Half-a-brain Sweet and Sour Tempeh

I’m one of those people who can’t function when talking on the phone. I freely admit this: it’s why I refuse to use my cell phone in the car. Talking on the phone makes me stupid – it’s true. Fortunately for the world, I hate talking on the phone and very rarely do it. There are few people I enjoy talking on the phone with: Fortinbras is one of them, and my friend V is another. V called me tonight from her home in San Francisco, firstly to apologize for treating me so horribly in my dream last night, and secondly to place yet another request that I make San Francisco my home. (A request I’m not willing to turn down…why isn’t San Francisco my home?) As she managed to call just as I was amassing ingredients and brainstorming recipes, tonight’s meal was conceived and constructed using only half – or less – of my brain. It turned out surprisingly well under the circumstances. Another mitigating factor in tonight’s meal was I really need to go grocery shopping. Having used up my green pepper I officially now have NO fresh vegetables. Yikes!

Sweet and Sour Tempeh

12 ounces tempeh, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3″ piece ginger, minced or grated
7 ounces (about 1/2 can) diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp (or to taste) chili paste
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 veggie bouillon cube
1/2 cup diced pineapple (fresh, frozen, or canned; if canned in in syrup, omit or cut back on the agave nectar)

Prepare all of the solid ingredients: chop the onion and green pepper, mince or press the garlic, mince or grate the ginger, chop the tempeh, measure the tomatoes and pineapple chunks.

Mix together the liquid ingredients: the soy sauce, agave nectar, rice vinegar, water, chili paste, and orange juice. Add the bouillon cube. I microwaved it for 30 seconds in order to get it to dissolve.

Heat a wok over medium high heat and add a small amount of oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and fry for two minutes.

Add the garlic and ginger. (There are dried chili peppers in this picture because I used them but in the future I’ll just use the chili paste for all the heat, so it’s all I’ve called for.) Fry for one minute.

Add the green pepper and fry for a minute.

Add the tofu and stir fry for two to three minutes.

Add the tomatoes and fry for another minute.

Add the pineapple.

Add the liquid ingredients. Turn up the heat and let boil for a minute or two until slightly thickened.

Serve with some sort of grain. Because I was only using half my brain, I absentmindedly put some rice in the rice cooker before starting the rest of the meal, but later I thought I’d have really liked quinoa with this meal and was disappointed I hadn’t thought of it.

This was pretty good, as I said, for being made while I was under the influence of cellphonis stupidis. However, I used packaged tempeh for the first time in months, because until this week I hadn’t really had time to get back into my regular routine of making all my staples, and all I can say is: wow. Is homemade ever MUCH better! The packaged tempeh – the same brand I used to always buy before I started making my own – was bland, poorly textured, and insipid. I have soybeans soaking now to make my own tempeh tomorrow…whew! I’d gotten so used to homemade I hadn’t realized that it’s a million times better than store-bought!

I baked some kaiser rolls while I was making dinner! They are another test recipe for Peter Reinhart. They’re good. I’m going to be heartily recommending this book when it comes out!

In other news, Mark got a fish. His name is Atticus Fish. Mark loves Atticus Fish with all his heart.

Atticus Fish is a bit silly.

Brachtune finds him fascinating!


  1. Mark Said,

    March 21, 2009 @ 8:40 am

    I love Atticus Fish so much.

  2. eatavegan Said,

    March 21, 2009 @ 9:55 am

    Just stumbled across your blog and love it! Your tutorials are awesome — and homemade tempeh and tofu? Awesome. Can’t wait to learn tons from you!

  3. Cindy Said,

    March 21, 2009 @ 10:02 am

    Nice digs for A.F.

  4. Sina Said,

    March 21, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

    Atticus Fish is cute – I guess his name comes from “Atticus Finch” (“To kill a mockingbird” which I’m reading for school at the moment)?

    Your blog is awesome!

  5. renae Said,

    March 21, 2009 @ 8:44 pm

    Sina, you guessed right! What a coincidence that you’re reading the book right now!

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