Vegan MoFo Day 15 – Cast Iron Skillet en Flambé

I had my first kitchen fire!

Am I proud of this? Hardly. Am I amused by it? Oh, yes.

It started out innocently enough. I was making the Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl from Isa Does It and trying my best to multitask. The cast iron pan was heating to a high heat, the sauce was done and kept on a low heat to keep warm. The rice was all but done and I tossed my greens in to steam a little. Oh, did I mention that the pan had been “preheating” since the other ingredients started?

Yeah, that was stupid of me. As soon as I added oil, the whole pan caught on fire. It was, to say the least, startling. And unlike my “clever” little title, it wasn’t a legitimate reason for fire. Alcohol catching fire? Cooking! Oil catching fire? Disaster! But apparently screaming “OH MY GOD!” attracts attention, even if there is Sunday night football. So nothing got damaged in the end. . . Not even the pan, since it was cast-iron and not Teflon! Not even my face or hair, even though I have horrible posture and the flame shot at least a foot in the air!

Also, I think I’m finally getting in the swing of things, blogging-wise. After everything calmed down and the pan was running under cool water to cool off, my first thought was, “Damn, I wish I caught a picture!” But I guess an in-tact kitchen is more important than an exciting blog. I guess.

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After the pan was brought to a safe high heat, I fried up my tofu cubes and got to work on the bowl. Don’t those cubes look perfect?

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Best tofu I ever made. And that sauce, oh my god! So tasty! I didn’t shop for this dish, but rather flipped to the recipe when deciding what to do with some tofu that was getting close to turning. I had most everything on hand, all but the kale and the ginger. Kale I changed out for spinach – easy. Ginger was tricky. . .I didn’t have it fresh/frozen, and I didn’t even have the powder that you use for pies and stuff! What I did have was pumpkin pie spice. It worked better than you might think! The sauce was amazingly flavorful and won over meat-eaters. Yay, Isa Does It!

This Time With Feeling

I was reading through my latest blog entry, and while it seemed like a fine (re-)introduction, it didn’t seem to cut it for VeganMoFo. Since I’m coming at this with no planning, I’m going to at least do a prompt a day. I will try to participate in the daily themes starting this weekend (when I get paid), and hopefully in the coming years come up with a personal theme to stick to. In the mean time. . .

1) Your Origin Story (what led you to become vegan?)

Me and meat have had a rocky relationship. When I was fifteen, I decided to become a vegetarian. I was what you might call an “ethical vegetarian.” I abstained from meat and meat products, but also leather and gelatin. My thought was: if nothing died, I’m fine. I had a lot to learn about the egg and dairy industry!

This was over seven years ago, so I’m struggling to come up with the details. I don’t remember a backstory, but I remember one day, I was sitting at the table when my mom set down a grocery store rotisserie chicken. Something about it felt wrong. I grew up in the boneless-skinless breast era of America. Whole chickens freaked me out. This wasn’t arbitrary meat: this was an entire chicken, in tact down to everything but the head. I picked at it for a little before declaring I was a vegetarian.

Nobody took me seriously on it and it took a while to get my family behind the idea without thinking I would die. But I stuck with vegetarianism for about two years in high school, before I had a weak moment in front of a Thanksgiving turkey. I cast aside my $25 Tofurkey purchased just for me and dug right in to meat like I had never stopped.

The funny thing is, there were several points where I wanted to go full vegan, but I was a minor and my family wouldn’t have gone for it. I went from experimenting with soy milk and rice ice cream to munching on turkey overnight.

When I was living in San Francisco in the summer of 2012, I spent a day at the library and sat down to Everything You Know is Wrong. One of the articles opened my eyes to the environmental impacts of human meat consumption. I learned the impact of the water, the feed, and the gas emissions from the feces. I had always felt uneasy about meat eating from an ethical stand point, but this changed everything. I later read A Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life and did ample research online. As soon as I was able to, I went vegetarian with the intention of going vegan.

However, I was in a situation where vegetarianism was enough of a strain on my living situation and the people I lived with, so I had the idea of “well, eating eggs and dairy doesn’t help much more than eating both with meat,” and picked meat back up around 2013. Once settled into a place of my own, I finally went vegan in May 2013 and have no intention of going back!

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2) Share your first experience cooking with tofu. 

My first experience eating tofu was when I was fifteen. My dad had made me tofu fried rice in the same style he made chicken fried rice for the rest of the family. It was a sweet gesture, but I was a bratty fifteen year old and made no attempt to hide my dislike for food on my plate. It tasted bland and mushy, and when I commented on it, I was told, “that’s tofu,” as if it was inevitable.

It wasn’t until I ate tofu in Taiwan that I realized tofu is supposed to absorb flavors and be quite flavorful. My first attempt of cooking tofu solo was during my vegetarian months in 2012. I approached it with plenty of research and. . . . despite pressing it, marinating it, and doing everything I possibly could think of. . . I burnt the shit out of it. What I could salvage tasted to me like rotten mayonaise.

It wasn’t until a month ago that I learned to cook tofu that actually tastes good. I still can’t do it without freezing first. . .