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The "Good Time"

Monday, September 21, 2009

I love snowballs, you know, shaved ice. My sister lived in New Orleans for years & it was just a short walk from her house to Pandora's in the City Park area. I would go visit her in the summer & would have to make at least one trip to Pandora's while I was there, even as an adult. When you eat a snowball the ice begins to melt & eventually you have a cup of slush, this is what I named the "good time"; it's the best part of the snowball. Well, the term has bled over into many other things, like when you order a pizza & after several pieces have been taken out of the box & there is a huge glob of cheesy goodness stuck to the cardboard, this is the "good time". Or the brown crust at the bottom edge of a pound cake that sometimes wants to break off, that is definitely the "good time". Or when you are eating spaghetti & there is just a little sauce left in the bottom of your bowl & you have a small piece of garlic bread left & you use the bread to sop up the last bit of sauce, that is the "good time".

I imagine you are getting the point. Well, tonight I was actually at home, not cooking or prepping for clients & decided to cook for me & Sean. I made a delicious stir-fry with fresh vegetables & lightly fried tofu. I had not eaten much today so I served myself a very generous bowl of brown rice & stir-fry. Did I mention that I love tofu; really, I eat it straight out of the package. Well, I ate & ate & ate, all the while saving some "good time", which tonight happened to be the chunks of tofu; I wanted to savor them at the end. The problem was that I got full before I got to my "good time". Don't fret, I ate it all; as my assistant, Donna & I say, I made a happy plate (Can you tell I taught preschool for almost 5 years?). But my "good time" wasn't quite as good as it could have been had I not been so full. I have always loved food & loved to eat. I can remember being a child & eating so much that I would be chewing a bite & have to spit it out because I knew that if I swallowed it I would be sick to my stomach. Okay, I admit, that was not healthy! But it does prove that my love of food runs deep & long!

On to my stir-fry, it took me about 5 years to perfect the stir-fry. I have considered getting a job in a Thai restaurant just to learn their techniques & sauces & such. In the early days, I would add too many ingredients to my stir-fry. Then even when I simplified my ingredients, my vegetables would come out overcooked. I have some tricks, which make things much simpler. I admit, I would still love to learn from the owner/chef of Benjarong in Mary Esther, he is the former chef at Royal Orchid in Miramar Beach. His vegetables come out with just the slightest bit of char & his cucumber salad is something I dream about. However, Sean did say tonight that this was the best stir-fry he can remember having in a long time. Here's what I do...


For the sauce:

2 T. sesame oil
2 T. vegetable oil
6 scallions or 1/4 onion, chopped
2 T. minced garlic
1 T. minced ginger
1 1/3 c. vegetable stock
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. sugar (I use sugar in the raw)
a couple pinches crushed red pepper (or to your taste)
2 T. white vinegar
2 T. cornstarch
2-3 T. cold water

Heat oil in skillet, add ginger & onions, saute until tender (if adding mushrooms, add them with the onions & let them soften). Add garlic & saute about a minute. Add stock, soy sauce, sugar, red pepper & vinegar. Mix well. In a small bowl combine cornstarch with cold water & mix to dissolve cornstarch. Add cornstarch slurry to the skillet & stir to thicken. You may need to add a little more slurry depending on how thick you want your sauce.

For the vegetables:

Choose whatever combination you like; my favorites are green beans, mushrooms, cabbage & broccoli. I prefer to just use 2-3 vegetables at a time. Steam your vegetables for a couple of minutes, not until they are done, just until they are crisp tender. Tonight I used cabbage, green beans & mushrooms. Again, for the mushrooms, I sauteed them with the onions. Then I steamed the beans & cabbage together, about 5 minutes. Add your vegetables to your sauce just to heat.

Sometimes we just have a vegetable stir-fry over brown rice, but tonight I added tofu. (For frying tofu, I use extra firm.) I have often read to toss tofu cubes in cornstarch prior to frying. I have never tried this method & decided to try it out tonight. I only used about 1/2 an inch of oil in my skillet & added the cornstarch covered tofu chunks & lightly fried them. The cornstarch did give them a nice crisp exterior that they would not have had otherwise, very nice result. I added this to my vegetables & sauce & tossed it all together. Typically my last step would be to add chopped cilantro to my stir-fry; unfortunately, we are out of cilantro. (Note to self, add cilantro to grocery list.) Even without the cilantro, the stir-fry was delicious! (The lighting wasn't the best for the picture, the colors were much better than they appear.)

I had half a pineapple left over from making a pineapple upside down cake for clients last night; so I decided to make one for us. Of course I had to veganize my recipe. I also added coconut milk & shredded coconut to the cake batter. Just a few minutes ago I went back into the kitchen to get a little bite of the "good time" from the cake--the crusty edge, but the cake was already completely gone! I ate so much tonight that my stomach hurts--just like my childhood days! I guess that's one way to know that dinner was a success!

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posted by Jamie the Foodie
7:07 PM


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