Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wolves and Step-fathers and Sichuan Peppers, oh my!

Dinner Tuesday wound up being Greek pasta (garlic, olives, green peppers, onions, more garlic, some tomato, diced zucchini, lots of fresh oregano, white wine, and olive oil) served with whole wheat pita and spicy hummus, in case you were wondering.

Reading: I finished "Dust City" by Weston yesterday, and ooooh, it was so good! I really enjoyed the fairy tale connections (there was one that I didn't catch until a climatic scene-- smacking myself in the forehead for not catching on earlier!), but I think my favorite thing was the gritty noir atmosphere, and how it somehow worked perfectly with the dark fairy tale fantasy elements. I hope adults will give this a read, even though it's being published for teens. The novel is so smart and entertaining! I ordered a big pile for the store.

I also got a respectable length into "Family Man" by Lipman. It is fun! I've been trying to cast it in my head because it reads like a delightful movie. I haven't figured out who I see as the main character (Henry-- just realized both books I read yesterday have Henrys as protagonists!)yet, but his ex-wife, Denise, reminds me of the fabulous Jessica Walter (Lucille Bluth in "Arrested Development"), and I imagine funny, loveable step-daughter Thalia as Alexis Bledel (just a little older). The New York setting, likeable characters (and a few we can all agree to love to hate)and sweet, gentle tone have me reading along quite happily. I think this would be a great vacation book or what I call a "palate cleanser"-- the kind of book you turn to after something particularly momentous or challenging. You know, a "nice" book. (And I don't mean that in a snarky way or a belittling way... Can't we all use more "nice" in our lives?)

Eating: Yesterday was another oatmeal morning (with dried cherries and almonds, and plenty of cinnamon.
For lunch, I had leftovers of the greek pasta. I was considering using one of my stretch-the-leftover tricks of adding frozen green peas before reheating, but I still had so much leftovers that I didn't have to do any doctoring.
I only snacked on ONE piece of Colleen's toffee. I still can't believe I was that good.

Then we come to dinner! Big excitement: I tried out my sichuan cooking skills! When we were in Beijing recently, we did a cooking class in a hutong, and we made fabulous chicken with chiles and sichuan peppers. I used my newish wok, my new peanut oil, and my new straight-from-Chengdu sichuan peppers and some super-fiery dried peppers from the University District farmers market to make what we will call Dragon Breath Tofu.
DRAGON BREATH TOFU sounds kind of like a new form of kung fu, doesn't it?

I applied elements of our "Three Treasures" recipe from Beijing (cooking sliced potatoes in a wok in peanut oil, then splashing water on to cook them through), Chinese cooking ideas from the other dishes (heating the peppers in a hot wok with peanut oil, adding splashes of soy sauce with sugar and splashes of rice wine around the wok during cooking, and some of my own mad kitchen creativity (broccoli's great with sichuan peppers because those little suckers get stuck in the branches). It was tingly, spicy, and fun. I put ginger and garlic in for flavor. I think next time I would heat the peppers alone in oil for longer (these peppers tasted a little bitter), and I would add more water to the rice cooker so my rice would be stickier, but otherwise, things went well. J. brought added his own super-fiery pepper to his plate as needed throughout the meal so he could get it hiccuping hot(the Chinese "la" heat) while I enjoyed the tingle ("ma") and fragrant spice of the sichuan peppers.

Oatmeal again this morning, testing out an instant "Oats and flax" variety from Natural Directions. It was a little too sweet for my taste, so we just may bring the rice cooker to Canada as an oatmeal cooker for pre-marathon routine. We'll test that theory tomorrow.

I think it's time to finish up the Greek pasta leftovers for lunch. For tonight, I'm thinking quinoa.

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