Oy to the World

Kvetch is a word that echoed through the rooms of my home during childhood. Yiddish for whinging, whining, griping, wailing, moaning, grousing, grumbling, lamenting. Basically, persistent, powerful, good old fashioned complaining. It was used most variably as a verb but also often times as a noun and on special occasion, as a gerund. It was certainly not a compliment when Big Teddy or the Dish commented as to one's being a kvetch or one's kvetching but it did become a badge of honor, namely an instrument of humor and opportunity for serious eye rolling if not a time to quickly reset. We had an awesome upbringing, so why the complaining? Perhaps I can chalk it up to being one of five loud, leading personalities. Who knows? That's enough to drive anyone batty. 

This past Thanksgiving, a torch was passed when my mother informed me I was no longer the biggest kvetch in the family. I'll leave a bit of mystery here and not reveal the new title weight champion. My husband was horrified by the allegation. I found it endearing. Having to cope with the adulation of the two powers that be, my parents. I was actually praised for my temperance. Me? The sun rose on a new, halcyon day indeed. No longer the familial Grinch. Hey, we all take wins, and this includes in the kitchen. Owing to my commute and the fact that I am always, out of time, we are on a journey to find quick meals that can be prepared the night before or quickly after a long drive, the gym, whatever. We love to eat so it has to look good and taste the business. The below dish was packed with flavor and a cinch to pull together. Leftovers for lunch were simply sublime. I will be preparing it again tomorrow night and plan to substitute bison for pork. Happy cooking and hoping someone passes you a torch today that makes you smile.

Weeknight Mapo Tofu with Ground Pork
Adapted from Bon Appetit


2 TBS vegetable oil
1 lb ground pork
1 lb silken tofu – carefully cut into 1 inch cubes – this exercise was an ethereal one
1 jalapeno – chopped in food processor
4 garlic cloves – chopped in food processor
2 inch knob of ginger – peeled and chopped in food processor
4 scallions – ends cut off and chopped in food processor
1 TBS tomato paste
1 tsp pink peppercorns, Sichuan peppercorns or freshly ground black pepper
2 cups of low sodium chicken broth
1 bunch of greens – I used two baby bok choy chopped in food processor
1 TBS sesame oil
1 TBS rice wine vinegar
Bunch of basil leaves – torn

How do you do

  1. Heat oil in a heavy pot over medium high heat. I use my small Le Creuset. It is quite adorable and perfect for preparing smaller meals, roasting 2-3 pound chickens and whipping up my fruit crisps for dessert.
  2. Throw your pork in, set the timer to five minutes and don't touch it. Once the alarm sounds, break your pork up with a wooden spoon and stir until browned all over. This should take another 5 minutes or so.
  3. Now add your lovely aromatic medley of jalapeno, garlic, ginger and scallions. Stir until uniform. Let this cook for around three minutes.
  4. Add your tomato paste, peppercorns, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. This is also a great time to add your greens. Stir for a pair of minutes more.
  5. Now add your broth, bring to a boil and lower to simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Gently put your tofu on top, cover the pot and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Throw the torn basil on top and you are ready for domination.


  1. This looks fantastic! I'm definitely making it. Can you use the firm tofu? Would it serve four?

  2. Thank you, it's delicious and easy. Packed with flavor. In fact, I am making it this evening! Yes, you can use firm tofu. If this is for four, I would double the meat to 2 lbs, and be sure to serve with rice. Tonight, I am going to thinly slice a red onion and let it sit in a few tablespoons of rice wine vinegar. I will pop this on top. Super dish, thanks for writing - bon appetit!