Monday, September 15, 2008
A Dip to Die For
Whew. Feeling better now. Am back to wanting to eat and cook food.
As I mentioned last post, one of my clients had her vegetarian daughter, son-in-law, and newborn granddaughter in town last weekend. This is the same woman who I made brownies for since, when I was a new mom, I couldn't get enough of them. This time she asked me to make them dinner for two nights and, because her daughter is breastfeeding, to please not use dairy.
Just that request really brought me back to my baby (now 19 months) being a newborn and trying to make it through those first few months. When I was pregnant with my first son, we took part in a study called Becoming Parents which focused on the couple relationship and how that bond could be strengthened and kept strong before and after birth of baby. It was around 10 weeks of classes, all of which we enjoyed. We mostly talked about communicating and managing expectations, but we also talked a bit about the babies that were on the way.
One of the things they felt strongly about was that there was no such thing as colic. Babies who "had colic" were just misunderstood, and if you could get better at reading their cues, they wouldn't be so fussy. I nodded my head along with all the other moms-to-be and proceeded to have my first son, who was a non-colicky baby. Each time I heard someone say their baby had colic, I would smirk and think to myself how that person must be doing something wrong because, as we learned, there is no such thing as colic.
Then my baby was born. For the first three weeks, he was super mellow. Randy and I congratulated ourselves on having another easy baby and then, right on schedule for colic, he started to cry. He cried every night, non-stop, from 6-11pm, from 3 weeks old to 3 months. I took him in to the pediatrician practically demanding a cure, but of course there is none. It is not well understood and basically you just have to somehow live through it. There are doctors who suggest all kinds of diet changes for the mother, but ours just thought he just had to outgrow whatever trouble his tummy was giving him. I would have eaten seaweed straight out of Puget Sound if she told me that would help. But we just took turns rocking him, we ate standing up, I bought one of those big bouncy balls and wondered why my thighs didn't get rock hard from all the bouncing I did with him.
Right around the three month mark (which is text-book for colic), things began to look up. He didn't cry for quite as long and by month four, we had our mellow little guy back. No such thing as colic, my a**. I don't know if changing my diet would have had any effect, but I can certainly respect any decision a new mother makes in regards to anything making those first few months easier.
In thinking about a non-dairy menu, my thoughts went immediately to one of my favorite cookbooks, The Voluptuous Vegan. You may wonder how "voluptuous" and "vegan" can be used in the same title, but many of the menus in this book are indeed incredibly satisfying and, yes, voluptuous. Vegan cooking doesn't use any animal products, so no eggs, no dairy, and no honey. It may sound restrictive, but in this author's hands, it doesn't feel or taste that way.
I made a very flavorful and seasonal Provencal stew and an incredible aioli to go with it. Aioli is typically uses a homemade mayonnaise (egg) as a base, but this one uses tofu. I am not a big fan of substituting meat things with non-meat things (I have never had Tofurkey, for example) and am usually not a big fan of substituting vegetarian things with vegan things (vegan margerine for butter, for example), but trust me when I say this aioli is incredible. You roast a whole head of garlic until it becomes buttery and sweet and add it to the food processor along with some other friends and voila! you have an amazing dip for vegetables, a pool for you artichoke leaves to get to swim in, a sandwich spread that would put mayo to shame, and other things I can't think of at the moment. Let me know how else to use it!
Let's talk about roasted garlic. I always make this in my toaster oven. It seems silly to heat up my whole oven for something so small. Of course, you can roast it along with something else in there, the temperature doesn't matter all that much, as long as it is over 350 degrees. The most important things are to remove the outer papery skin from the head, to give it a good drizzle with olive oil, and to wrap it tightly in foil. It is done when the the garlic feels squishy and not too browned.
Adapted from The Voluptuous Vegan
Makes about 2 cups
For this recipe, you will need the vacuum packed silken tofu you find on the shelf in the Asian section, not the refrigerated kind. I usually buy extra-firm, but I don't think it matters all that much. This recipe keeps for a couple of days, although you will need to stir it before you use it. Add the rosemary right before using because I find that if it sits too long, it becomes really pine-y - not in a good way.
1 head garlic
1 box silken tofu
1 1/2 tsp. mustard powder
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the papery outer skin of the garlic and cut off the top fifth. Place the garlic on aluminum foil and drizzle it with olive oil. Wrap the garlic completely in the foil and place on an oven rack to roast for about 30 minutes, or until soft. Allow to cool enough to handle. Squeeze the softened garlic cloves out of their skins.
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the garlic, two tablespoons of olive oil, the tofu, the mustartd powder, lemon juice, and salt. Process until smooth. Add the rosemary and pulse to combine. Pour into a bowl and let sit about 20 minutes before using.