I have a confession.
When I wrote down my new years resolutions a few days ago, I omitted one of the most personal goals I have for this year: to improve and expand Enjoying Earth. I omitted this goal because it felt too scary to actually write it down where others could see and track my progress. Throughout the life of this blog, I have allowed the confines of my self-prescribed limits dictate how successful I can be and how much I am allowed to share here. I have let my self-conscious worries manifest in a barrier that I use to shield myself from others seeing those parts that worry me. Only recently have I realized (poo on that! I’m STILL realizing) that my barrier has surely kept out those who might judge me, but it has also detrimentally kept out those who might connect with me.
Over the last few months, I have listened to an ASMR video (don’t know what that is? Here, read) where the creator, Charlotte, sneaks something so profound and beautiful into her video. She thinks that the fact that each of us is slowly dying gives us nothing to lose, and she means it in a good way. The more I listen to those words, the more I wake up a little bit to their truth. Surely they can be interpreted in many ways, but I use the words to mean that there is no reason for me to be afraid of doing what I love in this world and making as many meaningful and positive connections as I can because of social anxiety or fear of rejection. Not only do I try to apply this to my life when meeting new people in school or smiling at people on walks to the store, but I am committing myself to the jump of applying this to my blog, despite the fears I have about it.
One of the ways I hope to apply it here is to let my voice prevail in my writing more than I have let it in the past. Since the inception of this blog, I have always prioritized good recipes.
(Like this one!)
Prioritizing good recipes might seem obvious, but I think that in food blogging there is a constant attempt to balance good food, concise and reliable recipes, creative photography, catchy writing, and a positive social media presence. Making sure I was sharing recipes that I was proud of, that Mitchy confirmed other people would like, was most important to me, and it probably still is. But as I have grown into better photography and gotten more attention, I have hid my online presence behind a nice, indistinguishable voice that simply says, “Hey, try out this recipe!” and then shrinks back into the shadows of reality. With this new year, I want to break down my barrier and connect more intimately with my blog, with my readers, and with the online community. So I will try to start now:
I am a Freshman in college. I am excited to be attending college after taking two gap years after high school. Maybe my being in college after gap time means I’m more worldly or something. For me, it means that I am YOUNG. My youth is one of my biggest insecurities because I fear that ageism will affect how other prominent vegan bloggers or readers view me, but you know what? Screw that. I am choosing to embrace my youth and the strength required to defy societal norms by developing a vegan food blog at nineteen years old. Writing it now, it feels like ageism might be a silly fear, but then I remember that no fear is silly if you fear it.
There. I just started. I am excited to commit myself to being a more open blogger, and I am even more excited for other revelations that this new year may bring.
One revelation that I am hoping to stumble on soon, a lighter topic amidst all of these tiny personal enlightenments, is the ability to use chopsticks.
I added “learn to use chopsticks” to my new years resolution list on my fridge soon after making this tofu chow mien recipe because I am simply done being embarrassed when I go out to asian restaurants with my little sister who is apparently a chopstick master. You know the look you’re given when you’re at a place so authentic that they don’t naturally serve forks, so you have to go and ASK for a fork? Yeah, we’re done with that.
On a video I watched to teach me how to use them, the first lines were,
“You will need two things to learn how to use chopsticks:
So I guess, much like in blogging, I am in it for the long haul over here.
Thank you for all of your love and support both in my blogging endeavors as well as in the good vibes I’m in need of for my chopstick endeavors. Seriously, thank you. Whenever you’re reading this, wherever you are, thank you.
Don’t forget to try out this chow mien recipe below! In my humble food-blogging-expert opinion, it’s pretty rad.
- ♥ 1 block firm tofu
- ♥ 1/4 tsp salt
- ♥ 1/4 tsp pepper
- ♥ 12 oz package chow mien noodles
- ♥ 2-3 tbsp apple juice
- ♥ 2-3 tbsp soy sauce
- ♥ 1 medium onion, diced
- ♥ 4 medium carrots, chopped
- ♥ 1 small head cabbage, shredded
- ♥ 2 celery stalks, chopped
- ♥ 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- ♥ 1/4 cup soy sauce
- ♥ 1/2 cup maple syrup
- ♥ 3/4 cup water
- ♥ 1 tsp garlic powder
- ♥ 1/2 tsp ginger powder (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350℉.
- Drain tofu and wrap firmly in hand towel; place a heavy pan or object on top of the block to press out any extra water. Let sit for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook chow mien noodles per instructions on their package. Make sure not to overcook them.
- Take the tofu out of the hand towel and slice into small squares or thin triangles to your presence (I like the triangles because they look rad).
- Place tofu evenly on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet, and sprinkle half of the salt and pepper over the pieces.
- Place tofu in oven for 15 minutes. Flip them after fifteen minutes, sprinkle the rest of the salt and pepper, and bake for another 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice and shred your vegetables accordingly.
- Place chopped onion and carrots into a large pan on medium to medium-high heat, and pour the apple juice, soy sauce, and garlic powder over them. Sauté until onions are soft.
- Add in the celery and cabbage, and cook the vegetables together for about 10 minutes, until they are all evenly cooked. If they are running a little low on liquid, add some apple sauce to moisten things up instead of using oil.
- Stir in the chow mien noodles and stir until well combined with the veggies. Turn heat to medium low, stirring around as necessary.
- In a bowl or cup, stir together the teriyaki sauce ingredients until well blended.
- Pour the teriyaki sauce over the chow mein and let the water simmer off for about 5-10 minutes.
- When the tofu is done, turn the stove and the oven off, spoon some chow mein into a bowl or a place, and either stir the tofu in or set it on top of the noodles.
- Top with peanuts, coconut shreds, fried chow mien noodles, sriracha, or red pepper flakes.