Last week, I performed my first surgical procedure as a someday-to-be physician on this right here stew.
Baited breaths were held as scalpel hit skin. Anyone with a Y chromosome was instructed to look away or vacate the premises for fear of revolt and/or inability to remain conscious.
Because, you see…I castrated it. Took the coq right out of the coq-au-vin (you knew I had to go there), replacing it instead with tofu and a tomato sauce/vegetable broth combo.
And if you want to know my honest-to-goodness opinion…it was none the worse for the wear (or sutures). It still had that rich, meaty umami flavor and texture thanks to the finely minced mushrooms that were scattered throughout the sauce, easily weaseling their way into every bite; and the tofu that, after 30 minutes of braising and sauteeing, had been transformed from flavorless hunks of soy protein into salty smoky bites of delicious.
This recipe was chosen by Evi + Sam for this week’s Food Matters Project. And while it was probably not something I would have made if left to my own devices, I was really glad that I did. When served over polenta, this stew was rich and hearty while still being ass-friendly. Who doesn’t love it when that happens? Be sure to check out their blog for the original recipe!
PS – All zipping endeavors were a GO and a fabulous time was had by all. (And by all…I mean me.) If you want to see pictures, check out my album on facebook. And if we’re not facebook friends…then…awkward. Let’s get on that.
Coq-au-Vin-less Coq au Vin
Serves 4, adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook
- 1 eggplant, cubed
- 3 oz tempeh bacon, cut into small strips
- 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed and patted dry, cubed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 10 oz frozen pearl onions
- 1 lb cremini mushrooms, minced or food processed into tiny pieces
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- several sprigs fresh thyme
- several sprigs fresh parsley
- 8 oz green beans
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 cup polenta
- 4 cups water
- Sprinkle the eggplant liberally with salt and let it rest in a colander for 20 minutes in the sink. Rinse and pat dry. (This will make the eggplant less bitter.) Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large, deep skillet or dutch oven. Cook tempeh bacon over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon starts to brown, 2 minutes. Add the tofu to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper and saute, stirring occasionally, until the outside starts to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the onions, mushrooms, and eggplant to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables give up their liquid and start to dry out and brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic after about 5 minutes of cooking.
- Add the broth, tomato sauce, bay leaves, herbs, and green beans to the pan. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently but steadily. Let the liquid boil until it is reduced by about half and becomes thick and saucy. Lower the heat again. Stir in the butter. Remove the bay leaves and herb sprigs. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve over polenta and sprinkle with parmesan cheese, if desired.
If you learned anything in sixth grade history class, it should have been that of all the ancient civilizations in our past…
…the pyramid-builders, the fertile crescent-dwellers, the Confucianists.
It really all came down to two.
The Spartans. And everyone else.
You see, the Spartans were the baddest of the bad. They talked the talk, walked the walk, AND flung the javelins. Quite the force to be reckoned with, they were.
(Might this have anything to do with the fact that they gave women more rights and equality than any other classical civilization…I can’t say for sure. But we all know that behind every great nation-state, there’s a fabulous woman. So my hunch is…yes.)
Unfortunately, they were defeated by the Thebans in 371 BC. But thankfully, for us, their spirit lives on today. In the form of the Spartan Race.
Spartan races are combined races and obstacle courses that test not just your cardiovascular abilities but also your brute strength. That’s not to say you have to have the physique or physical prowess of a Spartan in order to participate in one! There are races for all shapes, sizes, and levels of endurance, ranging from beginner 5K mud runs, to kids races, to 40+ milers for the really insane among us. One of my coworkers is actually participating in one in June, and this is a girl who has never run or worked out a day in her life. Until now. There’s something about the out-of-the-box nature of this race (and the opportunity it affords her to run through fire…yes she’s a little crazy) that appeals to her, as I’m sure it would to many of you! So I highly encourage checking it out and considering participating in one, especially if you’re one of those people who thinks running is boring. This is definitely a great way to incorporate fitness in your life in a fun and challenging way! To learn more about the Spartan Race and to see frequently asked questions and answers about it, check out this link.
As for me…I’m excited to channel the spirit of the Spartans through my coworker and watch her as she completes her first race! And who knows…I may find that I too have an inner Spartan inside of me, just bursting to get out.