LPTHW 13 & 14 and TOFU part 1

Today’s post combines exercises 13 and 14 since they conceptually build on and complement each other.

Exercise 13: Parameters, unpacking, variables: cats rats dogs & fish


In exercise 13, I wrote a script that accepts arguments. As instructed, you start out with three variables, but in the study drills I added a fourth. I also added the bonus raw_input() questions just to get more practice.

Exercise 14: Prompting and passing: or, how Lua learned to love my script

ex14pyExercise 14 combines the two concepts of raw_input (getting input from a user) and the command line options of exercise 13. In this exercise, we use argv, get a username, and make a prompt that is a variable (which I also change in the study drills). Finally, we use earlier-covered concepts of printing with %r and “”” to print over multiple lines.

I was a little nervous to do the study drill exercise, because they seemed intimidating. So I was a little blown away when, even tired, I got it on the first try. Can you tell a difference?


As I state in the comments, I changed the prompt variable from > to three hearts (<3<3<3), and I added another argument (lua). It was fun! But I’m really not sure if Lua likes my script or not. Knowing Lua, she probably doesn’t. Does this look like a cat who likes much of anything?

Nah. And especially not bows.

Moving on from cats and coding, two great loves, to another: cooking!

One of the questions I get asked the most, by vegetarians and nonvegetarians in equal measure, is how to properly treat tofu. Since this is kind of a big question, I want to address it in two posts. As with the kale, I’ll talk about prepping it into today’s post, and cooking it in tomorrow’s.

So. Tofu.

The tofu we’re dealing with today is the commonly-found water-packed variety. I contrast it with the “superfirm” shrink-wrapped packaged tofu that you can often find in Whole Foods Markets and well-stocked natural foods stores. That stuff is great, but it’s usually at least double the price of water-packed, and again, not as easily found. I’m a thrifty cook: can you guess my choice?


Yep. Water-packed.

Water is both our friend and our enemy. Friendly, because of the savings. But enemy, because water is devoid of flavor. Perhaps you already know that you can replace water with broth in soups, rice, and pasta for a more flavorful end product. In the case of tofu, you want to get as much water as possible¬†out of the block so that there’s room for other flavors. Tofu is more than happy to soak up delicious marinades… so long as you make room for them by pressing the water out!

First, you need to drain your tofu:


This next step is optional but recommended: I like to thoroughly rinse my tofu:


I know of at least one chef (Peter Berley, formerly of Angelica’s Kitchen) who not only rinses water-packed tofu but also sets it aside in filtered water for several minutes. He said it helps remove the tofu’s “bitter” taste from the soaking water, but I’ve never noticed a difference. Feel free to try it!

The next step is to press your tofu. This process will be wonderfully unique to your own kitchen and the stuff you have lying around. I’m very lucky to have a tofu press, shown below, but if you DON’T have a tofu press, be a good programmer/chef and google for your options. Couple quick recommendations:

1) in the sink, place the tofu between two cutting boards and place heavy things (cookbooks, canned goods) on top. be sure to stay nearby, though, as books & cans often slide.
2) also in the sink, place the tofu inside a pie plate or cake pan and then set another pie plate or cake pan of equal size on top. turn pie plates/cake pans over and stack heavy books on top. this is a pretty good method, and one I developed before my tofu press!

Of course, the easiest (and slightly more expensive) option is the tofu press. I’m still grateful to have received one as a gift from some wonderfully kind friends. I have a fancy-schmancy TofuXpress, but I’ve heard that the EZ Tofu Press is also quite good (and less than half the price!).


Step one: add tofu.


Step two: activate pressing!


Step three: find something else to do while the press does the work! Can you see how much water it’s pressed out after only a few minutes? That’s where your flavor/marinade/seasonings will go!

I prefer to let tofu press for at least an hour, or thirty minutes if I’m “pressed” for time, haha. You can also have several blocks going at once if you’re doing batch cooking. With the tofu press, I can leave it pressing in the fridge all day and just grab it when I’m ready.


Once it’s thoroughly pressed, I like to dry the block with a paper towel to remove any lingering moisture.

At this point, it’s just time to cube and cook:


Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, where I’ll show you how to make tofu like this!