served with a mixed grain side from Trader Joe’s that was heavy on the Israeli couscous.

Although Mark enjoyed this meal, I didn’t get any photographic evidence of it, so you’re just going to have to trust me on this. But here he is during our recent visit to the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History (by the way, it’s not recommended you try to visit the Smithsonian during the Cherry Blossom Festival – it was incredibly crowded, even on Easter).

And finally, guess what I saw on a Metrobus during my commute yesterday …

I thought that was pretty cool.

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