Friday, May 21, 2010

Day 96- Challenge!

Food First.


I had the fried tofu (again). it was yummy. I have definitely fixed the "breading doesn't stick long enough to cook" problem. I used
  • About 1/3 to 1/2 C flour
  • 1/2 lb tofu (in ~1cm to 1/2" squares)
  • A whole heck of a lot of spices. Srsly- cajun, paprika, garlic
  • Too much salt.
  • 1/2 smallish onion, chopped and "flaked"
Into a gallon (for those in non-imperial countries, that's the one about 4x the size of the liter bag) ziploc (R) brand freezer bag I then toss everything but the tofu and onion, and shake it around until it's all mixed up. Toss in the tofu and onion and shake some more. There'll be a bunch of seasoned flour mix left. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of water over the coated tofu in the bag, close the bag, and shake again. Repeat this step until all or almost all the flour mix is attached to the tofu. Try not to get the water directly on the walls of the bag- it makes a mess.

Then, with a totally spotless, totally un-sticky wok or frying pan (if you have one that you can make omelets in without oil or sticking, that's the one to use here) add about 3 or 4 T of veggie oil. Or lard or bacon grease, if you eat that stuff. If you use something salty, though, cut back on the salt in the flour seasoning. Now here's the strange bit. This *never* works for me unless the burner is turned up as high as possible. I've tried the other levels, but they just about all stick. So super high. Dump the tofu in and shake the pan around so that oil gets on all the cubes. If you can "flip" the stuff in the pan like a TV Chef, this is a good place to use that skill. Keep flipping until most sides of most cubes are browned and crispy, or until they start burning, whichever happens first.

Then, later I made cupcakes.


It's been a while since I've done something totally decadent and full of sugar. Mainly because I eat it all in one go, then get a nasty sugar crash, sore throat, and headache. No Fun!

I used the basic golden cupcake recipe fromVegan Cupcakes Take Over the Worldwith a couple changes. It's really just a basic cupcake recipe except for the no egg, no animal milk parts, so I won't write it down. It *is* super sweet, though.

Which brings us to

The Challenge!

I got this idea, actually, because of Ruby Leigh's homemade pizza crust and JL's amazing dinner from my pot stickers and fried rice.

So what's the challenge already?!

I challenge anyone out there (and interested) to make something you've only ever bought. You don't have to go any closer to scratch cooking then you're comfortable- if your normal cooking routine goes freezer to microwave to table or drive thru window to passenger seat to stomach, try it from a mix instead, maybe.

If you hit up your friendly neighborhood coffee shop for chai 3 times a day, try making it at home- either with pre-spiced tea bags, or spicing your own. There are tons of recipes on teh interwebs.

If you normally have a pretty high made-at-home rate, maybe try something different. I did it today, actually.

The cupcakes? They called for soy milk. I don't have soy milk. It's like $3 per half gallon on sale near my house. The book said I could sub rice milk (also $3+ at the store/ half gallon). Now, you can make rice milk at home, but it tastes like... well, rice. It didn't matter to me that I could make 5 gallons for less than a dollar, I had no interest.

What I had was almonds.

Anyone who's gone out and tried to buy fake milk in the last couple years, and I mean *really* tried, knows there are a couple types- soy, rice, and almond are the most common. There's also oat, some ultra swish coconut stuff, and I think hemp. I'm pretty sure you can make all but the last two at home pretty easily, with soy being the most difficult.

So those almonds. I tossed enough (blanched, chopped) almonds into my grindingbeaker (not really, but wouldn't that be cool? I just use the plastic cup-thing that came with the blender) to hit the 50ml line, then topped it off with water to 8oz (and yes, I know I'm mixing measurements). Some quality time with the stick blender and I had almond "milk" with some thick almost whipping cream stuff on top. Pretty nifty.

But now I can't use that, so I'll have to come up with something else. Maybe tortillas.

Ok, some rules-
  • Made at home (dorm rooms too, if you can manage it)
  • No more than $5 worth of extra stuff brought in- if you can't make it with what you've already got and $5, try something else.
  • You can't have made it from *that* level of homemade before, but it *can* be something in your normal food rotation.
  • Share (or don't) by this coming Wednesday- that'd be May 26th, 2010.
Invisible extra points for-
  • Getting other people you know to try it too (not the food, the challenge- but sharing food is good, too)
  • Photos/ blog posts/ e-mails
  • Trying more than one thing (but the $5 is a one-time add in, so shop carefully)
  • Having something turn out horrible but sharing anyway
  • Sharing an estimated price breakdown- one for how you usually make (or buy) it, and one for the more homemade version.
Ok, any questions?
Edited to fix links


  1. I was planning to make whole wheat hamburger buns and rosemary mayo this weekend for some portobello's I got on sale. Never made buns or mayo before.
    Your challenge came at a good time. :)

  2. Well there really isn't anything left in my diet that I don't make myself except bread, and I have a new loaf so making some this weekend would just be wasteful. But I was going to try my own version of your eggplant stuffed 'flatbread', which is a new combination of things I've made before, and next weekend I'm planning on making home made falafel and homemade pita, which is something that, if you could get decent Middle Eastern food here, I would eat all the time.

    So I'm sort of participating.

  3. Hey Kim- is there maybe a new *method* for something you could try? Like barbecuing pizza, or sundried fruit? I'm not sure what's in your diet, so my ideas might be way out there.

    It doesn't have to be the whole meal, though- it can be just one ingredient.

  4. Yes - a challenge! I'm in. So my plan is to make bread. I know, not terribly original, but I have never done it before. It is also looking like pre-made bread is no longer on the list when we use up what I have. Oh - and I don't have a bread machine or a kitchen mixer so this will be the old fashioned way.

  5. Well, I've never made babaganouj before, or roasted an eggplant in the oven, so that is kind of new. But as I've already done the shopping and planning for this weekend's cooking, it will be the falafel and pita of next weekend that is really outside the comfort zone.

    I did just recently used dried beans instead of canned for the first time ever.

  6. Roast eggplant and baba count. Heck, some people won't even eat them from *restaurants*, much less try to make them at home.

    How did the dried beans work for you? I've learned that I prefer cooking them here at sea-level, but I still miss the speed of pressure cooking them.

  7. I bought stuff to make butternut squash risotto on the way home today, but I got so damn excited about this challenge that I totally failed at reading comprehension.

    While it's true that risotto is something I've never made before, it's something that I don't buy pre-made or packaged either. Fail #1.

    I'm pretty sure I went over $5, but possibly not by much. I'll have to calculate the actual amount of rice used since the recipe doesn't call for the full amount of the box. Trader Joe's only had cubed butternut squash in a package (insert ironic comment here), but I didn't have time to make another stop, so I paid $1.99 for a 12 ounce package. Since most varieties of squash and I are not acquainted, I don't know if that's even close to what you would pay for a whole one. Probable Fail #2.

    I'm going to have to rethink this whole challenge. Maybe pasta? Can you make a decent pasta without a machine?

  8. Gorgeous cupcakes, btw :)

  9. JL- well, you haven't made it at home before, right? you might have gotten it at a restaurant though, and that counts (see chai)! I'll let you price out the rice- that arborio stuff is spendy (but you can use it for sticky rice).

    Squash price depends on location and if it's organic. It's getting to be very out of season (here), so it could be a fair price. My beloved veggie store was .50/lb about a month ago (I've *got* to use that sucker...), but the grocery store's been more like $1.50/lb.

    Re: the cupcakes- I offered one to RM#1 fresh from the oven, and he turned me down. Tonight he was wondering if his BF could have one... oops, all gone! I *tried* to share....

  10. I soaked the beans for about 12 hours and then cooked them in the stew-like thing I was making on the stove for about another 4, and you can't tell the difference from canned. I don't know how well they would work with a recipe that doesn't cook for that long, though.

    I currently don't own a pressure cooker or crock pot, although crock pot is on the short list, along with a baker's stone.

  11. I finally gave in and got one a couple years ago, but didn't move it with me- it's essential for cooking beans from dries over 6000 feet. I'd literally boil them for a week without it, and they'd never get soft.

    For something with a shorter cook time you'd probably have to make them ahead. Works pretty good. You might also want to look into the "quick soak" method. Cuts wait time down *a lot*.

  12. Done. :)

  13. I'm done too! This was so much fun...

  14. Bonus invisible sparkly points all around!

  15. Me too! I did it! Whee! (err I'll stop now)

  16. I just tried your fried tofu. It was great. Thanks for sharing.