Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tofu and Brown Rice

I say "tofu and brown rice" as a metaphor to describe all kinds of things in my life, things that are dependable, nutritious, but slightly unexciting. Today I had the real thing for lunch, and I must say how much I have missed unexciting food!

I graduated from my program in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine this weekend, so, on top of what feels like a few months of indulgent eating, I REALLY indulged, with my parents visiting. I was raised in a 'foodie' family, and we recreate by eating. We ate Korean tofu soup, south Indian vegetarian, Italian, Japanese, and a few things in between, all in a three day period! I am so ready for some tofu and brown rice.

I took my parents, who were visiting from snow-socked Ontario, to my local farmers market on Thursday. It was a treat for them to wander in the sun and see the produce that California has to offer in March. I was thinking ahead to this week after their departure, and stocked up on some veggies. I bought broccoli, which i love but often find too pricey at the grocery store - this was fresh crowns, a big bag for 2$. Still a bit for veggies, but with crowns there is little waste. I bought two big bunches of my current infatuation, Northern Lights rainbow chard. It steams up so soft and sweet. I love it in my favourite Sri Lankan greens from Madhur Jaffrey, but it's delicious just on its own as well.

I took Monday morning off work to recover from the festivities, and from my parents' 5 am departure. I cooked up a big pot of organic brown rice (must pop over to the coop for more this weekend), steamed up half that broccoli, and then marinated some cubes of tofu in tamari, rice vinegar and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. One of my classmates exclaimed with disgust on seeing my lunch "God! You eat so healthy!!" Mmmm. It's not glamorous, but I think I'll save the glamour for the weekends.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Eating Cake

It hasn't been a stellar few weeks of eating, hence the scanty posts, but I am ready to get back in the groove. I did do some yummy, albeit rich, cooking this weekend. I made macaroni and cheese, with grass fed cheddar - the cheddar was delicious, but using it in the mac and cheese was kindof a waste. I am saving the rest of it to eat as it is, or with apples from the farmers market. I also made Queen Elizabeth Cake.

Queen Elizabeth Cake is one of my favourite cakes of all time - my mom makes it, and used to have it ready when I would come home to visit. It's become associated with the first night home, from university, and later from wherever I was visiting from. It's a rich, old fashioned, British tasting cake. I wonder if the name is because the cake comes from that era. I'm not sure when coconut became available, though I imagine it would have been by Elizabethan times, given that there was trade with southern regions underway by then. The cake is a rich, dark date one, with a topping of coconut, butter and brown sugar poured over the top to make a crunchy, caramel, lace topping. Mine didn't come out quite as lacey as my mom's, but it was still good!

Queen Elizabeth Cake

1 cup dates
1 tsp soda
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

Combine dates and soda in processor and chop. Add to boiling water. Set aside.
Process butter and sugar, add egg, add dry ingredients. Add date mixture. Pour into greased 9” square pan. Bake 350 – 30 min.

Topping -

1/4cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup coconut
2 Tbl. Milk

Combine ingredients and cook 3 minutes. Pour over warm cake and broil a few minutes to brown.