It’s no secret that human beings benefit greatly from healthy and frequent doses of tender, loving care— frankly, we were created to thrive on the stuff.
And it’s no surprise that all of the beauty, and all of those good qualities that have been placed within us at the point of our beginnings, are more easily elicited out of us when those responsible for raising us up sprinkle us—season us—with liberal amounts of love, kindness, mercy and gentle guidance; it is a sort of “marinade” that helps to bring out our best traits, in-turn producing in us flavorful and delicious inner characters that then go on to nourish others that come into our lives.
TLC is a seasoning—a spice—that every entity, whether animated or non-animated, can benefit wonderfully from. And food is certainly no exception.
One can take a white block of plain tofu, slice it up, eat it, and gain absolutely no pleasure out of it. On its own, it is a rather bland, flavorless food that many people prefer to shy away from and never cook with, because without any help from proper seasoning and proper attention, its better qualities are not brought to the surface to be enjoyed.
When I consider a block of tofu, it makes me think of a blank canvas—an object of sheer readiness for an infusion of creativity—that can potentially be turned into a pleasurable experience for our sense of taste, if only we slather it with our intentional care. The wonderful thing about tofu is that with its various textures, you can create any number of recipes to enjoy; it is transformed, with the addition of liberal seasoning or marination—a little TLC— into something that is uniquely delicious.
Not so different from us, eh?
Each of us have a deep need and desire to be abundantly sprinkled with TLC; and when we are, we bask in the glow of it, and all of the best that we hold within us comes bubbling up to our surface, revealing the most complete picture of who we are, and who we were meant to be.
And tender, loving care can also be a part of the seasoning we use to marinate the very food that we take such pleasure in ingesting, to make it that much more flavorful and interesting, and able to live up to its full potential in nourishing us in the most enjoyable way possible.
All it takes is putting in an extra pinch of ourselves, an extra sprinkle of intention.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Cheesy & Garlicky Crispy-Fried Tofu Stix with Zesty Tomato and Roasted Pepper Dipping Sauce
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Makes 24 stix, serving 6 people 4 stix each
• 2 (16 ounce) blocks organic, extra firm tofu (I get the high-protein variety from Trader Joe’s), cut into 24 sticks about the size/shape of string cheese
• 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence, divided use
• ½ granulated onion
• ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
• ½ teaspoon black pepper, divided use
• 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
• 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
• ¾ cups flour
• 3 eggs, whisked
• Vegetable oil, for frying
• Zesty Tomato and Roasted Pepper Dipping Sauce (recipe below)
-In a large bowl, marinate the tofu by adding to it the garlic, salt, ½ teaspoon herbs de Provence, granulated onion, smoked paprika and ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and toss gently to coat; marinate for at least 1 hour, or even overnight, if possible.
-In a large bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs with the grated parmesan cheese, plus the remaining ½ teaspoon herbs de Provence and ¼ teaspoon black pepper; set aside for a moment.
-Dredge each stick in the flour, then dip into the whisked eggs, then into the panko/parmesan mixture, and set onto a plate to hold.
-Add enough oil to the bottom of a large non-stick pan to shallow fry, and heat the oil over medium-high heat.
-Once the oil is hot, begin adding, in batches, the coated tofu stix, laying them in a single layer; fry on the first side for about 2-3 minutes, or until golden-brown; turn, and fry until that side is golden-brown, then place onto paper towel-lined plate/baking sheet to drain; repeat until all stix are fried.
-Serve with warm Tomato-Roasted Pepper Dipping Sauce.
Zesty Tomato-Roasted Pepper Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• ¼ onion, finely chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 3 ounces fire-roasted red peppers, chopped
• Black pepper
• 1 teaspoon dry oregano
• Pinch red pepper flakes
• 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
• ½ teaspoon sugar
• 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro leaves
-Place a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, and add oil; once hot, add in the onion, chopped peppers and garlic, and saute for about 2 minutes until softened and aromatic.
-Add in a pinch or two of salt and black pepper, plus the dry oregano and pinch of red pepper flakes, and stir to combine; add in the tomato sauce, and allow the mixture to simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
-Finish with the sugar and chopped cilantro, and then puree the mixture with a hand blender; check to see if additional salt/pepper are needed; serve warm.