Local Gifts and a Lesson in Time & Tofu

Yesterday was one of those summer days you just have to love. I was up with the birds (they are REALLY chatty as dawn breaks!) and by the time I had had my glass of water and a green juice I was pretty much awake. 🙂 I started crossing things off my list, and by 8 am I had already done half a day’s work and was ready for my walking buddy to knock on the door for a morning walk. Sunny but still summer cool, I looked at the forest around me several times during our walk just feeling grateful to be alive and in such a beautiful place.

When we got back we sat down for a glass of water (and a cup of coffee!) and another friend popped by unexpectedly – bearing two large bunches of home-grown kale and some beautiful cherries from the cherry tree in her garden.kale_smMy day continued like that – one nice surprise after another. One of the things I was working on was a steeping lesson in tofu. Now, you have to understand I LOVE tofu. But I have a bias. I almost always either bake it with a marinade. Needless to say, I had already completed all the baking method assignments in my cooking program, but I had been putting off the steeping. So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

I put the chopped tofu (extra firm) into a pot of boiling water with a heavy helping of fresh cut ginger and tumeric (fresh, not the ground tumeric pictured below) and a pinch of salt. Lid on, I let it steep away for about an hour and a half (on med-low), until the liquid was all gone (checking on it every 30 and then 15 minutes). By the end of the process it looked like…really yellow tofu. It had a mild gingery flavour, which I liked, and the texture was kind of neat – a little chewier than before I had started. But worth an hour and a half? Not so sure. steepedtofu_sm

I set it aside to cool, thinking I would roast it as a second stage to infuse more flavour. By the time 5 pm rolled around I was losing steam and complaining to my husband that I didn’t feel like making dinner. We almost went out, but then I looked at the tofu, and those beautiful greens, and gave myself a kick in the butt.

I dry roasted up some brown rice and put it on to steep. I put together a little olive oil, saffron, some umemboshi vinegar (which is a salt seasoning) and a few squeezes of lemon juice, and tossed the tofu in it. Put it in the oven to roast for about 30 minutes at 375F. Prepped the kale for braising. All of that took me about 15 minutes. I sat down thinking, had we decided to eat out we wouldn’t even have left for the restaurant yet.

When the rice and tofu were close to being done (about 25 minutes later), I minced up a little ginger, and sautéed it in a bit of olive oil. Added the greens in and once they started wilting added a splash of lemon juice and a splash of tamari. Tossed and let it all steam together for a minute or two. Put the rice on the plate, covered it with a heaping serving of greens, topped it with some tofu, fresh cilantro and a spoonful of sunflower seeds. And dinner was on the table. IMG_6310_smNow, back to the tofu for a second. Was that pre-treatment steep worth it? It turns out that YES it really was. It was time consuming and took some planning, so it’s not something I will do with my tofu every time. But it definitely affected the texture in the end – it was almost like paneer or cheese curd (both of which my husband and I loved in our pre-vegan days). The flavour was complex and deep – a real treat!

Yet another lovely surprise in a perfect summer day. And my husband did the dishes. Like I said, a perfect summer day. 🙂

 

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