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.

Recipes

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!

Reads

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.

xo

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    4 Comments
  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.

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