Achieving Perfection

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Last night I achieved perfection. I can honestly say that I finally, after years of failed attempts, cooked the perfect tofu.

I wrote a post a last week talking about grilling tofu, and got a great comment and recipe suggestion from Laura. Her recipe sounded awesome, and I couldn’t wait to make it!

On Sunday afternoon, I pressed a block of tofu in my new best friend, the Tofu Xpress. After the water was all drained out, I cut the tofu into small cubes (or rectangular prisms, if you want to get technical) and placed it back in the Tofu Xpress (this time with the lid instead of the spring, so it could marinate).

When I looked at the ingredient list for Laura’s marinade, I referred back to my favorite culinary quote of all time (from Michael Voltaggio): “Recipes are a guide map- not a contract.” I pretty much live by this quote, which is why I cook, and don’t bake.

Laura’s marinade calls for the following ingredients:

  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 T nut butter (I used TJ’s Valencia Peanut Butter)
  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 T Thai-style chili sauce
  • 1 large garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

I did not have any Thai style chili sauce, and for some reason completely forgot to add sesame seeds (which would have been awesome) and paprika!

My marinade included various amounts of the following things: sesame oil, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, Soy Sauce, rice vinegar, peanut butter, peanut flour, red pepper flake, chili powder, garlic, and honey. To be honest, I started with a few ingredients and added a bit too much rice vinegar, and then added some other things in to mellow it out. The marinade tasted SO good- I could have slathered some on the raw tofu and eaten it just like that! But, I didn’t. I let it marinade for almost a full 24 hours.

I set the oven to 400 and baked the tofu for 35 minutes, flipping it over halfway through. When it was done baking, it looked like this:

(there’s a few pieces missing because I could not wait to try it!)

I filled up a bowl with kelp noodles (which are like 5 calories for an entire bowlful!), steamed broccoli and carrots, and poured some of the leftover marinade over top. And then of course the star of the meal, the tofu, was carefully placed on top.

I could not BELIEVE the texture of this tofu- if I hadn’t baked it myself, I would assume it had been fried! Completely crispy outside and chewy on the inside.

The flavor soaked all the way through and each bite was ahhhhh-mazing. By the time I brought it to the table, I remembered that there was one final touch that I wanted to add to make this bowl of perfection even more perfect: chopped peanuts.

Heavenly. Best part is- there was enough tofu leftover for me to bring for lunch one day this week. Knowing that I will have this waiting for me to eat at lunch will certainly make the work day a lot easier to get through.

**

On the idea of perfection, I have some news to share. Apparently I have not yet achieved perfection as a Bodypump instructor. I got my results back this morning (finally) from the video assessment that I submitted in January. And they weren’t bad, but I “sorta” passed my certification. When you submit your assessment you get one of three results.

#1 is a “PASS” in which you are cleared, certified and ready to go

#2 is  “PASS WITHHELD” which means that you are almost there, but need to work on things for 30 more days (and have the approval of your gym’s exercise coordinator) andthen you get your “PASS” (and certification)

#3 is “RESUBMIT” which means still have some improvements that need to be made, and that you have to film your video assessment again and go through the whole process of waiting again.

If you remember back from my post in January, luck was not on my side the day I filmed my video assessment. I woke up with flu-like symptoms and was the sickest I had been in almost three years that whole weekend. I had no energy and could barely lift a dumbbell, but I did my best to soldier through and fake it for my assessment. My worst fear in all of this was that I would receive a “Resubmit” on my assessment and have to go through the whole process again. But thank God, I did not. I got a “Pass Withheld.”

The assessors send about 20 pages of notes critiquing your technique + form, fitness (meaning how much weight you are selecting for each track), coaching, timing, and how well you know the choreography, amongst other things. I actually got some really good feedback and agree with most of it. Overall, they liked my “natural teaching style” and said that I knew the choreography really well, and that my form and technique were strong (even on push-ups!). What I need to work on is my timing (I knew that) and increase my weight selection (obviously- I went super light for my filming because it was all I could do being sick). So I’m almost there, and really just can’t wait to have that certification in my hands that I’ve worked so hard for.

I can honestly say that I have improved a great deal since filming my assessment back in January. I have practiced the choreography for the last 2 releases at least 3 times a week, and have met up with a friend for “one on one” classes on Sunday mornings for additional practice. And after the amazing class I taught Sunday, I feel 100% confident in my skills as a Les Mills instructor. So now I just have to wait 30 days (and continue to practice and improve the areas noted) until I’m “official.”

**
One more thing- and this is completely random. I needed a ‘lighter’ workout at the gym yesterday, so I decided to spend some time on the elliptical. I was about 30 minutes into my workout (I was planning to go for 50, since I was running through one of my spin playlists), when someone got on the machine next to me. Now, you might think that the worst smell at the gym is B.O., but I beg to differ. This woman reeked of the worst gym stench combination: cigarette smoke “covered up” with a ton of perfume. It was really bad at first, and I seriously considered getting off my machine and moving to another one, but I was in such a good groove where I was at. I sucked it up for the last 20 minutes and tried to breathe out of my mouth as much as possible. I survived- barely. To all smokers out there: please don’t smoke on the way to the gym (and try to cover it up with a ton of perfume). You’re not fooling anyone.

Have a great Tuesday! :)

Have you achieved “perfection” lately? Or, what are you constantly trying to improve upon?