This Saturday, my husband woke me in the wee hours of the morning with a stern look on his face. “We need to talk”, he said. Obviously, these are the words anyone wants to hear when they are still half stuck in a dream about visiting Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the other part already returning to the present with one eye half-open. The more alert I became, I began feeling a bit of a panic. What could be so important? Did something horrible happen overnight? What could it be?
As I opened both my eyes, my husband spoke. He said: “The couch is broken.” I said: “WHAT?” and then – coming more and more to my senses – “THIS is what you wake me up for?” “Yes, yes” he answered. And he was serious. The frame of our couch – which is very old and on which for years served as our bed before we moved into a larger apartment five years ago – was torn up and very soon it would break. It would have to be replaced immediately. He had looked on IKEA’s website, we could buy a new couch of exactly the same type – for less than half of what it had cost us all those years ago. He had booked a car, but it was only available until eleven and we would have to hurry and get ready now and leave immediately.
Now, as much as I love this couch, I have been waiting for it to break for a while now. As convenient as it was at the time, it’s just not a proper couch and part of having a nice living room is having a couch to sink into. We have discussed options over the past five years, and could never settle on anything, because couches that fold out into a bed are simply not as comfortable, but where will the guests sleep if we don’t have a fold out couch?
Anyway, hearing my husband’s suggestion of buying exactly the same couch (or just a new frame, if IKEA sold them separately) brought me into a complete state of alertness. It was like I had woken up into a nightmare. I said “NO! I don’t want to be stuck with this couch until I die, so let’s please buy a proper one.” Luckily, we were able to settle on a new couch and color within five minutes. It helps when you have been wanting something for a long time, no? Off we went, me holding a to-go cup of English Breakfast tea in hand.
After another round of discussing whether to fix the old couch with a new frame vs. buying a new couch in the living room department of our local IKEA, we purchased a new couch. It was delivered to the pick-up counter ten minutes later. By this time it was almost ten a.m. and people at the pick-up counter were eating hot dogs and ice cream cones. I was hungry, too, but even if I ate meat and could eat wheat bread, I doubt these would have been the options I would have resorted to. I mean really. We heaved the very large package containing the couch into the car. Trouble was: no room left for anyone else. “I’ll go home by bus”, I said. My husband, not knowing whether a bus line even runs in these parts, said: “Ok, but please don’t get lost. And don’t wander around, it could be dangerous. And, here, take my umbrella”. It was really cute.
I found the bus stop and the bus picked up me up two minutes later. This was great luck, because the bus only runs twice an hour! I then stepped into the subway, for which I only waited four minutes, and was home by 11:30. By this time, I was starving and had a headache. I needed a proper breakfast. And coffee!
So I made almost vegan, almost Huevos Rancheros.
Huevos Rancheros are a traditional Mexican dish (that is also insanely popular in Central America). It’s corn tortillas, topped with grated cheese, on which you fry an egg sunny side up. Huevos Rancheros are served with refried black beans, avocado, sour cream and tomato-chilli sauce. It’s a big, very full meal. Since I’ve been obsessed with tofu scrambled eggs (based on this recipe by the Post Punk Kitchen: http://www.theppk.com/2009/10/tof-u-and-tof-me-scrambled-tofu-revisited/) these past weeks. Thank goodness I finally tried this recipe! I’ve had such a love-hate relationship with scrambled eggs for years now. I had a horrible attempt at tofu scramble some years ago, but it turned out to be pretty disgusting. So you can imagine just how happy I am to have finally found something that works and is absolutely delicious. No more feeling sick after eating an omlette! I happened to have both freshly cooked black beans and fresh tomatoes at home, I made my own version of almost vegan, almost huevos rancheros. After breakfast my headache was gone (probably also due to the painkiller that I took), and I was good to go for a round of setting up the new couch, taking down the old one and taking it down to the basement for temporary storage as well as tidying up the apartment from the mess afterwards. It tool us six hours, but here I am now, writing this blog post whilst sunk into my new, comfy couch.
Ingredients for the Almost Vegan Tofu Scramble
200g Tofu, cut into squares (I used the Taifun-brand, because they make the best tofu here in Germany IMHO)
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground tumeric
½ tsp salt
Pepper to taste
½ tsp roasted and dried garlic
½ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp vegetable broth powder
4 tbsp water
one handful of grated mozzarella cheese
vegetable oil and butter (the latter is optional and should be omitted if you are trying to cook these vegan – same goes for the cheese above and the sour cream below)
In a bowl, combine the ground cumin, the ground turmeric, the salt, the pepper, the roasted garlic, the vegetable broth and the thyme. Add the water and stir well.
Heat a pan, add the oil and when the oil is heated add the tofu squares. Crush the tofu with your spatula, but don’t overdo it. Then, add the spice-water mix. Let the tofu fry until it has absorbed all the water, stir well, ensuring that all of the tofu has that nice yellow color. Add the butter and continue frying until the tofu scramble is crispy in some parts. Add the cheese on top and wait for it to melt, ensuring it doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan. Move tofu scrable onto a plate, leaving one half empty for the black beans. I hear you can top these with nutritional yeast and Kala Namak Salt (which I have yet to purchase), but I think these are delicious just the way they are.
Ingredients for the refried black beans with tomatoes:
one generous ladle full of black beans, including their own broth
5 small tomatoes, washed and cut into slices
1 tbsp sour cream or yoghurt
Clean your pan and place back on stove. Heat up vegetable oil, add the black beans and let fry until all liquid has almost dried. Add the tomato slices, stir around gently and then place on your plate next to tofu scramble, topping with the sour cream or dollop of yoghurt.
You can enjoy these with warm tortillas, as in the original recipe. I would have had to make tortillas, and I was too hungry to make the additional effort. So I defrosted a frozen bun in the microwave while I was prepping the rest of this dish. But honestly: this meal is so filling, you can totally eat it on its own and you won’t miss a thing.
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