Monday, April 20, 2009

Heat Wave: L pays homage to the smoothie, cooks and gets the heck out of the kitchen!

It turned warm here over the weekend. Very warm.  (Mid to upper 90s!) Our thoughts are suddenly on popsicles and cold soba noodles and playing downstairs in my "project" (a.k.a. the laundry) room where the painted cement floor is cool and inviting. Dinner will be whatever takes as little heat to prepare as possible: I'm thinking aforementioned soba noodles with simple dipping sauce and some quick sauteed chicken, bok choy and snowpeas. 
The girls are flush-faced and sticky, so I'm inspired to make a little smoothie action with the ingredients we have: just some orange, mango, pineapple- flavored kefir and a nice bit of ice whirlied up in the robin's- egg blue blender. It turns out light and refreshing. Definitely the hit of the day.
Not being a California native, the inherent dryness which defines our warmer months is always a bit of a surprise to me. A good dry heat is humbling. It sends us scuttling back inside seeking lower spaces: downstairs vs. up, floor vs. couch. We don't get too many days like this each season, but enough to make us remember to appreciate the tirelessly congenial weather we are so blessed to have the rest of the time. Around dinner time a breeze picked up outside. It wasn't enough to make bedtime comfortable, but it made us turn our heads in unison. I watched the baby cock her ear to the breeze as if there was a message in it. There is nothing like a lack of air conditioning to plug us back into our natural environment. 
I like how my cacti appear so at ease with their environment. Their needs are few and they are resilient and accomodating. They are the monks of the plant world! A touch of water every 10-14 days or so is about all they need. I find gorgeous and remarkable their form, diversity and simplicity. Since all mine are of the spineless variety, they also make perfect plants for children to adopt and care for.

Cold Soba with Dipping Sauce: Boil soba in vigorously boiling water for four minutes, drain and rinse with cold water. Today I used roughly 2 and 1/2 parts shoyu to 1 part sesame oil and a tablespoon splash of brown sugar. You can use maple syrup instead,  you can add rice wine vinegar, you can add grated ginger. It is up to you. This is a very rudimentary dressing, meant to coat the noodles but not overwhelm the chicken and vegetable.
Snowpeas, Bok Choy and Chicken Saute: I'm not going to make any pretensions over this dish. The whole point was simplicity. A few bits and bobs of advice: use chicken thighs, they are so much more juicy. Cut your meat very small, put in a bowl, and add some shoyu, sesame oil(go easy on this stuff) and white sugar (all Chinese cooking relies on a little white sugar to temper the taste of the soy sauce.)  Just before you stir -fry your meat add a tablespoon of oil to the uncooked meat in the bowl. Stir with a chopstick. Cook your meat quickly and remove. When you cook your veg, saute ginger, garlic first and use a splash of chicken broth if you have it to help cook the veg quicker. Add a little soy or Bragg's and a bit of salt at the end to keep everything crispy. Add the chicken again and toss together. By seasoning the different elements (noodles, meat, veg) separately but lightly, you get a nice flavor without a heavy strong sauce. I like it this way on hot days. You also have a deconstructed dish for toddlers and the noodles are perfect for a preschooler's lunchbox the next day. Finally, grown-ups can add a nice chili sauce to theirs upon serving if they wish.

1 comment:

  1. I know you don't want to hear from me (we need more fans!)but I love your photos and the post is wonderful. I'm really enjoying this. hope you're having fun too.