Green! Everything has blossomed and flourished in every shade of green. Neon green, evergreen green, moss green, fern green, grass green...all 295 types of green are reflected back at me in nature. Birds and bees have settled over the early pollinator trees, bushes and flora. The air is wild with the aromatics of earthen sediments and rain drenched soil. The world is reborn to Summer!
Summer begins when everything is green, and it starts a season where everything is out of doors. It means working as stewards to help the Earth build and renew helping the plants flourish and sprout high. It means reveling in the sun and slicing through the cooling air of evening on our bikes as the sky colors apricot and the crickets begin to sing. It means firing up the grill and feasting on the abundance of summer flavors amongst a darkening bruising of purple as the stars start to twinkle and the moon rises.
Sustainable Spotlight: Grilling is my favorite way to cook food - period. There's something about the smell of the billowing smoke enveloping the meal fired with licks of flame leaving slight char. Early on in my ventures for being vegan, I was nervous that the grill wouldn't translate to mostly plants. WRONG!
The grill is an easy way to imbue flavors and keep your food crisp tender (vegetables) or to impart firmness (tofu or plant-based meats) or render moisture (mushrooms!). It's fast, easy, flavorful and doesn't heat your home. Grilling lends sustainability to temperature management of one of the largest carbon emission sources; our HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems.
A study conducted by PBS.org found, that "(O)ver 20% of all U.S. emissions are directly attributed to household consumption. If you consider indirect emissions, this figure is closer to 80%...U.S. households generate 5.43 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions every year. About 82.3% of those emissions are produced domestically." Those emissions are sourced from our use of energy through natural resources such as petroleum, natural gas and coal mostly.
Grills (mostly) use propane which has a higher output (BTU) than natural gas or electric stoves - BTW a BTU is British Thermal Unit which is the measurement for the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit (F). This can (not always, but can) mean that you would theoretically use less energy to grill than you would to use your oven. Therefore, using the grill in the summer could reasonably save me time, eliminated added heat to my already overheated home (leading to my energy consumption to increase through my air conditioning), and reduce the amount of energy I need to get a beautiful dish on the table.
So, fire up the grill, and look forward to saving the planet, one (vegan) meal (even more sustainability!) at a time.
Crunchy Bok Choy Slaw
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tsp liquid aminos (or soy or tamari sauce)
1/2 tbsp sriracha
3 bunches of baby bok choy (sliced)
1/2 cup matchstick carrots
1/4 cup matchstick radishes
1 bell pepper (sliced)
3 green onions (chopped)
1 large handful cilantro (chopped)
Optional (but recommended): sesame seeds & hemp seeds
Grilled Hoisin-Lime Glazed Tofu:
1 block extra firm tofu (frozen method - pressed & drained - place tofu in original container in the freezer overnight; remove from freezer and let thaw. Then, press, drain & pat dry).
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 lime (zested & juiced)
1 garlic clove (grated)
(1) 1 x 1 inch piece of fresh ginger (peeled & grated)
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp filtered water (to thin - as needed)
In a large bowl, whisk rice vinegar through sriracha of Crunchy Bok Choy Slaw. Add remaining ingredients (except optional seeds) and toss thoroughly (pulling with your mixing utensil from the bottom, and up through the vegetables to coat well). Set aside.
Pre-heat your grill pan (or outdoor grill - you will need grill mats if using outdoor for the grill marks).
Cut your tofu horizontally into 4 pieces (cut in half, then cut the halves in half each); now cut all for horizontal pieces vertically in half. You should have eight pieces.
Mix hoisin sauce through water in a small bowl and grab a small grill / pastry brush.
Add pieces of tofu to the grill and brush each on the up-facing side with the hoisin-lime sauce. Let grill for ~3 minutes.
Flip each carefully and brush again with hoisin sauce on the up-facing side. Let grill for ~3 minutes.
Flip one last time and brush with any remaining sauce. Let grill for ~2-3 minutes until fully done.
Serve portions of slaw in bowls and top with two pieces of grilled tofu and sprinkle (if using) with sesame and hemp seeds.
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie