Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bean Curd and Bucket Lists

Recently, a fellow blogger got me thinking about bucket lists. We all have one, whether scrawled on the back of an envelope, meticulously enumerated on a "to-do" list or not so indelibly etched with our mental pencils. Mine was the to-do list variety; bulleted points, each carefully printed with an extra fine tip Sharpie (my "this is important" pen).  Sadly, my actual list was lost during one of umpteen moves in as many years.  I don't think it's lost for good, but more likely is packed away with half of my life in a storage unit in NY. I remember never keeping the list readily accessible, preferring instead to hide it away somewhere where I'd only come across it once or twice a year. It was fun to see not only what I'd accomplished and how far I'd come, but as the list got older, the kinds of things I'd aspired to all those years ago. It was always good for a teensy feeling of accomplishment as well as a chuckle or 2 at my younger self. The last time I stumbled upon the list, I was able to cross off a couple of items, one due to accomplishment (get a tattoo - I now have 2) the other due to physical restrictions following a car accident and subsequent injury (go skydiving). I got to thinking how sad it was that I'd had so many opportunities to skydive prior to my accident and never took any of them. The excuses were plentiful albeit, if I'm being honest, lame. Once, I was too busy at work. Another time I couldn't justify spending the money.  Yet another time a friend gave me too little notice.  Looking back, all I can tell myself is: work to live, don't live to work, what good is the money if you can't enjoy it and a little spontaneity never hurt anyone.

These days, I don't often think about my bucket list but my goals have evolved over the years.  Seeing as my first list was created in my early 20's and contained such deep and discerning ideas such as "get a tattoo", "swim with dolphins" and "name a star", I decided to establish (at least the beginnings of) my new 30-something bucket list right here. In no particular order, here goes:

  • Re-master my command of the French language
  • Master another language (Italian)
  • Test my mastery of both languages by returning to France, and visiting my family in Italy
  • Travel more - eat my way across the country and around the world
  • Learn more about wine
  • Go back to school and pursue a career change involving either my first love (science/medicine) or my enduring love (cooking/baking)
  • Do/learn something new every day 
  • Write a cookbook
  • Start a family
  • Commit fully to a healthy lifestyle 
  • Make time for the people who enrich my life
  • Learn to let go of the toxic people who don't
That's a pretty ambitious start, but there's room for one more:
  • Find new and exciting ways to create protein rich, meatless meals like this one

Which brings us to the bean curd.  First of all, I know, curd is a very unappetizing word and if you've never tried tofu, you might be wary.  I, too, was once skeptical of all things curd but I took a lesson from my old friend cheese. Maybe tofu doesn't have the ooey gooeyness of a fried cheese curd but I can tell you this, it is just as delicious.  Go ahead, mock me, but I'm not kidding.  One of the fantastic things about tofu is that it acts like a little sponge, soaking up flavor from whatever ingredients you use to season it.  It is fantastic in soups, on kabobs, pan fried, stir fried, marinated and baked...I could go on, but you really have to try it for yourself.  Every so often I crave tofu marinated in sesame oil and soy sauce with lots of garlic and ginger (a staple marinade that works with just about anything). Lucky for me it's a LOT healthier a craving to indulge than when the dessert cravings come calling.  This is a very simple dish, perfect for the tofu newbie and tofu lover alike.  My mother used to make this quite frequently - it always reminds me of her and of home and therefore is sublimely comforting. This is my take on her recipe:

1 block extra firm tofu (14.5 oz)
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2-4 cloves garlic, grated
2 tsp ginger, grated
1/2 tsp toasted sesame seeds (for garnish)

Try a spicy version by adding:
1 tsp Sriracha (optional)

Cal: 149  Fat: 9g  Carb: 6g  Protein: 13g  Fiber: 1g  
Serves: 4

Cut the block of tofu into half, then quarters, then eighths.
Cut each rectangle on the diagonal to form triangles.
Meanwhile, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and Sriracha (if used) and stir well.  Place tofu triangles in an airtight container, cover with the marinade and marinate 4 hours (overnight is even better), giving the container a little shake every now and then to make sure all of the tofu is soaking up all that fantastic flavor.
Once the tofu is completely marinated, remove from the container and assemble the triangles on the toaster oven baking sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10 min, then broil for 1-2 min until the marinade starts to caramelize and the tofu edges start to brown.  Assemble baked triangles over baby greens (I dressed my greens with equal parts rice wine vinegar and soy sauce...just a dash of each), sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy!
Bon Appetit!


  1. Hi,
    Just came across this from Warren's page - I think I'm going to write a Bucket list too - it's such a good idea. I can't believe you cuit sans four, you must be as mad as me !
    PS> I'm a total francophile too. :o)