What I Learned at Summer Camp and Barbecued Tofu

When I was about 10 years old, I went with a friend to a weeklong summer camp in the mountains of New Mexico. I believe it was my first time away from my folks, on my own, for any extended period of time. And I believe it was my first time to be dealt a swift, hard blow by the hand of – cue ominous music – peer pressure.

All sorts of things happened at this camp that involved peer pressure – some of them fairly mild, others rather disturbing. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be “cool.” I wanted to be like all the other kids. That’s what peer pressure is all about, right?

The first night at camp, we were all tucked into our bunks and the lights were out. All the giggling and chatting and fussing had ended and the room was quiet. Then one girl began to cry. I suppose she was afraid of the dark, or missed her mom, or some such thing. Then another girl began to cry. Then another. Soon all the girls in Cabin 3 were weeping like, well, little girls. Including me. But I wasn’t sad; I was excited to be away at camp, excited to be out on my own. I just jumped on the bandwagon because that’s what everyone else was doing.  Crying. That’s how it began.

The following day, we were alone in the cabin. (This is what happens, by the way, when you send your kids to a camp where the counselors are 16 years old.) Someone suggested that we “make ourselves pass out.” Well, what a wonderful idea! Every healthy 10-year-old girl should pass out from time to time! I was smart enough to know better, but alas, I didn’t want to be left out. So I took several deep rapid breaths in and out, then stood up against the wall, held my breath, and allowed one of my fellow campers to pin me to the wall by my neck. Totally worth it, right?

Anyway, I returned from camp at the end of the week and soon forgot all the girls I had so desperately wanted to fit in with the week before. In other words, I could have saved myself from losing a few brain cells by passing out. But this is how we learn, right? We get older and realize that it’s better to stand on our own, have our own ideas, and make our own choices. Like being a vegetarian – that’s a choice. Mostly, I don’t think I miss out on much. But I’ll admit that I have a weak spot for barbecue sauce. Sweet, tangy, smoky barbeque sauce – famous for being slathered over the charred bits and limbs of animals that I don’t care to eat.

Fortunately, I have discovered some lovely veggie recipes that use plenty of barbecue sauce. Barbecued Tofu certainly must be one of the best. Marinated in a strong and flavorful spice mix for two days and then grilled to perfection, it makes a sandwich delicious enough to make you weep – yes, weep – like a little girl. So jump on the bandwagon (but only if it is your very own, independent idea) and try some tofu for a change!

Barbecued Tofu

 3 14oz containers water-packed firm tofu
1/3 cup canola oil
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup water
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 ½ teaspoons dried cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup Barbecue sauce
 
Drain the tofu and reserve the containers. Gently squeeze each tofu block with paper towels to absorb some of the water. Slice each cube horizontally and place in a single layer on a paper towel lined baking sheet. Top tofu pieces with more paper towels. Drain for one hour. Replace the wet paper towels with dry ones and drain for an additional hour.

 
Meanwhile, whisk together all other ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Decrease the heat and simmer for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour a marinade in the bottom of each tofu container to coat the bottom. Place one tofu piece in each container. Pour marinade to cover tofu, then top with second tofu piece in each container. Pour marinade again to cover second tofu piece. Cover containers in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to two days. (I tried both 4 hours of marinating and two days of marinating and did not notice a difference in flavor.)

 
Prepare a medium fire on the grill. Brush grill with oil. Grill tofu for about 6 minutes each side, brushing with marinade. (I allowed my tofu to cook until it had nice grill marks and a slightly tough outer skin. After slicing the finished tofu, I brushed it again with marinade)

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About Karen Milling

Freelance Photographer and Writer with a passion for vegetarian and vegan cooking. Currently my work can be viewed online at my three blogs: Buried Carrots is devoted to colorful writing and delicious vegetarian and vegan food; Composing Kitchen focuses on my efforts, together with my partner, to follow our passions and design our lives; and Karen Milling Photography features my work as a portrait, headshot, wedding and food photographer.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Main Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What I Learned at Summer Camp and Barbecued Tofu

  1. Annie says:

    Why am I just now hearing this story….Karen???! :)

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