Sunday, August 1, 2010

Country Fried Tofu

I’m slowly trying out different recipes from Robin Robertson’s 1000 Vegan Recipes. Today I made country fried tofu, chickpea gravy, and quinoa-stuffed zucchini. The tofu was super easy to prepare. I will definitely make tofu in this way again. I’m thinking next time I will add some spices to the breading and give it a little kick.

The gravy was thick and rich, complimenting the tofu nicely. The stuffed zucchini boats were not the most attractive, but they tasted yummy. I’m always looking for ways to make quinoa more flavorful. We also had some roasted corn on the side. All in all, a pleasing, well-balanced dinner. The zucchini boats, being light and healthy, made me feel better about eating a nice big helping of fried tofu.

Since their daddy had to do some work from home, I had both babies in the kitchen with me so he could work in peace. I like having my little buddies around, even if they aren't old enough yet to do much but observe (and in Jackson's case, be a taste-tester.)

Jackson has been in the kitchen with me right from the start.

And Olivia joined in a few months ago.

Jackson was a very easygoing, content baby (if he wasn’t, I don't know if Olivia would be here now!) When he was born, it was easy to tuck him into his bouncy seat and whip up a meal. But as he got older, and became mobile, it was hard to keep an eye on him and another eye on my pasta sauce. Add a new (not so easygoing) baby to the mix, and it was tempting to start living on sandwiches and canned soup.

However, I figured out a couple of rules that allow me to continue preparing the healthy, homemade meals I want to serve my family.

1. Get everything out. When I’m going to make a recipe, I look at the list of ingredients, take everything out of the cabinet or fridge and put it all on the counter. That way I’m not stuck with my head buried in a cupboard going “Where the f did I put the cinnamon? Are we really out of baking powder?” while Jackson prods Olivia with a spatula. I also try to do this with mixing bowls, measuring cups, whatever utensils I’m going to need.

2. Do all the prep. I make sure my veggies are washed and cut into appropriately-sized pieces, before I heat up a single pan. I also like to pre-measure my spices. Like, if I’m making a tofu scramble and I’m going to add cumin, thyme, turmeric, and paprika, I will measure them all into a little cup. Later, when it’s time to add them, I just empty the cup into the pan. I don’t have to try to keep the tofu from burning while also opening four different spice jars.

I definitely feel like these rules help my dishes turn out better, and I’m sure I spend less overall time in the kitchen because I'm organized. Also, the more I can get done BEFORE turning on a burner, the safer I feel about having my kids in the kitchen with me. When I have something bubbling away on the stove, I want to know that all my ingredients are at hand and ready to go. That way, the actual cooking part of cooking goes faster and I can pay more attention to my little dudes.

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