Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tofu Making Experience

I am still on eating little, so I have to make the most of what is on my dish. Unhappy with the sweteened store bought soymilk, I started to make homemade soy milk and then, tofu. My main guide to tofu making is a book by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, The Book of Tofu, while an inspiring book, I find it difficult to follow the recipes, with instructions to wash dishes while waiting the milk to curdle (!). I have also surfed on the internet for recipes, but I couldn't find a forum to discuss the basics. After making a few times, and now following the instructions so closely, I finally found out that I didn't really need a recipe for soy milk or for tofu. The quality of the soybeans may determine the type of milk, and therefore, it is hard even to give out quantities in the recipe. So, my own recipe for soymilk and tofu are as follow: Soymilk: for 1 cup of dry soybeans, it yields for 1 liter or more, depending on how much water you want to add, or how rich milk you like. Soak beans overnight. Wash beans thoroughly next day to eliminate impurities and some of the skin. Put 1 lilter or more water to boil in a kettle. Puree beans with some hot water using a blender for 1 or 2 minutes. You can either dump puree into a pot and cook it or you can strain it first in a cotton sack and then cook the milk. In either case, you let it boil and then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring the whole time so not to burn on the bottom. If you cook the puree, obviously, strain it later. Some recipes tell you to wash the okara (solids) with more water and press it firmly until the last drop. I find it difficult, so I skip this step. Tofu: In a 4-quart stock pot with almost 4-quart fresh soymilk just cooked, I stir a solution 2 teaspoons of magnesium sulfate (that's what I can find in my town)in a cup of water. The biggest secret is not to dump the whole solution at once, as I read somewhere that excess coagulant will make the tofu bitter. I do it in three steps. I pour some while swishing the hot milk (off the hot burner), and then put the top on. After a minute, I pour some more, if needed. I go pouring until the milk is all curdled. Attention: it curdles rapidly, but it is best to wait 2-6 minutes to allow the coagulant to work. I had times that I threw away the coagulant, some other times, I had to make some more. As soon as the milk is curdles, I take out most of the whey, so I can laddle the curds with minimum water possible into a forming container lined with cheese cloth. I wrap the cloth into the container, place some weight on top and wait about 5 to 10 minutes, until most of the water had been drained. I quickly put the whole thing into a basin with cold water in attempt to eliminate the taste of coagulant. If firm enough, I take the tofu out of the cheese cloth and deposit into another container with fresh water and place it in the refrigerator for later consumption. Of course, it can be eaten warm, but it is best cold, topped with green onions, grated ginger, and soy sauce. To your health! Obs: If you want soy milk ricotta, just add half of the coagulant at once to rich hot soymilk and let it sit uncovered for 20 minutes.It may turn out ricotta (make sure you drain it and wash it in fresh water) or just pudding. In this case, you have made a silken tofu.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Frugal Living

Wednesday, 1:30 pm: I stopped by Dona Rosa’s fence and delivered pieces of Brazilian style fruitcake (made with prunes, raisins, guava paste, condensed milk, muscatel wine, ground almond ) and puba cake. The last one is made of mandioc roots left 7 days in water to be fermented, then ground, and dripped to dry. I was a little bit suspicious of the puba, as I don’t know I can trust home fermented food. If any weird bacteria gets in? The other package of the same goodies went to my other neighbor who was at home, snoozing. Even though I woke him up, he thanked me for the cake and for an hour conversation we had under a big flamboyant tree. Sunny, slightly windy, and dry day. I felt fortunate to cheer a friend who had his wife away taking care of her hospitalized sister. Only where time doesn’t cost much is that I can have the priviledge of spending so much of it, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week. Having times like these, disallow us to take vacations. Our holidays are ingrained in our day-to-day activities. Not that we don’t need rest – but we don’t have the need to go away, to take a trip, to see new places and new people. What we like are these old places with old friends. They are not old friends of mine, as I’ve met them not too long ago. However, for knowing each other’s struggles and victories that have the feeling of closeness. We all agree that the best thing in life is friendship. If our time doesn’t cost much, I can afford spend more of it. We don’t think of time in terms of investments and returns, but in letting the life goes by beside people that we love. The big secret of having frugal living is not valuing life like a commodity, of wanting more out of it, to have the maximum profit. It’s the opposite. It is expecting nothing out of life, but to have it pass by. If I don’t feel I am entitled to possess things, to experience emotions, to collect memories; if I don’t feel I am entitled to have life that is when we start getting life. As part of my pursue for simple living, I also have chosen to eat less, but correctly. I was tired of feeling sick after gorging, and gaining weight as a consequence. I am not overweight in any sense, but be a gluton seems immoral, in face of world’s hunger. My biggest challenge is to cut down on my expenses on meat, trading for cheaper fruits and vegetables. That’s where frugal living comes in. As part of my plan to pay less and get the same, I attend to exercise classes for free done at community centers, five times a week. At 8:00 p.m. I turn off the TV, go to the bedroom for devotionals. I still do other things, such as writing, getting information on the internet, but I don’t surf, as I think it is a waste of time. I end up sleeping early and wake up before the sun. I love it: to beat the sun. My next project is to use less cleaning products, specially laundry soaps. I plan to use my homemade soap instead, and wash the clothes less often, as my habit is to do several loads a day. I keep my trips to the town to a minimum, so I can save not only on fuel, but on any risk related to a car accident. Keeping risks to a bare minimum is a great way to save money. Frugal living also allows me to enjoy times of silence – for being alone is one of greatest gifts we get – and it is still free.