Tuesday, June 29, 2010

tonight's dinner, an accident and an experiment.

1. I'm so relieved that my laptop and wireless card have mysteriously begun working again that I am afraid to turn the computer off. Ever.

2. Tonight's dinner (you won't believe it):

wheat berries
stir-fried baby bok choy with garlic and peppers
marinated, grilled, sesame-crusted tofu.

a. wheat berries:

I took what I thought was a bag of brown rice from the freezer (I'm a freak, I keep all kinds of things in the freezer.) (you can see from the picture how I could mistake this for brown rice, right? ) Anyway, medium saucepan, 2 cups cold water, one cup "rice", boil over high heat and then cover and drop the heat until the water's mostly gone. You know, like you were making rice. I have no idea if this is the recommended way to cook wheat berries, but it worked great. I loved them. I never remember making them before, but there they were, in my freezer. But I like them a lot.

"They're very chewy," muttered Eric through the chewing. "Tasty. And chewy." Right on both counts.

b. stir fried greens:

(that would be what they looked like if you cooked them without chopping them up. )

slice garlic cloves, chop greens. Heat a frying pan (I have never gotten the hang of the wok, sadly, despite having had several over the years.) Film with neutral oil (like, vegetable rather than olive.) Cook garlic for 3-4 minutes until it starts to brown JUST A TINY BIT. Add greens. Keep stirring.

Note: Huge amounts of raw greens will cook down to nearly nothing. Plan on chopping a completely ridiculous amount, or your portions, though tasty, will be invisible to the naked eye.

Also Note: Please do a better job washing your bok choy than I did. It's kind of like leeks, in terms of grit retention.

c. Tofu.
(This is pretty close to what it actually looked like.)

Today, because it was on sale and because we are on this wacked-out vegetarian kick, I bought some tofu. It was pre-packaged, in the conventional white-people chain supermarket, two qualities that a Korean co-worker warned me against, but I bought it anyway. The label said it was made from sprouted soybeans, and was more nutritious. Whatever; it was packaged in a manageable-sized package (my health kicks are traditionally marked by a good deal of thrown-out tofu) and it was on sale.

It was much better, in flavor and texture, than the national-brand stuff I have bought in the past. Score one for the supermarket! (i almost said "Score one for the white people!" But that just seemed inappropriate, in some way I can't put my finger on exactly.)

I opened a package, drained it briefly but did not squish the fluid out as I usually do. I sliced it into patties and marinated them briefly (less than 10 minutes) in a mixture of Asian vinegar, honey, black pepper, soy sauce, ONE drop of fish sauce and about one drop of sesame oil.

When I removed the patties from the marinade, I dredged them in sesame seeds (which I keep in the FREEZER) and grilled them on the well-oiled George Foreman.

despite the oiling, this led to a lot of well-cooked sesame seeds stuck to the Foreman, which has surrendered its non-stick coating.

I boiled the left-over marinade in the microwave, hoping to reduce it (it didn't seem to reduce at all) and splashed some over the finished tofu patties.

This wasn't completely perfect, but I am pretty damned pleased with myself for making it up, completely off the top of my head, and having it turn out so well.

I squeezed a lemon over the whole plate.

Seriously. It was actually very good. Lots of different textures and flavors: the chewy, popping wheat berries, the crunchy and grill-marked tofu, the slippery greens with some still-crisp stalks, the brightness of the lemon, the depth of the soy and fish sauce...the seasonings need work, and Eric gave up on the wheat berries eventually (his jaw was tired), but definitely a worthwhile experiment.

The success of the experiment was helped by the fact that Eric had the Veria channel on in the background all afternoon, and had just seen an hour-long cooking show all about quinoa. I think this paved the way for the accidental wheat berries.

Eric is off to the natural foods market tomorrow, without me, so God only knows what we'll be eating in next week. I am encouraged and apprehensive in equal amounts.

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