My sister Miana came over for the fourth of July, as our parents are in Canada & we're on our own. Or, well, she's on her own. I was on my own anyway. We made a production of dinner (she doesn't usually cook), so i thought, sensei-style, i'd node the meal, as another vegetarian meal that isn't just brown gack. It took us quite a while, but we weren't in efficiency-mode, but rather social kitchen-dance style. Any of these can be made separately; as a matter of fact, i make the chickpeas frequently when i'm lazy, hungry, and want something warm and tasty.

Chickpeas and Tomatoes
This takes just staples that i almost always have in the pantry:
1 can chickpeas
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
garlic
paprika
salt and coarse pepper

In my cast iron pan, i heat a small amount of oil; olive, if you've got it, or canola, then add the chopped garlic. I won't tell you how much, because i use a lot and you might use a little. You know how much you like. Cook the garlic until it starts to brown a little, then add copious amounts of paprika. Mix it all up, and add the drained and rinsed chickpeas.
Cook them while you cut up the tomatoes, and then add those. Adding the juice from the can is optional, depending on how saucy you want your food. Then i let it cook for a while, until the chickpeas are kinda soft, add salt and pepper to taste, and mash in some of the chickpeas to thicken it further. Dangu! this is good!

Spice Rice wit'Almonds
2 cups Basmati rice, rinsed thoroughly and soaked in water to cover for about 1/2 hour
garlic: not a lot. really. minced
ginger, fresh, of course: about the same amount, minced
green chile pepper: you guessed it, minced.
garam masala
one onion, sliced very thin
4 cups vegetable stock
a small handful of chopped almonds, toasted

Miana says she doesn't like rice in general, but she liked this. We did it in the dutch oven, because it goes on the stove and in the oven. The onions should be sautéed in oil until the edges start to brown, then the minced garlic/ginger/chile can be added, along with the garam masala. This will make anyone passing through the kitchen sniff and make comments about the amazing smells you're making (so easily, but don't tell them that!). Offer them some: there should be plenty, in a while.
Drain the rice very well, then add it to the pot amd mix thoroughly. Add the stock, and let it cook over medium-high heat until the liquid has cooked down most of the way (the top is dry). Then put on the lid (should be tight-fitting) and put it in a 325-degree oven for about 20-25 minutes. After you take it out of the oven, leave the lid on for another 10 minutes or so. Then you're done. Use the almonds as a garnish. It's fragrant, not spicy.

Tofu "Burgers"
Just like our mom useta make, right outa Laurel's Kitchen. We hadn't had these for a long time, so we made them.
1 block of firm tofu
1 stalk of celery, chopped fine
1/2 of an onion, chopped fine
1/2 of a green bell pepper, chopped fine
garlic, as much as you want
1 egg
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
flour
brewer's yeast
sesame seeds and/or wheat germ

Sauté the onion, celery, garlic, and pepper together until they're soft. Drain the tofu thoroughly and mash it with a fork in a bowl. Add the egg (beaten first), then the flour and brewer's yeast, mixing thoroughly. Add the grated cheese, mixing all the while, then the cooked veggies.
Mix the wheat germ and/or sesame seeds in a proportion you like in a clean bowl. Shape the tofu mixture into patties and coat it with the dry mixture. These patties can then be cooked on a skillet until browned. They will always have to be handled tenderly, but that's the best way to handle most things.

We had ours with sesame rolls and wicked awesome pickles that yossarian brought from New York. And a merlot, which my sister liked, even. We could hear fireworks from the front porch (much cooler than the kitchen, with candles burning), but couldn't see them.

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