January 28, 2011
Recently, I was reading a blog post about buying fresh tofu and rice noodles in Seattle, and was seized with the obsessional need to find the tofu shop mentioned in the post (Than Son Tofu), and go buy some of my own. I started thinking about long ago in upstate NY, when we lived a block away from a tiny little shop where a Chinese man made fresh tofu every day. When he told me he ate eight small cakes of tofu each day, it almost killed my desire to eat any, but his tofu was so good, it was hard to resist. And I remember when we lived in Madison, Wis., buying fresh tofu from a tofu co-op called The Bountiful Bean. But we haven't bought any fresh tofu since coming to Seattle, just the stuff in the sealed packages. We headed to Than Son Tofu to see what we could find.
When we entered the small storefront, we were faced with large stainless tubs filled with hot, just-fried tofu, as well as all sorts of familiar and unfamiliar items. In the cooler, I found a package of fresh yuba, and there were bottles of still-warm soymilk (soybean juice) in bins at the front of the store. There was a young woman behind the counter who offered us samples of the fried tofu — onion, lemongrass and plain. I'm not a big fried-food eater, and you'll never find recipes for deep fried foods on this blog, but I'm not going to lie, fried food tastes good. Fried tofu tastes really good. And the fried tofu we sampled was irresistible, so into a bag it went.
My attempts to buy plain tofu went something like this:
Me: "I'd like to buy some soft tofu and some extra firm tofu."
Young Woman Behind Counter: confused look.
We went back and forth like this — me using words, and she using facial expressions, for a few minutes until I said, "I'd like to buy some fresh tofu." This got a big smile and the question, "how many?" "Three," I answered, and with a laugh she disappeared into the kitchen and returned with three pieces of warm tofu. I also grabbed a jug of soymilk, or soybean juice as it was described on the label.
So, what did I make with the fried tofu? It seemed destined for an Asian-inspired meal, but that's not what happened. We had a big, fresh bunch of my favorite vegetable — kale — in the refrigerator, and I really wanted steamed kale with sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives and crushed red pepper. I just couldn't get past it, so we had the kale topped with fried tofu and green onions, with a side of brown basmati rice.
Next I had to think of something to do with the fresh soymilk. I know a lot of people make their own soymilk, so this would be no big deal, but if I buy soymilk, it's in a carton and rather bland, which is the way I generally prefer it. The fresh soymilk was very intensely flavored and thick — perfect for baking.
With bananas rotting on the counter, it seemed obvious that I should make banana bread, and I had intended to post a recipe for banana-oatmeal bread. Somewhere in the middle of combining ingredients, I lost track of how much flour I put in, and found myself winging it (á la River!) and unable to supply accurate measurements. This is really too bad because the bread turned out so well. I also left out some flavors I meant to include, so obviously I'll have to make another one. Which means I have to eat this one rather quickly, because I can't have two banana breads sitting in the kitchen!
Banana bread wasn't the only thing baking in our kitchen. After reading about Mark Bittman's changes at the NY Times, I followed a link to one of his well-known recipes — no-knead bread. I make no-knead bread often, guided by recipes from "Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day," but I wanted to give Mark Bittman's recipe another try, so I watched this video, and got started. The dough had to ferment for about 18 hours, and then rise for two hours. The bread got baked in a large cast iron pot; I'm sure most of you have seen this recipe — it was hugely popular several years ago. Above you can see my bread (made with white whole wheat flour) rising in its towel cocoon.
I plopped it into the piping hot pot as directed, and put it into the oven.
When it was done, it had a fantastic crunchy crust, beautiful crumb and gorgeous yellow color. But it was rather like a large pancake, with very little rise. It spread out into the pot instead of upward. It tasted great but I really wanted a higher rise. Bittman has posted a newer video with his revisions to the recipe, if you are interested.
This was my breakfast today — not exactly oatmeal. There's leftover kale with sun-dried tomatoes and olives, hummus, cucumber, avocado and Bittman's bread.
Crochet something and GET IT RIGHT!!!
Almost a year ago, I mentioned that I was trying to revisit an old interest in crochet. My skills were never highly developed, but I thought I could at least make a hat or scarf or two, and then progress to something more complex. I made a hat and scarf and that was the end of it. But, recently, a friend asked me to take a crochet class with her, and it forces me to keep making stuff since I have to appear at the class once a week with yarn and a project .
My biggest problem seems to be a streak of perfectionism that won't let me finish anything. I made this hat ... about six times! It was too big — ripped it out. It was too pointy — ripped it out. It was too small — ripped. It was ... And so on. I still don't like it but I had to stop ripping before the yarn became unusable. I still intend to make another version and a scarf to match because I really like the yarn.
I also made a "magic potholder." It's a very cool double-layer cotton potholder that can be made in about two hours — or six hours if you make it three times like I did. I think the magic part is that I finished it. (You can google "magic potholder" for directions. I used Sugar and Cream yarn, a size G hook, and I started with 30 chains.)
I'm making a hat for my granddaughter and I'm now on version two, but I promised myself not to make it more than twice.
It looks like I'll be crocheting for a while. Will I survive?
This is what I saw when I looked out my bedroom window last evening.
A message from Farm Sanctuary
A day to celebrate love in the world is a day to sponsor a Farm Sanctuary shelter animal! Adopt in your name or give a gift sponsorship to someone special in your life. Right now, many rescued farm animals living at our sanctuaries are in need of tender loving care.
A farm animal sponsorship is a thoughtful, cute, fun, compassionate, original, and all-around wonderful way to share some love this Valentine’s Day! It’s the perfect way to help animals and show you care, whether it’s for your sweetheart, your mom, dad, sister, brother, a special friend, or for yourself.
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