Monday, May 30, 2011

Getting Back on Track...

Before I start rambling about my tofu, I have to tell you that I started this post a month ago.  I've started several posts, none of which I have been able to finish.  I knew I would get around to finishing them sooner or later, I just wasn't sure when.  I've been distracted.  My mother, whom I have written about many times in past posts, passed away on May 10th.  She lived a beautiful and full life for 92 years.  I watched over her for past 11 years and was with her at the end of her long struggle.  As sad as it was, it really was a blessing, a blessed passing, a friend of mine called it.  The past few years had been difficult, maybe more for me than for her, watching her fade away both mentally and physically.  Since her passing though, I've felt a little lost.  Such a strong presence in my life is gone and life as I've known it, will never be the same.  But my mom would not want me wallow in sadness.  She would be the first one to tell me to remember the good times.  There were many.  Life goes on and my mom will live in my heart forever.
Dorothy Lieske 1919-2011
Taken Christmas 2004, her last Christmas at home how do I segue to tofu????
A Favorite Tofu Dish
Tofu wasn't one of those foods I knew growing up.  I believe my first tofu experience took place in California.  When I first moved to Santa Cruz, I stayed with a family who had a much bigger influence on me than I realized at the time.  Peggy was my friend's mom, and Roger was his step-dad.  They were a sweet couple, who enjoyed just being together. I often think back on their relationship.  They would have  picnics at the beach at sunset.  They drank champagne "just because".  They loved to plant flowers and would watch the hummingbirds feed on their deck for hours.  They would listen to classical music and eat breakfast in bed every Sunday morning.  They also spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen together.  Both Roger and Peggy were excellent cooks.  They would often cook together.  They found such joy in the kitchen, whether Peggy was making waffles on a Saturday morning or together they were making a half dozen quiches for a weekend workshop they were hosting.  Roger was more of the "mad scientist" in the kitchen, and Peggy was forever cleaning up after him.  They would experiment with new ingredients,  new  cookware and different cooking techniques.  They opened my eyes to a new culinary perspective.  I may not have jumped on the the bandwagon at the time, but I took note. I now see their culinary influence on my life almost everyday.
The first Christmas I spent in California, Christmas dinner was non-traditional to say the least.   Roger prepared an Asian feast, complete with a carved winter melon soup.  It was not like any Christmas dinner I had ever had.  Yes, I am a sucker for tradition, but I remember admiring his passion and abandon when he was cooking.  If I recall, Roger had a restaurateur friend in San Francisco who taught him about Chinese cooking.  On a busy week night, Roger would often whip up a platter of Tofu with Green Onions in Oyster Sauce.  It was quick.  It was easy.  It was nutritious.   It was a great dish that  became my "go to" dish during my vegetarian days.  I may have burned out on it back then and filed it away in the back of my mind.  I found myself thinking about it lately.  Unfortunately, I never wrote this recipe down.  I recall the basic flavors and have now added or subtracted (who knows) ingredients to create a reasonable facsimile of the original dish.  I've added snow peas which you can leave out if you so desire.  I like the contrasting crunch, without an overpowering additional flavor.  If you do not have a well seasoned wok, and I mean WELL seasoned, tofu is best cooked in a non stick wok or skillet.