Broccoli rabe and black beans with ginger and tamari (and tofu!)

black-bean-broccoli-rabeIn my dream I decided to legally change my name to Clairey the Observer. And in my dream this was my job (my dream job!), I was a professional observer. I just sat back and watched people and then I wrote about it. I made observations. I half-woke up and thought about what a nice job this would be in real life, I imagined myself on a high perch, taking notice of all that happened around me, and I thought about writing stories based on observations of people. I want this job! Unfortunately I didn’t dream about the part where you apply for the position, so I don’t know how to go about it. But then when I was fully-woken up, I looked up “observe” in the OED, as one does, so I’d be fully apprised of the job description before I undertake the employment. Observe. It’s such a rich and fascinating word. According to my understanding of the term in my dream, my main responsibility as an observer would be “To take notice of, be conscious of; to notice, perceive, see.” And then “To remark or make observations on.” If I was actually applying for this job, I would write in my cover letter, “I think I would be very good at taking notice and being conscious of things, because it’s very important to me to notice things, and not to just let them pass me by. I want to observe things and collect and keep them, and not just let life wash over me as though I was in a sleepy stupor. I want to be a keen observer, and notice even the small things and feel them, too.” Further duties of an observer would include acting “To watch over, look after, keep safe.” And I feel confidant that I could do this very ably. Just ask my dog or my sons, if anything I’m likely to keep too close a watch and generally look after too fondly and anxiously. I also understand that as an observer I might be called upon to abide by or adhere to or to maintain or uphold a mode of existence, a covenant, or a promise, and I assure you that in my day-to-day existence, I will strive to observe principles of curiosity, creativity, generosity, honesty, and, of course, verbosity and I will faithfully observe such small daily rituals as necessary to ensure a life fully lived and thoughtfully observed, as far as I am able. In summation, I would like to share the words of Francis Bacon, “If men will intend to observe, they shall finde much worthy to observe.” I hope that you will consider me for this position of observer, howsoever it shall be found and remunerated, yours sincerely and henceforth, Clairey the Observer.

Malcolm picked out some tofu at the grocery store. I only like tofu when it’s fried very crispy, and I don’t like the way my kitchen smells when I do that at home. So I had the bright idea to take it to work and ask the chef to put it in the fryer for a few minutes. And he very very kindly agreed, for which I am eternally grateful. I brought it home, and Malcolm and I made a sauce for it, consisting of tamari, honey, balsamic, and a bit of ginger. I decided to use this same treatment on some black beans, and pile these on some broccoli rabe as a backdrop for the tofu, so that is what we did. Quick and simple meal, but quite tasty, too. You could use broccoli instead of broccoli rabe, and just add it to the beans and cook until bright and tender.

Here’s Niney and the Observers with Blood and Fire.
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Roasted tofu with smoky chipotle tamarind sauce

Roasted saucy tofu

Roasted saucy tofu

I think we can all agree that the world would be a better place if everyone was exactly like me. Well, not like me, necessarily, just exactly like each other, but since I’m writing this from the confines of my own brain, that’s how I’ll imagine it. Think of the peace! The concord! We’d all have the same views on religion and politics. Would we even need politics anymore? We’d have no disputes to settle, no conflicts to solve. We’d have a natural empathy that would require no effort at all. We’d understand each other’s needs because they’d be our needs! So much nastiness in life is caused by envy and insecurity, but those problems would be eliminated. Nobody would be prettier than anyone else, or smarter, or more successful! Everybody would be equally good at the same things. Of course, everybody would be equally bad at the same things, too. So if everybody happened to be exactly like me, we’d have no buildings to live in, in fact our shelters would be ramshackle at best. We wouldn’t be able to help much if people got sick, because we’d never have been able to invent medicines. We wouldn’t have cars and roads, but we’d be okay with that because we’d all be pretty happy just walking around town. Of course we wouldn’t be a town, just a disorganized mess of poorly constructed lean-tos. And when there was a thunderstorm we would all go into a cold panic, huddled in our hovels, with no rational person to comfort us. We would all appreciate each other’s films (although in certain moods we’d be hyper-critical of them), and they wouldn’t cost much, because all of us would decide that we have no need for money. But we wouldn’t actually be able to make them, because we wouldn’t have ever invented the technology necessary. We would like all the food we made, but we’d have limited supplies to cook with, because we’d have no idea how to harvest wheat, or how to grow half the vegetables that we would love to eat if only we’d ever encountered them. And would we even want to cook anymore? Because we wouldn’t have the joy of sharing something with somebody, waiting to see if they like it, and then rejoicing when they do. And, you know, it wouldn’t be too boring at first, because all of us talk to ourselves in our heads half the time anyway. Eventually, yes, it might get a little stale to never ever have a new idea based on some experience you’d never had yourself, to never hear a word you’d never heard before. To never have a conversation with somebody that’s delightful because it’s completely unexpected and surprising. Never mind the fact that after a few nights of insomnia I’m so sick of my own damn thoughts that I could cry. Never you mind that! And we’d all get along, and it would be pleasant enough, we’d all sort of be friends. But there wouldn’t be anybody to be a special friend, to share a moment of unexpected intimacy, to charm you with their odd turns of phrase and fascinate you with their unique experiences or beliefs. There wouldn’t be anybody to vex you with their contrariness. There wouldn’t be anyone to surprise you with an unexpected gesture. There wouldn’t be anybody to love because they’re strange to you and you’ve never met anybody like them.
roasted tofu

roasted tofu

This is only the second tofu recipe ever on my vegetarian food blog! Weird, right? The truth is I only like tofu when it’s crispy, so I fry it in olive oil on the stove, but then my kitchen smells funny for days. Well, I thought I’d try roasting it. And I roasted it in a sauce made of smoked paprika, tamarind, chipotle, onions, shallots, sage…a version of barbeque sauce, I guess. I think it turned out very good. Not crispy, exactly, but with a nice texture, firm and yummy. The boys liked it, too, which was my goal in making it in the first place. The kids need protein!

Here’s Jumping Someone Else’s Train by The Cure. Again and again and again and again…

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