Friday, March 28, 2008

sichuan broccoli and pork

Arrgggg! Every once in a while, I worry that the tomato sauce on pizza doesn't really count as a vegetable serving and that the Carrotsticks are going to get scurvy because I don't feed them enough fruits and veggies. When that happens, I make Sichuan Broccoli and Pork for dinner every night for a week, to counteract all the bad eating from the previous weeks. Luckily, the kids all like this and eat it with gusto.

Sichuan Broccoli and Pork
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon cooking sherry
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
5 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 head broccoli, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound ground pork
3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

In small bowl, stir together soy sauce, sherry, sugar, cornstarch, white pepper, pepper flakes, mustard, and 2 tablespoons water until sugar dissolves; set aside.

In 12-inch nonstick skillet with tight-fitting lid, heat oil over high heat until just smoking. Add broccoli stems in even layer and cook, without stirring, until browned on bottoms, about 2 minutes. Add florets to skillet and toss to combine; cook, without stirring, until bottoms of florets brown, about 2 minutes longer.

Add remaining 3 tablespoons water and cover skillet; cook until broccoli is bright green but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Uncover and cook until water has evaporated, and florets are tender-crisp, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer broccoli to large plate.

Reduce heat to medium-high and add pork to now-empty skillet. Cook, breaking pork into small pieces, until no pink remains. Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 15 to 20 seconds. Stir sauce to recombine and return sauce and broccoli to pan. Cook until sauce is thickened, 5 to 10 seconds. Remove pan from heat and stir in sesame oil. I usually adjust flavor at end by adding more soy sauce or rice wine vinegar.

Serve immediately, great with brown rice.

Ok, that's just me pretending to be healthy. You can use white rice or no rice. But brown is good, and good for you.

So, try this recipe! You'll like it and stave off scurvy at the same time.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

in case of emergency

Today I read about a great new way to save your life. It is called the Vial of L.I.F.E. The premise is: record your important medical information, place it in the Vial of L.I.F.E. and store the vial on the shelf inside the door of your fridge so first responders can quickly get critical information during a time of crisis. I think that is a great idea, but it is a little like stating the obvious, don't you think?

Because if first responders had to look in my fridge, they could easily deduce the cause of our problem.

They would be there because we were either:

1: Starving to death, because there is nothing but condiments and milk in our fridge.


2. We have a violent case of food poisoning

because of the refrigerator garden they would find growing inside assorted vagrant bowls and takeout boxes.

The term Refrigerator Garden gives Greenhouse Effect a whole other meaning, doesn't it?

I concede that first responders would not find such aberrancy most peoples fridges. But it is something to consider. Don't just look in the Vial. Look in the fridge, because anything tastes better if it's dipped in ranch dressing.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

do you know the number for 911?

After we got back from Hawaii, the Littlest Carrotstick suddenly had bright red cheeks. But no fever. Then he got a rash on his body. But still no fever. A week later and the Middle Carrotstick is starting to have the same symptoms. Last night, it came to me that maybe they they had Fifth Disease. (Sorry for exposing your kids to it, Nan and Sheri.)

But be not afraid, gentle reader. After researching it a little on the internet, I was happy to discover that Fifth Disease is nothing serious. I also discovered that the medical profession utilizes some highly technical identification and classification procedures. See below:
I don't know for sure, but (sniff sniff) I think I might (itch itch) be coming down with (cough cough) Seventeenth Disease.

Or maybe One Hundred and Sixty Eighth Disease . . .

Maybe a good blood-letting would help.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

pms poem sunday

I know you've all been looking forward to PMS Poem Sunday. But before I share with you Vacation by Rita Dove, take a gander at these great PMS-y luggage tags:


by Rita Dove

I love the hour before takeoff,
that stretch of no time, no home
but the gray vinyl seats linked like
unfolding paper dolls. Soon we shall
be summoned to the gate, soon enough
there’ll be the clumsy procedure of row numbers
and perforated stubs—but for now
I can look at these ragtag nuclear families
with their cooing and bickering
or the heeled bachelorette trying
to ignore a baby’s wail and the baby’s
exhausted mother waiting to be called up early
while the athlete, one monstrous hand
asleep on his duffel bag, listens,
perched like a seal trained for the plunge.
Even the lone executive
who has wandered this far into summer
with his lasered itinerary, briefcase
knocking his knees—even he
has worked for the pleasure of bearing
no more than a scrap of himself
into this hall. He’ll dine out, she’ll sleep late,
they’ll let the sun burn them happy all morning
—a little hope, a little whimsy
before the loudspeaker blurts
and we leap up to become
Flight 828, now boarding at Gate 17.

Ah, Rita, to be on vacation once again.
And to the TSA agent that made me throw away my lotion: that bottle was mostly empty!
And to the mother of the toddler that sat behind me screaming for his bottle for 20 minutes straight: I still don't feel bad about offering to let you dump my Diet Coke into his empty bottle. At least he would have been quiet for 10 minutes.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

braided (easter) bread

Last week, the Littlest Carrotstick spent some time examining the March calendar for important holidays like Easter and his birthday. A couple of days later, he asked me when it was going to be Glorious Friday. It took me a while to figure out he meant Good Friday. And since this is Good Food Friday, and Good Friday to boot, I thought I'd share this recipe for Braided Easter Bread with you.
My sister-in-law is the champion of this bread. She kindly brings it to many a family gathering. Though I truly love it, it is also the bane of the low-carb diet. I have NO self-control when this bread is on the buffet.

I haven't actually ever made it myself, but she says not to be intimidated by the braiding. It is really easy. But she is talking to the woman who had to pay someone to braid the Oldest Carrotsticks hair every night of her dance performances this spring. Pathetic, but true.

Braided Easter Bread
2 packages dry yeast
½ c warm water
½ c butter
3/4 c milk
½ c sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ tsp salt
5 c all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 tsp water
In large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan, add milk, and heat until just warm. Pour mixture into bowl with yeast. Add sugar, eggs, and salt and stir well.
Mix in flour, one cup at a time, until a soft dough is formed. Turn dough onto a floured surface, adding flour if the dough is too sticky to handle. Knead until elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and set in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size (about one hour).
Punch down the dough. Divide it into three equal parts and roll each piece into a 20-inch-long strand. Lay the strands side by side and gently braid them. (To avoid tearing the dough, braid from the middle out to an end; repeat with the other side). Place the woven dough on greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until double in size.
Beat 1 egg with 1 teaspoon water and brush the wash over dough. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes one large loaf.

Traditionally, the bread is braided into a wreath shape and has Easter Eggs shoved into the top. Why? I don't know. Everyone knows Easter eggs are just for looks. Nobody really wants to eat them.
Don't wait for another Easter (or Glorious Friday) to roll around before you try this yummy bread!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

american graffiti

In the beginning there was the word.

And the word was good.

But there was no way to preserve the word.

And so man created writing.

And man wrote many things.

In many ways.

Like this:

And man continued to write.

And he wrote in many different ways,

For man was not meant to write on leaves alone.

And so man created the blog.

And oh how man
loves technology, (but not at much as you, you see.)

And although not everything we write is good,

We love it that you will read what we write.

And comment.

And the comments are good.

Very good.

(That particular Word was found on a tree on the Laie Hawaii LDS temple grounds. Here is a picture of PB&J in back of the tree. As you can see, the leaves are very large. Almost the size of a Big Chief Tablet. Does anyone remember those, or is it just me?)

Friday, March 14, 2008

irish waffles

For Good Food Friday, I am going to share with you a yummy breakfast I had in Kauai this last week.
Irish Waffles


1 early morning trip to Kauai's North Shore, in search of sea shells
4 people, desperate for a non-McDonalds breakfast
1 small town, Hanalei
1 tiny coffeeshop, the only place open for breakfast of any sort

Mix together.


1 middle-aged, average-height Irish actor, (we preferred Pierce Brosnan)

Optional add-ins:

flattering camera angles
wrinkle reducing filters

Let stand in front of you in line for several minutes inside the coffeeshop, and then bake in tropical morning sunlight on a small lanai.

Serve with fresh sliced papaya, bananas, and whipped cream. (On the waffles -- not the actor.)

(You can click on the picture to see him better.) While it's not as cool as actually having your picture taken with the future leader of the western world, it was still kind of crazy.

Thanks for breakfast, Pierce.

It was great.

Let's do it again sometime.

Okay, I lied. You can't see him better. But he was there. And we were there, but we were respecting his right to have a life. That, and we were afraid he might be one of those mean celebrities. If you can see him better in Jana's picture (she had a bigger zoom lens), I'll post it when they get back.

Monday, March 3, 2008

strut your stuff

I taught Relief Society again yesterday. I loosely based it all on a post by Hollywood, who based her post on another post. Anyway. We had an Anonymous Talent Show. Probably the most unusual talent was someone who can touch their nose with their tongue. It was a very spiritual meeting. Just kidding. It all turned out okay. But I used the above image as the background of all my posters and handouts, because I thought it was funny. And cute.

PB&J was a little worried someone might be offended by it. (Because there is always someone at church with NO sense of humor.)

What do you think? Does this scantily-clad 1960s Beauty Pageant Contestant offend your sense of modesty and propriety? Is taking things too seriously one of your talents?