>> Monday, October 13, 2014
So much of my blog is focused around food and eating and vegetarian/vegan recipes, yet I spend very little time on the topic of how I started living my life this way. I’ve been a vegetarian in various forms since I was 12 -- so that’s nearly 20 years of a meat-free existence. I was vegan for several years, but you can read more about why that didn’t work out for me here.
All my formative years of learning how to cook were spent with my nose deep in Moosewood cookbooks. I lived in a Cornell vegetarian cooperative the summer after my freshman year of college where we’d swap cooking duties along with cleaning + other tasks with the entire household. We had communal jars of bulk ingredients like flour, rice, quinoa, etc. -- and we even had this huge tub of nutritional yeast we’d pass around at dinner. (PS: Nutritional yeast goes well on most hot, savory foods. Try it sometime!)
Our living conditions weren’t the most, uh, sanitary. In fact, a broken second floor window in the bathroom allowed for an extra roommate -- a squirrel -- to crash with us every now and again. I even found him eating a jar of peanut butter on the stairs once. And I did get this strange mono-like sickness that no doctor could define through examination or blood after a month of living there.
Still, the whole experience was bliss.
That summer I spent my days cataloging serials and periodicals at the library. My nights were entirely up to me and what happened to be, well, happening. This was the first summer of my freedom as a young adult. And a lot of freedom was fostered through my experiments with foods and this whole vegetarian thing that was still so very new to me.
Cooking-wise, I learned the meaning of TVP, the right method for frying and seasoning tofu, and all sorts of ways to make vegetables the main event on the plate. I wouldn’t say we -- undergrads and grads who spanned in age from 17 to 25 -- were culinary geniuses, but the meals we ate together were pretty darned amazing. So were the vegan brownies . . . and we occasionally found ways to bake greens into those as well.
Anyway . . . if I had to choose a favorite dish from this time period of my life, it would be this tofu scramble. There’s nothing to it. You can use what vegetables are in season or that you already have on hand. It’s very hard to screw it up. And if you don’t get the taste quite right, just hand over the nutritional yeast and it’ll all be good.
BASIC TOFU SCRAMBLE
A recipe I thought was worth resurrecting from this old post.
What you'll need . . .
- 1 lb. extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup broccoli, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Heat oil over medium-high heat and add onion. Saute until glassy.
- Add mushrooms and broccoli. Saute for another 5 minutes (or so) until broccoli is softened.
- Now add the garlic, soy sauce, spices, and salt.
- Crumble the tofu (with your hands) and throw into the pan as well. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes -- stirring often -- until the flavors are well mingled.