Saturday, September 20, 2008

Spicing It Up -- Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

The saying is that if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Well, this post is about spicing things up in the kitchen. And sometimes it's going to get hot and sometimes it'll get messy and sometimes ugly and downright not-too-tasty. But if you don't try new things, you'll miss that experience, however it turns out in the end.

Just the other day I was the presenter at an all day workshop. My goal was to teach the people working at the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) office in Napa about whole grains, seasonal vegetables and fruit and soy, especially tofu. The way that I did this was through talk, tasting and cooking.

What I discovered is that some people have a narrow range of tastes and flavors that they are used to eating. But also, many people are willing to try new things if they are presented. They are not likely, though, to go out of their way to try them without prompting.

This is where The Veggie Queen comes in. I encourage people to try things that may seem foreign and have them become part of their everyday eating. A number of the participants at the workshop kept asking me about adding salt. I tend to cook without adding a lot of salt. I use a lot of spices and herbs for flavoring. I teach people what they are and how to use them. It opens the door to a new world of flavors.

Today I baked some tofu with my latest favorite herb blend Organic Vegetable Rub from The Cape Herb and Spice Company. These herbs come from South Africa. I know that it's far away but they know how to do it there. I will be selling them in my next email newsletter so sign up now at my website so that you can get the info. I often have exclusive offers only for my mailing list.

Baked Tofu with Organic Herb Blend

  • 1 pound extra firm tofu, squeezed, cut into thin slices and then triangles (makes 30 or so)
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (unseasoned)
  • 1-3 teaspoons herb blend (or your favorite spice mix)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Use a 9 X 13 glass baking dish.

Put the tofu triangles into the dish. Drizzle the sesame oil on top, if using. Drizzle the tamari on top of the tofu, along with the rice vinegar. Sprinkle with the herb blend and let sit for 5 or more minutes, but not longer than 15. Turn the triangles over.

Put into the hot oven for 10 minutes. Turn the triangles again. And bake another 10 minutes or until the triangles are dry and a bit crispy. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove tofu and eat as is, use in sandwiches, added to grain salads or in stir-fries.

c 2008, The Veggie Queen, .

Think of spicing up your life every day. It's OK to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Remember, it will only be NEW once.

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