Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tofu, Tofu, Tofu: A few recipes, and some venting

I made a super delicious fajitas dinner a few weeks ago, and completely forgot to post it. Whenever I need "comfort food" I usually tend to cook up some Mexican food, because well, I ate it a lot growing up, and it is my favorite. This dinner was so good, and I wish I had taken a picture of it, but we dug in too fast. :)

Tofu Fajitas (altered from an old Mexican cookbook I have)
Ingredients:
Firm Tofu
finely grated zest and juice of 2 limes
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 onions
3 bell peppers (1 red, 1 yellow or orange, and 1 green)
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
guacamole, salsa, and vegan sour cream, to serve

For the Tortillas:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup margarine (I use Smart Balance Light)
1/4 cup warm
water

1. Slice the tofu into thin rectangles. (I only used 1/4 lb... and you'll see why in a minute.) You could use more. Place tofu in a large bowl. Add the lime zest and juice, sugar, oregano, cayenne, and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly. Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the tortillas. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Rub in the margarine, then add the warm water, a little at a time, to make a stiff dough. Knead this on a lightly floured surface for 10 to 15 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic.
3. Divide the dough into 12 small balls, then roll each ball into a 6 inch round. Cover the rounds with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out while you prepare the vegetables.
4. Cut the onions in half and slice them thinly. Cut the peppers in half, remove the cores and seeds, then slice the flesh into 1/2 inch wide strips.
5. Heat a large frying pan or griddle and cook each tortilla in turn for about 1 minute on each side or until the surface colors and begins to blister. Keep the cooked tortillas warm and pliable by wrapping them in a clean, dry dish towel.
6. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Stir-fry the tofu for 5-6 minutes, then add the peppers and onions and cook for 3-4 more minutes, until the tofu is cooked, and the vegetables are soft and tender, but still juicy.
7. Spoon the tofu mixture into a serving bowl and take it to the table with the cooked tortillas, guacamole, salsa, and vegan sour cream.
8. To serve, each guest takes a warm tortilla, spreads it with a little guacamole and piles on some of the tofu mixture in the center. Add vegan sour cream if you want.

*Grandma-you would have been so proud of my tortillas!!!!*

And today, I had another yummy vegan dinner.... (of course, what else would I be blogging about?) lol Also, growing up my grandma would make chicken tenders with mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn. Well, while trying to figure out what I was going to make today, I decided to try to veganize that favorite dinner. It was a success! Here is what I did:

I made the tofu "tenders" by using the Pan Fried Tofu recipe (again only using 1/4 lb of tofu.) (I also didn't make the mushroom gravy.) Instead, I made a white gravy by using a recipe on the back of Kentucky Kernel Seasoned Flour, but you could just make your own favorite white gravy. Then I made mashed potatoes and corn. It was very yummy, and Carlee loved it. We all did actually. This will be a frequent dinner, I'm sure. :)

Now, on to the venting..... Our commissary does not carry firm tofu. So, for the past year, we've had to buy it at an Italian grocery store that is almost an hour away. So, needless to say, I stock up when we go, and still, we only have it once in a while. In addition to it being a journey to buy, after conversion of currency and weight, we are paying almost $30 US Dollars for a pound of firm tofu. Yeah. $30 dollars. Ouch.

I really would like to start relying more on plain tofu in my recipes, though, instead of relying on the over processed soy meats in our commissary's freezer isle. While I am grateful for them, and would still use them on occasions when I need a quick meal, I would prefer to use the normal tofu on a regular basis instead. About a month ago, Tony and I requested that firm tofu be added to our commissary's inventory. A few weeks passed by, and we hadn't heard anything. So, the next trip in, we asked to talk to the manager.

"Oh, yeah, I looked into that. We have it on the shelf," he said. We got so excited. "We've had it for a while." Then I knew he was wrong.

"No," I said, "You haven't had it. Firm tofu? No."

"Yeah, it's by the oriental food."

"No, that's silken tofu. I requested Firm Tofu." I pulled out a container of silken tofu from our bag of groceries. "It's not this, this is for creamy stuff, we need firm tofu to be able to stir-fry and such." It took a few minutes of explaining which kind of tofu was which, and how much we were paying for it out in town. (When I requested it, I specifically asked for firm tofu, and even wrote a brand name and UPC number down.... ugh.) So, he said he would look into it again, and call us.

A few more weeks went by and I finally received a call in which the manager was really sorry, but he couldn't get it in because it's considered produce and they would have to go through Italy to get it. They would need to find a producer, distributor, and then it would need to pass numerous US inspections for them to allow it on the shelves. I didn't take that for an answer. "Well, are you going to try?" He answered they would still try, but that it probably wouldn't happen any time soon. (I'm guessing like nowhere near the time frame of our last year here.) He promised a phone call if he learned anything new.... (trust me, I won't hold my breath.)

ARRRGHHHH!!!!

Sometimes, I can't wait to get back to the States! (Okay, a lot of times, and for more reasons than just food!) I guess we'll have to make a trip to that hour away grocery store soon, because I just used my last package of tofu. :(

8 comments:

THE MOM WITH BROWNIES said...

Hi Sheena,

I have a question! :-)

Chicken...is it full of cholesterol too? That may be where I am getting the cholesterol because we don't eat red meat very often. I eat legumes like they are going out of style! LOVE THEM!

Also, I think I'll be dropping by to look at your recipes more often!

Tofu..hmm...I'll think about it. I tried it but I have to admit, I was the one trying to cook it so I probably did it wrong. It was so bad. ohhhh my goodness...so bad!

I should probably try it when it's made by someone who knows what they are doing!

J&J said...

I totally feel your pain concerning the commissary! I tried to get a particular coffee creamer. I still haven't seen it!

Sheena said...

Mom with Brownies-
Yep, chicken too. Anything that comes from animals has extra cholesterol that your body doesn't need. Now your body does need some cholesterol, that's healthy, but it makes its own through your liver using saturated fats. (So if you have too much saturated fats, that too can make too much cholesterol.) (But again, if you cut back on meat and dairy a lot of your saturated fats are cut down naturally.)

In a 3.5 ounce serving,

Pork contains 90mg of cholesterol
Beef 85mg
Chicken 85mg
Turkey 82mg
Lamb 82mg
Trout 73mg
Milk 49mg

Plant foods don't contain cholesterol, and have much, much lower amount of saturated fats. You also want to avoid any chemically altered fats such as hydrogenated oils, hydrogenated shortening. Your best bet is to cook with olive oil or canola oil (the spray is even better,) and don't let it get too hot to where it's smoking, because it turns the oil rancid (and then it's not good for your body anymore.)

On tofu, it is so awesome, because it will literally take on any flavor you give it. If you want it as a "meat replacer" make sure to use the Firm or Extra-firm tofu, (not silken.) There are a ton of recipes on the net, I have a few veg links on the right of my blog, and there's quite a few on those sites. You can marinate it, stir fry it, bake it, make it into a cheese substitue (think ricotta). And of course, as with cooking anything new, it will take a few tries, and trying a few recipes until you find some that you like. I would definitely try it again. :)

It's amazing what you can do with it, too. I would check out your library and see if they have any veg cookbooks (although vegetarian books are usually still heavy on cheese and milk.) If they have vegan ones, even better! I will try to post or link to more of our favorite recipes. Talk to you soon!

Sheena said...

j&j-
oh man! when did you request it? I'm still keeping my fingers crossed... but we shall see. :)

THE MOM WITH BROWNIES said...

WOW! Thank you for that information!

Also, don't forget I want to pick a name for the little one. :-)

Shelly M.
The Mom With Brownies

mira said...

"and don't let it get too hot to where it's smoking,"...and then it lights on fire and your alarm goes off (again) and your husband rolls his eyes and your son squeals and your dog hides while you get the flames out and open the windows. Maybe it's a good thing our alarms aren't connected to the firehouse!

tofu...I've heard it's amazing stuff. I wonder if I could use it 1/2-n-1/2 with chicken once we get home without the family freaking out...worth remembering. It is kind of weird that they don't carry firm tofu here, it seems like a product that many people would buy, vegan or not. Maybe if enough people request it?

mira said...

OH, and I am going to HAVE to try the tortillas. My gma would be proud too ;-)

Sheena said...

Mom w/ Brownies - No problem :) And I **Might** find out what the baby is today!!!

Mira- LOL @ fire. Tony did that a few weeks ago. Man the flame was huge, I just about freaked out. "Sheena, CALM DOWN," he said to ME while HE was holding the flaming pan. The flame went all the way up to the middle of that cabinet over the oven.

On the tofu, I don't know. I told the manager more people would use it if it was there. I mean it's in a ton of chinese and thai recipes.

on the tortillas, the only thing I felt they needed was some salt, but I didn't know how much to add. I'm going to have to play around with it.