Wednesday, June 30, 2010

We Did Something Fun!

On a rare day off from work, we decided to get jiggy with our Zip Car membership and get out of Boston for a day. Had to be close in order to make an early return (ahem, bed time). Had to be pretty, because what's the point if it's not. Had to be historical because have you met my husband?

So we went to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with a couple stops along the way. Like lunch in Rye. Here's David's meal, with a face:

Here's my meal, no face:

Totally cool with it:

Here's the boat lunch came in on:
Me and the moose on my left shoulder.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Baking with Tempeh!

Whokay. It's time you discovered tempeh. Or rediscovered it. Or at least stopped racing by that enigmatic "meat substitute" area near the dairy case at the grocery store. There's some reasonable stuff there. Also, there's some scary stuff there.

Tempeh: not scary. Misunderstood, maybe. Mushy, perhaps. Tasteless, only if prepared carelessly. Don't worry, I have pushed through "careless" into "unfortunate" and flat through "failure" to bring you what I now believe to be the easiest, most foolproof way to eat more tempeh.
But why would you want to do that? Well, maybe you have recently decided to eat WAY less meat. Maybe you decided that, I don't know, the factory farm system is kind of broken and you'd rather not contribute your hard-earned dollars to a fockacta plan that's bad for farmers, animals, the planet, and all Americans in general. Maybe you only buy meat from small farms now, directly from the farmers, and maybe it's so expensive that you can really only afford to eat it 2 or 3 times a week. Maybe you have desperately been trying to replace that missing protein in your diet with something other than eggs. Eggs eggs eggs three times a day. No? Just me?

Well, then maybe you decided you loved your healthy colon or your low cholesterol or your stable blood sugar levels. Maybe you needed that extra soy to soothe your menopausal symptoms (OOOH! I went there!) or became intent on lowering your risk of prostate cancer (That's right! You too, guys!). Maybe you just really like Indonesian food.
Whatever the reason, I am here to bring you three charming recipes for tempeh that actually tastes. What you must do is very simple: bake it in a marinade. Submerge it in a tasty sauce and cook. Mix, pour, bake. Super easy. Slice the chunks over salad, make a TLT sandwich, or eat it with a fork on top of polenta (a.k.a. grits). Will you miss the meat? Yes. But you'll live longer. That's a promise. And the earth will give you a hug. Or if not the earth, then a happy cow. Ok, probably not him either. Just give yourself a hug for me.

Baked Tempeh: 3 ways
1) Barbecue Tempeh

1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp Tabasco, hot chili powder, or other heat source
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp paprika
1 8-oz block of tempeh, cut into desired shapes for eating
  • Mix together all marinade ingredients. Set tempeh in a baking dish just big enough to fit all the pieces in a single layer, lying flat. Pour marinade over, cover with foil, and bake in a 350ยบ oven for 20 minutes. Take out, flip pieces, re-cover and bake 15 minutes more. Remove foil, pour excess marinade out*, and bake 10 more minutes to crisp up a little bit. Serve hot or cold.
*Alternately, pour marinade into a small pot and reduce on the stovetop while tempeh finishes the bake. Serve as extra sauce.

2) Balsamic Marinated Tempeh

3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 8-oz block tempeh
  • Same directions as above. Scroll up, lazy.

3) Maple-Bacon Tempeh (no joke)

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
  • Same song, third verse.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lentil Cucumber Salad with Yogurt Tahini Dressing

Well, well, well, look who's back. (I am.)

At least for now. I have returned to the world of daytime work -- for the most part -- and have begun to sneak back into the practice of creative cookery. More and more there are new things that I want to remember, plus a fancy new camera to use for picturing (no new pics yet, though...)!

Let's resume with an easy-squeezy summer salad, the kind you stir together, stuff in the fridge, and eat for a couple of days. Or not. Maybe you just want to make enough for one sitting. That's cool too.

Basically this "recipe" can be a ratio, something like this:
1 part lentil
1 part celery
1 part edamame
2 parts cucumber

I really like the crunch of the cuke, so it gets a featuring roll. Plus, it keeps the salad fresh-tasting after a few days in the fridge. Toss it in some yogurt, and you're Downslicing again! YES! Doesn't it feel good!?!!?

Lentil Cucumber Salad with Yogurt Tahini Dressing
serves 1-2; ready in 10 minutes or less, depending on your chopping abilities

1/2 cup cooked lentils (I like French, but you can go with green too), rinsed in cold water
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup frozen edamame, thawed or speed-cooked in the microwave
1 cup diced cucumber*

This business is pretty self explanatory, but just for the sake of idiot-proofing it, let's just mention a few things, shall we?
  1. Cook the lentils just like you would pasta. Boil them in a heap of salted water, taste after about 20 minutes to see if they're edible. Try not to take them too far past Al Dente, into Mush-tastic.
  2. Chop the celery as small as you can, close to the size of the lentils, so you get a nice, even bite.
  3. Buy an English seedless cucumber (yes, the shrink wrapped kind). If you can't find them, or would rather buy local, get a regular cuke, but peel and seed it. This means taking a spoon to the middle of your halved cucumber and scooping out all those watery seeds.
  4. Toss everything in a bowl with a hefty pinch of salt before dressing. It will really boost your flava.
For the Dressing
1 Tbsp tahini
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste
  • The Greek yogurt thing is really important here because your veggies, once cut, are going to release a lot of juice and dilute the dressing. I know it's more expensive, but it tastes better, and you need its thick deliciousness in this case. Just buy a little onesy. It's like a buck.
  • Mix all ingredients together, adding salt as you see fit. Toss with diced veg and store in the fridge.