“The meek shall inherit the Earth.” So we are told in the bible, Matthew, 5:5. That was written a long time ago and its author has not met today’s kids. Meek is the last word I would use to describe them. In three separate conversations with three college kids home for the summer, the main message I heard was: “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.”
Example #1. Above-pictured “steppie” (as my stepdaughter is lovingly referred), in between her dual major in physics and glass art, is filling our kitchen sink with rinsed-out recyclable containers. Styrofoam clam shells with leftover apple pancake bits. The little opaque plastic salad dressing cup from Lou Malnadi Pizza (they do a mean salad, on top of their killer pizza). I look at the pile of plastic crap in the sink and think, why? Our lives are messy enough as it is. My next thought is THANK YOU! Thank you for embodying the credo – every last single gesture makes a difference. Thank you for being a role model. Now please put those containers away somewhere.
Example #2. Mister firstborn, my sports-addled, soon-to-be-a-broadcaster son, hopped off the plane from his semester abroad (in L.A.), where he interned for Fox Sports Radio, and immediately held forth. Not about the NBA playoffs. Not about the surging New York Yankees. (Okay, a little bit about the Giants first round draft pick.) But mainly, he was all about Trump, and the Mueller Report, and the state of our country, and how are we going to whittle down the Democratic candidate pool to less than the entire roster of an NFL football team?! Politics are private and I will not betray his loyalties. Suffice it to say, as a college survey of one, he is so-far skewing towards pro-environmental candidates who do not remind him of his grandfather.
Example #3. My baby, a tall, handsome always-hungry Vermont freshman, whom I fetched last week in Burlington, announced that he has gone mostly-vegetarian. Once I got the car wheels back on the road, I inquired as to his reasoning. “Cattle farming is killing the planet, Dad,” he told me. He has all but cut out meat, is being mindful about his seafood selections, and has found that tofu substitutes, so far, are sating his insatiable appetite.
For those of us of a certain generation, our parents’ form of conservation came in a different language. “Turn off your lights. Electricity isn’t free!” And who can forget, “Shut the door before you let all the air conditioning out!” Cue the “Eat your dinner. Children are starving in________.” That pretty much covered the environmental activism in my childhood household.
I strive to keep this site free from political static. We’ve become megaphones of our dug-in positions and we’re all going deaf from the chatter. What raised my eyebrow was three unsolicited statements from three college students that all suggested that this generation cares. I’m a dad and it’s my job to opine, so I reminded all three children that their opinions are delightful but they did not get out and vote in droves last election, and, well…
“Oh, we’re voting this time Dad,” my son said. “What are YOU guys going to do about climate change?”
In the spirit of my son’s challenge, I offer up a new dish: my very first Tofu stir fry. Not sure it replaces that delicious dry rub marinated pork I usually use in this recipe, but it saved a pound of meat from the production cycle. If the kid are going to live up to their commitment, isn’t it time we start to honor ours?
Ramen Tofu Stir Fry
• 1 lb. firm, drained tofu
• 4 packs of dried ramen noodles
• 5 or 6 white or brown mushroom caps, stems trimmed
• 1 red pepper
• 1 peeled carrot
• 2 or 3 scallions
• 2 thinly sliced jalapenos
• 1/4 cup corn starch, 1/4 cup flour
• 2 tbsp chili powder, cayenne, or smoked paprika for color and flavor
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil
• Soy sauce to taste
1.) Drain the brick of tofu with a handful of paper towels. Tamp as dry as you can get it.
2.) Thoroughly mix the cornstarch, flour and seasonings.
3.) Cut the tofu into 1″ by 1″ cubes and carefully roll in the seasoned flour mix. Set on a flat plate.
4.) Thinly slice your garlic and scallion, and dice or slice the rest of your veggies. Set aside.
5.) Heat oil in a fry pan or work until shimmering from heat, medium hot.
6.) Gently lay the tofu cubes in the oil and let cook until one side is toasty brown. Carefully flip with a teaspoon and brown the other side. Remove each finished piece to a clean plate for later use.
7.) Put water on boil and keep it boiling until it is Ramen time!
8.) When tofu is all cooked and removed from pan, scrape any loose bits. add more oil and flash sauté the garlic and scallion.
9.) Put dry Ramen noodles (without the broth mix) in the boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Once tender, drain thoroughly.
10.) Add carrots, peppers and mushrooms to stir fry. Toss well until heated, perhaps 3 minutes.
11.) Add the fully drained Ramen noodles and splash in soy sauce to taste. Toss really well until all the ingredients are combined.
12.) Last step! Add in your crunchy, delicate spicy cubes of tofu goodness. Toss a few times into the mix without breaking them apart. Carefully dump the steaming beautiful mess into a bowl. Arm yourselves with chopsticks and dig in!