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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pad Thai

We had a nicely fulfilling meal of hot pad Thai for dinner last night. It took a handful of special ingredients, but since I know I'll make it again I don't feel like I wasted my money. Overall it was pretty affordable and really hit the spot. I adapted a Tyler Florence recipe to fit my taste and to use ingredients I could actually find. And the recipe calls for a wok, which is ideal for stir-frying, but since I caught mine on fire and burned up the non-stick coating, I actually used a large stockpot which worked just fine. Here's what I did: Pad Thai 1/2 lb dried rice stick noodles (break them up to make eating the meal easier, or leave them whole to make it prettier-- your choice) 1/4 cup fish sauce 3 tbsp. white vinegar 3 tbsp. brown sugar 3 tbsp. vegetable oil 2 tsp. sesame oil 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined 1/2 lb. chicken breast, cut in strips with kitchen shears 4 garlic cloves, minced 6 scallions, chopped 1 fresh red chile, chopped 2 eggs 2/3 c. bean sprouts Garnish: 1/3 c. bean sprouts chopped peanuts (I had honey roasted on hand, but I think unsalted, dry-roasted would be ideal) 1 lime, cut into wedges 1/4 c. cilantro, coarsely chopped Soak the rice noodles in cool water for 30 minutes, or until they're limp but still al dente (NOT soft!). Drain; set aside. In a small bowl, stir fish sauce, vinegar, and brown sugar together till dissolved. Taste and adjust flavors (add a little water, or some lime juice to counteract the saltiness of the fish sauce if its too overpowering). Heat a wok over medium-high heat till hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and1 tsp. of the sesame oil (if you really like the sesame oil taste, you could add more, but it is pretty strong). Stir-fry the shrimp until they turn pink and are almost cooked through; 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp to a plate and cover to keep warm. Add additional 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and1 tsp. of the sesame oil to hot wok; stir-fry chicken till cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Add to the shrimp plate and keep warm. Add the remaining oil to the wok and stir-fry the garlic, scallions, and chile for 30 seconds or till fragrant. Push this mixture to the side of the wok and pour the eggs into the center. Scramble the eggs with a spatula till set. Add the drained noodles to the wok, stirring and tossing quickly to separate the noodles. Add the fish sauce mixture, tossing well to coat the noodles and keep them from sticking (if the noodles are still too firm, drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to help them cook.) When the noodles are cooked to the desired softness, toss in 2/3 c. bean sprouts; save the remaining for garnish. Continue to stir-fry to combine. Return the shrimp and chicken to the wok and toss together. Serve the pad thai with garnishes on the side so people can add what they like.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The ONLY Way to Eat Salmon

I know we're supposed to get a lot of DHA in our diets, and salmon is a great way to do it. But as uncouth as this may be, I can't stand the fishiness of salmon. Dru says he once caught wild salmon in Alaska and ate them over an open fire... and that it tastes nothing like the cheap variety available here. I wanted to find a recipe that lightly masks some of the fishy, dirty taste of the frozen Oklahoman salmon fillets. I adapted this recipe from Emeril and find not only do I like the flavor, I actually crave it. Its a simple and elegant way to serve a healthy meal... use whole wheat pasta for added nutrients. Lemon Salmon with Caramelized Onions on Pasta 4 salmon fillets, skinned Salt and pepper, to taste 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons 1 medium onion, thinly sliced Juice of 1/2 lemon 1/2 lemon, trimmed and sliced into very thin rounds 12 ounces bowtie pasta 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions Lightly season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium-high heat. Cook the onions about 3-5 minutes or till softened. Squeeze the juice from 1/2 a lemon over the onions and spread the onions out so they cover the bottom of the pan. Place the salmon fillets on the onions; reduce the heat to medium-low. Top the salmon with lemon slices. Cover and cook until the salmon is just cooked through and the onions are caramelized, 8-10 minutes. While the salmon is cooking, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Drain and toss with remaining olive oil, salt, and scallions. Serve pasta topped with onions and a salmon fillet.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Reason to Write

So glad you could stop by. I am in dire need of an outlet- and an audience, even if its mostly in my head. I find myself at a crossroads in my life, and my conflicting emotions about who I am and who I can be make it necessary for me to write. A common story, I know. I will be 24 next month. Most of my life I have had little ambition but to be a good wife and a good mother. Not to belittle those ambitions, of course, as I still aspire towards those goals. But my ideas about what makes a "good" wife or a "good" mother have lately been challenged. Am I a good wife because I keep the home relatively clean and cook good meals for my family? Am I a good mother because I am currently available to my daughter full-time, and have been since her birth almost nine months ago? Or would improving who I am on my own, as an individual separate from my family, in turn improve my ability to care for my family in the right ways? The answer seems obvious. Cooking, cleaning, diapering... I don't mind filling these roles. I don't feel that they've been imposed on me by a chauvinistic society. But recently I have realized that its really not about learning to be the best wife and the best mom. I can simply be the best version of me, and that will take care of all the roles I fill.