Sunday, June 1, 2008

21st Century Sack Lunches

Hey Kathryn,

Sorry that it has taken me so long to post.  Like any true-blooded Grinnellian, I would like to take this opportunity to say that I have indeed been thoroughly busy, what with attending weddings, starting a new job at the Iowa Children's Museum, and hanging out with the 34254341234 people who decided to camp out in Iowa City this summer.  It's been fun.

It's also bizarre how much living at home makes me feel like I am in high school again.  I think it's the fact that my mom does my laundry now, and I am now spending all of my time at the Coral Ridge Mall, which is both where the Children's Museum is located and where I used shop to try to find clothes to fit in with the cool kids.     

I have also resumed one of my high school rituals, packing a lunch.  In high school, it was a necessity because the food at the cafeteria was pretty gross and not good for being a vegetarian.  Now, at the mall, I have slightly more options for food at the food court, but I often only have fifteen minutes to eat a meal during my break.  Plus, I get to take along this sweet lunch box.  Oh yeah, it's from one of my mom's Pathology Conferences.

I get really bored easily with sandwiches, so I like to take leftovers in tupperware containers.  There are certain dishes that are good to take along, like this tofu and shiitake mushroom stir fry.  It is filling and has a pleasant aroma.  I once made the mistake of packing a raddish salad, which made the entire music hallway smell like an Iowan corn field after a seeding of manure.  I'm not sure if my friends I was eating with at the time have forgiven me.  

Tofu and Shiitake Mushroom Stir Fry
Adopted from Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian


1 lb firm tofu
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 chopped, peeled fresh ginger
1 cup sake
2 tbsp. plus more to taste of soy sauce 
1/4 cup chopped scallions or spring garlic


Drain tofu by wrapping it in paper towels and by placing a plate on top of it for a couple of minutes.  Then, cut the tofu into 1/2 inch cubes and set aside.  

To a hot wok or a large sauté pan, add 1 tbsp of the oil and the onions.  When the onions begin to get soft, add the bell pepper and cook for about five minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add another tbsp of oil and add the mushrooms.  Sauté until they are cooked through.  Remove them as well and set aside.  Add the rest of the oil, the garlic and ginger to the pan and cook for thirty seconds.  Add in the tofu and wait for it brown.  Add the wine and 2 tbsp of soy sauce to the pan and wait for it to reduce to about half it's volume.  Add in the pepper, mushroom, onion mixture and cook for another minute.  Add the scallions and soy sauce to taste and serve immediately.  

Happy cooking and I can't wait to hear about your summer.


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