Sweet Habanero Tofu Salad

The journey begins. She rolls forward without hesitation, a new experience lying in wait, a prowling tiger ready to pounce and capture her in the thrilling jaws of the new, the unknown. Daunting though it is, there’s definitely excitement and joy in setting up a new home in a new locality with new resources and a new pursuit. But then the cavalry arrives, charging past like a drove of raving dogs. If she looks hard enough she can see the saliva dripping from the growls of each unnecessarily raging engine. Sigh. Perhaps this is a generalization (a very loose one) but the typical San Diego driver is INSANE. These astounding people blow the speed limit out of the galaxy everywhere I go, and then come to screeching halts at the very obviously looming red lights beyond. Maybe I just like to save my gas, my sanity, my life, but I can’t understand why everyone has to fly on wheels, especially when the roads are splattered with cracks, potholes, unevenness, and just about every bane of your tires’ existence. Why torture your car? Why? tell me. Why, why do it?

Ok my rant of the day is done, I can move on now having relieved my mind of that. I’m sure there are San Diegans who will revolt to this assessment but I speak with my eyes and my nerves. I know you aren’t all bad, just … a lot of you. But I’m done.

As you can see, I’ve set up the home base now, and am actually acclimating myself to the experience of graduate school at this moment (meaning I’m sitting outside with my laptop counting down the minutes until my next class commences while looking ruefully at my Literary Theory text and worrying about when I have to decide between writing a thesis or developing a portfolio). It’s only the first day! Yikes!

So instead, I return to my beloved baby, my comfort, my responsibility and my joy and am writing up this blog post for you all. It’s been a bit of a culture shock moving here, I won’t lie, and if it weren’t for the awesome program and all its promises, and the cool breeze that juuuust hit me as a blessing amidst the sun-spitting heat, I’d high-tail it back to MD, back into my uber-sheltered cocoon. But life is unfolding in an exquisite array of colors, the myriad of which I will enjoy witnessing. And despite feeling a bit out of place and more than a little overwhelmed, the husband and I are carving out the paths (least-trafficky ones at that) which lead to good living and of course good food. Case in point, organic markets and farmers markets abound here. In fact, if I wanted to drive, I could come across at least four farmers markets every day within a 30 minute radius of my home. Naturally I’ll stick to the one closest to home but the existence of such possibilities warms me. So for the first week I scoured food sources ad nauseum, and came across gorgeous produce like the largest and softest okra I had ever seen as well as the silkiest super firm tofu my eyes and mouth ever tasted. Not to mention the freshly ground and richly aromatic spices at my fingertips. And the SPICIEST jam ever. Good stuff. I’m happy. Continue reading

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Zucchini Tofu Wraps

It lies in wait. The hunger, the ferocity.  Burrowing further into my core, sinking but a flashing beacon, only growing, only stronger, the longer it must abide the passage of time.

Thaaaaaat’s how I feel.  The hunger to create. To write. To read. To share.  Pulsating, chiming stringent chords, repeated reminders that the best is yet to come. Yet to come. Yet to come…

I went to California this weekend, and my reasons were three fold.  First, tremendous huzzahs to my dear friend Waheeda and her newly wedded bliss! Second, how does one venture to the motherland without visiting… her mother… and the rest of the family? if only for a day.  Three, to acquaint myself with the general hubbub, surroundings, goings on and climate (both physical and theoretical) of the San Diego region, a locality only once ever equated with “Sea World” and “Wild Animal Park” and even “Raving Seals ans the loonies who swim with them in La Jolla”.  Whilst these are brilliant facets which make the soul of SD glow like a Columbian summer firefly, I need to delve further because I can’t really live with animals. Continue reading

Crispy Tofu

No judgments here. I get it, I really do. It’s the texture above all else; ‘twould throw any person out into an abyss of discomfort and confuddlement. What to make of that flavorless conundrum? Sometimes silken, woven strands of an Asian soup. Or perhaps overly chewy, all glossed up and stir-fried, a poor replacement for your beloved chicken. And what fool expects you to believe that this strange off-white mass is related to the mastery that is Soy sauce. Heresy, I tell you! Unheard of! Yes, tofu can be off-putting for the die-hard carnivore. Shnaps, it may even bewilder the more vegetariably-inclined (allow me my poetic license as I fashion words from mid air!). But trust me, I wouldn’t lie to you. No, not to my most appreciated readers, my comrades of the foodosphere. Tofu can also be crisp. Crunchy. Succulent. And dare I say, full of taste! Continue reading

Butternut Squash Soup with Curried Tofu and Peppers

Did you see the snow fall? Dropping like powdered sugar and melting atop the hot pot of earth? Did you think you’d ever battle with your senses to comprehend a white Halloween? Where did the black and orange go? Autumn reds and golds popping out between the scattered brilliance of white.

Of course it really isn’t like that. This hushed snow won’t last very long at all; it barely survives the journey down before mottled grass steams it back to the sky. But it is quite an enchantment to combine the spirits of Halloween with ghostly white. I’m actually not a huge fan of Halloween to be honest. It’s ridiculous the kind of spectacle it has become (and I won’t even bother discussing the vapid and barely-there costumes that are a cultural mainstay of our oh-so-brilliant society) but I do respect the history behind it, the whispers of people past that are remembered, and… well, a fun and haunting corn maze or two. Plus, it’s aaaaalllll about pumpkin for me. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pumpkin pumpkin!!

But today is not about this most glorious orange fruit, but its cousin… the butternut squash.

I hardly venture to new fruits and veggies when I know the husband doesn’t take a particular liking to it—and butternut squash has never met kindly with his palate. However, I was simply craving soup! You see what kind of wintry gusts of winsome weather are rolling in now, how can one resist a decadent sumptuous and savory soup on a cold October evening??

Besides, I took it down a familiar route for the husband, making a beautiful curried medley of flavor. As far as my quick research revealed, the two primary directions with this kind of soup are the traditional pumpkin spice route (thus rendering it almost dessert-like in my opinion, oh I love pumpkin pie!) or a curry flavor. I had made coconut curry with butternut squash once, so I can see how those flavors do combine well. And with a soup, the entire thing is blended into a smooth creamy consistency, thus removing any discomfort one may have with this texture of the squash. Plus, I added my own touch because leaving it a simple creamy soup wasn’t enough—so what matches better than curried tofu and peppers? For us, nothing else would do. J

So I embarked! I tend not to use chicken broth these days by the way for two reasons: never know when a certain chicken flavor will be too strong for the husband to swallow (literally) and the bouillon cubes I buy, whether chicken or vegetable flavored, have added MSG which seems to bring about headaches in this household. So I simply used water, but for your sake be aware you can use a broth instead. Or make homemade broth even, if you have the time. Continue reading

Peri Perilous Vegetarian Medley

perilous tofu and beansHuzzah! The Perils have passed!  I fear celebrating too quickly, but two nights sans torturous headaches can expectedly be interpreted as a farewell to the clusters.  The relief that bears down on me and more importantly my husband is a weight of the most cloud-like proportions–fluffy and comforting.  So perhaps we can return to the normalcy of not fearing every little thing he eats.  Nevertheless, I did happen to concoct a few lovely meals that were both quick and tasty, and naturally I sit here now to share them.

This particular recipe came about because the husband was a tad wary of eating meats all week, for better or for worse, so I embarked on a LOT of tofu dishes.  This one also yields a healthy dose of the bell pepper (which mentioned previously supposedly aids in the relief of CHs).  I personally liked this one because it was bright and cheerful, and I was able to get the boy eating more green stuff (a trait he evidently carried from the quintessential definition of childhood: an irrational fear of the green vegetable).  One day he will like broccoli too, that’s my ultimate goal.  Don’t say wishful thinking, I will just shut my ears and sing inanities to drown you out (I can have childish tendencies too).

The best part of this dish however comes from the source of the flavor: NANDOS!  Yes on one of my last treks to one of the tastiest restaurants around, I bought a few of their sauces: extra hot and garlic. Whee!  Eventually I’m going to use it on chicken itself and let my tastebuds swoon in ecstasy.  But I digress… Continue reading

Tofu Coconut Curry

tofu coconut curry

Ah me, where is the serenity, the unfathomable lightness, the sense of accomplishing and participating in the wild frenzied breath of the universe without pain, only bliss?

No clue.  All I know is sometimes you just have to pull together the shards and remnants of all prior existences, the amorphous blobs of unforetold dreams, and the strands of countless prayers, combine them into a large casserole dish and bake until you’ve come up with a savory significance completely your own and completely worthwhile.  No simple task, but your only other recourse is to throw in the towel and let life lead you.  I’ll have none of that, so I’m going to rally my determination and find a way to make the ingredients in my cabinet froth into something grand.  For my sake, for the husband’s sake.  Life is too precious to let stupid obstacles crush you. (I speak in riddles mayhaps, but I’m in an incoherent mood, so play along!) Continue reading