Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shameless Ploy

As we learned yesterday, I am running out of steam only halfway through the post-every-day month (known to you hip young people as NaBloPoMo). But now, in a move I would energetically encourage in all my readers, one of you has sent in a couple of requests. This nice fellow, whose nom de nephew is Funky Man T, has some cooking questions:

"First, it would be most interesting to hear you address the topic of quick and easy stir fry sauces that can be made with plain (as opposed to pre-bottled) ingredients. Our stir fries tend to be fairly bland affairs (although we like the taste of plain veggies), and having a few recipes on hand to sauce them up would be swell. Since we eat gluten free, most of the bottled sauces available in the stores (like those yummy sounding peanut sauces) are either suspect or definitely off limits. But surely there's something simple we can make with rice vinegar and a little lemon, a little x and a little y...? Oh, and not too spicy, if that's in your repertoire.

"Second, I am never happy with my otherwise delicious pots of stew or chili after they've been frozen. In the lamb stew we thawed for dinner last night, for example, the potatoes and carrots had gone from firm to mealy. Since I don't remember my mother's frozen entrees tasting like this, I'm wondering if I'm doing something wrong in the freezing process. Is there a right way to freeze and/or defrost stuff? Does it matter if the stew is still warm/hot when you put it in the freezer? Does it matter whether you patiently let it sit and defrost slowly as opposed to hungrily nuking or boiling it? Does anybody know what I'm talking about?"

These questions bring up several interesting issues. First, can I now rely exclusively on my readers to provide topics for me to write about? Like the Magic 8 Ball, I'm thinking that signs point to yes. So get cracking. Second, can I also rely on my readers to actually provide content about these topics? Again, I'm optimistic. So, weigh in, people. I know for a fact that I have many readers for whom food is a pet topic. I won't call you out by name, but L? G? J and N, C, N, D, A, anyone? You know who you are, and so do I.

I'll blather on, but you people, chime in too! Together, we can solve these dilemmas! Stay tuned for my answers. Your breath, it is bated, I can tell.


Nev said...

For a stir-fry, I usually make a marinade that I then use as a sauce later. This is kind of gross if you are using meat, but great for tofu and tempeh.

I really just eyeball the amounts, but I'd say a good start is about 1/3 c. soy sauce, a couple Tbsps olive oil (or a mix of olive oil and toasted sesame oil), and a good splash of balsamic or rice vinegar. This is your base sauce Then comes the fun part, in which you add a little splash of everything you have in the fridge: dry white wine, oj, dijon mustard (guess that's more of a "plop"), ketchup. Chop up a good tablespoon or so of fresh herbs (rosemary and sage are my favorites), then stick in the tip of a spoon and taste to make sure it's not too anything.

If you have an hour or two to marinate, you can use less soy sauce to start and mix in some warm water, enough to make the sauce cover the tofu in a tightly-sealing tupperware. If you have less time, you can't really get away with adding water, so you might have to double your amounts so you have enough to cover.

Anyway, cut up tofu/tempeh, put in the smallest tupperware that will fit it all pretty much in a single layer, cover with sauce, snap onthe lid, shake it up a bit and let it sit in the sink.

When it's done marinating, remove tofu or tempeh and fry (setting the marinade aside). Remove from pan and cook your veggies. When they get close to done, add back the tofu/tempeh, pour marinade over, stir to coat, cover and let steam a bit, adding a tablespoon or two of water if it needs to cook longer.

This recipe is pretty forgiving--play as much as you need!

lauren said...

I seem to recall that when last you visited, you took notes on several things to post about. The only one I remember right now is frozen burritos. But there might be more blog fodder (blodder...?) in the moleskine in which you drew the map of Seattle.

There were also some funny t-shirts. One was about a potato I think? I don't remember.

Another Anna said...

That moleskine, sadly, has left for Parts Unknown. I remember setting it down somewhere in my territory (house, car, studio) that seemed odd at the time, and I haven't seen it since. It's been months. I'll probably find in a few years, at the bottom of the freezer or under all the pillowcases or tucked inside the dictionary.

But thanks for reminding me about the blodder. And i DO remember the tshirts: Potato Ambassador! and: Apocalypse. Do Not Want.

Anonymous said...

topic request: I would love to hear about brother sister monopoly games and efforts to expand the size of the monopoly board.

--Donald Trump