Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cooking with Tofu & Landscaping


I'm not someone who cooks very often, at least not full-scale meals.  I make myself a quick breakfast and lunch most days, but my husband does most of the dinners.  He likes big dinners, so he generally ends up cooking them.  Since I have been out of law school and am working regular hours, I have started cooking with my husband.

Recently, we tried out some tofu recipes, and we got most of the recipes from  So far we have made spicy tofu and ginger tofu.  Both recipes were easy to follow and resulted in great dinners.

I was very happy with how well the dishes turned out, especially after my last experience with tofu.  I changed to a pescatarian diet (vegetarian + eats some fish) about 7 years ago, and I tried cooking tofu pretty early on.  That attempt was a horrible disaster.  I bought some tofu from the grocery store and tried to make it into a salad topping.  If I remember correctly, I had gotten soft tofu to make as flavored chicken to go on the salad.  I cut it into strips, marinated it, and then fried it very briefly.  Yuck!!!  It was a mess and really gross.

Now, that I'm learning more about tofu, I realize that I made some big mistakes.  First, you need to pick a tofu that is the consistency of the item you are trying to recreate.  If you want to make something like chicken, you need a firm/extra firm tofu.  Second, I made the major mistake of under cooking the tofu.  In trying out the tofu recipes, I learned that tofu actually needs to cook until it browns, and that I like tofu that is more thoroughly cooked.

Hot & Spicy Tofu was our favorite recipe that we tried.  It was really easy and turned out great.  The recipe and easy to follow instructions are available at the link.  It turned out best the second time we made it.  We learned some things from the first time. For example, we liked it better with smaller tofu chunks.  Also note that we substituted refrigerated minced garlic for the fresh cloves, and it was still great tasting.

Here is what it looked like in small cubes just starting to brown.  As you can see, it's cut into pretty small pieces.  It seemed to cook better this way.

This next picture shows what it looked like with the vegetables.  We found that we liked it better with the veggies cooked in the sauce for about 5 minutes, rather than 3 minutes.  It also made it less soupy when cooked longer in the sauce.

Tadah!!  Here's the final product.  Yum!  It was really, really good.


We finished the edging for the shrubs this weekend and planted the kumquat tree.  I think it turned out pretty well.  The pavers were not very expensive and made the front look more finished.  We still need to do some more work on the right side.  I'm thinking about either making stepping stones with the pavers or making a solid area of pavers extending out the front porch.  We need more sod for it, but we also have to figure out a way to disperse the rain that comes down in that area (and that's where the additional pavers come in).  It will be a project we tackle in March or April when it is sod laying time.  Next weekend, we will be killing the fire ant beds and working on the back yard.

(The tree will look a little better when the rain washes away the extra mud and the dirt around the tree is more packed down.)


I really like the pavers we chose.  They are supposed to change colors as they oxidize.  The sample shows them as having quite a bit of variation after exposure to sunlight and rain.

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