Category Archives: whole foods

Crispy-Outside, Soft-Inside Baked Tofu Cubes in Stir-Fry

Here’s a story for you, the other day I went to the grocery store for a block of tofu and some yogurt. I went to the yogurt section (which by the way, I am convinced they move everything around before I arrive just to confuse me) and picked out a tub. A strange sight uncovered itself as I approached the tofu display: a large group of people clustered around curiously eyeing the suspicious white blocks of soy bean curd.
I have never seen so many people looking at tofu. Here in Fort Collins most people pass by without batting an eye. Not today, it was tofu awareness day and I missed the memo. I excused myself through the ten or so people, checked prices, and grabbed a block of firm for $2.99.
As I started to walk away one woman called after me, “Excuse me but, we’ve just been discussing and, how do you cook that?”
Feeling like Martha Stewart must every day of her life, I walked back and told them.
I said, “You can cut it into any shape and size pieces you like, slabs or cubes, whatever. Most people I know fry these in oil in a pan, which works just fine, but I personally have another technique…”
cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

I went on to describe the following procedure, which results in crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, restaurant-like tofu cubes. In this method, the tofu is baked and not fry you can cut back on some (minimal amounts of) fat. I used the tofu I bought in a stir-fry.
Cut the tofu into slabs, cubes of your preferred size. If you want to get real crazy, pull out some cookie cutters. Nothing says fun like star-shaped tofu!

cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

Lay a cloth towel on the counter (NOT terrycloth, unless you enjoy bits of fuzz in your food). Arrange the tofu cubes on the towel in a single layer. Cover with a second cloth (again, I cannot emphasize enough, NOT terrycloth). I used a single cloth folded in half because I only had one clean.

cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

Place a flat surface, like a cutting board, over the towel. Then put something heavy on the cutting board. Leave for 20 minutes. (Or skip all that nonsense and buy a tofu press).
cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

While you wait cut up some veggies (yes I did make a yin-yang out of my peas and carrots). Use any combination of veggies you like. I’d recommend broccoli, carrots, snow peas, soybeans, water chestnuts, onions, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, corn, zucchini or other squash, tomatoes, mushrooms and potatoes. Really any vegetable is great. That’s the beauty of a stir-fry: you can use whatever is in your refrigerator or pantry at the time.
Mix your sauce: I made a simple sauce of water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and cornstarch. This is another great thing about stir-fries, you can use whatever sauce you want. There are infinite combinations of sauces and vegetables.
cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies
After 20 minutes spray a baking sheet with cooking oil (I love my misto) and line the tofu cubes on the baking sheet. Set to the side.
cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

Start cooking some rice, or noodles according to the package directions. Heat some oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add some minced garlic and red pepper flakes. After about thirty seconds add your veggies and stir.
cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

Turn your oven to broil and place the baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes. The cubes like to jump around (sometimes off the sheet!)
cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies
Continue stirring veggies (Don’t forget to check on your rice or noodles!)
cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

Remove the baking sheet of tofu from the oven and flip the cubes over to cook the other side for 5 minutes.

cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies
Add the sauce to the veggies; keep stirring. When the tofu is done add the cubes to the stir-fry (if you can stop yourself from eating them all straight off the pan).
cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

Serve with rice. 🙂

cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

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Eating Real Food

It was June, it was HOT and I needed something with the word ice in it desperately to cool me down. I pulled into the local grocery store, headed for the frozen food section, relished in the cold air, and searched for that special treat. It came down to three things for me: price, flavor and whether or not my boyfriend would want to eat it too (he has a Who-sized sweet-tooth gene). I grabbed a 12-pack of Weight-Watchers dark-chocolate-dipped raspberry ice cream bars. They sounded heavenly, they were the cheapest for the number of bars and I thought Reid would at least not cringe at the thought of eating one or two.

I will not lie; I got to the car and dug in. The chocolate bar was steaming with sublimation in the hot car and I enjoyed the heck out of every bite of it. When I returned home I put them in the freezer and left it at that. When Reid came home he was having a fit about having to watch TV commercials that day at work. We don’t have cable so we have forgotten about commercials (and I’m pretty sure they’ve gotten dumber since the last time they were forced on me, but that’s a story for another day). He described one commercial he had seen to me through gritted teeth. It was a commercial for some kind of metabolism booster that allows you to eat whatever you want regardless of calories or nutrition. You shake this substance on hamburgers or ice cream and it makes you look like the skinny girls in the commercial, dancing around in their bikinis.


Then he saw Weight Watchers ice cream bars in the freezer. “I bet these aren’t even ice cream, they’re probably completely synthetic,” says he. When we looked at the label, he wasn’t ALL wrong.


That’s when we, here at the Miller/Haseman Estate (HA!) decided that while something may be edible it might not be digestible. He learned in microbiology and passed his knowledge on to me that there are many “food” items we ingest every day that our bodies look at and say “dafuq?” then stores in fatty tissue if it ever has need of the foreign substance. Our culture in America tends to guide us toward the quick fix, the fast, and the easy, which leaves the wholesome and nutritious forgotten in the dusty cobwebs of our minds. Our society has become dependent on processed foods. They are an illusion of nutrition that lists claims such as, low-carb, no added sugar, high-protein, high-fiber, vitamin fortified etc. But when you take a look at the label you see words like “Polydextrose,” “Azodicarbonamide,” and “Natamycin.”


 


Now, this has turned into a project that I have taken on: making EVERYTHING from scratch (almost). When we go to the grocery store we pick up items, look at them and I say, “I could make that.” And then… get this… I actually DO make it.

I will admit that it definitely helps that I have an open schedule (especially this summer) in which to lull away the day. It has been nice to have something to fill my time that will benefit my creativity, deductive reasoning skills and my body all in one shot. (Side note: What’s that saying? Kill two birds with one stone. My mom always found this barbaric and changed it to feed two birds with one seed. End side note).

Regardless of your schedule I believe it is possible to cut out most of this junk from our diets.

Why cut out processed foods:

  1. Like I said before, processed foods are an illusion of nutrition.
  2. Healthier body, mind and soul… and a foundation for continued health in later life.
  3. Michael Pollan says it best when he explains food should be the product of nature, not the product of industry.
  4. Variety: 90% of processed food is estimated to be a derivative of corn or soy (Food, Inc.)
  5. Plain and simple, common sense: I’d like to know (and have the ability to pronounce) what I’m putting in to fuel my body, wouldn’t you?


I would love to hear from you. What do you do to cut back on processed foods?