Sunday, February 28, 2010

sweet chile tofu

my roommate and i are addicted to sweet chile sauce. At our dining hall, it seems they have something Asian at nearly every meal, which is where our addiction started, but we have discovered that it's good on everything from pizza to sandwiches. As such, she bought a bottle of the stuff the other week and we marinated tofu in it. Because we live such Busy College Lives it ended up marinating for....several days. Oh well! The result was delicious and so simple I feel it's almost overkill to actually post the recipe, but..

Sweet Chile Tofu
One block extra-firm tofu
Around half a bottle of sweet chile sauce
A little oil for cooking

Press the water out of the tofu and cut into bite-size pieces. Put in a bowl or a flat baking-style dish and pour over enough sweet chile sauce to cover. Marinate for at least an hour. Coat a saute pan in a few tsp. or so of oil and heat on medium. Cook the tofu until it's golden-brown and crispy. Feel free to pour the leftover sauce from marinating over the tofu as you're cooking it, but be warned that if you use too much in cooking you will get little black chunks of cooked sauce because it won't all be able to be on the tofu, so save a little for serving. EAT. Serves 2-3.

it has been sauced.

my happy tofu friends

Also, do any Portland people know of local tofu? Surely some exists. The tofu local to my hometown was always so much better and firmer than any big brand.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

a few of my favorite things

Lately, I've been enjoying:

1) Clif Kids fruit twist things

I had never seen these before first semester, but my roommate loves them and always has them around. She loves them because the three-year-old she babysits back home loves them, but this is a case of all paths to enlightenment being valid. They are like beef jerky, if beef jerky tasted like fruit instead of dead animal, if it had a texture between fresh and candy instead of greasy, if it were associated with the children of food-conscious parents and not fourteen-year-old boys.
It's shaped like beef jerky. Anyway, they are really good and come in flavors from Strawberry to Tropical and apparently one is a full serving of fruit. These have been tossed into my backpack many a time this semester.

2) Tao of Tea Moroccan Mint

Tao of Tea is a tea house here in Portland, and my school's dining hall has two of their teas. This is my go-to beverage when the soymilk machine is broken. It is a green tea with a full body and a very mellow, refreshing, not overwhelming mint flavor. I've not yet made it out to the tea house itself, but I want to. Now I am thirsty.

3) the banjo
So this isn't vegan-related, but being vegan makes me happy, as does the banjo. Connection made. More and more people who play the banjo have been coming into my life lately. I love the instrument! I have been realizing over the past year or so how much I really do like music with twang. More from the folk end (e.g. early Dar Williams) than country, but twang nonetheless. Last night I was hanging out with my friend Leah, who is teaching herself the banjo, and she taught me a few cords. 1) Playing the open strings is a chord on the banjo. 2) It's so much smaller than the guitar and you don't feel like you have this massive block of wood demanding that beautiful noises be produced from it immediately when you play it. 3) It's so much fun just to pick. I love music but my brain is just formatted to be literary. I am amazed at people who can jam, who can just flow into things that they make up and that sound good. But it's fun just to mess around and to sing. When I had a car in high school I would sing all the time, but now that I don't I've been realizing how little I do and how I wish I did more. An old friend had a bumper sticker on his car that said 'The more I sing, the better I feel' - very true. I think this summer when I have more time to learn I'm going to try to find a used banjo on craigslist and see what comes of it.

4) Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

I've blogged before about the pumpkin brownies from this book, but last night I used the sugar cookie recipe in it to make cookies for the Vagina Monologues here on campus. Finally! A vegan sugar cutout cookie recipe that works! One Christmas my mom was making holiday cookies and I just gave her the first sugar cookie recipe I found from VegWeb. Now, I adore VegWeb and some of my favorite recipes are there, but for some reason these were just - weird. But Isa&Terry's were, as everything from their cookbooks, reliably delicious.

What have you been eating/drinking/using/reading/enjoying lately?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

quick hit: grilling pita

There, doesn't that look delicious? One of my favorite tips: always grill your pita bread. The effort to deliciousness ratio is ridiculous. Pita bread on its own is just fine, but when you grill it it stands out as a food on its own, not just a vehicle for hummus, and it's so quick and easy. Brush both sides of a pita with olive oil - I've found it easiest to put a little in a pan (which you need to do anyway) and then dip a paper towel (before turning on the stove, mind you) in it and use that to spread the oil more evenly/directly on the pita. Cook on medium-high heat, flipping often enough to keep good watch on both sides, until it's golden brown with little brown patches of crisp deliciousness, should take around five minutes. So much better than dry, cold pita. So little effort. Never underestimate the value of proper food presentation and little steps that make a big difference.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

vegan bake sale for Haiti / I love Portland

This Sunday was Portland's vegan bake sale for Haiti and it was awesome! Portland's alone made $3000 for MercyCorps, which brings the national total to $25K. Twenty-five THOUSAND dollars! Vegan treats are a force to be reckoned with. I wasn't there for long, but it was a madhouse, cookies and money just flying around everywhere.

Some of the people

one of four tables, and that's Isa Chandra Moskowitz, who organized everything, on the right.

monkey bread! I had never had vegan monkey bread before.

made with real monkeys

everything my friend Erin got...some cookie dough bites, green tea cupcake, blueberry muffin, some other cupcake, pumpkin muffin, pumpkin bread

Erin eats a cookie pop

Red pepper/tofu/Teese quiche. Oh my god, so good. I want to find who made this and do their taxes.....or something.

I love Portland so much. I love that there are people here who DO things like this, that there are people enough for things like this to be amazing successes. I was talking to a vegan friend of mine at the bake sale who has lived here for a while, and she said she always expects to know everyone at events like these and never does. There are too many vegans here for one person to know! And everyone here is so friendly. The last two times I have been off-campus (the bake sale and today having lunch at a food cart) random people have just struck up conversations with me to the tune of "Isn't Portland awesome? Isn't being vegan awesome?" Yes, kind stranger, yes. Such things do not occur in my hometown. It tickles me. Portland, I'm yours.