From Zen to Sin with Chik’n

My colorful array of vegalicious delights.

Oh woe is me.

All it took was one step away from Mr. Wu and away I slipped on a banana peel.

Which was  pretty apropos for the day. I also slid down Poplar this afternoon on a slushy river of snow and ice that turned the commute home into  a scary two hour expedition. Normally, it takes something like  twenty to thirty minutes to take me  from store to front door.

With a laundry list of “got-to-get-dones”  today that I had to get to  before the snow arrived, I ran out of the house without eating breakfast. Then worked through lunch in order to take care of several  projects that required the hand of our graphic designer.

By the time I completed the iditarod trip home and  stomped across my snowy alpine-like front yard and finally  shook the snow off of my sock feet  in the foyer (clogs in snow–a fashion don’t), I was, as one says, as  “hungry as a bear wolf.” A large and starving bear wolf. One that has just emerged from hibernation and that went into hibernation without first eating its customary bowl of oatmeal!

So downstairs, in sweatpants and wrapped in a fuzzy robe, feeling sublimely warm and cozy,  I opened the fridge to admire my colorful array of healthy organic and vegalicious foodstuffs. Hmmm. what could go wrong? I felt, dare I say it, empowered!

Well, how the mighty fall.

It wasn’t  WHAT I ate—it was how much. With no neat boxes  of Wu food to delineate the “enough” from the “too much”, I munched through a handful of pistachios, almonds, and cashews, an avocado–yes the WHOLE  yummy avocado with a lovely splash of tantalizing balsamic vinegar and sliced grape tomatoes, and then toasted not one–but TWO of the mini pitas and filled them with that pretend crunchy baked chicken and a melted  slice of pretend Swiss cheese and broccoli sprouts. Oh my–’twas loverly. Or as Jerry Clower would say, “Ooooooooweeeeee!”

But after I came up out of my ether of nobility, I began to count up how many calories I had just consumed. YIKES! I figure it was around 600-700!Maybe more.

Even though  that wound up being the “meal of the day”– that is just not good, because one thing I have learned from the Wu Food Project is that I am a lot better off eating meals throughout the day that are fairly evenly divided in terms of calories.

As I said, it wasn’t what I ate–it was how much I ate because I had let myself get too hungry. I was very put out with myself as I was driving home, because I would not have been nearly as tense if I had eaten the two missed meals.And I was very tense.

I’ll do better tomorrow, but I am still very disappointed in myself today.

The box containing the pretend chicken called it “chik’n”. What a difference a couple of letters can make when they are out of kilter. I was so proud of myself yesterday, and then in one lusty, zesty munch fest this afternoon, I went from zen to sin.

As it turned out,  it wasn’t the ice I was in danger of slipping on today.  It was  my silly pride that caused me to fall.

But tomorrow is another day. And it will begin the way Mr. Wu begins his day–with a bowl of oatmeal and some fruit.



A Basket of Goodies

It’s a sweet karmic coincidence that the Kroger, where I did most of my grocery shopping prior to the Wu Food Project,  has been undergoing extensive renovations.

Today I went grocery shopping for the first time in a couple of months. Talk about establishing a new path or tao –everything in the store has  been uprooted and  transplanted into  new areas, and even better,  now I can choose from many new products and items.

It’s pretty unbelievable.  The decision to go grocery shopping was totally spontaneous. Much like a loon aware  of approaching winter, I suppose  I just decided it was time for me to migrate back to my old habitat and feeding fields.

This would not be everyone’s idea of a fabulous Saturday night, but it had that sense of warm satisfaction that comes cloaked in a soft sweater, a fleece jacket, and a comfortable pair of jeans–when you do what you want to do, and take care of your own untended business. It was a very very weekend moment.

So after picking up some photos for our company scrapbook, I drifted downhill (it’s a very slopey parking lot)  to forage for healthy vittles.

I like veggies, and because of my limited budget for Wu Food, I think that I might be missing out on as many veggies–both in terms of variety, and quantity, as I might like. So the first things that went in the basket were carrots,  asparagus, and red, yellow and orange peppers. Mr. Wu is big on snow peas, broccoli, spinach and green beans, so I am okay on those.

I’ve often wished I had  a goodly amount of lettuce to accompany some of Mr. Wu’s delicious cold noodle salads, so a lovely head of butter lettuce joined the entourage. And good fortune! Organic chives, basil leaves, and cilantro were marked down to 99 cents! Yum, I loves me some of those flavors!

The strawberries looked groovily red and juicy. Now that I almost never experience the taste overload of sugar, they register as  unbelievably sweet. Strawberries are like the “short story” of fruit, where as  delving into a melon or carving up a pineapple  is more like getting into an entire novel. I am a short story kind of person, which may be why Fredric Koeppel, in his infinite wisdom, only asked me to review books of short stories. Ah, time gone by, and along with it, the book pages, too.

Then off to find my new best friend, brown rice. I not only found some brown rice that was microwavable for time crunch emergencies (let’s see, like everyday?) but found out my rustic friend hanging out with an interesting posse that included the more exotic grain, quinoa.  Next, I examined their new collection of Indian pre-packaged foods that the composer of our operapella had recommended to me when we last  had lunch at Mr. Wu’s.

One pouch of this fragrant and spicy sauce packs enough wallop for at least two meals.

I selected several vegetarian dishes–and for supper I tried the one that featured a spicy pureed vegetable and  tomato sauce over some brown rice and a handful of  shrimp I found in the seafood department. The dinners  all look good. I wanted to buy tofu–but they did not have what I was looking for–and it may be that there was more of a selection in  another department.

When I got to the meat department, well, I just couldn’t do it. I looked at all those chickens  in their naked,  shiny cellophaned  glory, and all I could think about was their miserable little lives. Not their death mind you–but their pathetically chaotic and nasty existence.  Same with the beef.

If you want to know why I feel this way, you should go back and read one of my earlier entries when I explained how bothersome I find the current state of our meat production system, which is very far afield from the Charlotte’s Web lives of the animals we ate when I when I was growing up in Alabama. They lived well.

At any rate, I splurged on some sea bass for tomorrow, and some already cooked shrimp for a quick meal tonight.  Hard to tell if the lobsters were relieved or not, observing me from their watery, sensory deprived confinement.  I do believe  that I heard at least one of them screaming the words of Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty, or give me death.”  Indeed, how one lives is the only variable for each of us. Death comes with certainty.

But canoodling along here on a brighter note, I bought some rice noodles and some Japanese buckwheat soba noodles.

The noodles bring to mind the entire point of the Wu Food Project, which is to use my noodle and to retrain my palate to enjoy a healthier diet. Next week I ‘ll be preparing some of my own dinners, and we will see how that goes.

Tofu by Any Other Name

Tofu with Yellow Bean and Spinach served with Brown Rice

If you are into words, and guess what? I am, then when you run across a word like tofu it gives you pause.

And in that I am also really into branding and imaging,  a little four-letter word like tofu becomes irresistibly challenging. There is sits in all of its stolid, plain jane glory, proclaiming loud as Popeye, I yam what I yam.

Which it so is not. Instead, it seems to be whatever you would will it to be.  Or whatever Mr. Wu wills it to be, which would be different from what our blog friend Bianca over at vegan crunk would wish it to be, vs, what I myself given world enough and time, will want  it to be.  As a foodstuff it possesses Harry Potter like transformative powers–marinate it, press it, blend it, presto!  Despite its unassuming name, tofu packs big voodoo.

Tofu. There the letters sit, forming a little toad of a word, just squatting there and waiting  to be kissed by a marketing genius and turned into a comely prince.

I’ve heard of a company that thought it sounded better spelled backwards than it did forwards. They had some pretty sound reasons for it–but speaking of sounds, for that very reason if applied to “tofu”, it  would only  exacerbate the problem. “Ufot” . No, that would not be good.

“Tofu–it’s the other white meat!” That phrase has already gone to the pigs.

Tonight I was contemplating  the tantalizing nature  of tofu–yes! tantalizing and tofu in the same sentence! we are getting somewhere! Alliteration has been known to cast a spell or two in its day.

When I arrived at Mr. Wu’s  on this blustery and chilly night, Mr. Wu had prepared his truly delectable melange of tofu and mixed vegetables. Now there is a powerhouse congregation of words– all singing loud and proud as a church choir,  “eat it it’s good for you”.

What to do with tofu, how to dress up its virtuous  and  sensible image  and vamp it up with a red dress and attitude?

Maybe you don’t. Maybe you couldn’t anyway.

Tofu has made a career out of what it is not.

I’ll never forget what Ruby Wharton said to me one time. We were walking out of a party at the bishop’s home, discussing someone with a well documented life history, and with her characteristic cut-to-the-chase way,  she said, “Well, you know what you got.”

Not with tofu though.

With tofu you never know.  Americans are not much charmed by foods or anything, that is not pretty straight-forward. We look askance at Yankee Doodle Dandy for sticking a feather in his hat and calling it macaroni, and folks who diddle around with tofu and call it this or that fall squarely into Yankee Doodle-ism.

Which puts me in mind of the current political brew of “”tea partiers”. Now who would have thought that tea drinking, which had been the bag of more bohemian types would get a boost from a conservative group? Imagine the uptick of the number of usages of the word “tea”  in this year’s list of most used words! What a boon for Lipton, and  bliss for Celestial–it would be an interesting topic for a thesis to do a study examining the effects of the constant commentary mentioning tea… my guess is that Fox News watchers will be the fastest growing demographic for tea consumption this year and next, just from hearing tea, tea, tea.

Could tofu overcome its wallflower image in common parlance if it was just out and about and seen and in the headlines more often, like so many talked-about celebrities who seem to have no unique talent to recommend them for stardom?

Could tofu have its agent call a network? Arrange a role in a  reality series? Wouldn’t  Paris Hilton be infatuated  with a new best friend who would assume total and unabashed “Paris-ness”? I mean, like, tofu totally has the skill set to take on like whatever! Tofu is hot.  Well. Maybe not.

What do you do with tofu?

Anything and everything.

It is what it is, and it isn’t what it is.

ah. I do love a conundrum.