Weekend Reading
December 18, 2022

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I’ve been busy preparing for my annual holiday cookie baking marathon, so my vegan meal prep this weekend was abridged. I made a batch of the pasta e ceci from The Vegan Week, and that’s it so far.

Fortunately, I have some leftover odds and ends to work with. Those include some tasty roasted cabbage that I’ll be sharing the recipe for soon, cooked brown rice, and a batch of my turmeric tahini dressing.

So far, so good.

I wanted to make some sort of protein to go with these, and I happened to have a block of tofu on hand. I pulled it out of the fridge and, with a sigh, I started thinking about what I’d do to season it.

I wasn’t in the mood to make a marinade for baking or air-frying it. Pan searing felt like a hassle, too. I had work to do this afternoon in addition to the six batches of cookie dough that were in various stages of chaotic preparation.

But I had to do something with it, right? Don’t I always say that 90% of bad tofu experiences are due to lack of proper seasoning? Haven’t I mentioned the importance of pressing and marinating tofu in every cookbook I’ve worked on?

After five solid minutes of staring at my tofu block and begrudgingly trying to think about what flavor profile I was in the mood for, I had a revolutionary thought: don’t do anything with the tofu.

Don’t. Do. Anything. With. The. Tofu.

Technically, tofu can be eaten “raw.” “Raw,” in fact, is a little misleading.

Tofu is made by soaking, crushing, and boiling soy beans, then coagulating the “curds” into blocks. It’s a little like cheesemaking, but the beans are fully cooked before they turn into tofu.

So, while tofu tastes better—and arguably has a better texture—when it’s seasoned and cooked, there’s nothing wrong with eating it straight out of the package.

And honestly? I don’t mind naked tofu. I never have.

I cut my block of tofu into cubes and threw a bunch of them into a very impromptu, simple vegan lunch bowl.

I smothered the whole thing in my turmeric tahini dressing, and you know what? It was just fine. Tasty, even.

I’m aware that this is a silly, and probably pretty boring, story. But here’s the thing: sitting around and fretting about how to perfectly marinate a block of tofu that only I will eat, on an already busy Sunday, in spite of the fact that I actually like naked tofu, is a prime example of my ability to make my life harder than it needs to be.

So, consider this your invitation, if you need it, to eat naked tofu this week.

And by “eat naked tofu,” I mean:

Don’t make things unnecessarily complicated.

Don’t work harder than you have to.

Let good enough be good enough.

Happy Sunday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.


Oh how I wish I’d had a cup of this dairy-free peppermint mocha to put some pep in my step this afternoon.

The perfect vegan charcuterie board for festive gatherings.

How perfect are the swirls on these vegan cinnamon rolls?

I make vegan potato leek soup in the winter months all the time. This celery leek soup would be a nice change, and it would also help me on my quest to find more ways of liking celery better than I do.

Hannah’s vegetarian roast goose would make a stunning holiday centerpiece!


1. MIT Tech Review covers three books that peer into the inner worlds of our non-human animal neighbors. I want to read all three of them now!

2. This post is giving me inspiration and sound guidance as I put my 2022 holiday cookie boxes together for friends.

3. Science magazine’s 2022 story of the year is about JWST, a gold-plated space telescope constructed by NASA with help from European and Canadian space agencies. I don’t usually become very engrossed reading about outer space, but the images that the telescope captured are truly mesmerizing.

4. This is kind of heartwarming: rhesus monkeys who are more social tend to have greater populations of beneficial gut bacteria. We thrive in connection to each other, and so, it seems, do they.

5. This article begins with the assertion that the world is divided into two types of people: those who love fruitcake, and those who have yet to try it.

I’m actually in the latter camp. I never had it pre-vegan, and somehow I’ve had a block around creating a vegan version of my own.

I’m sort of fascinated by the dessert, though, and Tom Giffey’s polemic in its favor is only making me more curious. I like his closing thoughts, too:

Beyond its superior flavor and the connection it has to centuries of culinary tradition, I recommend fruitcake because it’s a wonderful metaphor for the season itself. Our families and our communities are made up of disparate ingredients. For some, Christmas is a time of religious devotion; for others, it’s a secular season during which we cherish each other’s company. Christmas is a time during which, whatever our personalities or beliefs – whether we’re raisin or candied kumquat, currant or clove, butter or egg – we at least try to be baked into a harmonious whole, something divinely delicious, something to be savored.

All right, maybe that’s pushing the metaphor a little far. Just try the fruitcake, OK?

Speaking of holiday desserts, I have a good one in store for you tomorrow.

Till then, may your evening be restful and your tofu blissfully unadorned.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I found this post after reading your New Years Weekend Reading and I just wanted to say how much I appreciate the sentiment here. I too find i can over complicate and fixate on things so it’s a nice reminder especially at the start of a new year. Thanks!

  2. Needed to hear this Gena, trying my best to not over complicate Christmas in the food department! Simple and tasty should be the only parameters for me and my little family.
    Wishing you a joy filled Christmas with all the people you love : )

  3. I eat naked tofu all the time; in fact I’m eating it right now. I thought I was the only one!
    If I’m being honest it’s because I’m lazy, but it’s made me appreciate the taste of plain foods on a regular basis (i.e. I like plain steamed broccoli too). I guess I’ve trained my taste buds.

  4. This post really resonated with me. Lately I’ve been trying to remember to give myself permission to break my own “rules”, those guidelines I’ve created for myself that can sometimes be very helpful, but can also come to be restrictive. Something like eating naked tofu can seem small in the moment, but I don’t think it is. Remembering to pause, listen and check in inside myself to see if this is one of those moments a “rule” should be disregarded helps me feel a little more free, and a little more like my own ally.
    Thank you for everything you bring to this space, Gena! I always look forward to these posts. Wishing you moments of peace and joy in the coming weeks.

You might also like

Welcome back from the weekend, friends. I’m posting a day late in honor of the long weekend, which I enjoyed so very much;  my boyfriend and I spent an evening at Mari Manor, and I can’t wait to tell you all about in a separate post. Now I’m home, catching up on work and gazing at the following wonderful recipes (and thought-provoking links). Sorry to share my own recipe, but…you guys gotta try these pumpkin pancakes, from my latest New Veganism column for Food52. Love the…

This week, I read Jancee Dunn’s thoughts on a new book, which is titled The Swedish Art of Aging Exuberantly. The author, Margareta Magnusson, has written previously about “death cleaning,” which is a little less grim than it sounds. Basically, it’s the practice of clearing away unnecessary belongings, so that nobody will be tasked with doing it after you’ve passed away. The idea is to reduce burdens, both physical and literal, so that you can grow older unencumbered. I’m excited to actually read…

Happy Sunday, all, and Happy Mother’s day to those who are celebrating it. I’m bringing my mom vegan cake, among other treats, and taking her to dinner. She was honored for her career in teaching this week, and I’m glad that she’s being appreciated on so many fronts. Few family relationships are uncomplicated, at least in my experience, but I’m blessed to have a pretty special relationship with my mom. Still, a skill I’ve picked up as an only child with a small…

A few days ago, fending off a serious case of overwhelm, I started bullet journaling. I did so without a fancy journal, rolls of decorative washi tape, or web tutorials and downloads to guide me (there are plenty of those out there, if you’re interested). I don’t really know what I’m doing. I know that the system, at least in its most basic formulation, is fast, and it’s keeping me organized through the December crazy. Approaching something this way—implementing it long before I…