Saturday, June 27, 2009

To Tofu or Not To Tofu...

Since becoming a vegetarian nearly a year ago, I’ve tried – and forced upon my unsuspecting hubby and kids – a variety of vegetarian fare. Most of which was a resounding success. I’ve found that just about anything made by Morningstar Farms is fantastic. They make a fake “chicken” nugget and corn “dogs” that taste exactly like the real thing. Last night I made a homemade pizza using meatless pepperoni, olives, mushrooms, feta and Parmesan cheeses, garlic, and sauce. It was delicious! Even our meat-eating friends came back for seconds. Most of the time my creations are fabulous. My coworkers had no idea during our last chili cook-off that what they were eating was not hamburger in my submission but rather meatless soy crumbles. I took second place to someone who cheated and used an Emeril recipe!

Then there’s the tofu. Prior to becoming a vegetarian, the only thing I’d ever used tofu for was to add protein to smoothies. FYI silken tofu blended into a smoothie is wonderful. Then I decided to try cooking with it. My first attempt was an abject failure. Tofu must be fully drained prior to cooking otherwise what you wind up with is a mushy mess. One would think that draining tofu would be as simple as opening the package and putting the tofu into a colander and letting it drain. Not so much. It has to be pressed to get as much of the liquid out of it as possible. So I dutifully placed the block of tofu between several paper towels and pressed it with my hand. Then watched as the tofu shot across the kitchen, having exploded on my counter top. About half of the block survived this first round of draining, so I wrapped it in several more paper towels and pressed it a little more lightly this time, and drained what I could. After adding the sauce, seasoning, a multitude of veggies, and cooking it until it seemed done, I sat down to sample my handiwork. Then I promptly dumped the entire pan down the disposal. IT WAS DISGUSTING. It was as unpalatable as I would imagine a fermented pile of worms would be. I gagged. I sputtered. I was traumatized! Then I checked the expiration date on the tofu package and discovered the problem. Tofu has a shelf life. Who knew?

Although my next attempt or two came out far better, which may have had something to do with the Tofu not being rotten, my kids won’t eat it and soy makes my husband sick. So why, you ask, did I continue to try? Probably because I don’t give up easily and cooking is one thing I do exceptionally well. I wasn’t going to allow a measly block of tofu to screw up my nearly flawless record of culinary delights. Yesterday’s lunch however, has cured me of this obsession. Pre-seasoned and sauced tofu is no better than plain. I prepared it properly, I added additional sauce, and then served it over salad greens with oriental dressing. There is no disguising that spongy almost tasteless quality. I gave it the old college try, but I’m done now. Tofu has, in my book, been relegated back to smoothies and smoothies alone.

Witty quip of the day: “Hey Mikey! He likes it!” From the old Life cereal commercials, remember? Although in this case it would have likely been; “Hey Mikey! Why are you gagging and turning green?”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

But that was mine!

What is it about the food on a mother’s plate that is so much more tantalizing that anything else in the house? A mother could be settling down with a bowl of grits, and if she hasn’t settled everyone in the house down with the exact same meal, it’s almost a guarantee that she’ll be unable to finish her meal. It won’t be for the obvious reason of stopping because she’s full, since she rarely finds out what full means. No, she’ll be unable to finish her food because her children will have tuned in via supersonic mom’s-got-food-I-haven’t-got radar and will have traversed from various locations in the house to check it out and beg “just a bite” from her. Unfortunately, being mothers we seem to have this built in insatiable need to feed everyone that steps foot into our homes regardless of the fact they have just finished the meal you’ve prepared for them. If one of the kids asks for a bite – and they will – you’re going to give it to them. There is no point in trying to say no; it’s physically painful for us to say, “Hey, that’s mine”.

In the unlikely event that your children don’t accost you for whatever is on your plate, I can assure you that the husband will find you utilizing his superhuman mom’s-eating-something technology and will be sure to ask you, mid-bite no less, whether you plan to finish that. At which point if you are anything like most normal women, you’ll roll your eyes, and hand over whatever it was you were attempting to inhale. Sustenance? Who needs it? Your special mom abilities negate such inane needs as food and drink on a daily basis, unless of course you are out of the house and away from your leeches. Those rare meals out with friends are what sustain you for sometimes weeks at a time till you are able to sneak out for another uninterrupted meal. I’ve known moms who have had to make lunch out with the girls at Olive Garden last as long as two months before taking the time to refuel once more.

Are we super-moms flying in to save the day, feeding wayward children, our husbands, and yes even the dog all while denying ourselves? It would seem so. It’s an interesting phenomenon to say the least. I personally have stooped so low as to sneak to the kitchen, and eat something straight from the refrigerator as quickly and quietly as possible so as to keep from alerting my husband and children to my culinary activities. Believe it or not, occasionally I just want to make and eat something without being asked to make more or give my something up. Selfish, I know. Terribly poor mothering yes, but nonetheless, I am human! I have needs too! I think I’ll start picking food off of my children’s plates just to see if it really does taste better just because it wasn’t on my own.

Witty quip of the day: They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I say the way to a mom’s heart is to let her actually fill her stomach once in a while. Then sit back and watch what happens. Might be kinda fun!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Social Networking

Ok, Myspace I get. Facebook I get. But Twitter? What the heck is the point? Have we become so self-involved that we actually believe it’s necessary to post in 140 characters or less our every thought or random feeling the moment it pops into our heads? Celebrities like P Diddy, Kim Kardashian, and Ashton Kutcher shamelessly promote their thoughts as though they were the leaders of the free world and we should hang on their every word. Sadly, given the fact that they have over a million followers each, it would seem that we do in fact hang by veritable strings, breathlessly awaiting their latest “tweet”. This we do in hopes of what? Mindless celebrities imparting words of wisdom that will somehow improve the quality of our obviously boring and less important lives?

If you are going to “tweet” folks, would it kill you to come up with something more original than “Ewww! A fly just landed in my triple mocha latte!” Or worse yet, “I'm bored!” How about using it to promote something useful? “Don’t forget the Central High Football game tonight at 7:00!” Or, “Bad accident on Hwy 99 North this morning.” It could be relatively useful for those of us with the tiniest bit of intelligence.

Social networking in the 80’s was an entirely different animal. It involved actually talking to one another. In person no less. I know this concept is a little hard to fathom but I’ll try to explain it thoroughly. We would call one another on the phone usually posted on the wall in the kitchen, the handset (you remember, the part you lifted up and put to your ear) often attached to a 10 foot long cord (yes, we had CORDS in those days), then getting as far away from the adults in the house as possible and making plans with your friends. Plans that involved getting out of the house and doing something crazy like walking the mall, hanging out at the park, driving around aimlessly, or just hanging out at someone else’s house. Social networking to us was a face-to-face affair.

Here is my advice for those of us that are attached to our technological devices a tad more than we should be: get out and live! Really, it won’t kill you to log off the Internet and log in to personal interactions with the people you know. The shakes will subside, the abject panic you’re feeling will in time dissipate, and the unique side effect of getting out of the house and away from your computers and cell phones could very well be exposure to sunlight and (gasp!) exercise. Calm down, you can handle it; I have every faith in you.
Witty quip of the day: Unplug!