Like most every other American I have been cutting back on expenses for the last couple of years. Between loss of wages due to furloughs and the rising cost of food I no longer spend money like I used to. Now that my son Alex is gone I decided to really cut back on food. Not only have I changed my buying habits (less meat, no snacks) I try hard not to waste what I buy and eat what is in the house even if it means a dinner of cereal or breakfast of instant oatmeal; food left over from when Alex was home.
Tonight I was cleaning out the fridge because tomorrow is garbage day in my neighborhood. Anything that needs to go out usually does on Wednesday. I was disheartened to find my organic produce did not hold up well. It should have lasted longer than a few days! As I rooted around for any hidden “surprises” I came across a package of tofu that I forgot I bought. I looked at the expiration date; drat, it was today! I am not sure how long tofu can be kept after its expiration date, but I was not too sure I wanted to find out. I held it out in my hand, do I toss it or do I try to use it? After all, I hadn’t made dinner yet, but I am no tofu expert. I like it but when it comes to cooking it, I am afraid. I have had mixed experiences with it and if memory serves, most tofu recipes are very involved. As my hand wavered over the garbage pail I was in turmoil. I did buy the tofu, but what to do with it? I put the package on the counter, determined to do something with it. After all, I no longer want to waste food.
Thankfully as a reader my interest extends to cookbooks. I have been collecting cookbooks since I was in Jr. high. My very first cookbook (I still have it) is titled The Muppets Picnic Cookbook. I guess in the late 70s some publisher thought using the furry monsters to hawk vegetables to kids was a good way to get them to eat their greens. It worked on me; I bugged my mom to help me make every recipe in the cookbook. I no longer would eat your basic iceberg lettuce salad. I wanted swamp salad (mostly fruit). This led me to putting all sorts of vegetables (and apples) in my salads when I lived on my own. I owe my love of raw veggies to Jim Henson’s family of Muppets.
Many of my cookbooks include healthy eating and two are devoted to tofu dishes. I picked up The Tofu Book by John Paino and Lisa Messinger. I thumbed through it hoping to find an easy quick no mess meal. Many of the recipes looked and sounded delicious but contained ingredients I do not have in the house right now. I started to panic, was a trip to the store in order? Was I looking to spend money just to save a package of Tofu? What was I doing?? Thankfully towards the middle of the book I came across this one, Tofu Parmigiana (yes this is how it is spelled). Not only did it look easy, it called for spaghetti sauce and as luck would have it, there was some left over in my fridge! I even had the shredded cheese the recipe called for. Ahh success, I had all the ingredients; no need for a quick shopping trip and it looked really good. I made it and ate as I wrote this post. I love my cookbooks and treasure them as much as I do all my other books. Thank goodness for my love of books and passion for collecting. Otherwise that package of tofu would be in the garbage and I would be mad at myself for wasting it.
Tofu Parmigiana (I cut the recipe in half as this calls for 2 pounds of tofu and I had one)
1 pounds firm tofu, cut in ½ inch slices
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups spaghetti sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese grated
½ cup Parmesan Cheese
Sauté tofu in vegetable oil until lightly brown
Layer tofu in backing dish with sauce and mozzarella cheese. Top with Parmesan cheese
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Feeds four.