Hodo Soy Beanery’s new kiosk makes the Ferry Building worth entering!  »

Norm and Joe want to sell you tofus!

You’ve seen them at farmers’ markets around the Bay Area, hocking their delicious soys. You’ve hidden incriminating toothpicks in your pocket and covered your face with a scarf so that you could go grab another sample of their spicy yuba strips. You’ve considered selling out to the man so you could afford to eat this magical stuff every day. And now, ladies and gentlemen, you will drag your asses to the Ferry Building, past the “Praise the Lard” t-shirts and the innumerable fancy cheese shops, in order to patronize the brand-spanking-new Hodo Soy Beanery kiosk that is open as of Tuesday.

The soy has arrived, and it is good.

Hodo, which is based in Emeryville West Oakland, sells its soy milk, tofu, yuba (a.k.a. tofu skins, a.k.a. chewy manna from heaven), and some prepared foods at area markets. But they’re kicking it up a notch with their kiosk, offering new grab-and-go foods that you can only get there. Foods like forbidden rice pudding ($4), Scharffen Berger chocolate mousse ($4), yuba Kung Pao salad ($7), the sky is falling sandwiches (vegan egg salad on Vital Vittles bread, $7), and soy custard fruit parfaits ($4).
Hodo gave me free cups of the rice pudding and chocolate mousse to try, and I can report that they are both worth eating. The pudding uses black rice and lots of cardamom, and includes coconut and golden raisins suspended in the impressively creamy tofu base. Except for the sugar blast, it’s almost healthy, but so clearly dessert. Win.

The mousse was less intensely chocolately than I had hoped, but again won big on texture. I do love me some creamy tofu.

The kiosk also has exclusive drinks, including chocolate soy milk ($3), Thai iced tea ($3), and a kale avocado smoothie ($4). They gave me a free bottle of that last crazy-sound one, because it’s Joe the tofu-seller’s favorite. I found its serious undertones of cucumber and very mild sweetness both refreshing and filling. But it involves chewing chunks of kale and thus is neither suitable for beginners nor for people on a first date. Luckily I’m a pro with no one to impress so I downed the whole bottle in one sitting.

Nearly everything the stand offers is vegan (some of the granola they sell contains honey), and most of it is gluten-free as well (not the sandwich bread). They’re open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. They take cash or credit cards with their cute little iPad register. And for the moment at least, Hodo will still be doing the farmer’s market thing outside on Saturdays, in addition to the permakiosk indoors.

Main bummer: Because of Ferry Building and health code rules, they’re not able to offer samples at the moment. Let us hope they overcome these limitations.

Coming soon: recipes cards for some of the new products so you can learn to make them at home. As the proverb says, “Give a man some tofu, he eats for a day. Teach a man to tofu, and he can throw stellar dinner parties and invite you.” Or something like that. Carry on.

Sorry, Pepples Donuts, your kiosk makes the Ferry Building worth entering too, but you were closed at 6 p.m. today and also didn’t bribe me with free food.


Going off-grid with the USDA: Grow your own soybeans!  »

From this amazing book called Gardening for Food and Fun, published by the Department of Agriculture in 1947 and reprinted by Library4Farming in 2009 comes instructions for the at-home gardener on growing your own vegetable soybeans!

Did you know, for example, that, “The cultivated soybean, Glyine max (L.) Merrill, is the only member of the genus having an erect bushy plant with an annual growth habit”? DYING. The Dept. of Ag is full of interesting information. Also some outdated stuff, as this was written in the mid-/late ’40s; it recommends growing soybeans because they’re difficult to find “in canned or frozen form.”

However, it does seem quite useful. Your Vegansaurus asked an experienced horticulturalist about the instructions, and she said they seem very reasonable. So if you’re worried about issues like buying from companies whose soybeans also feed livestock or use GMOs, or you’d like to live more independently in general, growing soybeans may be for you. I especially love Gardening for Food and Fun because it tells you exciting! and new! ways to eat the food you’ve grown, like how to sprout and dry the soybeans; it’s adorable. Soybean sprouts are not on my imaginary 1950s dinnertables, but there are your helpful tips anyway.

Library4Farming seems like a pretty useful resource: they are working to put online every single USDA Yearbook of Agriculture series “which has been published almost every year from 1894 to 1992” and which are full of relevant (and irrelevant) information. So far they have scanned the aforementioned GFF, Insects, and Science in Farming. Maybe there are more thrilling revelations from the USDA waiting for someone (us? you?) to discover! Maybe it is excrutiatingly boring blah blah about how to most effectively slaughter insects! We’ve only read the bit about soybeans so far, but that was neat enough to share, it seemed like there might be more USDA fun!

[image of soy bean plant by kamome; image of soybeans by trapon]

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