Monthly Archives: March 2016

Lemon pepper tofu salad (plus, where have I been?)

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Sigh. It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? To be honest, when I wrote my last post I kind of knew I wasn’t really back and gung-ho for sure. I didn’t even bother promoting it on Reddit, Facebook, anything, and I just kinda let it die.

December and January were hard times for me, to be honest. I was going through some personal issues and it made it hard for me to focus on anything but work. Writing blogs felt weird — I’m not a fan of discussing specific personal matters on my blog, but putting on this cheery front seemed dishonest. The blog became more of a headache than a fun hobby, and the recipe writing process was starting to get really intense and overwhelming for me.

Most of my personal issues are aside (and everyone around me has even noticed that I seem a lot happier, which is a bonus). But even then, the truth is I’m a little unsure about Urban Garlic’s future — at least in the short term.

I am still working on the e-book, and in fact have written out a transcript for the actual text. I’m now working on doing a few test runs with the recipe before planning a few photo “party” days (when it gets a little warmer I want to do a trip out to my parents’ place to have a patio party with my vegan food).

Aside from that, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve been treating UG like something it isn’t: a “professional” blog. I’ve given in to a lot of blogger rhetoric about how blogs are supposed to treat this blog like a business if I want it to grow like a business. The fact is, I don’t want to get rich off my blog. I want people to read it, yes, but I have a good job and am only at the bottom of a fairly tall ladder to climb.

When I started UG, I was at a full-time job that made me feel unfulfilled and didn’t challenge me. I used my brain so little during the day, and blogging made me feel productive. I was subbing for every dance class at my studio that I could just to latch onto some happiness. Now, my job is not only exciting and fun and exactly what I wanted to do when I got into journalism, it’s tough work. Writing a blog post during business hours isn’t exactly something I can (or should) pull off.

But I know I don’t want to give up the blog. So I’m just re-thinking how I approach this. Sticking to a regular schedule would be nice, but I think I need to give myself time to think of what what schedule is. Lately we’ve been in a real habit of being super productive on Sundays, so I think allowing myself some time to write blogs on Sundays — carve out a chunk of time when I’m super-energetic and motivated and the food is still fresh in my mind.

As for what will be on this blog besides just recipes, I’m thinking it’s time to start letting Urban Garlic be a “regular blog” on top of being a recipe blog. I’d like to be able to share a little bit about what I’ve done with my day/week on top of the super-structured pieces. Frankly, when I write “how to” and advice posts, I feel like I’m pretending to be someone else (read: someone with her shit together). I’d really love to just talk about things that are on my mind, which mostly still revolve around work, exercise, health and beauty, my cat (!!!!) and, duh, food.

Anyway, I wanted to thank anyone who actually got through that wall of text. I told myself I wouldn’t over-explain, but, well… it’s me.

So you know how I mentioned we’re really productive on Sundays? This salad was the result of those productive Sundays. We “slept in” (8:20 is sleeping in for us), had a nice quick breakfast and then suddenly I got an urge to get rid of a bunch of clothes, clean my room, re-organize, well… everything. In between, we made ourselves a quick but hearty salad. Proof that those “clean out the fridge” salads can still have a great theme and flavour.

This salad admittedly was quick because we already had the quinoa in the fridge we wanted to use up, but you can also let that boil while prepping everything else.

Since it’s getting sunnier and milder, I was really in the mood for lemon pepper — my favourite summer flavour (I don’t really like vinegar-heavy dressings, I’m more into lemon). This salad is definitely heavy on the lemon, so bear that in mind. You could also replace the lemon and pepper with equal parts cumin and lime for an interesting taste!

Lemon pepper tofu salad

    • Prep time: 20 minutes
    • Cook time: 20 minutes
    • Yield: Two servings
    • Allergen info: Gluten-free, nut-free depending on vegan parm recipe

Ingredients

Lemon pepper tofu

  • Four 1cm thick slices of extra-firm tofu (pressed, sliced down the shorter side)
  • 1/2 lemon+some zest
  • 1 tsp cornstarch, arrowroot starch or potato starch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Cracked peppercorns (optional, if you’re feeling extra fancy — use instead of ground pepper)

Lemon tahini dressing

  • Juice from one whole lemon (about 3 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • Small drizzle extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 small garlic cloves, minced

Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 2-3 fistfuls of spinach or mixed greens
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • 1/3 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • Vegan parm, optional (I used the nut-and-seed parm recipe from Oh She Glows’ Caesar salad recipe)

Method

  1. Prepare the quinoa first, as this will take longest. We didn’t add any extra herbs or spices to the quinoa, we just salt the water. Prepare according to your own preferred method (we use a rice cooker so we can leave it be).
  2. For the tofu: after pressing (about 10-20 minutes) and slicing, mix the spices together with the starch in a bowl. Rub the tofu with the juice from a lemon (about 1/2 of the lemon will coat both sides) and then dust both sides with the spice mix, as well as the zest and pepper flakes if using.
  3. Cook on a countertop grill for about 10 minutes, or a well-oiled, treated cast-iron pan or BBQ for five minutes per side.
  4. Mix the dressing in a small bowl while tofu is grilling.
  5. Assemble the salads (as you can see, we sliced the tofu into little triangles of grilled deliciousness).

Enjoy this salad — it really was the perfect way to welcome this warm weather and fill me up and fuel the rest of my productive day (which included hand-washing some clothes, re-organizing my entire room, and yes, writing this blog post). What recipes make you think of spring and summer? What productive thing are you avoiding doing right now? Let me know in the comments!