Whose life isn't hectic?

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Well, I apologize to everyone for not writing personally to you all. It has been fairly hectic lately. I've been working on a translation this week that probably qualifies as my first real professional translation - somewhat more academic than I'm used to seeing. It was a challenge (and I still need to proofread it), but I enjoyed it and besides, it's makes it all that more satisfying to see the accomplished work.

Also, the woman I am replacing will be leaving soon. Thankfully, I came early enough to get a very thorough training from her, but I will still really miss her when she leaves. Mark and I are hosting her going-away dinner this Friday. Then Saturday morning is a breakfast for some visiting friends, and Saturday night is a "French Speakers" dinner... Plus, in 3 weeks we're moving - ahhh!

Mark got his first haircut here last weekend - we found this little place [in the "Hadar"] and this guy was a real work of art. First his apprentice made a feeble attempt at cutting Mark's hair. When the barber was done with his other customer, he came over to Mark, shaved a bit of the bottom, then cut some more of the top, then shaved a bit more off the bottom, then cut a bit more off the top... and whenever he had the scissors in his hand they were moving - like Edward Scissorhands or something, continuously snipping - even if they weren't actually cutting any hair! It was very entertaining, and he actually got a pretty good haircut, too.

We have just kicked-off what is called the "Extra Year of Service", where we volunteer in offices/departments other than our own, in our off time. Then, in February all of the hours are compiled and given as a gift to the Universal House of Justice [for whom we work] as an Ayyam'i'ha gift. Mark and I are volunteering in the Archives. It'll be fairly routine work, but then the Archives is an exciting place to be. And besides, once we move we will be about 3 minutes from the Archives Building! :-) so much for purity of motive...

I would like to make a request: I have my recipe box here, but none of my cookbooks. I do go on the internet for recipes from time to time, but I'd love to get recipes from you, too! I am especially looking for ways to make tofu yummy (please, no dissertations on the impossibility of this task!), vegetable casseroles, and especially heart-healthy dishes, especially desserts. Mark and I both need to make an effort to keep our hearts happy. Anyone have a recipe for Indian Satay w/ tofu? I had one in my 1,001 (low-fat?) Vegetarian Recipes cookbook that we loved. Also, as "winter" descends on us, I'd love bread/biscuit recipes.

Well, my dear ones, you are constantly in our thoughts and prayers. Please, please remind your children that we love and miss them. Take care of yourselves and have a wonderful week as you gear up for the Christmas holidays. I've been surprised to see as many Christmas trees as I have here - not a ton, but you do see them here! And Happy Birthday to Trang!

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Hey, Sis!

Tofu isn't impossible to make yummy. Remember, it takes on the flavor of what you cook with it, so here's an adaptation of a chicken recipe, from my Edinburgh collection:

1. Tofu, Apricot & Walnut Sautee

You will need:

A top notch sautee pan and several prep dishes

Dijon mustard
White truffle infused olive oil
Butter (a word about the heart healthiness of this choice later)

1/4 lb. Tofu
Four firm apricots - they should be slightly unripe, the kind that have a chalky mouthfeel. You'd never eat them this way.

A quarter cup walnut halves
Salt. I like flaked Sal de Mer from the Normandy coast; if you can get Normandy sea washed butter, that is all the better.

A quarter cup of pitted dates. I like the kind that say "Eat Me" on the box - but only because of the box.

1/4 cup honey - milder the better. Domestic clover fed honey works well; Rarewara honey would work. Avoid buckwheat honey or any dark honey.

Finely ground cayenne powder



1. Cube the tofu into chunks that will fit on a fork. This is a matter of taste; some like distinct, big cubes of tofu (me, for instance!), some like crumbs.

2. Heat two or three tablespoons of butter in a pan, until hot but not brown.

3. Cut the unripe apricots into eight sections.

4. Pour the honey into a bowl and add mustard to taste - I add two tablespoons. Heat over a double boiler or in a microwave. The mixture should run almost like water.

5. Toast the walnuts in an oven on gas mark 3 for fifteen minutes; sautee the tofu and apricots in butter until the flesh of the appricots is tender. You may need to lid the sautee and let them braise in their own condensation for a bit. When I used chicken for this, I'd sautee the chicken breast separately from the apricots. Add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper powder during sautee. This is, again, a matter of taste. I don't add enough so that the mixture tastes at all hot - just brighter.

6. Add the toasted walnuts and dates to the sauteed tofu and apricots. Sautee for a few more minutes to let the flavors mingle. The dates should start to melt and make everything sticky; that's fine. Try and break up the bigger chunks of melted dates and get them dispersed throughout the sautee.

7. Pour the hot mustard/honey mixture over the sauteed tofu, apricots and toasted walnuts. Lid and braise in the hot honey for a further five minutes.

8. Remove from heat, remove the lid and allow to cool. It's done when the tofu, walnuts and apricots seem glazed. The dates will have largely dissolved.

9. Sprinkle sal de mer flakes across it to taste and mount with truffle oil (more on this below).

Four servings, if part of a larger meal. Serve with sticky rice (Thai Jasmine, maybe, or an Italian Arborrio).


A word about butter:

Recent research has shown that butter is far healthier than we thought. The truly despicable culprits in our diets have turned out to be trans-fats. These dastardly substances are anything that has "partially hydrogenated" it it's title, especially palm kernel or coconut oil. Margarine is so unhealthy that the FDA now recommends that you completely remove it from your diet and eat only butter.

Many ills that have been attributed exclusively to fat are drawn to broadly. Butter is a relatively neutral fat, healthier for you than lard, far healthier than margarine or Crisco and less healthy than olive oil.

Butter, like bananas or truffles, has a unique flavor and aroma that is irreplaceable. The trouble with butter is mostly in its caloric density. It is 9 calories per gram, as opposed to the apricots in this recipe, which have only 6 calories per gram.

So the secret to eating healthily but still eating butter is the same as it is with all things: eat less and exercise.


A word about truffle oil:

Truffle oil must be used sparingly. When you mount the truffle oil in this recipe, use maybe a teaspoon for the entire recipe. Sprinkle it.

Don't store truffle oil open to the air, don't put it in an atomizer, don't keep it outside of a refirgerator and don't keep it too long once you've opened it. Always use fresh truffle oil.

Bon appetit!

- Nathan

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This page contains a single entry by Mara published on December 9, 2003 1:27 PM.

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