Homemade tofu cashew ricotta, tomato, spinach, basil, balsamic reduction

So I was dusting off my cookbooks this weekend and I started bumming on the fact that I really don’t cook as much as I used to. I cook to eat, but I don’t play and invent the way I used to. As I stewed on it for a while I realized why: I am now cooking for one.

In college, when I first went vegan and fell in love with cooking, I had friends and roomies and a boyfriend to cook with, and for. Some were vegan, some weren’t, but they all wanted to eat, so eat we did. Living on my own after college for the first year, I still had a few foodie friends around to cook with, and I started an illegal home catering company out of my kitchen—so as long as I had clients, I was cooking.

When my ex moved in, we cooked together all the time. Cooking and eating is so social, and it’s fun picking out or making up a recipe together and trying it out, or cooking something up you know you will serve to someone else.

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Look Ma! Teeth!

This is my second Bloggers Unite post, about a blending of blogging between me and my friend Nick, music, film, TV and pop culture enthusiast from The Littlest Winslow. Nick is on an Epic Film Quest to watch every single movie that has ever won a Best Picture award. The way our united blogging occurs is we watch a movie and eat some food and then we both write about it! Last time I wrote about watching the movie Rebecca and eating Green Papaya Salad.

This time, we watched Rain Main and I cooked up a vegan meal of Thrice Fried Rice for Nick (and his lovely fiancé Em tried it, too). You see, Nick is not a vegan but his lady does like to eat healthy, which means he also eats healthy often. We also share a love for spicy food, so we knew our dish had to be kickin’. Nick is sort of skeptical about veganism, which he has admitted he thinks is trendy now. (For once, I got into something two years BEFORE the trend, instead of two years AFTER. ) So, I wanted to hypothetically tear off his pants with the awesomeness of delicious vegan eating. He will be blogging about this, and about his experience with vegan food. You should read his blog post, or else!

While we cooked, we jammed to Bif Naked–super foxyfresh vegan canadian rocker–as a pre-game of sorts because I will be interviewing her next week! Eee! She is so cool and I can’t wait. Nick turned me on to her so I have him to thank. THANKS, NICK.

Here is the recipe for my Thrice Fried Rice. Why thrice? Because I fry the tofu twice before adding it to the rice and refrying. Also, we watched Rain Man. I love Dustin Hoffman but Tom Cruise is basically the worst actor EVER and his performance in this movie was predictably despicable.

Get in me!

Thrice Fried Rice
Serves 4/prep time: 15 minutes/ Cook time: 20-30 minutes

You Will Need:

2 cups cooked brown rice
1 block extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 cup peas (frozen is fine!)
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon dried ginger)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried)
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2-3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons Earth Balance or your favorite vegan spread
oil for frying

Helpful tips:
If you press your tofu first, it will brown quicker.

Cooking your rice the day before (or night before, if you have a rice cooker!) makes this dish take less time.

To Make:

Step one
Put 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large pan, heat over medium high. Add cubed tofu and brown on all sides, stirring often to keep from burning, 5-8 minutes.

Step two
Remove tofu and put on a plate lined with paper towels.  Blot with more paper towels and let cool for 2-3 minutes. Then, put another tablespoon of oil into wok and repeat step one. In the last minute of frying, add 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Cook, then remove. Tofu will be crisp and golden!

Step two! It's good to look scared while cooking.

Step three
Remove tofu again. Put Earth Balance in wok and add carrots and onion. Sautee until onion is translucent and carrots are just beginning to soften—not mushy! About 3-4 minutes. Stir constantly to prevent burning.

Step four
Add mushrooms, peas, garlic and all spices to pan. Cook 2-3 minutes.

Step five
Add rice, tofu, rest of soy sauce and mix well. Cook 5-8 minutes.

Step five. Rice art!

Voila! Swoon to the crooning of Bif Naked.  Enjoy your meal doused in Sriracha or your favorite hot sauce. Watch a good movie with a bad actor in good company.

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Thanks, FoodDay.org !

Today is national food day. Occasionally my co-worker, Nick (oh hey, Nick!) and I talk about how exactly one goes about declaring a national day. How do you do it? Do you need to get it approved? Is it someone’s job to approve the national days, or can you do it at your leisure? If so, it could be a disgustingly terrible way to hit on the opposite sex and make them feel overall uncomfortable. “Did you know it’s national Oral Sex day? There’s only a few hours left ’til midnight, baby…” ANYWAY, on national coffee day I indulged in 3 cups of extra dark Columbian. Actually, I do that everyday. And today is national food day, but so far I haven’t really eaten anything different. I will, however, make you this nice little list of my top 5 favorite foods, because I know you care.  

1. Avocados—Full of healthy fats and potassium, I smear avocado on toast, eat them with a spoon, and make copious amounts of guacamole.

2. Hummus—Hummus is a food group for me. I probably eat it every day. I make my own because—like someone with a heroin problem—my addiction can get expensive.

3. Sweet potatoes—Sweet potato kale soup, baked sweet potato, sweet potato fries, stuffed sweet potato, sweet potato curry. Sweet potatoes are to me what shrimp is to Bubba. (If you don’t understand that reference, we will never be friends.)  Sometimes I wonder why my palms aren’t orange.

4. Barbeque sauce—This isn’t a food, you might be saying! Oh, but it is. I like to make my own when I am feeling productive, and I put it on everything—tofu, tempeh, veggies, and all of the things listed above (BBQ hummus, what!?!). Sometimes if I am real hungry and have already spent my allotted grocery money, you will find me eating my version of a poor college student’s Ramen: quinoa with barbecue sauce. Yep. Nasty.

5. Anything that comes out of a blender. I am a smoothie freak, a green juice freak, a soup-in-a-blender freak. I chipped my glass blender a few weeks ago, sprinkling shards of glass into my pumpkin smoothie, and I nearly died. I think I texted about 4 of my favorite epicureans about the tragedy, Tweeted about it, and called my mother to whine (and drop hints I want a nicer blender for Christmahannukah…).

Today, to celebrate national food day (to me, every day is national food day) I made a  Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana “milk” shake with the So Delicious Chocolate PB “ice cream” flavor. (The ice cream was compliments of VegNews who sent me a complimentary coupon for spreading the vegan love and helping them with distribution via the VegNews Street Team. Thanks, VegNews!)

Ingredients:
1 ripe banana, frozen
2 (big!) scoops So Delicious Chocolate Peanut Butter Frozen Dessert
2 Tbsp Non-Dairy milk (I used soy this time, I also like almond and coconut)

Put the banana, ice cream and milk into a blender. Turn it on, pulse a few times—running it too much will make it very thin, and you want it nice and thick!—and pour into a glass! Enjoy while on lunch break while you serenade your kitten with Milkshake by Kelis. Or not.

In other vegan news, Russell Brand is now a vegan!?! Say what!? Another reason for me to want to slather him in sticky sweet foodstuffs and lick it off his skinny British body. Don’t worry Katy P, you can join too; there’s nothing crowded about a party of three in my opinion.

Oh Russell, I wish I was your pleather pants

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I wanna punch that dumb B in the V

I am mildly horrified I never knew this. According to Urban Dictionary—my go-to source for everything—“tofu” is slang for sex. I mean, I use everything as slang for sex, especially all things related to food. Here is what UD has to say:

Tofu  
 A slang word for sex, popular in the Northwestern US and theCaliforniacoast. Mostly in Asian communities.

 Derived from the expression “Selling Tofu”, a Chinese euphemism for prostitution

EX: Leah and Benjamin are in the bedroom having tofu.

How did I not know this?! Man, I need to start hanging out in Asian communities more often.

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I have mentioned previously that one of the best features on the backend of SexyTofu.com is the ability to see what people plugged into Google to stumble across us (and by us, I mean me!). To sample just a few, today I got “women flashing truck drivers,” “vegan nightmares,” “sex pesto” (mmm..?), “fat girl eating chocolate banana” and “crazy sexy dumper.” Funnies aside, I did get one person who was searching for “how to be vegan without tofu.”

This struck a real chord with me. I was a vegetarian for a very long time before I ever developed a taste for tofu, or any soy product really. I was also very young, and perhaps not very smart about how to successfully maintain a plant-based diet. Now that I am vegan (and a full supporter of the soy council!), I was interested in this mystery fan’s (okay fan is a bit much..) query of not only how to be vegan without tofu, but how to be vegan without soy at all.

With a family history of breast cancer, I used to think I should avoid eating soy on a daily basis, and therefore limited consumption of direct soy products (tofu, soy milk, edamame, etc.). However, my doctor recently told me that the avoidance of soy in relation to breast cancer—as it contains high levels of estrogen—is unnecessary. We produce far more estrogen in our bodies than we could possibly get from soy products (says doc!).

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On our second day in Wulai, a small village outside of Taipei, Greg and Chao took my mom and I to a vegetarian slow food restaurant. The literal translation of the restaurant’s name is “vegetarian face,” which I found amusing. This style of restaurant is reservation only, so that the exact amount of food–over 10 courses!–can be prepared. The courses are meant to be eaten slowly, and are served in small portions. All of these mini-meals were extremely delicious and the entire meal took us nearly three hours. Greg tried his best to translate what each dish contained, but some ingredients were difficult to name in English and the chances of me being able to recreate any of them is minimal. My favorite course was a tofu and mushroom dish that the chef recently won an award for.

Tomato with something delish--and beautiful!

Award winning tofu topped with mushroom--only two ingredients Greg was able to translate!

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