Soup, salad and soy. That about sums up the week. We had a much needed day off Friday, but we managed to cram more than enough food into the other days though to make up for the four day week.
I have eaten tofu occasionally, more so because I thought I should from a nutritional standpoint rather than because I actually love it. Turns out soy is not the wonder food we have been led to believe. Soy, whilst considered to be the most complete of all plant proteins, is extremely difficult to digest, disrupts thyroid function and interferes with our endocrine system.
Soy products can be divided into two groups: raw and fermented. Raw products include soy milk and tofu. Fermented products, such as tempeh, soy sauce, tamari and miso, are much easier to digest. The majority of soy consumed by Asian cultures is fermented. This is in contrast to Western society, where the majority of soy consumed is raw. Then there are the fractionated soy products, such as soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein, which contain denatured proteins and potential carcinogens that are formed during their processing. Unfortunately soy protein isolate is contained in much of our processed food, so reading labels becomes essential.
The upside of all this soy is that I have discovered the versatility of tempeh. My partner and I made some fantastic open sandwich bites with chipotle tempeh, red onion jam, shiitake mushrooms and lacto fermented tomato sauce. Tempeh was included in salads, fried rice and lasagne as tempeh bolognaise. Tofu was not forgotten. Marinated and shallow fried it actually becomes quite edible. However I think I will stick to tempeh as my soy of choice.
Soy was closely followed by soup. There are six groups in our class. Each group prepared four soups. That is twenty four different soups to sample. Now I love soup, but that is a lot of soup. We tried everything from borscht with sauerkraut to hearty split pea and ham, and everything in between. Even though we all sampled a small amount of each soup, there were substantial amounts left over. These have been frozen and stored for consumption during cake week (yes it is coming).
Salads heralded much needed relief from the soup. The basic skills to be mastered during this class were roasting vegetables and making mayonnaise. Each group was set the task of roasting vegetables for inclusion in a massive roast vegetable salad for lunch. I have never been a fan of the roast veggie salad, but I think I have just never had a good one. Our combined efforts produced a salad I would be happy to serve to anyone. The mayonnaise was used to create a cracker potato salad and some fantastic variations on a Caesar salad, whilst tempeh made a reappearance in a sea Caesar salad.
Thursday was all about breakfast. Poached eggs, scrambled eggs and omelettes, closely followed by pancakes, fritters and tempeh sausage (are you seeing a theme?). The day started with a very interesting discussion with Margaret of Cackleberry Farm about their farming practices. It was great to hear from a producer about the care and effort they take with their product. If I didn’t have my own chickens, these are the eggs I would buy.
It was a fitting way to end the week. That extra day was needed to rest the stomach before the next instalment.