Last week I received an email from Terri T who lives in the Berkeley area. The subject line was, “Question about making silken tofu from Asian Tofu.” I assumed that it was someone needing a technical assist. She wrote:
I am a faithful reader (mostly lurker) of your blog. I have a question for you. I want to make the Silken Tofu from your Asian Tofu book. You recommend steaming it in a glass container with straight edges for easier removal. I was wondering if you'd tried steaming it in containers made out of other materials. I want to make the Silken Tofu for a friend who's going through chemo right now and can only eat soft, bland foods–the Silken Tofu seems perfect for that. But to make things easier for the family, we're trying to bring meals for her in disposable containers. Do you think it would be okay to steam the tofu in a container made of aluminum foil? Or might there be some odd chemical reaction? (I hesitate to use plastic.) Or would you recommend that I steam the tofu in a glass container and then transfer it to a disposable container before giving it to my friend?
What a thoughtful gift to a sick friend. I suggested using a disposable loaf pan, which Terri did with great success. Terri ordered food grade gypsum online and went to town. When she sent the photo of her tofu (above), she gave a little more detail about the situation:
Our friend still has a couple of rounds of chemo to get through, and then she will be awaiting a donor for a bone marrow transplant. It's hard to find a match, especially since there is a scarcity of Asian American donors, and there is more of a chance of a match with a donor of the same ethnic background. We held a bone marrow drive for her at our church in June, and others have been trying to organize others around the Bay Area. In the meanwhile, we're all trying to support her with lots of food, love and prayers.
Thank you again for your help in making this possible. The recipe in your book was easy to follow, and the sample I tasted was the best tofu I've had in my life (and I love tofu)!
I loved the fact that Terri’s success with making her own silken tofu came from the Asian Tofu cookbook, but I was extremely touched by her friend’s fight for life. Turns out that that the friend is battling myelofibrosis, a bone marrow condition where marrow cells are replaced by scar tissue. Marrow is important for good health as it’s where red cells, white cells, and platelets are produced. We need marrow for fighting disease and infections. (Wonder what marrow bones look like? They're the ones you use to make pho broth.)
According to the National Institutes of Health, the myelofibrosis symptoms are just awful – bone pain, bruising, abdominal swelling, fatigue, easy bleeding and more. There is no prevention and successful treatment often entails a bone marrow transplant. Bone marrow donors are in big demand because getting the right match is extremely hard. It’s akin trying to find matching puzzle pieces in a giant bag filled with puzzle pieces.
Terri organized the bone marrow drive for her friend through the Asian American Donor Program, which serves everyone, not just Asians. Why be ethnic specific? The issue is that there are not enough minority bone marrow donors. Heredity matters when it comes to marrow transplants so the more potential donors, the better. AADP targets the Asian community to spread awareness and garner more donors. You can also register with the National Bone Marrow Program as a donor, Terri said. In a parting email, she wrote that she hoped that her Asian Tofu exchange with me would “. . . inspire others to try making their own tofu (or even to become bone marrow donors–the need is great)!”
So what started out as a question about a pan for making tofu turned into a discussion about community involvement and saving lives. That’s how it’s been with my journey on the tofu trail. The bean curd has proven itself to be great way to make friends and share stories.
Consider registering to become a marrow donor. You just have to be 18 and 60 years old and in good health. Thanks, Terri, for this contribution.