Cooking Experiments: Reses Tofu Pie

So, Halloween 2016 was a bust for me.  I buy all these bags of candy, and I get less than 10 trick-or-treaters.  I’m left with three bags of Reses and Kit-Kats.  I decided to get inventive with the Reses and incorporate them into my next experiment.

I was originally going to follow this recipe

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2013/04/11/secretly-healthy-cappuccino-cloud-cheesecake/

but then I decided to do something different altogether.  I mean, a Reses Tofu Pie sounded delicious and somewhat healthier than normal pie, right?

I had no crust, of course, and instead of coffee, I added in chopped up Reses peanut butter cups (they were the orange Halloween versions, hence the orange color in the final product).  I didn’t have a food processor at the time, so I used a potato masher for the tofu.

The end result did not turn out so well.  It was delicious, but it looked like cat vomit.  It was watery and the slices didn’t hold their shape.  Admittedly, this was the one time I didn’t press the tofu beforehand, so that’s probably something.  This experiment wound up in the trash.

It was also around that time that I found out that tofu isn’t paleo at all.  As such, my tofu experimentation came to an end.  It was time to move on to other things.

Cooking Experiments: Gluten Free Curries

If there was one food that I missed having in Japan, it was curry.  Since I’ve moved on my own, I had started craving it.  I bought brand curry, but found out that it had gluten in it, so I had to toss them (painful for me, as I can’t stand throwing out food, even if it is curry paste).  This is what began my explorations into gluten free curry.  Unfortunately, as of right now, I can’t find the website that had the base recipe.

My first batch had lamb, soy sauce, chicken broth, purple potatoes, onions, carrots, chopped apples, garam masala, curry powder, balsamic vinegar, ketchup packets, and tapioca flour.  The lamb tasted alright, but the fat on it really dispersed into the mixture.  Potatoes and carrots were done right, but I later found out that potatoes aren’t paleo.  I must have needed more than 2 tsp of tapioca flour, as the roux wasn’t thick enough.  Apples were soft, so that was also good.  I added it on top of caulirice, but I found that it tasted a lot better on its own.

The second batch (the featured image) had tofu, beef broth, coconut milk, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, enoki mushrooms, onions, tapioca flour, a readjustment of spices, mirin, and balsamic vinegar.  It wasn’t as good as the last one.  The potatoes and carrots were the only good parts.  The tofu texture and the flavor of the mushrooms ruined the batch.  Those were two ingredients I would not use again.

After that, I took a break from curry.  I’ll do something with a little less exotic ingredients next time.

 

Cooking Experiments: Eggs with Yogurt

This experiment started with a misunderstanding.  One of my cousins was telling other family members how great eggs taste with yogurt in it.  That was what I misheard.  In actuality, it was sour cream mixed with eggs.

So, how did this odd combination turn out?

It took a bit of effort to make.  I added plain Greek yogurt and added stevia to sweeten the eggs.  I had to stir vigorously for the mix to blend.  The results weren’t that great.  The eggs were chewy and the flavors did not blend that well together.  It was around that time that I found out what I had misheard.

Now that I think about it, it was pretty strange to think that yogurt would go with eggs.  Then again, delicious things have been made from strange ideas before.  Fried pickles is the first thing that comes to my mind.

What strange, delicious ideas do you like?

Cooking Experiments: Maple Balsamic Tofu

I wanted to try to turn tofu into a savory dinner, and I thought a marinade would be the best way to go.  I mixed maple syrup, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar together and dipped the tofu slices in.  I pan fried the slices and sprinkled Italian spice on top.

The texture was good.  Like with the tofu French toast, it depends on how thick or thin you slice the tofu.  The tofu absorbed the marinade, but the aside from the Italian spice, it didn’t have any real taste.  I did press the tofu beforehand, as I do with all pan fried tofu, so that wasn’t what went wrong.  I think what went wrong was that I was supposed to let the tofu soak in the marinade for a long period of time instead of just dipping it like it was egg for the tofu French toast.

There really isn’t anything more to say about this.  The experiment wasn’t a disaster, but it wasn’t a success either.

Transgender: A Curiosity

I am very careful about disclosing my trans status to certain individuals.  It wasn’t an issue with my family:  they love me for me.  I tell  some friends and coworkers, and they respect my wishes to be identified as male.  So far, I have not received any backlash or hate words.  In fact, when the people I tell aren’t totally accepting, they are curious.

This is a good sign, I think, for individuals as a whole.  Instead of rejecting the idea of differences in people, they are curious about them.  They want to know what it’s like for me as a tranmale.  They want to know what goes on in my head; how I view myself.  Each time people ask me about my status, I feel like I’m in an interview.  I can see it now:  “Interview with a Transman:  A First look into the Mind of One Born with an Opposite Brain”…or something with a less lengthy title.  I don’t mind, though.  I’d like for people to understand me and the trans community in general.  After all, understanding is a step towards acceptance.

However, unlike most individuals, I came out lucky.  95% of my family is accepting of me, which is a given since there have been gay and lesbian members for a long time.  They love me not as a man, woman, or something outside of it, but as a person.  I have also been cautious as to which people I disclose to…but I’m just repeating myself at this point.  To sum it up:  I can’t really speak on behalf of everyone in the trans community.

While others are curious about me, I am also curious about myself.  I’ve read that those born trans have brains that correspond to the gender they identify as.  I have no doubt that I have a male brain (and the extra testosterone from PCOS helps out), but what I’m curious about is how my brain looks under a scan, since I’m both trans and autistic.  Somewhere out there, I think there are doctors that are curious as well.

So, if anyone has any questions about my status, feel free to ask, but keep it nice.  I will answer to the best of my ability.

On Food: Don’t Waste It

Ever since I was young, I was taught to never waste food.  That lesson has been engraved into my being since then.  When you have food that’s still good to eat, you either eat it or give it to someone who can or will eat it.  You don’t throw it out; that’s a waste.

So imagine how I felt when I found three unopened cans of chow mein sitting next to the trash compactor at the apartments.

Where I live, if you want to get rid of something, but want others to have a chance to claim them, you leave them next to the trash compactor.  There, you have a limited amount of time to browse and take what you want before they get tossed by the garbage collectors.  I managed to get a few good pieces of furniture that way.

However, no one had ever left food out before.

If it was any other kind of food, I would not have picked it up, but these were unopened cans.  I checked the expiration dates and saw that they were still good, so why throw them out?  I took them home with me and debated on what to do.  Because of my diet, I could not eat them, even though it would last me for several days.  I did some looking around and decided that the best thing to do would be to donate them.

I found a food collection center and donated the three cans there.  I felt better knowing that the food would not be wasted and that a family in need would have something to eat.

The thing with me is this:  even if the food is unhealthy, if it’s still good, I refuse to throw it out.  I mean, I bought sweetened almond milk by accident instead of the normal unsweetened one.  It’s 60 extra calories per serving + cane sugar; I refuse to throw it out and food collection centers only take packaged or canned food.  The sugar won’t do me any good, but I would rather drink it than throw it out, because I spent money on it, and throwing something out that I bought and is still good would be a waste.

Another case would be the desserts that clients would give to the staff at work.  Even if no one’s eating them, as long as  there isn’t mold growing on them, I wouldn’t throw them out.  My coworkers know this, so when no one has eaten any given items for several days, they would have to do the actual act of throwing them out.

Food isn’t something you can just throw out.  If you can’t eat it, donate it to your local food collection center so another person can eat it.  If you can’t donate it there, find someone close who can take them.  If you can’t do that…well, there’s the dilemma I sometimes face.

“Don’t waste food.”  That simple, yet meaningful phrase is a part of me that will stick with me forever.

Cooking Experiments: Tofu French Toast

I found this website that lists many ways to cook tofu:  http://greatist.com/health/healthy-tofu-recipes

Needless to say, the list was amazing to look through.  The idea of tofu French toast sounded strange, yet doable, so I decided to give it a try.

This is the original recipe:  http://www.care2.com/greenliving/tofu-french-toast-recipe.html

Unlike what the recipe called for, I only used egg and vanilla extract.  The only four I had on me was tapioca flour, and I had no plans on using it for some time since the pancake incident.  I dipped the tofu in the mixture like you would with bread and pan fried them.  When they were done, I sprinkled cinnamon and drizzled maple syrup on it to complete the French toast look.

Like with the cumin tofu, the thicker slices retain the original tofu flavor.  The thinner ones, however, can almost pass as real French toast.  I cooked the leftover egg mixture and added nutmeg, but the spice was overpowering.  I later swapped the nutmeg for stevia, and it turned out slightly better.

This is a nice substitute for French toast, but even though it’s tasty, it’s not that filling.

Cooking Experiments: Cumin Tofu

A quick word about my hunger:  it’s ravenous since I’ve started working out and eating gluten free.  The easiest solution was to simply eat more protein, but when I saw that I was eating five egg whites in addition to my two pieces of turkey bacon, I knew I was going to raise the grocery bill up.

As such, I started looking around online for ways to help quell this monstrous hunger.  I’ve added chili powder to eggs, added 1/2 grapefruit to my breakfast, added a little bit of dairy (not paleo, I know, but it’s still healthy fat that has vitamin D); nothing seemed to work.  I found this website and thought that tofu would be the new way to go:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/278340.php

Of course, I later found out that tofu is NOT paleo, and I dropped it altogether.  Before then, however, I got a few experiments in.

This is the original Cumin and Honey Tofu:  http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Recipe-Baked-Tofu-7927710

Now, I didn’t have thyme, dill, or actual honey at the time.  Instead of honey, I used some packets of KFC’s honey spread leftover from work.  Instead of dicing it into cubes, I sliced the tofu into strips and I brushed the liquid mixture on them instead of drizzling them.

The thinner strips were a bit tough and tasted a bit burnt.  The thicker ones are softer, but retain their original tofu flavor.  Both versions were tasty, though, and this would make a good snack.  You could almost pass it for jerky.

Cooking Experiments: Gluten Free…what is this?

So…um…this was supposed to be gluten free fruit pulp pancakes.

I had the leftover raspberry/guava pulp leftover from the tea, so I looked around to see what I could do with it.  One idea that appealed to me was fruit pulp pancakes.  I found this and thought I could branch out from here:  http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11057/use-leftover-juice-pulp-to-make-gluten-free-pancakes.html

I used around 2 cups of pulp, 2-3 cups tapioca flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1-2 eggs, 1/2-1 cup almond milk, and…the above image happened.

Gray, wet, rubbery, stretchy, and practically inedible.  Guess who’s not pitching new ideas to iHop?

I tried two of them, one with maple syrup.  The syrup didn’t help any, and my appetite was gone for several hours.  Even looking at this is making me lose my appetite.  This…mistake…would be right at home at an elementary school science project, but not in the kitchen.

What went wrong?  Was it the improvised measurements?  The pulp?  The tapioca flour?  Almond milk instead of water or normal milk?  Personally, I think it was the choice of using tapioca flour.  The fruit pulp was nice and red before adding the flour, then it turned gray.

Failures in “Cooking Experiments” were going to happen eventually, but I never thought it would be on this level.  To this day, this is the biggest failure in the kitchen yet.  It will be some time before I attempt any variation of the gluten free pancake.

So, experts in cooking, where did Nazo go wrong and how can it be avoided in the future?

Cooking Experiments: Guava Raspberry Tea

At the time of making this, I was craving pancakes.  I wanted to attempt to make my own gluten free pancakes, but I was also curious to see if I could make my own fruit flavored syrup.  I thought about what fruit flavor combination would work, and my gut told me guava and raspberry.  I looked up how to make syrup here:  http://www.howto-simplify.com/2010/09/tips-tricks-making-simple-fruit-syrup.html

I wanted to see if I could get away with using stevia instead of sugar.  It did not work.  Apparently, sugar has the properties needed to make syrup thick.  Stevia does not have such properties.

After straining the boiled down mixture, I found that the liquid portion made a surprisingly good tea.  Here’s what I did:

  • 1 Thai guava
  • 2 containers of 24 oz raspberries
  • 1 cup stevia
  1. Dice guava
  2. Get a large pot and add 2-4 cups water; bring to a boil
  3. Add raspberries and diced guava; bring the heat to low and let simmer for several minutes; until the raspberries have broken up
  4. Pour mixture through a strainer and into a pitcher.
  5. Add enough water to fill the pitcher completely and stir
  6. Serve hot or cold

Notes:  I didn’t have a strainer at the time, so I used the colander part of my steam pot.  I also didn’t think to use that same pot to cook the fruit down, so I used a small pot to make two separate batches.  These small batches included 1-2 cups water, 1/2 guava, and 12 oz raspberries.

In hindsight, I should have used less stevia; too sweet.  I like it best served hot, but my coworkers like it cold.  I shared it with them and one of them took a real liking to it; said that it “gave her the sugar boost she needed”.

I might have accidentally made a new energy drink instead of a tea.  Definitely needed less stevia.

Now, I had all this leftover fruit pulp afterwards.  What did I do with it?  I used it in the next Cooking Experiment, of course.

…And it was a disaster.

To be continued.