Peanut ginger garlic soy noodles. With pork.

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Okay.  I tried.  Normally I just throw things in the wok with this, so actually trying to measure was a little weird.  Bear with me, and read through for the ingredient list before trying to start because I’m tired, hungry, and want to eat what I just made.
Take some Asian noodles.  I have no idea what these are past wheat; use whatever takes your fancy, really.

I have no idea what these are past “tasty”.

I used four of these knots of noodles, boiled for five minutes and then drained, rinsed with cold water, and set them aside.

So then I took my wok.  I love this wok.  I picked it very carefully, and it’s got a flat bottom.  Popped it on the burner and added about ‘yea’ much sesame oil.

Maybe a tablespoon-ish of oil?

Then… well, tonight I was lazy and didn’t feel like peeling garlic cloves and ginger root, so I added 2tsp (two teaspoons) of powdered garlic (trust me) and 1tsp (one teaspoon) of powdered ginger.  Yes, it seems like a lot.  This is not a one-serving dish.  Stir things up a bit and then pop the heat on to about 6 (out of 10.)

You can really add any kind of meat you like to this, or no meat and just go veggies.  Me, I like my meat; my favorites with this are pork and shrimp.  Cue four boneless pork chops, cut into strips with kitchen shears and swished through the heating oil.

Four chops. Told you it wasn’t a one-serving dish, unless maybe you’re Andre the Giant and need the fuel.

Cook and stir until the pork is seared on all sides and probably about half-cooked; you might even want to bump the heat up to 7.  While this is going on, dig out your soy sauce or equivalent.  I was actually almost out, so this was low on it; throw in a tablespoon or two to taste.  Cook away until you’re certain the pork is probably about 3/4 cooked through.  If you’re adding veggies (I had none, but mushrooms and peppers are nice in this) then cook the pork to about halfway, add veggies, and cook until the pork’s 3/4 done.

Now you want to go find a jar of peanut butter.  I use smooth, but I see no reason crunchy wouldn’t work well in here as well.  Use whatever implement you have to and glop out about a cup to a cup and a half.

I was very low on pb, so this is more like 3/4 cup.

 
 

So you’ve got that. Add more ginger and garlic now, this time ‘to taste’ (ie, use the sprinkle cap instead of the measuring spoon) and stir everything together until the peanut butter’s all melty and coats everything.  Secret:  add a tablespoon or two of water and stir well; it thins things out nicely.  Reduce the heat to about 3 and cover; let it simmer, stirring now and then, until you’re dead certain the pork is cooked through.  (If you’re using shrimp generally you can add them now and it won’t take long at all.)

Now go grab your noodles.

In this case, a LOT of noodles.

Add the noodles.  Stir them in carefully; I generally end up using both my wok spatula and a fork in an attempt to avoid breakage.  Toss/mix/stir/whatever until the noodles are totally coated in the sauce.  If you can manage an even distribution of the meat/veggies/whatever in there, bonus.  (I forgot to get a pic of the finished dish this time.)  Cover everything again and keep the heat on 3 while you set the table, make everyone wash up, etc.  Enjoy!

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Guest post – Homemade Cottage Cheese!

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A discussion about actually really liking cottage cheese came up, and my friend Aurora passed on the recipe she uses for homemade and graciously let me repost here.

1/2 gallon milk skim, 2% or whole raw milk
1/3 cup vinegar
a pinch or 2 of salt
a few tablespoons of milk or cream to add at the end to each serving

Heat the milk in a large non reactive (not aluminum) saucepan over medium heat. Stir it often and don’t turn up the heat too much because milk likes to stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

Heat until it reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit, 49 degrees Celsius. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner. Add the vinegar and give it a good stir, at this point you will start to see the curds separating from the whey. The whey is the greenish liquid. The riboflavin or vitamin B2 gives it that green hue.

Let it sit for 30 minutes undisturbed.

Line a colander with a thin clean tea towel or cheesecloth set over a large bowl. Pour the curds over the colander to strain the whey. Let it sit for 5 minutes.

Now rinse the curds by holding the towel or cheesecloth with the curds in it over cold water. Rinse it for a few minutes, until the curds are cold. While you are rinsing it, break up the curds with your fingers.

Squeeze most of the moisture out of it. Transfer it to a bowl. Add a few pinches of salt and stir. If you will be eating it now, go ahead and mix in a few tablespoons per serving of milk or cream, or yogurt for a creamy texture. If you aren’t eating it now, store the curds without anything added in the fridge for a few days.

You cook the lime in the coconut and eat them both up

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I got a whim to make stir-fry when I was at the store today, shrimp and mushrooms and rice noodles.  It got creative from there.

4tbsp coconut oil

3-4 springs fresh lime mint

1/4tsp garlic powder

1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce

about 2/3 bag frozen cooked/peeled shrimp

1/2 tbsp sesame oil

1/6 big bag of rice noodles

1pkg cleaned/sliced baby bella mushrooms

 

Take one wok. Drop in the sesame oil, half the coconut oil, bruise/tear up the lime mint sprigs and add them, heat for a minute and then add mushrooms.  Heat on about 6 (out of 10).  While you’re doing this, add the uncooked rice noodles to boiling water for around 5min to soften them, then drain.  Mushrooms take forever to cook so you’ll be fine.  Stir ’em around a bit, then add the drained noodles, the rest of the coconut oil over them, sprinkle the garlic powder, and add the soy sauce.  Stir it all up and let it sort of do its thing.  Take the shrimp, still frozen, and run them under hot water just enough to be able to peel the tails off.  Stop periodically to stir the contents of the wok.  Once the shrimp are de-tailed, add them to the wok, stir everything up well so that it’s all mixed together, turn the burner off and put a lid on the wok while you set the table and get ready for dinner.  This served three — me, a 5yo, and a 15mo, all with healthy appetites.

Ragin, ragout

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I have pork chops that I didn’t make yesterday and bone/skinless chicken thighs that were planned for today.  It’s chilly and rainy today.  I think a ragout is in order.

Basic premise will be to cut the meat into chunks and brown them quickly in a heavy pot in seasoned (with a little Butt Rub and garlic powder) flour and butter, then add a bit of water, some of the Sangiovese from last night that I wasn’t thrilled with, a packet of onion soup mix (always have it on hand, it covers a multitude of sins), whole mushrooms, pinch of thyme and maybe a sprig of fresh rosemary, and some chunked potatoes and sweet potatoes that I have around.  Cover that and simmer until dinnertime; if I put it in around 2pm it should be fine by 5.  Cauliflower on the side, and I might grab some crusty bread if I go out for anything.

 

 

It was ready by 4, really, but letting it simmer wasn’t an issue.  No rosemary because I didn’t feel like arguing the bee guarding the blossoms; I think it would definitely work, but this was fine without it.

I discovered a lazy way to flour everything for browning: put butter in pot. Melt. Sprinkle half a cup of flour in pot. Add meat (in this case four chops and four thighs); add seasoning; add another half-cup of flour and stir everything together.  Voila! I’ll be doing this in future.

Also, YUM.  It’s fantastic!

Interesting herbs

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I have some interesting herb plants: cinnamon basil, lime and chocolate mints, and pineapple sage.  The sage was getting very tall, so I decided to use it.

Four chicken thighs with skin and bone, rinsed and the washed pineapple sage leaves stuffed under the skin.  Salt both sides (skin and underside), and put it on a low grill skin side down for about five minutes to crisp things. Turn with tongs and cook for… well, 20min wasn’t enough and necessitated 2min in the microwave to ensure the center was cooked, so adjust accordingly.  The bits of skin we tasted in the meantime are quite tasty.

Verdict: subtle and delicious!  I highly recommend, though if you’re a smoker or used to spicy food you may be unimpressed.

I’m thirsty.

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I’d really like some iced tea, but for assorted reasons I can’t have camellia sinensis in any form for a while.  Iced coffee isn’t doing it.  It’s also getting hot… so what’s nice and cooling?

Mint and lavender iced tea!

The last four bags of generic mint tea, then grabbing my large tea ball and filling it about 2/3 with dried spearmint and a couple teaspoons of lavender.  Add sugar once it’s steeped, and it should be lovely.

Half a cup of sugar in the pitcher and it’s marvelous!  I’ll have to keep this around, it’s quite refreshing.

It’s 4:30 and I need dinner ready at 5.

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This is one of my standbys; it’s really easy to do variations on this.

~5 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 pkg cleaned sliced mushrooms

~1/2tsp dried thyme

~1/2tsp garlic powder

~1tbsp olive oil

bottle/can of whatever your favorite beer is (unless “favorite” means “cheapest in the store”)

~3tbsp heavy cream

Olive oil into a skillet (I use my large cast iron. I love that thing. If you don’t have one, you need one, and yes you can use them on glass cooktops as long as you don’t slide them around), heat on medium (5 on a 10-dial.) Use kitchen shears to cut the chicken into bite-size-or-so pieces, add the garlic powder and thyme, and pour the beer over.  Simmer, loosely covered (I use a splatter screen over everything) until about half cooked through. Add the mushrooms and reduce heat to about 3, stir, and simmer with splatter screen or whatever in place.  Once the chicken is totally done and the mushrooms almost are, remove cover, stir in cream, and finish simmering uncovered.

Serve over bread or something like that; my cop-out is a couple of slices of bread, but you can go as far as a bread boule if you feel fancy.

Variations on this include using dry or semi-dry white wine instead of beer, or shrimp instead of chicken (keep an eye on cooktime with that because they cook a lot faster), or chicken broth instead of beer/wine, or broth with a bit of bourbon or similar for flavoring.  Just remember the alcohol cooks off, so don’t freak out.

Cherries are involved.

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It has been “strongly suggested” by Matt and others that I start a food blog.  Last night’s salad may have been a factor.  Here’s the recipe:

2.5 ripe avocados (try to avoid “mushy”)

about 1/3-1/2lb frozen cooked&peeled shrimp

about 18 fresh sweet cherries

~2tbsp mayo

~3/4tbsp lemon juice

~1/6tsp salt

Dice the avocados. Thaw shrimp in hot water, remove tails and any lingering shell bits, and cut into about three pieces per shrimp.  Halve and pit the cherries; put all three ingredients to date into a bowl.

Mix the mayo, lemon juice, and salt together with a fork until it’s reasonably smooth; it’ll still be pretty thick.  You can reduce the salt to 1/8tsp if you like, but it does need to be in there.  Dump this dressing into the bowl with the avocado/shrimp/cherries and stir until everything’s coated.  (Personally, I put a lid on the bowl and rolled it around until everything was coated.)

You really want to chill this for at least an hour or so.  Suitable for a light lunch/dinner or as a side dish.  Served two adults as a side dish with grilled bratwurst; about four bites left over, mostly because there was a LOT of bratwurst and he didn’t quite believe that I’d meant the salad to BE dinner.

This is what happens when I look around the kitchen and have ingredients to use up.