Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thing I've never cooked before

I like buying ingredients, and figuring out how to eat them later. I'm a pretty good cook, but there are times when cooking is utilitarian. A means to an end. Food in my mouth. And sometimes these things turn out great. Other times, not so great. But, I'll eat whatever I end up with. Because if I'm cooking, I'm hungry.

1. Sweet potato
Today, I needed to cook the thing before it went bad, and I was still a bit hungry after dinner. Let the experimenting begin! Well, I think it turned out OK. I didn't take the time to find a recipe. I just googled it on my phone to make sure it was possible to fry them in a pan. (Apparently, frying them in bacon fat is quit common. Ugh!) I cut it into slices about 1/4 inch thick, threw them in a pan with canola oil and tossed them around for a few minutes, then put them on paper towels to get off the excess oil. I ended up with these somewhat crispy, somewhat chewy strips. I salted them slightly and just ate them like that.

Not bad. And I have some leftover for a snack tomorrow. I bet they're OK cold, too. And the best thing about it is the smell. My apartment smelled fantastic after cooking them. But next time, I'm looking up a recipe. Maybe a curry or something like that to give it some spice and make them meal-worthy.

2. Tofu
I've eaten tofu many times, but never actually cooked it. I hadn't held the weird, wet square and cut into it's soft-clay like texture until last night. It's kind of strange. But, I know this is one of those things I have to integrate into my diet. Sometimes, too much tofu has pretty much made me gag. But this time, I had a tip from a friend at work on how to improve the texture. So, I sliced it up and fried it in oil in my wok til it was crispy. Then, I added the veggies.

I didn't mind the tofu at all. I'm glad, too. I would have forced myself to eat it either way for the nutritional value, but I can see with a little time I'll be able to make some rock solid meals out of the stuff. It even stood the microwave-the-leftovers-at-work test. The tofu stayed crispy, and I ate it all.

I'm enjoying trying new things. Every day I really have to pay attention to eating. I have to make sure I get enough calories, enough protein, enough fruit, etc. It's fun though. Every day is a mission to fill my stomach with as big of a variety of stuff I can. And so far, I'm doing a pretty good job, I think.


  1. I love sweet potatoes, the smell is the best! Here in China we've seen them being sold all the time on the streets. It's snowy and cold, and these dudes sell them, skins and all, roasted over a coal fire. You pick one and just peel the skin off and eat it like a banana. At home, we roasted sweet potatoes a lot. Just toss with some garlic, shallots or onions, rosemary or thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper and stick the lot in the oven and roast (45mins to 1hr at like 370). If you really want the flavor to come out you can do the oil, shallots and salt, and change the herbs for some cinnamon, ginger powder and nutmeg. When I do it that way I sometimes add some crushed red pepper to make it interesting.
    I think tofu is nice because it can take on the flavors of whatever it's combined with pretty easily. Again, now in China, we've been crazy for Mapo Doufu. I absolutely have to learn to master this dish at home. Another memorable tofu you'll have to ask Ilham and Oscar about at Song Phat, the Pho place — they make a tasty tofu appetizer. Come to think of it, a lot of Vietnamese food is super simple, fresh and can easily be made meatless... maybe you'd like it?

  2. Try tempeh some time: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempeh

  3. First of all, I just want to say CHEERS to you for keeping up this wonderful blog. I am in the same position - a fairly recent convert to vegetarianism, constantly explaining and justifying my decision, and always embarking on new adventures in the kitchen! Just wanted to throw a little tofu tip your way, since it has become a cherished staple of my diet, and that is: marinade. Marinating tofu for 30 min or so makes such a difference in the final cooked outcome and actually makes it cook faster. Trader Joe's makes one called "Soyaki" that is wicked good on tofu. Also, a few dashes of turmeric makes for a tasty tofu scramble very reminiscent of scrambled eggs (amazing with soyrizo in a tortilla), AND I've been making ridiculous tofu tacos - hard pressed and finely crumbled tofu seasoned in a pan with taco seasonings, garlic, onions, etc. in tortillas with all the other taco essentials.
    Keep up the great work on the blog, man - your words are always encouraging...

  4. I love sweet potato too! It is great mashed.

    I use this recipe to make spicy baked zucchini fries:

    It is ace, and works just as well with sweet potato. :D