Friday, November 21, 2008

Tempeh-mental (and welcome)

Hi. I cook a lot. My cooking footprint is probably bigger than my driving footprint, and perhaps even bigger than my actual footprint. Being unemployed leaves me with idle hands, an idle mind, and overactive tastebuds, so I spend some of my day scheming up recipes and perusing cookbooks from the library. Except for the mystical world of manmade leaveners (read: baking powder/soda), I use recipes more as guidelines than actual rules. This abstract will attempt to explain my current state of tongue, and will introduce to you a blog, the distracted cousin of my other blog, Lost In America, called Kitchen in America.

It is not a very creative title, but it generally sums up my location: a kitchen somewhere in America. Eugene, Oregon, America. I hope to be able to translate the neural communication between my mind, hands, and mouth into this other, more readable form of communication in order to improve my writing skills, put my own food ideas on the internet, use up some of my free time, and let my parents know that I am most certainly eating my veggies. Actually, that's just about all I eat.

Sometimes what I eat does not look exactly like vegetable matter. Sometimes I eat tempeh, another fermented soy product which looks a little like agglomerated bird poo and seashells, but is a great absorber of flavors that also flavor meat. I get my tempeh from a place in town called Surata, which makes the tempeh and sells its seconds at half price on Tuesdays and Thursdays (52 oz. for $3? Yes!). My most recent tempeh creation was a real inspired moment:

Blackened Cajun Tempeh

1 8 oz. tempeh patty, sliced crossways into 1/2" strips
3T olive oil (non-virgin is fine, you prudes)
2T balsamic vinegar
hot horseradish

In a dish just big enough to hold the tempeh in one layer, add the tempeh, oil, and vinegar. Tempeh is like a sponge, it's great. Rub as much horseradish as you want on the top, then sprinkle with similar amounts (personal preference, artistic license, etc.) of cayenne, paprika, salt, and pepper (I like heavy on the peppers). Don't use a whole lot of salt. Flip the lot over and repeat.

To cook get a nonstick saute pan nice and hot, then reduce the heat to medium. No need to oil, it's all soaked up in the tempeh. Put the tempeh in (it should sizzle like meat) and let it sit in the pan until you can't take it anymore, or until it just barely smokes. Turn each piece 90 degrees, and let that side blacken-- don't be too afraid of burning, that's part of what makes this delicious. Turn until all 4 sides are black (I know it has 6 sides. Don't worry about the little ones.).

Serve as an appetizer or side dish with some barbecue sauce to dip, and eat it with your fingers, please.

Well, that concludes the first portion of many meals. I'll be putting up pictures just as soon as I remember to take them.

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