Look what I got!
It’s a wok! Better yet even, it’s my Gram’s wok. I recommend procuring some of your Gram’s stuff if she is finished with it and willing to give it to you. If you have a Gram. If not, get one of those too, they are fantastic. Grammie wasn’t using her wok anymore, and so now I have it. And I love it. I especially love it because it belonged to Grammie. There is something exceptionally cool about using cookware that predates the time that I learned to love to cook. I also have some of her old Fine Cooking magazines from back before I was grown up enough to have my own subscription, and I discovered the other day that she wrote notes in the margins when she tried the recipes. It is the greatest thing ever. I love that I have them, and I love that I know that the lemon curd recipe in one particular Fine Cooking did not set up, and that I should use Martha Stewart’s recipe. So I shall.
So in honor of my new (sort of) wok, I made fried rice last week. And it was pretty tasty. I had all sorts of vegetables lying around, and I had picked up some pork chops.
And I had made rice the night before, so I was ready to go. Fried rice is nice because anything goes. I had corn this time, which I don’t usually put in fried rice, but I will again, because it was great. Sometimes I just do fried rice with pork and mushrooms, sometimes I do it without any meat, and sometimes I have an abundance of things to put in it, like I did this night. As long as you have garlic, ginger, rice, scallions and soy sauce, you are good to go as far as fried rice is concerned. And it happens that I pretty much always have all of these things. Especially since I went to the Chinese supermarket and stocked up on ginger. I don’t think I will have to buy it again for a year. Here’s a good tip: keep the ginger in the freezer. It is way easier to grate, and it doesn’t get stringy, and it lasts forever, and it takes just a minute or two to defrost it if you need to cut a large chunk off. It’s perfect. Try it. Go on. I’ll wait.
Stir frying is hard to photograph, because it moves so quickly, so I will just describe it to you. I marinated the strips of pork with soy sauce, ginger, garlic and scallions for a short time. I heated up the wok and cooked that almost to finished first. It came out and in went the beaten eggs for a quick cook. I took those out and added them to the bowl with the pork. More oil in the wok, the rest of the aromatics, then the veggies, then the rice, pork, eggs and soy sauce. Done. Quick and easy and tasty left over.
Then the weekend came and was sort of a mess. You know how sometimes, you are doing really well, and eating pretty healthily, limiting cocktail calorie consumption, running, you know, generally taking care of yourself, and then occasionally you fall off the wagon and order a sandwich with french fries for lunch instead of a salad? And you feel kind of bad, but then you go back to your healthy ways and all is well. And then you know how sometimes you are doing really well and being healthy and then the train totally derails and jumps the track and you find yourself eating nothing but crap and having lots of delicious snacks and cocktails for like three days? That is sort of what happened this past weekend. I had pizza, twice. There was a dinner party that involved gimlets, gruner veltliner, and dancing until two am. There was about a loaf worth of bread and toast and butter. And there wasn’t so much running. It wasn’t pretty. The only redeeming thing I did all weekend was make squash soup on Sunday night, so I will dwell on that, as too much reminiscing about the other stuff may make the caboose jump the track again.
I had gotten some fantastic squash from the farmer’s market last week. I roasted it Sunday morning, and let it cool. I had errands to do and friends to see on Sunday, and then I came home Sunday night and made soup. I knew I wouldn’t eat it Sunday night because I wasn’t hungry (Sunday was a pizza day) and that I was volunteering Monday night and would need something quick when I got home. (Monday night volunteering was at Community Servings, which is a fantastic organization that makes meals for critically ill patients and their families, which I love being a part of, except that my task was cubing pounds and pounds of boiled turkey breast. I think I will request to work with vegetables next time.) Here is the beginning…
I roasted butternut and delicata squash with just olive oil, salt and pepper, until they were soft enough to pierce with a knife. I like the combo of butternut and delicata. Delicata is pretty and yellow and sweet, so it is nice with the earthier flavor of butternut. I sauteed onions, garlic and sage until the onions were soft, and then I used the last four cups of my frozen chicken stock. I could have put ginger in here too, it would have been tasty, but I didn’t think of it at the time. The sage was nice though. Sage and winter squash is a pretty classic combo. I took the peel off the roasted squash, cut it into pieces and dumped it in the stock.
I let that cook until the squash was totally soft, and then I used the immersion blender to puree it. (Immersion blenders are great, you should totally get one.) It was really still more like a puree than a soup, so I added some non-homemade stock (gasp!) that I had, and some cream, until it was the consistency I was going for.
I let it cool and stuck it in the fridge for Monday.
On my way home Monday evening I grabbed some shiitake mushrooms to go with the soup. I really wanted a duck breast too, but the store was out of them. I am kind of obsessed with duck breast at the moment. I have never cooked it myself and I would like to remedy that immediately.
The shiitake were sauteed, the soup was heated, and I treated some creme fraiche to a date with some chinese five spice powder. They got a long beautifully and produced a nice little garnish, and dinner was served.
The other adventures in gastronomy between the fried rice and today include a revisit of the Cod en papillote that Meredith made for me, some take out pad thai with peanut sauce that was mighty tasty, an udon noodle stir fry with red onion, japanese eggplant and cashews, and a turkey club and spicy fries. Never fear though, I found the most gorgeous little eggplants and some lovely asian pears at the farmer’s market this week, so there is lots to come.
And I leave you with this lovely blueberry and peach crisp courtesy of Meredith.
It was scrupmty. I need to get my hands on another one of those post haste.
PS: Strange WordPress spell check tally of the day: grate as a verb, sauteed and wok