I tried to go to a pool party today. It seemed like a great idea at the time -- "Screw writing!" I thought as I began slathering my face with sunscreen and bronzer. I tossed my gray sweat shorts on the floor and replaced them with the blue and white striped bikini that I've worn approximately three times since I purchased it three years ago, and hopped into my car.
"See, I can be spontaneous," I told myself as I accelerated down Melrose Avenue with visions of floatation devices and sparkling Rosé drifting through my head. I was going to have fun -- relax, laugh like one of those people who has nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon than drink wine by the pool.
I didn't anticipate that by the time I arrived at the party my planned street for parking would be bumper to bumper cars. And I didn't anticipate having to traverse the hilly, one-lane streets of the neighborhood with my groaning, sputtering 1999 Corolla that has seen far far better days. Twenty minutes of unsuccessful sputtering later, I gave up. I chucked spontaneity in the toilet and drove home to sit on my couch, in my bikini with sunscreen in my eyes.
This has been the story of my weekend. Failed, frustrating missions.
I bought the wrong kind of rice vinegar at the grocery store yesterday. The drug store was out of the rubber gloves I use for cooking and cleaning (don't ask). The movie theater only had front row seats left for the 7:30 showing of The Help last night. And when I found this out, I told my poor friend who bought the tickets for us that I didn't want to sit that close -- and we didn't end up going at all.
Because I'm not a go-with-the-flow person. I'm rigid. Inflexible. And anxious about anything that isn't in my neat little zone of comfort. I'm scared of getting neck and eyestrain from sitting too close to the screen; paranoid that if I drive or park on a hill, my car will roll back into another car; and opposed to using a different kind of rice vinegar that is not the one that I always buy and always use for my rice vinegar-inclusive recipes.
"What if it's not the same?" I think, as if it's the worst possible thing that could happen.
Because with this chopped miso salad -- an addicting combination of cabbage, noodles, sugar snap peas, sauteed tofu, crispy shallots, crunchy almonds, and the perfect miso dressing -- it actually would be the worst thing that could happen. I wouldn't dare compromise the collusion of all those deliciously snappy textures slung together with that be-all-end-all miso dressing by using a (gasp) different rice vinegar.
Just like I wouldn't dare compromise my overextended vehicle by parking on a hill; instead electing to drive all the way back home to sit on my couch, in my bikini, with sunscreen in my eyes and no glass of pink, bubbly wine in my hand.
You know it's a bad weekend when the highlight is a tofu salad. Even if it is a really really good one that, incidentally, is the perfect way to go about actually fitting into that bikini that only gets worn around the house.
Chopped Miso Salad
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
1 1/2 cups of dry whole wheat spaghetti, snapped into 1-inch pieces
10 ounces extra firm tofu, sliced into julienne-like pieces
1 1/2 cups shallots, skinned and thinly sliced
4 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups sugar snap peas, sliced on the diagonal
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white miso
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar (unseasoned)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Combine miso, Dijon and brown sugar in a small bowl. Whisk in the rice vinegar, then the sesame oil. Dressing should be smooth.
Cook whole wheat spaghetti according to package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process, and set aside.
While spaghetti is cooking, heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, swirling to coat the pan. Stir in the shallots, tofu and pinch of salt and reduce the heat to medium. Continue stirring every few minutes so the shallots and tofu get browned on all sides. Keep a close eye so they don't burn and reduce the temperature if they seem to be cooking too quickly. Once well-browned (approximately 15 minutes), turn off the heat and let sit while you are preparing the other ingredients.
In a large bowl, toss cabbage, noodles, snap peas with the miso dressing. Divide among four plates, then top each with the crispy tofu, shallots and almonds. Eat immediately for optimal crunch factor.