Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Great New Find

Have you ever had one of those weeks? I've been having one this week, and it's been a wild ride. It started off with my husband and I starting a new business venture, which I can't talk about yet, but will spill the beans soon. It's really exciting, but an endless maze of red tape to maneuver through. Then in the midst of working on that and the editing of the new book, I got sick and was totally laid up. Very bad timing, I would say. Then late last night I got a phone call that my dad had been bitten by a rattlesnake (twice) and was in the hospital. WTF? Fortunately my dad should be okay, and is receiving anti-venom and responding well (ETA My dad is doing well and is back home now). We're now calling him the snake charmer. But man oh man, what a week! Please forgive me if the posts are a little slow around here for the time being.

Now, about the review. I had the privilege of trying out a fun new gadget recently, and was excited to share the results. Just so you know, I never receive payments for these reviews and have no connection with the company. But it's an uber-cool kitchen tool, especially if you cook with tofu.

As someone who is gadget crazy, I'm always searching for the next cool product. The problem is, not all new things pass the muster. First off, it has to serve a purpose, not just be another large tool to cram into my over-stuffed drawers and cabinets. Next up, the tool has to work well, be well-constructed and well designed. It also must call out to me, or else there's no way that I will remember to pull it out of said over-crowded drawers to use it. Period. So, as you can see, I'm a pretty tough and jaded critic.

Now, every once in a while, a new tool comes into my kitchen and brings a smile to my face. I must be walking around smiling a lot, because two uber cool tools/toys/gadgets have me excited lately. One will have to wait for another post, because I want to talk about the TofuXpress tofu press first.

I found that firm tofu works really well with the press (Trader Joe's organic firm tofu to be exact). I pressed it for an hour, and couldn't believe how much water was gently but firmly pressed from the block. Pretty cool. I then decided that I would let it go another couple of hours to see how it did. Even more water was expressed, leaving a fabulously firm tofu which could have been grated like cheese. No kidding. The texture was incredible. I then took my pressed tofu, and placed it in the fab "Breast of Tofu" marinade from Bryanna Clark Grogan. It made for one fabulous dinner! I also had a brainstorm that since I was going to be heading out for a camping trip, I would press more tofu, slice it and bring it along on the trip (stored in freezer bag with more of Bryanna's delicious marinade). It worked exceptionally well, and how cool to have pressed and marinated tofu waiting for you to use.

I don't believe that the TofuXpress is available in stores yet, but you can find it on their website at www.tofuxpress.com It's currently being offered at a special introductory rate for the moment. I highly recommend that you check it out, especially if you cook tofu regularly or would like to.

I hope that everyone is enjoying the last little bit of summer.
Back soon!

XO Julie

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cherry Bombs

I had planned to get this post up sooner, but have been having some trouble with photos on Blogger. Anyone else experiencing this? Photos now come up as code on the posts. Weird.

Anywho, I wanted to share my easy recipe for cherry bombs, aka cherry vodka. This has been a tradition around our house for years. Some years we even make an extra large batch and share it with friends around the holidays. You can make it with most summer fruit, but bing cherries are exceptionally awesome.

It couldn't be simpler to make, as you just dump everything together in a large (clean) crock. I used 3 pounds of firm bing cherries, 1 bottle of vodka (you don't have to use a super premium here, as a middle of the road one will work fine) and sugar (I used 1 cup, but you can do this to taste). Mix together in a sterile crock and set aside in a cool place (not the refrigerator) for about a month or more. This will keep for a very long time, or until you eat all of the cherries (and drink the liqueur). I store the liqueur and cherries together in the crock on my counter. Oh, and I keep the pits in my cherries. After a while they give the liqueur a lovely almond undertone which is fantastic.

Try the cherry bombs (infused cherries) over ice cream (with the pits removed of course) or blot them if any extra moisture and dip in melted chocolate.

Now go run and grab yourself some cherries and make a batch. I'm telling you that these are the bomb baby!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Amazing Bean

Sorry for leaving my blog so quiet last week. I was away (without a computer) in Des Moines, Iowa, where I was invited to participate in a soybean tour. The Soyfoods Council arranged the farm to table tour, which had us visiting soybean farms, cooking at the culinary institute, watching demos, learning (a ton) about the latest studies from Dr. Mark Messina (one of the foremost researchers on soy) and had many delicious meals... I also made some great friends and laughed my butt off the entire time. It was a fantastic week.

There were about 13 of us on the trip, from cookbook authors to magazine editors to chefs and writers. All of us foodies, but some were new to the world of soy. Being the token vegan on the trip, I was probably one of the few that regularly ate and cooked with soy. But we all walked away learning all sorts of new and cool techniques and with lots of inspiration. I have all kinds of ideas for using miso and edamame, and am inspired to start making my own tofu on a regular basis.

I also learned a lot from Dr. Mark Messina about the latest in soy research, seperating all of the facts from fiction. There are some poorly written articles popping up in magazines and lots of crazy untruths. I mean, come on... drinking soymilk does not cause men to grow moobs! I will try and get my hands on some of the latest studies to share, because I think it's really important info.

I'll post the rest of the trip in another post. Pictures of us cooking at the culinary instute, more delicious vegan meals and even a side field trip to the headquarters of Better Homes and Gardens (and their test kitchens). Did I say that I had a fantastic time?

Anyways, here are some of the pics from the week.
Me, in the soy fields.

The farmer in his soy field.

Edamame guacamole which was absolutely amazing!

One of our fabulous meals, prepared by Chef Ephraim at the Tournament Club of Iowa. This dinner was unbelievable! Notice the homemade tofu at the bottom of the plate and the mashed potatoes formed into a pear, dusted with panko and ground soynuts (I think) and fried/baked. Such a delicious dinner! He used soy in so many new and unexpected ways.

Two vegan desserts. The one on the left is a mochi cake made with rice flour and a carrot cake on the right. These were absolutely delicious!

Dr. Mark Messina. My camera wasn't working well, so the pic isn't great. His presentation was excellent.