Saturday, May 28, 2011
Bok Choy in the Kitchen
"Trina," Patsy writes, "sometimes I picture you eating Cheetos out of the bag and whipping up fried bologna sandwiches. Do you really eat the stuff you write recipes about?"
Yes, I do. But first, I have fixed fried bologna sandwiches many time and since the issue was raised, let me make an important point. We raised eight kids, my husband and I. That meant we didn't have the money to toss out food that went bad. In most cases, that was never an issue -- things were gone quickly. But there were several times when the bologna we'd bought was about to go bad. When that would happen, I would fry it and then put it in the fridge. If you're having to watch every dime and can't afford to throw food out (or feel guilt over tossing it) and you've got bologna you're afraid is about to go bad, fry it immediately. You've then got it for three more days (at least) with no problem if you put it in the fridge. (You can eat it cold or heat it in the microwave or regular oven or in a skillet on top of the stove when you're ready to eat it.)
As for Cheetos? I actually hate them, sorry. My kids loved them. I couldn't take both the grit they leave on your fingers and the yellow they turn them. I buy them still because the kids will eat them when they visit (and my husband likes the puffs). But, for me, I was always more of a Pringles person.
I'm snacking right now and am eating pickled cucumbers, onions and tomatoes. I didn't make them. I'm at C.I.'s place in DC (DC area, actually) and eating them. Earlier, I had some Greek salad (which C.I. whipped up at my request -- I just can't master Greek cooking myself) and two artichokes. If I share a recipe, it's one I use even if it's one that was sent in by a reader.
Patsy also wondered why there was an emphasis on fresh vegetables and fruits right now?
Well, Patsy, once upon a time in the US, you had to eat what was grown in your area. The canning revolution helped change that as did trucks that could carry produce at specific temperatures. But that could change tomorrow (at least the transportation of fresh fruits and vegetables). We don't know what the future holds.
It's good to get fresh fruits and vegetables when you can -- something our ancestors understood. And they would work to preserve the foods through various methods (canning, smoking, etc.) for the winters. I am not anti-canned goods. I buy them, I use them. There was a sale on Del Monte this week and I bought 20 cans of vegetables before we came to DC. But when fresh is available in the spring and summer, you really should enjoy it if you're able to.
I was at a market today and picked up some bok choy so I'll share a recipe I used today. (Actually yesterday. But I haven't been to sleep yet.)
Bok choy, if you don't know it, is kind of like lettuce in that it has leaves and kind of like celery in that it's got stalks. The leaves are green and probably more closely resemble spinach or romaine lettuce leafs while the stalks are white.
Lightly coat the inside of a wok or large skillet with olive oil then heat. Add chopped onions (as always, I prefer 1 red onion but you can use a yellow or white one or even green onions) and increase heat to medium while stirring for onions for one minute. Chop 3 cloves of garlic while allowing onions to continue to cook. Once you've chopped all three cloves, add them to the wok or skillet and stir. Allow to cook on medium heat while you take the two bunches of bok choy and separate it by pulling stalks from it (keeping leaf and stalk intact -- although, you could also just chop both bunches -- I like the appearance when you cook it by stalk). Add the bok choy to the wok or skillet and stir.
Add sesame oil and sea salt to the skillet. Were I at home, I might not have sesame oil on hand. In a pinch, you can skip it but it is better with it. Sea salt can be replaced with any salt including a low sodium salt or salt substitute. I would also recommend substituting soy sauce and teriyaki sauce if you don't have sesame (don't use salt and soy sauce -- too much sodium, use one or the other). Stir. Cover the wok or skillet.
You're almost done. You'll cook covered for between 3 and 5 minutes so you can do any clean up of the kitchen you need during that. Remove the cover.
Drop the heat down to the lowest possible and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently.
Turn off the heat. Add 6 to 8 ounces of almonds. Smoked are great but regular are fine. You can add them whole or use slices (I prefer the latter). You can also substitute peanuts or cashews or walnuts or your favorite nut. Unless it's me! If I'm your favorite nut that doesn't mean you can put me in your wok or skillet!
Stir and serve.
I like the taste -- especially with the sesame oil. That gives it more of a smoky taste.
Juliette e-mailed a good recipe. I asked her to remind me this fall. How come? I'm trying to emphasize fresh right now. Juliette's recipe is a cold salad that uses frozen ingredients. It looks tasty. But with fresh produce being more readily available right now than at other times of the year, I want to try to focus on that.
The economy has not improved. My local paper reports, "More people applied for unemployment benefits last week, the first increase in three weeks and evidence the job market is still sluggish. The number seeking benefits rose by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 424,000, the Labor Department said yesterday — above the 375,000 that is consistent with sustainable job growth. Applications peaked at 659,000 during the recession."
We used to stock up this time of year to prepare for cruel and harsh winters due to weather conditions. This go round, we may need to worry about the cruel and harsh economic conditions of the coming winter.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday: