a pisgah sight of palestine, or the parable of the pig

Joyce’s Ulysses is layered with Biblical motifs, one of my favorite being the messianic hope of a new day.  (I bet you didn’t know someone wrote her Master’s thesis on this very topic, didya?)  There’s an ongoing theme of being thwarted at the last minute before arriving in paradise, like poor old Moses who led the Israelites all the way to the promised land of Palestine, only to die after spying it from atop Mt. Pisgah.

The moral of that story is the darkest hour is before the dawn.


Our friends had 80 pounds of pig to smoke yesterday, and we had our own Pisgah sight of paradise.  They found the rotisserie broken and something weird about the heating innards.

They did their best, being experienced smokemen, and so we waited, and drank, and reveled, and waited, and watched, and hoped, and sniffed, and shivered, and waited, and drank, and waited, and drank some more, and our mouths watered, and we talked about the glorious moment in which we’d open the smoker and all god’s glory would come tumbling out and we would sup from the milkiest honeyed pig you might possibly see.  Buddha would jump the wall, the Imam would faint, and vegans everywhere would come gaily skipping up into the South Hills at the smell of the Pig Piper’s porcine perfume.

But alas, it was not to be. No pig that night.  Rumor has it that the pig was still cooking into the early hours of the morning.

Luckily, we had grill-roasted spicy green beans and tandoori chicken, rather ingeniously marinated in salmon-colored yogurt in a big beverage cooler.  I have to get myself one of those for brining turkeys.  I brought along some lacto-fermented hot sauce and pickled cherries for the pig.  Needless to say, these were NOT CONSUMED WITH SMOKY, STICKY, FALLING-OFF-THE-BONE PORCULESCENCE, ACTION RENT-ALL.

Nevertheless, I’m pleased to say we had a triple-grill weekend with many friends and meats, and new horizons of vegetable possibilities for the barbie, as well.  And if you missed our show full of great alternative grilling tips from Eugene restaurant chefs on last Sunday’s Food for Thought on KLCC radio show because you were struggling with your own smoker, it’s available in .mp3 here.

What did you end up grilling, Eugeniuses?

vegan undercover: miso-marinated grilled tofu and veg

A vegan friend of mine visited from the Bay Area last weekend.  Up for a challenge, I decided to go undercover as a fellow vegan, vegging out on vegetables, while she was here.

The plan was to hit up the plethora of new vegan food carts around town, since I don’t find them particularly appealing otherwise (sorry, guys!).  I didn’t realize that they were almost all vegan fast food (fried things, hamburgers, hotdogs, and the like) and my friend is dedicated to eating low-fat and low-carb meals.  And honestly, if I’m going to have fried or high-calorie snacks, I’m not going to waste the calories on tofu sausage.  (But I have to say the greens and cornbread at Cornbread Café do look good… and I was just informed that there’s a raw food cart in Kesey Plaza called Raw Love that we missed when we did our research online!)

So, we did some cooking.  Many of the side dishes I make are vegan, and it was easy to make a pot of beans, Moroccan carrot purée, some French olive-oil-based potato salad, panzanella, and dried fruit, berries, and hazelnuts for snacks.  I broke out the table grill and made rather yummy miso-marinated grilled tofu and vegetables, too.

Miso Marinade for Grilled Tofu and Vegetables

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup yellow miso
  • 1/4 c. sake
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 T. sesame oil

Whisk all ingredients together.

To prepare vegetables: Slice vegetables in large pieces for the most attractive presentation.  Zucchini and yellow summer squash work very well, as would small Japanese eggplants, sliced lengthwise twice, peppers, and sweet onion.  (In our dinner, we used a red pepper, an Anaheim pepper, three small zucchini, and a summer squash.)  Brush half of the marinade on the vegetables.

To prepare tofu: For best results, drain water from a cake of firm tofu by placing it in a colander with a plate on top of it. Place a weight (like a big can of tomatoes) on the plate.  Let sit and drain for 30 minutes or so.  Dab any remaining liquid off with a paper towel.  Then slice the tofu lengthwise in 1-inch thick slices.  Brush the other half of the marinade on tofu.

Marinate vegetables and tofu in separate bowls for about 30 minutes.

Brush grill with oil before placing tofu and vegetables on the hot grill, as they tend to stick.  Avoid turning tofu and vegetables too early.

Note: these measurements are approximate.  Watch for the salt in miso — if you are using watery vegetables, like summer squash, the salt is necessary, but it may be a bit strong if you are only using red peppers.  The saltiness is a must for tofu.

Enjoy these vegetables with a dry rosé.