Sunday, April 06, 2008

liquid explorations

Since the Toddles' unexpected anaphylaxis, the Eldest has become very protective of his little brother. He's been reading him books (using newly fledged reading skills), playing games with him with uneven success, and generally shepherding him around.

The Toddles, an irregularly independant sort, is fairly tolerant of this - though inclined to flout the Eldest's authority in the matter of train tracks and chess sets. (Muu-um, he's taking all of my pieces!)

Today, while I vacuumed and washed all of the household bedding (yes, all - dust mite poop, anyone?), the Eldest ushered the Toddles upstairs to the bathroom. Having finished his business, the bigger boy then began initiating the smaller into the mysteries of the toilet.

When I poked my head in (we're just fine, Mum. The Toddles is going to pee in the toilet!), the Toddles had just rewarded his elder brother's care by peeing on his shirt. The Eldest laughed, stripped it off, and offered his brother a cup of water.

Let's try again, he said.
Okay! said the little fellow, brimming with enthusiasm.

One vacuumed bedroom and hallway later, the Man walked into a tableau of grinning, delighted boys. The Toddles was, indeed, peeing - straight into a bowl that the Eldest was holding out. And his aim was fairly good. Some of the time. Look Mum, he's peeing!

Choking with laughter, the Man found me collapsing against a wall and wiping my eyes. Somehow, he said, this wasn't in my ideas of how parenting would go... I hugged him, and went to fetch some rags.
Tofu Larb
There's lots of things that should be in this recipe, which aren't. And who cares? Tofu is much more acceptable to my crew than is chicken, and I edited out things that brought no joy to my table. This made over recipe is courtesy, I should note, of delicious. magazine, which I picked up in the Melbourne airport. Australians (insofar as I can tell) have a wonderful produce-based cuisine, with no cultural holds barred - they love Asian food, Italian, French - if it's yummy, they'll eat it. Bless their little polyglut tums...
Oh, and there's no photo of this - in part because I made it for shabbat, which means no photography (finished it shortly before the sabbath, when I don't use a camera, and by the end of the sabbath the larb was gone, gone, gone). And in part because this is not a pretty dish. It's pale cream (tofu) with pale cream (rice) and pale green bits (lemongrass) and a little bright green (Thai basil) for garnish. Blah look to it, but it's balanced with a lovely flavor. Still, it's a good idea to pair this dish with a really pretty salad. I'd go for a watercress and lettuce salad, with mango or a blood orange or even flavorful navel orange. But that's me.
2 Tb olive oil
2 containers firm or extra firm tofu
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 onions or 4 shallots, chopped somewhat finely
2 stems lemongrass (note: my crew object to the lemongrass texture, but adore the taste. Consider peeling the outer, tough layers of the lemongrass - at least two layers - and then roughly chopping and food-processing the softer, inner lemongrass bits. If you are feeding grownfolk, then just slice finely.)
1/4 cup Thai dressing (see following recipe)
6-8 kaffir lime leaves, sliced up into strips
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint or 1.5 Tb dried mint (the dried mint only counts as an ingredient if you can smell it. Otherwise, it's not mint, it's some papery stuff that's taking up spice rack space.)
Thai basil, unripe mango (for garnish)
Cut tofu into cubes, and set aside for about 20 minutes while you do the rest of the prep. The tofu should drain a bit, creating a puddle of tofu-water on the plate. Toss the water before using the tofu.
Heat oil, then add tofu, lemongrass and onion/shallot. Saute until tofu is browning, as will be the onion/shallots. Remove from heat and add dressing, lime leaves, parsley and mint.
Serve over rice, with the Thai basil and unripe mango as garnish. The Thai basil will give a nice basillish sharpness, and the mango a different type of lemony tartness - both are helpful, since much of the recipe's flavors get mellowed out by the coconut. In fact, I'd recommend adding coconut milk to taste once everything else (excepting the garnish) is in the dish, so that you hit the degree of mellowness that suits you.
Thai dressing
Note: I commit a number of cookery crimes here. First, I don't have kosher fish sauce. Second, my boys uniformly dislike tamarind paste, for mysterious reasons. Third, I added coconut milk to smooth out the flavor. To make this dressing more authentic, att 3 Tb tamarind paste, replace the soy sauce with 1/3rd cup fish sauce, remove the black pepper and use honestly searing chillies. But then don't serve it to us.
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated palm sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 slice of fresh ginger
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until sugar has dissolved. Or, if you are feeling energetic, place in a jar and tighten lid. Then, shake until sugar has dissolved. Refrigerate - it should last a week or so.


Auntie A said...

Ah the joys of pre-potty training. At least the younger sibs tend to be more enthusiastic about it, due to the good influence of their elders. But peeing in a bowl..? Hee hee.

Also, have I mentioned lately that whenever you post a pic of the Toddles I get this urge to smoosh him? Those cheeks!!!

mama o' the matrices said...

You'd have to come pretty far south to smoosh. Go on. I dare ya.