Kitchen Adventures: Tasty Tofu

Kitchen Adventures: Tasty Tofu

Yes, it exists. I love tofu in any form, but this recipe is the only one I can make and want to eat the tofu raw, and a few pieces usually get sacrificed to “taste testing” before they can reach the pan.

All it takes is mixing a few items together:
2 tbps Mirin (a sweet Japanese seasoning made from rice alcohol – keep this in your cupboard for tons of recipes!)
1 tbsp sesame oil (hint: you can get this cheap at the Christmas Tree Shop! I use it basically every day.)
1 tsp Tamari (soy sauce)
1 tsp Teriyaki sauce (I used the low sodium version)

Chopped garlic

Cut up the tofu into small cubes and pour the sauce over the top. If you have time, try to marinade for an hour or two, stirring every once in a while. If you’re in a rush, just let this sit while you prep everything else.

You can either add the extra sauce to the pan after, or use it on a side dish – I threw mine, along with some extra Mirin and Tamari, over some asparagus I was cooking at the same time. Incredible!

What’s your favorite way to give tofu some flavor?

Keeping score

Alternate title: Picking your battles

I know who I’m voting for next Tuesday.  I’ve known for a long time – even before the state primaries.  I am passionate about politics because I’ve seen how it can have an impact – positive and negative – on my life.

There’s nothing wrong with being an undecided voter.  There IS something wrong with not voting.  Whoever wins on Tuesday will get to shape your town/ state/ country’s future, and it’s up to you to weigh in – even if you end up having to write in a name.

But if you’re still struggling because it’s hard to get beyond the talking points and tell who really believes in the same things as you, I feel you.  However, there are sites out there that will show you how people in office have voted, how candidates have filled out surveys, and what you can expect from people if they win on November 6.  Think about what issues are important in your life, and then find the candidate that matches your priorities – chances are, one is better than the other.

  • If you care about a woman’s right to choose, check out the NARAL Pro-Choice America Voter Guide.  No matter where you fall on the issue, the facts about records and statements are here.
  • If you care about food politics, look at this Food Policy Action voter guide.  You can see a lifetime score for current officials to help you understand how they vote on issues like ending domestic and global hunger, fighting for humane treatment of farm animals, etc.
  • If you care about the environment, check out the League of Conservation Voters Environmental Scorecard – one of the best scorecards out there with tons of information about who is standing up for our air, water, and earth… and who is not.
  • If you care about civil liberties, head over to the ACLU to check out their scorecard regarding key votes.
  • If you care about labor issues, see who AFSCME has endorsed for their stance of this topic.
  • If you care about health and financial security, look at AARP’s collection of candidates’ stances in their own words.

What other scorecards to you use to determine who gets your vote?

Still don’t like what you see?  Then I hope to see your name on the ballot next time!

PS: Not sure where you actually cast your ballot?  Find your polling place here >>

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

That’s me as Rosie the Riveter at a Halloween party this weekend. I realized on my way there that this is the third year in a row I’ve portrayed an awesome lady leader (or symbol) with my Halloween costume.

2012: Rosie the Riveter
2011: Cleopatra
2010: Julia Child (in this same shirt – three cheers for the all-purpose costume!)

Maybe I have a type? 😉

Since we went to a house party last night, I was relieved to see a binder full of women on my way to the gym this afternoon. My Halloween wouldn’t have been complete without it!

What awesome costumes did you wear or see this year?

Halloween dangers and double standards

Ah, Halloween – the time when you can be anything, as long as it’s slutty.

Don’t get me wrong – if you’ve waiting all year to express some element of your personality that you would regularly hide, and that part of your personality likes to show off its cleavage and wear super short skirts, then you should go for it!  But Halloween is still the time of the super double standard, as this website (contains a swear in the title, FYI!) so clearly demonstrates.  Men can be lumberjacks – women can only be sexy lumberjacks.  Or sexy nuns, astronauts, teachers, etc.

Even worse: the way that this holiday has been co-opted to reinforce gender stereotypes even for kids.  Even as our society continues to come to terms with the fact that some women might not dream of a wedding day with a white dress, and some men might want to wear a skirt now and then (I freaking love skirts, and can’t imagine people not wanting to get in on this fun!), or the fact that some people might like to make their choices about outfits, hairstyles, relationships, and bodies without fitting into some gender norm, I think that Halloween was supposed to be an escape from that.  A time to see if the skirt really does make you feel more like yourself, a time to imagine what it might be like to grow a beard, or have a cape and pretend to fly.

When I was a kid, my close group of girl friends and I took this to an extreme:

  • One year, my friends and I were Miss America contestants.  I was Miss Arizona because she reminded me of my summer camp counselor who was the best thing since sliced bread.  We bought 80’s prom dresses from the local thrift store and made sashes – I still have mine.  I wore sneakers under my long dress – how else could I be expected to get all the candy people were dishing out?
  • The next year, we were boys.  Just boys.  I can recall lots of boys coming to my house with their shirts stuffed and skirts waving, so it seemed only fair to see what the fuss was about on their end.  At this point, I had a super short haircut anyway (not by choice…), and our interpretation of being a boy involved flannel shirts, baseball hats, jeans, and fake black eyes made from the contents of our mediocre makeup kits.  Not sure why, but hey, it was fun!  We ended up in the parking lot of our elementary school after trick-or-treating ended, and I remember wondering if people passing by would think we were actually boys instead of dressed up.  Would it matter?

Answer: no.  It shouldn’t.  I really hope we can step away from stereotypical gender roles – as a country, society, community, generation, you name it! – and make Halloween back into something fun.  It could be an example of personal expression and acceptance.  There’s literally nothing to lose here and everything to gain.

On the bright side, there are already cool people like the parents mentioned on this blog who want their kids to have all the opportunities (and colors and stickers) available, instead of limiting girls to being butterflies and boys to being tigers.  And on the flip side, there are people like this:

Do me a favor: When you see an awesome kid trick-or-treating this Halloween, consider what message you can send them about who they are and how they show themselves to the world.  Are they clever, in addition to being pretty?  Are they “so cool” in addition to being strong?  Or are they just awesome for taking a chance and trying something new (especially if they skip the store and make it themselves??)?  Maybe all of the above.

Binders of women

It exists, it’s in my building, and it’s not as easy to talk about as you might think.

My friend Priti is doing some great work here in MA, helping to get women elected and engaged in all parts of the political process.  So when I heard that she had the “binder full of women,” I knew it was in good hands.  Good non-partisan hands – because equal opportunity of women in government is an issue that deserves discussion beyond this Presidential campaign, beyond this year – it’s something we should all be concerned about year-round, and working to solve even when it’s not in the news for a hot second.  Why should it be amazing to have 42% of government appointees be women when they make up more than half of the electorate?  This is a question for our time, not just the next 18 days.

Check out a clip of her on CNN here to see what’s really at stake when we have to make binders full of women’s resumes to prove that qualified women exist.

Here’s a Mount Holyoke woman truly making history – and making sure that the change she works toward extends well beyond one sound bite at a debate.  My hat’s off to you, Priti!

Happy Mountain Day!

Today is the cheeriest of fall days, the most unexpected gift from the MHC gods (aka Lynn Pasquerella and the weather forecasters) – it’s Mountain Day!

Facebook alerts substituted for pealing chapel bells this morning to let me and my fellow Mount Holyoke College ladies know that this informal holiday is upon us – and it’s about time.  This holiday usually takes place in late September or early October, and we were all growing a bit desperate to hear that it was here.  In celebration, all classes at MHC will be canceled so people can hike our mini mountain, enjoy ice cream at the top, and generally relax in the splendor of fall in the Pioneer Valley.

The grown up version, however, goes a little like this:

“HAPPY MOUNTAIN DAAAAY! Do you want to go get ice cream and lunch later?”
“No, sorry… I’m too busy changing the world.”

Whomp whomp.  I’m bringing her ice cream later anyway.

For more on Mountain Day and why it means so much to me that I made it the topic of my commencement address, check out my previous blog posts here and here.

Happy Mountain Day, MoHos everywhere!  May your hike be sunny and awesome.

Fabulous fall weekend

Before my cold got utterly out of control, I had an awesome weekend in NH visiting with family and enjoying all the cheesiness that the granite state has to offer.  Here’s my weekend in photos – not pictured is my lovely family, the amazing food my aunts cooked, our fun trips to the store (including ordering an iPhone!), and the bajillion cups of tea I drank.

Awesome vintage books at the library book sale

At the lake house. Not pictured: the 26 family members laughing in the house.

Spiritsong drummers at the pumpkin festival featuring my mom and some enthusiastic fans

A lesson from the girl scout camp that might be the site of an upcoming family wedding – stay tuned!

Goffstown Pumpkin Regatta – more on this later!







Music Monday: What are YOU listening to?

As the days get shorter and the evenings get longer, I need some music to put some pep in my step.  So today, I want to know – what are you listening to/watching for great music and music videos these days?  What gets you out of bed in the morning, provides the soundtrack for your day, or mellows you out at the end of a busy day?  Leave a comment below and you might see your song featured here on a future Monday!

Kitchen Adventures: Autumn in a nutshell

An acorn squash shell, to be exact.

My obsession with simply-cooked acorn squash has me buying them in multiples every time I go to the store.  Settling down to one for dinner (or as part of dinner) is the perfect way to end a blustery fall day.

All it takes is a small acorn squash, goat cheese, and brown sugar.  Start by cutting the squash in half, and scooping out the seeds and the pulp with a spoon.  Then put both halves of the squash cut-side down in a small microwave-safe casserole dish (mine is about 10″ across) with 1/2 inch or so of water in the bottom.  The goal is to give the squash enough water to steam, but not so much that it will take a long time to get hot.

Cook on high for 5 minutes, then poke the outside of the squash to see if it’s soft.  My small squash tonight took 15 minutes to cook fully, but it’s a good idea to check every 5 minutes and then just add more time to the clock if it needs more.  The inside should be bright orange-yellow and the outside should be tender when poked for it to be done to my standards.

Remove from the dish, top with goat cheese, salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of brown sugar.  And voila – you’ve got dinner!  This is also really good reheated the next day, but I’ve only made it that far once and have succumbed to eating the whole thing every other time.  If it’s all you eat for dinner, you might be hungry later – this dish is only worth 3 PointsPlus (aka super healthy).

What’s your favorite fall food?

What 27 means to me

“Did the world change when you turn 27?”  I asked my best friend when her birthday arrived last week.

“Not yet!” she said.

25 meant I could run for the House (and it spurred me to start this blog!).
At 26, I knew that it would be a little cheaper to rent a car.
But what’s 27 all about?

Here’s how my 27th year is going to be different:

  • The Price is Right will have male models.  It’s groundbreaking for the show, which I’ve loved since I spent all my childhood sick days watching it, and I can’t wait to see if the boys can point at watches, jetskis, and jacuzzis as well as the ladies.  I’ll have to find out the next time I hurt my back and have to stay on the couch all day.
  • I will no longer have a “dumb phone” – I’m getting an iPhone later this month and will no longer need other people to tell me when the next bus is coming or how late the library is open.
  • I will stop burning my mouth on food that is too hot to eat.  Laugh if you want, but I have a terrible tendency to rush into things, including food, with an intensity that leaves me burnt… literally.  I would like to dedicate 27 to slowing down a bit.  Maybe then I can finally learn how to drink a hot chocolate without my tongue going numb after the first sip.
  • I will give back to my community.  I’ve been in Somerville for more than two years – now that I finally vote here, it’s time to up my game and contribute to my neighborhood.  First stop: canvassing for Elizabeth Warren this weekend.  Anyone want to join?
  • I will write even more letters.  Someone has to keep the post office in business!
  • I will finish my first half marathon.  Not sure when or for whom, but watch this space because it’s definitely going to happen.
  • I will leave the country.  (And then come back.)  I had to use my passport to transfer my driver’s license from NH to MA, and it made me realize that it’s been far too long since I went abroad.  Even if it’s just to Canada, I am getting outta here while I’m still young, just so I don’t get stuck in one place too long.
  • I will make each day count.  Seriously.  I know that I won’t be twenty-seven – or twenty-anything – forever, and I want to live it up.  If that means board games, cook-offs, singing kareoke until I’m hoarse, working late on causes that matter, riding buses up and down the Eastern seaboard to see my best friends, waiting in line at crowded bars, or some combination of all of those – I plan to make this year count.  You only get to be 27 once – I plan to make it a life-changing year so I have something to say when people ask “What exactly is being 27 all about?”