Mapo Tofu with Korean Slant: Aging with your glasses

I went to the eye doctor today, just for my typical check up to make sure that my prescription for my contacts were good and up to date.  I don’t look forward to my eye doctor appointments, because invariably I end up in that situation where the optometrist begins asking the series of questions, “Is A better than B?  Do you like one or two?  B or C?  This one or this one?” and my head starts swimming as I try and make sure that in fact, B is more clear than C and 1 is easier to focus with than 2.  I hate making tiny decisions.

Today, I decided to complicate matters further because I was trying to figure out if I should update my glasses, which are officially 13 years old. I know – they ARE old, but bear in mind that I wear my contacts far more than my glasses, so glasses aren’t that big of a priority most of the time.  As Dr. T examined and tested my vision, I explained that it was harder to see at night and drive with my glasses and at the same time, it was getting harder to read smaller print.  She ran a series of evaluations for me and then determined that yes, in fact I’m not seeing that great far or that great close.  The curse of aging.
Then came the series of complex decisions as to how to best manage this eye/glasses/contacts/prescription dilemma.  She explained progressive lenses (fancy word for bifocals with no lines), progressive contacts (fancy word for bifocals just stuck to my eyeball) and reading glasses (fancy for old lady in the room).  I started with my original goal of glasses that I would be able to see better with at night, should I need to drive, and we experimented with a few options, which ended up compromising my ability to READ at night with the same glasses.  Again the option of progressive lenses came up, to which I responded, “But can’t I just TAKE OFF my glasses and read at night which is what I do already?”  She nodded, but given that Dr. T is all of 15 years old and no idea how aging women have issues with their eyesight, I don’t think she was impressed with my practical solution.  (For the record, I am impressed with my low tech solution of REMOVING my eyeglasses.)
After the decision for the appropriate prescription, came the ever-harrowing decision of choosing a frame.  I spent about 15 minutes looking at a few, and after the series of decisions I had to make regarding HOW I was going to correct my vision, deciding WHAT I was going to look like in said glasses suddenly became so overwhelming that I began my shutdown process, which happens whenever I am confronted with too many decisions.  “I’m going to come back, with my husband so he can help me decide” I told my Doc.  
“I can help you decide if you’d like,” she kindly offered.
“No.  I think I need my husband.  He’ll have a strong opinion and it’ll help me decide,” I said.
And with that, I walked out, eager to get away from the one hour long series of tiny decisions that ultimately just proved that I’m getting old with bad eyes.
I ran home, to throw together, what has become my family’s favorite quick dinner dish, Mapo Tofu with Korean Flavors.  I love it because I don’t have to make decisions. I just MAKE it.  And when I MAKE it, the family just EATS it.  No decisions.  No complaints.  Just a complete quiet take down of a hearty meal that comes together so quickly that actually I should make it far more often.  It’s mildly spicy (you can control it), savory, and just goes so well with a bowl of hot rice.  I flavor it with more Korean typical flavors like sesame oil and gochujang, and it just works.
More mapo tofu. Fewer decisions about my eyes.  That would be my ideal day.

Mapo Tofu with Korean Slant
Serves 6

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 lb to 1 ¼ lb ground beef (I like organic ground beef from Costco)
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (or 1 tablespoon if you’re worried about spice) Korean chili pepper paste (gochujang)
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Two 14-ounce package soft tofu, finely diced
1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
6 scallions, finely chopped
White rice, for serving

Heat a large skillet until hot. Add both oils, followed by ground beef and garlic. Season with salt and cook over high heat, stirring and breaking up the meat, until crumbly and lightly browned, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the Korean chili pepper paste, hoisin and soy sauces, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Gently fold in the tofu. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch into the water. Add to the skillet and simmer until the sauce thickens, 2 minutes. Stir in the scallions and serve.

Printable recipe

Yes.  Please.

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