When I was single, I used to eat whatever and whenever I wanted. Since I had no one else to think about, I didn’t worry about meal planning. I rarely cooked; to tell the truth, I really didn’t know how. There were a few recipes that I had picked up from my mother but mostly, I either ate out or had food delivered. In fact, when I would call the local Chinese place and say, “Hi, I’d like an order delivered,” they recognized my voice and knew my address by heart!
Sunday nights were popcorn nights. Yup, I would just have popcorn for dinner (and leftover popcorn for breakfast on Monday morning). I never made breakfast and didn’t even brew my own coffee. Friends joked that my kitchen was just there for show but that wasn’t true. I did cook for my dog, except when she ate take-out too (hanging head in shame).
When Tom and I met, nothing really changed. We both liked bad fast food and take-out food. The delivery people got to know both of us well. Even though Tom and I shared a love for unhealthy food, we had our individual likes and dislikes. My tastes ran to spicy, savory, crunchy foods while Tom preferred cheesy, chewy foods and sweets. If Tom wanted something homemade, my mother was more than happy to cook him the Italian dishes that I, myself, liked but didn’t die for. When I did cook dinner, it usually involved steak or chicken, instant mashed potatoes and frozen vegetables in butter sauce. Plus a salad, we always had a big salad because that’s just the way I grew up. And unfortunately, out.
|Me, Tom and Poochie at our heaviest. I’m a size 26 pants.|
Then everything changed. We got educated, we got healthier and we got married. We became vegetarians and then Vegans (you can read about My Vegan Journey here).
|Tom and Benny|
|Me in size 8 jeans|
And while Tom and I both love more foods than we ever knew existed (I mean, we fight over kale and Brussel sprouts), we still have our individual preferences.
Tom still loves sweets while I detest anything with sugar. Even my espresso needs to be served straight up black. When we dine out, Tom looks forward to the dessert menu while I want the appetizer menu back (who says you can’t have appetizers for dessert?) If we have Chinese food, Tom loves sweet and sour sauce while I’m looking for the menu items with 3 stars indicating extra, extra spicy. I hate the idea of sweet, sticky jelly touching my peanut butter but Tom can eat PB&J every single day!
Relationships are all about compromise and opening oneself up to the other – bringing individual aspects of each person together to create a new and beautiful dynamic. Each person brings their own unique contributions to the table and the result is the epitome of the idea that the sum is worth more than its parts.
This recipe is a good example of this type of harmony. I read a recipe for orange glazed fish and thought it would make a great Extreme Vegan Makeover. It combines my love for spicy Cajun seasoning with Tom’s love of sweet, fruity marmalade. I don’t usually like foods that are glazed but here the spice and sweet are a marriage made in heaven.
The only question was whether to use tofu or tempeh. Tom prefers tempeh but I prefer tofu so in the spirit of marital harmony, I made both! They were both delicious so it was a win-win situation. Tom suggested yellow rice (brown rice with turmeric) for the side dish and I added peas because I can never have too many veggies. If we had had any, pineapple chunks cooked into the rice would have been perfect!
This dish is sweet, spicy, and amazing – just like us!
Sweet & Spicy Tofu/Tempeh
For the spice blend (adjust to the level of heat you want. You can just use 3 Tbs. of a Cajun seasoning blend but watch out for high sodium content and MSG):
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
1 ½ tsp. garlic powder
1 ¾ tsp. paprika
¾ tsp. ground black pepper
¾ tsp. onion powder
¾ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp. raw brown sugar
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 package tofu, drained or tempeh
1 Tbs. safflower oil
¼ cup orange marmalade
1 Tbsp. lime juice
Combine the seasonings in a small bowl and stir until evenly blended. Add the sugar and the salt and blend.
If using tofu, cut it into slices of your desired thickness. I cut the block in half, then I cut each half into 4 slices for a total of 8 thin rectangular slices.
If using tempeh, I sometimes steam it first if I want it softer but I didn’t this time. I split the tempeh in half so that I had two thin rectangles. The way I do this is to lay the tempeh on a cutting board, hold the top steady with the palm of my hand and with a knife, slice through it like I am splitting open a bagel. Then I cut each thin rectangle in half so I have 4 pieces.
Press the slices of the tofu or tempeh into the spice blend and cover both sides with it.
Heat a skillet with medium-high heat and add the oil. Sauté the tofu or tempeh in the skillet for about 4 minutes. Flip the slices and cook until both sides are browned.
Meanwhile, mix the orange marmalade and the lime juice in a bowl. When the tofu or tempeh is ready, pour the marmalade mixture into the pan and stir it around until it melts. Carefully turn the tofu or tempeh slices in the pan so that both sides get covered in the orange glaze.
Serve while hot. Garnish with extra lime wedges.