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1858 Or Bust!

April 22, 2012

O.K. so I was totes magotes born too late and I am SO over it. Whatever happened to SIMPLER TIMES when everyone DIYed, you know, EVERYTHING?

So yesterday I started canning, pickling, beekeeping, and raising three chickens. Martha, Peggy, and Dusty. Super-cute names, right? I just bought them a coop at Williams-Sonoma. They all have their own Facebook profiles because I think that’s only fair. 97% of my Twitter followers agree.

Anyways back to canning. History is AMAZEBALLS and the Internet says that John Landis Mason invented the mason jar in 1858 but his invention never made him rich because most mason jars were manufactured by his competitors after his patent expired so he worked as an accountant and there were some MAD rumors that he had his home burned for the insurance money and then he died of an abdominal hemorrhage.

Total bummer, right? I feel like, can’t somebody do something about this injustice, like Judge Joe Brown or Bill O’Reilly or Bono or Kris Jenner or something?

Or … OMG you guys. YOU GUYS. O.K. I’m so evolving a plan here. Call me cray-cray, but what if we travel back to 1858 and preserve John Landis Mason IN A MASON JAR and bring him back to the future to 2012 so he can see that his jars now sell in $30 four-packs at Williams-Sonoma?! ROAD TRIP!

Umm, YES I’m aware that acquiring parts for and building a time machine and casually altering the course of human history isn’t exactly in line with my newfound reverence for the past. DUH. I’ve sort of delegated that part for now so I’m not really that worried. Martha, Peggy, and Dusty are working on it.

Anyways in the meantime I need to keep up with my steadfast commitment to the lost art of pickling but using a mason jar in any fashion at this point seems totes unfair to John Landis Mason, my new BF4F (Best Friend 4EVA in the Future).

Lucky for me, I found a recipe for Vietnamese daikon and carrot pickles that you can keep in the fridge … I mean … ICEBOX … for weeks totes without a jar or can. You cut carrots and daikon radish into thin matchsticks, massage them with salt and sugar until they release moisture, rinse them off, and then brine them for an hour in a mixture of sugar, white vinegar, and water.

You know you’ve massaged the veggies enough when you can bend a piece of daikon so the ends touch but the daikon doesn’t break. Fun, right?

Umm, WTF? Who are you? The Invisible Hand? This recipe is about ME and MY DIYing and MY time travel. You can’t just …

Is that lemongrass? O.K. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that there is no way you grew that yourself. I’m gonna have to ask you to stop right there and …

Is that mayonnaise in a SQUEEZE BOTTLE? PRETTY SURE those weren’t around in the 1850s. You just don’t GET IT. Ugh. Can’t wait for my chickens to get me out of here.

Totes. Not. Cool.
Did they have fire extinguishers in 1858?
Googling now.

If you know, tweet me

Banh Mi with Spicy Lemongrass Tofu
Adapted from Epicurious and Andrea Nguyen’s Viet World Kitchen
Makes 4 sandwiches


  • 1 baguette (It should be light and not too chewy; the less “rustic” the better)
  • Mayonnaise
  • 1 batch of Lemongrass Tofu (Recipe follows. Heads-up: It needs to marinate for at least 30 minutes before you cook it.)
  • 1 Long English or Asian/Persian cucumber, cut into thin strips
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced into thin rings
  • Daikon radish and carrot pickles (Recipe here)
  • cilantro sprigs, roughly chopped
  • 1 lime


Cut the baguette into four equal pieces. You can toast the pieces in the oven briefly if you want. Cut a slit into one of the pieces lengthwise and open it up like a book. Generously spread the bottom surface with mayonnaise. Add tofu and vegetables to taste. Squeeze a bit of lime juice over them. Repeat the process to make three more sandwiches.

Spicy Lemongrass Tofu


  • 2 lemongrass stalks, outer layers peeled, bottom white part thinly sliced and finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chopped Thai chili or another fresh chili
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces tofu, drained, patted dry and cut into strips that are about 1 inch wide
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Combine the lemongrass, soy sauce, chilies, chili flakes, turmeric, sugar, and salt in a food processor and puree until smooth. Place the tofu strips in a large, shallow dish (I used a Pyrex baking dish). Spoon the lemongrass mixture over the tofu. Gently turn the tofu to coat. Put the dish in the ICEBOX and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the tofu and cook, turning frequently, so it browns on all sides. This should take about 4-5 minutes. Place cooked tofu on a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with the rest of the tofu and vegetable oil.

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