About K. E. Blaski

I am an Associate Professor of Business & CIS at Rock Valley College working on breaking into the YA fiction market with my first novel. I am a member of the SCBWI and AMA. A mother of three, my interests are diverse and include everything from science and music to hanging out on the beach. I also have a soft spot for zombie books and movies.

My War with Tofu

Mango Curry with Steamed Rice

Mango Curry with Steamed Rice

Yesterday, I was ready to dive in to lunch. I made it Sunday and since curry always tastes better the next day, I didn’t eat a full serving. Instead, I tasted to make sure it was seasoned well and then packed up six lunch-sized containers. I stacked them in the fridge with high hopes for a tasty experience throughout the week. Give me a good recipe and I can cook anything. I’m not a culinary expert. I am an expert direction follower. And I had followed the directions.

Before I go further, I should mention that I’m vegan. See previous post as to why, here. Thus, there is tofu in this recipe.

Also, this was my third attempt at cooking tofu. My first two attempts were, in short, epic failures.

Attempt #1, I made Tofu Chili (recipe here). I drained the extra firm tofu on paper towels, crumbled it up, and sautéed as instructed. Cooked it in the chili for an hour. Chili tasted great once I picked all the tofu out.

Attempt #2, I made Tofu and Potato Hash Browns (recipe here). Again, I drained and blotted the tofu, cut it up, and sautéed it with the potatoes. Ended up eating the potatoes and leaving the tofu behind. Far, far behind.

Attempt #3, My daughter, who is more “in the know” than me said, “You need a tofu press Mom!”

Need to sear something? Cast iron is my tool of choice.

Got one. Pressed the tofu. Which was kinda fun. Sliced it. Then I was instructed to sear it. Used my cast iron pan for that.

Flipping my little tofu briquettes in my perfectly seasoned cast iron pan went smoothly. No sticking. Just a nice sizzle.

Then I put them into the Mango Curry. Recipe from Thug Kitchen. THE. BEST. EVER. COOKBOOK (Thug Kitchen Cookbook).

The finished product smelled divine! It passed the initial taste test too. But honestly, I did not eat a piece of the tofu just yet. Mostly because I thought the tofu would taste better if it had a chance to soak overnight in the curry sauce.

So back to diving in to my lunch. Did I finally achieve a tofu triumph? Was I on my way to winning the war? How exactly did the tofu taste?

Yeah, well, you know those pink school erasers?

Just in case you forgot what one looks like. Now you know what one tastes like.

Score as of today: TOFU 3, ME 0

Any tofu cooking tips are more than welcome in the comments below.

Eggs Are Not Vegetables, and other things I never thought I’d say.

 

My Stack of Vegan Cookbooks

My Stack of Vegan Cookbooks

Happy New Year! Hope you are all excited about the possibilities for 2017. A new year often comes with resolutions for life changes and I have a story to tell about my own recent life change. It wasn’t a resolution though. It was more of an in-your-face, you-better-do-something-about-this-now crisis…

November 20, 2016 I woke up around 2 AM with the most excruciating abdominal pain. A quick Google search– you know you do it too!– revealed it could be anything from a bad case of gas to appendicitis. Not one to overreact, I took some GasX. I took some Ibuprofen. I took a hot bath.

Finally I had my husband take me to the ER.

One CT Scan later the doctors discovered I had a 9mm kidney stone lodged at the opening of my ureter AND the blockage had caused my kidney to rupture. Urine was spilling into my abdomen. I was admitted immediately, pumped up with fluids and pain killers, and had surgery to insert a stent to bypass the stone so my kidney could heal. Three weeks later my kidney was recovered enough to withstand lithotripsy (a procedure where shock waves are sent through the kidney to break the stone into pieces). One week later another Xray revealed I was clear of the stone and I could finally have the 18″ stent removed.

The hospital, the doctors, the nurses, all took wonderful care of me, but the whole experience humbled me, threw me out of my life for an entire month, and truly knocked some sense into me about taking my body for granted. After talking to my urologist, two dietary changes were in order: drink 2.5-3 liters of fluid per day and eliminate animal protein from my diet. The stone analysis confirmed that my kidneys could respond positively to these changes. There are no guarantees it will eliminate stones forever, but it’s definitely worth a try.

SO I’ve been a vegan now for 45 days. Yep, that means NO meat or animal products (beef, chicken, pork, seafood, fish, eggs, or dairy). Whenever I tell someone, they mostly feel sorry for me. Or they lecture me on how I’m missing out on necessary B12, amino acids, and calcium. Really, not to worry. I’ve got these nutrients covered.

But the funny thing is, I really like the way I feel. I have sooooooo much more energy– like at least ten years younger energy. Insomnia used to be a close, personal friend of mine, but now, I sleep soooooo much better. I’ve lost a little weight (about 8 pounds). My skin is in great shape too. My migraines have reduced in frequency, duration, and intensity. And an interesting side-benefit? My vocal range has improved. I’m a liturgist at my church and sing in an ensemble there, and I have an easier time hitting both the higher and lower notes now.

Ratatouille Vegetables

Ready to make some ratatouille

It’s not always easy, this plant-based way of life. Challenges include 1) cooking for me vs cooking for everyone else, my thirteen year old often comes over to the V-side, but it’s a struggle for the rest of my family; 2) I can’t quite get the hang of tofu–every time I use it, it’s disgusting; and 3) eating out at restaurants. I went to Potbelly Sandwich Shop and ordered an all-veggie salad. It came to me with egg and cheese on it.

“I was told it would only have vegetables,” I said to the young lady at the counter.

“There’s no chicken,” she answered.

I point at the sliced hardboiled egg, “What about this?”

“That’s egg. It’s a vegetable.”

“Umm. No. Eggs are not vegetables. And neither is cheese.” Two things I’d never thought I’d say.

But then again, I never thought I’d say, “I’m a vegan.”

 

The Death of a Castle, the Birth of a Book

I was saddened to learn today that Castle Miranda (also known as Château de Noisy) in Belgium was slated to be torn down this month. Back in 2012 I stumbled across the gorgeous pictures from PROJ3CT M4YH3M of this heart-breaking, beautiful, decaying castle. The ceilings especially inspired me to put pen to paper and write the scene in my novel Glimmer of Steel where Jennica comes to terms with her fate while staring up at her bedroom’s ceiling.

Since I don’t own any of the copyrights for the images I saw back in 2012, nor have I paid for licensing rights, I have the next best thing… links to the owners’ sites so you can hop over a view them yourself.

The first link is for a website (in German) with historical photos/drawings of the Castle in its original state. http://www.lipinski.de/noisy-historical/index.php

The second link is from Ian Moone’s and PROJ3CT M4YH3M’s website page that covered their first visit to Castle Miranda in 2012: 

Urbex: Castle Miranda aka Château de Noisy Belgium – December 2012 (Part 1)

The third link is from Ian Moone’s and PROJ3CT M4YH3M’s second visit in 2014:

Urbex: Castle Miranda aka Château de Noisy Belgium – May 2014 (revisit)

So just as I’m getting ready to release Glimmer of Steel to Kindle Scout this month, and I’m looking for Castle Miranda pictures to share as an important visual inspiration for my writing, I learned the castle is being dismantled. Pascal Dermien recently photographed the start of the demolition and shared his photos on YouTube. You can see former turrets cast upon the ground, including the weather vane that used to spin atop the highest peak. Only the blogs, and photographs, memories, videos, and the occasional book will live on.