Life is sorta crazy sometimes. I recently had to impart this little bit of wisdom to Slim: that life sometimes teaches us lessons in small, quiet ways, so much so that we don't even notice it's happening until much later when we think back on it... and sometimes life teaches us lessons in hugely dramatic and emotionally challenging ways. The important part is that we soak up those lessons, accept responsibility for our role, make good on it, count our blessings, and move forward without beating ourselves up knowing we did the best we could or that we erred but made amends to the best of our ability. The dramatic stuff seems to be going around lately, whether it is grown-up drama or 7-year-old drama. It all feels the same when it's your life playing host to it.
As part of counting my blessings, all the drama in my own grown-up life has shined a gleaming, bright light on how lucky I am to have good people around me. It did not go unnoticed that I have had more than one person I was able to reach out to when I needed it. We all get busy with the daily grind and many people have had their own craziness to contend with, but the quantity of time you get with some people doesn't matter at all when the quality is so high. There have been several people lately who have really made a difference in my outlook and my ability to churn up the strength needed to pull myself out of the emotional quicksand, whether it was a good talk, a kind word, a fun-filled distraction, or whatever. I have gushed a lot lately, and I hope those people know who they are, but I feel compelled to publicly say I am grateful and appreciative beyond words.
Recently I was able to have a night alone with my best girl pal and catch up on everything in her world and everything in mine, including the month that shall not be spoken of (see this post). We go back almost 20 years now, and I consider her family. She is the person in my life who knows pretty much everything, and who can say whatever hard thing I need to hear, while still being kind and bringing a lightness to it all. I don't get to see her often even though she lives a mere 1 1/2 miles or so from me, due to her job. But when I do, and everything spills, it is so rejuvenating. Often there is no empty space, just a torrent of words from both sides, a mix of teary eyes and indignant, raised voices and loud laughter. The scene frequently takes place in my kitchen and dining room as I make dinner for the two of us and then we eat... or try to eat. Sometimes food just sits at the end of our raised forks and gets cold while the talking happens. But it's so, so worth a cold bite of food or two.
|Orange-Ginger Lo Mein with Beef and Vegetables (recipe after the jump)|
- mixed braising greens
- Swiss chard
- spring onions
- 1 enormous sweet potato
- Brussells sprouts
- Brussells sprouts sautéed with garlic
- a version of Gumbo Z'Herbes using the some of the onions and braising greens (still have some left) + the turnips
- salads and sandwiches using the lettuce
- Poached Egg and Greens over Parmesan-Polenta
- sweet potato fries
- Swiss Chard and Parmesan Frittata
- the lo mein with the oranges and 1 spring onion
Orange-Ginger Lo Mein with Beef and Vegetables
Yield: 2–4 servings
- 3/4 C freshly squeezed orange juice, with pulp
- 1" fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 T soy sauce
- 1 T rice vinegar
- 1 T chili-garlic sauce (this will make it mildly spicy, you could increase the amount for more heat)
- 1/2 lb beef stew meat, cut into small, bite-sized pieces with any large pieces of fat and membranes removed (the meat cooks too fast for it to render, so get it outta there unless you like gobs of fat and chewiness)
- 2 C cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 C snow peas, sliced on a diagonal in about 1/4" pieces
- 1 spring onion, the bulb sliced thinly into rings and the greens thinly sliced vertically into about 1" pieces (about 1/4–1/2 C)
- 1/2 C + 1 T corn starch, divided
- peanut oil
- 6 oz. lo mein noodles
|cabbage leftover from a previous delivery and snow peas from a friend's garden|
- Combine orange juice, ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili-garlic sauce. This will make about 1 C.
- Using 1/4 C of the sauce, marinate the beef for 30 minutes. This step will add flavor, but more importantly it will help tenderize the meat. While the meat marinates, prep all the vegetables.
- Preheat a wok over medium-high heat. While it heats, place 1/2 C of corn starch in a bowl or plate. Place the remaining 1 T in a small bowl and stir in the remaining 3/4 C sauce, stirring well to combine, then set aside. Start a small pot of water boiling for the noodles. Stir-fries are all about timing, so get all this stuff done before you start cooking and it will be timed just right.
- Dredge the meat through the corn starch to coat. Set it aside on a separate plate until all the meat is coated.
- The wok should be good and hot. Add just enough peanut oil to coat the sides of the wok and have about 1/2" deep at the bottom.
- Add the meat, quickly, and toss it around constantly to make sure all pieces cook evenly. Continue cooking for a few minutes until the meat is thoroughly browned.
- Add the vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, until the cabbage has just wilted and the snow peas are beginning to get tender, about 3 minutes.
- At this point, the water should be boiling, add the noodles and lower heat to a simmer, and stir well.
- Now, back in the wok, stir the sauce quickly before adding it to the meat and vegetables. Stir frequently to coat and allow the sauce to thicken.
- The noodles cook very quickly, just a few minutes, check them for tenderness, and drain.
- Set the wok off of the heat. Add the noodles directly to the stir-fry and stir well to combine and coat.
- Add a pasta fork, put it on the table, serve it up family-style, be grateful, and try to eat it before it gets cold... if you can. If you can't, meh.