Monday, August 18, 2008
spicy. sweet. sour.
I may never master living 'in the moment.' I can hardly bear to be idle. My hands must always be at work, making, preparing, fixing, creating something - anything - that will prove useful in the future or that will serve as a memento of the past. One eye on the horizon and one on the sunset, I suppose. While I admire those who can find balance between the two, I know my mind prefers to wander, waver, speculate, and reminisce, constantly preparing to make perfect memories. And I have, much to my delight, created a vast trove of such memories - each growing more golden with time.
One occasion that has become such a giddy recollection is that of one friend's September birthday several years ago. I remember, with a smile, our night of Salsa dancing and bar hopping in Morgantown (I remember, with a headache, the next morning...). I remember, also, our 'welcome' dinner on her front porch, girls gathered around, laughing in the twilight, drinking West Virginia wine and eating such a feast of eggplant, tofu and hot and sour soup made lovingly by the birthday girl herself.
Jenny C. - I'll see you soon!
Szechuan Eggplant and Tofu with Brown Rice* *adapted from Mollie Katzen’s ‘Szechwan Eggplant & Tofu’ from The New Moosewood Cookbook
For the rice:
2 Cups water
1 Cup long-grain brown rice
Bring the water to a boil. Add the rice, cover and reduce heat to the lowest setting. Cook for 45 minutes.
While rice cooks, prepare the eggplant and tofu.
2 Tbs. peanut or grape seed oil
1 medium red onion, trimmed, peeled and sliced thinly
2 small eggplants, trimmed and sliced into 1 1/2 to 2-inch strips
3/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. garlic, minced
2 tsp. ground red cherry peppers
1 – 16oz. package of extra firm tofu, drained, patted dry, and cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch strips
Chopped scallions (optional)
For the sauce:
1/4 C. Sherry
3 Tbs. Tamari sauce
1 Tbs. cider vinegar
1 Tbs. brown sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
Make the sauce:
In a liquid measuring cup combine the Sherry, Tamari, vinegar, and sugar. Add enough water to equal 1 cup. In a separate small bowl, measure the cornstarch. Pour the liquids over the cornstarch and whisk to combine. Set aside, keeping the whisk handy.
Begin the stir-fry:
Heat a large wok or skillet over high heat. Add the oil and when hot, add the onion. Cook, stirring, for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and salt and continue to stir-fry for another 8-10 minutes, or until eggplant softens. Add the garlic and ground red cherry peppers and cook 30 seconds. Add the tofu. Give the sauce a quick whisk to re-incorporate and add to the eggplant and tofu mixture. Continue cooking until the sauce begins to bubble and thickens – just a minute or two more (more water may be added for a thinner consistency). Remove from heat, scatter with scallions (if using) and serve with brown rice.
For maximum enjoyment, eat while sitting outside, laughing with friends, and drinking plenty of a light and cool summer wine.