let’s talk turkey – NOT!

let’s talk turkey – NOT!

Issue 4
November 17, 2011

By normal circumstances, a week before Thanksgiving I have food on the brain. This year however, I’ve also been writing for GoodFoodWorld.com (since last February), and food – in one form or another- has felt like a constant companion.

Recently I’ve been even more inspired because this past October 24th was designated as “Food Day”. There’s a national push to bring cooking real food back into home and hearth across America and it’s all been brilliantly timed with the arrival of Michael Pollan’s 2nd addition of Food Rules. 

Everyone’s talking about cooking and the spoken wisdom is that the road to health and greater well being is paved with occupying one’s kitchen through making home cooked real foods (and I do not disagree). I am energized with a new hope for America. After 30 years of healthful cooking and co-authoring a health/diet book (The Diamond Diet) over 10 years ago, the time is ripe for me to open my cubbord and come out of the closet again. The truth is, all you’ll still find in there is mostly real food.

So front and center for this month’s newsletter I’m offering food for thought and preparation.  The past two articles for GoodFoodWorld are aptly titled “In the Kitchen with Ina”, part 1 and 2.  If you haven’t  read them yet, please check them out. Links to the articles are in the sidebar. If you know someone who might benefit from any of the tips I suggested, as well as this newsletter in general, please forward it.

I’ve noticed a push for leaving the turkey OUT of Thanksgiving this year, a give back to the Turkey perhaps, or a plug for upgrading to vegetarian holiday bravery. Well, all the turkeys have been slaughtered already for next Thursday I’m sure, BUT, this year’s choice might affect how many are grown for market next year. Years ago when our daughter’s were young, Ronnie and I used to make a homemade tofu Turkey for our “friends vegetarian Thanksgiving” that we hosted yearly. It’s been years since we’ve made it, but this year we’re resurrecting it, I admit, alongside the (smaller) free range turkey for the traditional turkey eaters.

The tofu turkey is good… really good. I got the original recipe from friends who made it one year and got it from a recipe, so I don’t know who to credit. Furthermore, I’ve changed it a little, so now it’s “adapted.” Perhaps your crowd will be open to something new? So for the fun of it….ladies & gentlemen…… I give you (drum roll please)…

HOMEMADE TOFU TURKEY  ( NOT TOFURKEY)   – about  3 ½  hours to make, including the 2 hours to bake!  We’re making this one on Wednesday, and I’ll  even post a picture of it on Facebook Friday. (Now I’m committed!!)
This recipe serves 16 (it’s pretty big)

5lbs. organic tofu (then it’s non GMO!) – medium firm
¼ cup fresh herbs galore: just do what you love for real turkey here, marjoram, sage, chervil, lovage, thyme, rosemary, celery seed, etc., combined with 1 tsp. powered herbs/poultry seasoning.
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Herbed whole wheat stuffing : Let me say that I’m giving the  basic “recipe” here, but you can add or substitute whatever your special stuffing secrets are.  Or substitute your “real” turkey stuffing of choice. (I like to make stuffing with butternut squash and sometimes pears.) Tofu is a sponge and will absorb whatever flavors you give it. The tamari and toasted sesame oil add a deep base note flavor that works well with the tofu.
2T toasted sesame oil
1 cup onion diced
1 cup mushrooms – however mixed and exotic your heart desires
1cup celery
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs combined dried herbs (your favorite for Turkey, poultry seasoning, or as above)
Optional – 9 shelled fresh roasted chestnuts, chopped (I added them because I love them)
3-4 Tbs tamari
`  ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
4 cups whole wheat  bread, or of your choice in  ½” cubes
Water as needed for moistness (if adding squash, you won’t need water)

Basting Liquid:
¼ – 1/3 cup toasted sesame oil
2Tbs – ¼ cup tamari
Optional – Juice of 1 fresh squeezed orange (my addition)

Mushroom Gravy: Psst…You can also cheat a little. Hain’s vegetarian gravy is good and easy to make, you can add your sautéed mushrooms and onions to it.
2tsp. sesame oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup white flour (the recipe calls for whole wheat)
2 cups water
1/4 cup tamari

Mash well and add diced fresh herbs. Line a colander 11 ¾ “ wide, or whatever wide size you have (you can make a tofu tortoise rather than a turkey) with a single layer of moistened cheesecloth. Press the tofu firmly to flatten and fold edges of cheese cloth over it. Press down with plate, place ~5 pounds of books on top of plate, and drain for 1 hour.

Heat oil and sauté onions and garlic. Add celery and then mushrooms (and chestnuts). Then add seasonings and tamari. Add bread, parsley and mix. Drizzle water on if needed to moisten.
Preheat oven to 400.

Preparing the tofu-
Hollow out the tofu that’s been pressed in the colander. Do this carefully, and keep all the hollowed tofu. Stuff the tofu with your stuffing. Press it firmly but gently inside. Now cover the stuffing with the rest of tofu, sealing it. Next is the really fun part. On a baking tray that’s been lightly oiled, flip the colander to release the tofu mound onto it. Remove cheese cloth. Gently baste with brush and cover with tin foil.  Bake for 1 hour. Rebaste, bake uncovered for 1 more hour, basting a third time in 30 minutes.

Heat oil and sauté onions and mushrooms. Mix flour with water. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring constantly, then simmer uncovered until thick and hot. Add tamari. (You can also mix this with the Hain’s  vegetarian gravy mix.

“And that’s a some tofu turkey!”

So, with gratitude I thank you for joining me these months, and emailing me as you have “offline”. By next month I will be up and running interactive blogstyle, with a new look for my website, and more good stuff in store.
I wish you all, a bounty of love and joy at your table. That’s the real feast.

Until next time – keep me posted, and if anyone (other than me) makes the tofu turkey…let US know!
With gratitude,
PS. And remember – when it comes to positive change, don’t underestimate the small stuff.