I’m a lazy friend. Not horrible, just lazy.
I keep secrets. I give the best hostess gifts. And I can make you laugh.
Getting me to actually show up at your house?
Terrible. As in 99% unlikely. Which is why Roo was surprised to hear where I was going on Friday.
“You’re actually driving to Gardner. Gardner, Massachusetts?”
“Yes. Past Framingham, near Leominster.”
“But it’s Friday,” Roo said, sitting down on the couch and putting up his feet, “We get tired on Fridays.” *
I shot Roo a look as I felt for my keys in my purse, “Of course we get tired on Fridays! But I still need to go. I haven’t seen AA in over a year.”
“You can’t reschedule?”
“You are the worst!” I said, throwing a pillow at Roo. “Besides, JL is going to be there and I haven’t seen her in ages either.”
AA and JL are dear friends. And powerhouses.
They are the women seen tearing through a Warrior Dash, just because they got up early that morning and thought, “You know what would go well with this cup of coffee? Mud.”
I am not built like them.
I’m deathly afraid of heights, whine when I get a blister on my toe, and despite my love of power yoga, I hate sweating.
But the three of us love to laugh, drink wine and share the most humiliating stories. It’s what we do.
I love it.
Conversation ranged from “how girls don’t fart,” followed by “then I woke myself up by farting. On my boyfriend.” to “do they not see me? why am I always sat on? I’m a person!” that night. I haven’t laughed that hard in a while. And on my drive home I was inspired.
When they get home they need a quick, easy meal that can refuel them while satisfying the taste buds of little ones and in AA’s case, her big guy.
Stir fry was the first thing that came to mind. It’s a one pot meal (especially if you have leftover cooked quinoa) and can be thrown together less than 30 minutes.
With stir fry, you can toss whatever veg or protein you have on hand and make a meal. Instead of the veg I listed, you could use snow peas, zucchini, green peppers, mushrooms, water chestnuts, baby corn, scallions, or even bamboo shoots. The possibilities are endless. Throw some toasted cashews on top if you like!
If you’ve never tried quinoa before, give it a go. It’s a complete protein that’s fluffy and nutty. It pairs wonderfully with the ginger sesame sauce and tasty even as leftovers.
Adapted from Chicken Stir Fry
Serves 2 – 3
A medium sized pot with lid (can hold 8 cups)
A fork (to fluff your quinoa with)
A very sharp knife
Tongs or a spatula
A hand grater
A very large saute pan or a wok
3 small bowls (that can hold up to a cup and a half of liquid)
For the quinoa
2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed very well and drained
4 cups fresh water
For the stir fry
1 tablespoon peanut oil (this has a high smoking point which is good for stir fry)
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced (I love garlic but if you’re a bit weary, use 2)
Half teaspoon of crushed red pepper flake (I love heat, if you’re sensitive, use a pinch)
1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
1 bunch of collard greens, leaves torn off the stems and into easily edible pieces (or your favorite green, but be sure to alter the cooking time as to how delicate they are; collards are super hardy)
4 – 6 medium carrots, chopped into large chunks
1 – 2 large broccoli heads, cut into easily edible florets
2 – 3 brightly colored peppers, chopped into large chunks (I used one red and one orange from my CSA)
For the sauce (This makes a lot of sauce. I’d suggest halving the amount if you don’t like your veg drowning in sauce, like me.)
1 cup of no or low sodium (vegetable) broth, to be divided
Three quarters of a cup low sodium soy sauce
Quarter of a cup of water (to be mixed with the soy sauce)
6 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of corn starch (depending on how thick you want your sauce) my mom uses 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar (optional, taste your sauce first)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Quarter cup of cilantro, chopped (optional)
Add the rinsed quinoa and water to your medium sized pot. Place over a burner and bring the water to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes (or until all the liquid is absorbed). You should see tiny spirals separating from/curling around the quinoa.
Remove the quinoa from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
Gather the three small bowls for the wet ingredients. In one bowl, mix three quarters of a cup of soy sauce with a quarter cup of water and 6 tablespoons of sugar. Set aside. In the second bowl, mix half a cup of chicken broth with 1 tablespoon of corn starch (2 if you want a thick sauce). Set aside. In the third bowl, pour the other half cup of chicken broth into it. Set aside.
Add the peanut oil to the very large saute pan (or wok) and place on a burner over high heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onions. Cook until they get lightly browned. Add the garlic, red pepper flake and ginger and stir into the ingredients. Cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds to 1 minute).
Start adding in the rest of your veg in shifts. I usually start with the veg that’s going to take the longest to cook and end with the one that takes the least. In this case it was collard greens, carrots, then broccoli then peppers. Cook each shift of vegetables for about a minute, then add the next kind. (When working with the collard greens, be sure to coat them well with the oil and hot onions, causing them to wilt down before you add the rest of the veg.)
Pour in the (non-corn starch) broth and the soy sauce mixture. (If you’re using a metal pan, be sure the scrape up the brown bits that have settled at the bottom of the pan.) Stir the vegetables into the sauce. Drizzle one teaspoon of sesame oil over the sauce. Again, stir. Add the broth that’s mixed with corn starch. Again, stir everything together.
Now, it’s time to taste. Are you craving something a little bit more acidic? You may want to drizzle a teaspoon of rice wine vinegar to the sauce.
Allow the vegetables to simmer in the sauce until they’re fork tender or cooked to your degree of liking (I like my veg still a little crisp, so they don’t cook for very long. Just be sure that your greens, especially if you’re using collards are tender or else they’ll be bitter.)
Remove the pan from the burner. If you’d like to add your cilantro to your dish, do so on your individual serving.
*If you got that Modern Family reference, gold star for you.