All the chili paste I could find had fish sauce/shrimp contaminant in it, so I couldn’t have it in my house due to allergy. However, my roommate/partner/spouse brilliantly bought Korean chili paste instead, a.k.a. gochujang. Even better. Specifically, Mother-in-Law’s Gochujang, with a reassuringly hipster-y label.
I used half a yellow onion and one quarter of a red onion on hand. Red onions made for beautiful contrast. We had lots of onion left. I am excited to make noodles or something else with the leftover sauces.
These days, my household tries to eat less carb-heavy things on a regular basis, and I’ve taken to making lettuce wraps regularly. One of the first google search results will give you a copycat of the P.F. Chang’s recipe, so that was my jumping off point. Frankly, that is where I’ve eaten most of the lettuce wrap dishes in my life. Not vouching for the authenticity of it here, going there kind of drives me nuts sometimes (okay, every time). I also halved all the sauces from original recipe for a full one pound portion of pork. You’ll want to adjust it to your taste, other people probably like more sweet, oozy sauce than me.
From there, I added things I actually wanted to eat..
My “roommate” sent me this recipe in an email, a pretty direct hint to try making it. Recipe from A Girl DeFloured
Total Time: 15 minutes
4 stalks of celery, scrubbed and ends trimmed (chop and reserve leaves)
2 tsp butter
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of chicken stock
Cut celery into 1-inch slices on the diagonal.
Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add celery, along with salt and pepper and cook until it starts to become tender.
Add broth, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for ~5 minutes. Uncover and cook for about 5 minutes longer, allowing the broth to reduce and caramelize a bit.
Taste for seasoning and serve immediately, garnished with reserved chopped leaves.
Today’s Trial Recipe Rating: Novelty Rating: 2 of 5 stars Likelihood of Repeat: 20%
Turned out pretty tasty but I think I’d still rather have it with a protein like chicken, and maybe peanut butter. Cooked up fast, though! Lesson learned: I tried another portion of celery with chicken sausage, plus apple. The apple was definitely a mistake. The sausage was…never meant to be made with sage. Blegh.
What to do when your homegrown celery threatens to grow into a small, unchewable forest? Chop it all down, make celery chicken, (and take the rest to work). This is a combination I started around 2006 on one of those days when there wasn’t much left in the fridge and I thought, “what goes good with celery?” oh, peanut butter, of course..
Celery Chicken Sautee
Prep time: 5 min
Total time: ~Less than 30 minutes
3 shoots celery, chopped in small pieces for saute
2 boneless chicken breast (or chicken thigh, whatever you like), chopped for saute
4 Tbs peanut butter (extra crunchy pref.)
hot boiling water
5 dashes soy sauce
1 dash sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
optional: toasted sesame seeds
optional: 1 tsp chili pepper flakes or 1/2 tsp chili powder
optional, but recommended if you have peanut butter without salt and sugar additives: 1 Tbs honey (or to taste)
optional to try: toast cashews and add.
Put chicken in a bowl with soy sauce, a little sesame oil, and garlic, mix around, let marinate for at least 10 minutes.
Heat saute pan on medium heat with a little olive oil until hot.
Saute chicken mixture (optional: and chili pepper flakes) until chicken looks half done, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, Prepare the peanut butter sauce:
Dollop peanut butter in a cup with hot water per amount of chicken and celery, mix until it’s a relatively smooth sludge. Try to use as little water as possible, just enough to melt the mix.
In the pan, add celery (optional: and sesame seeds), pour peanut butter sauce on top and add a little extra soy sauce to taste/color, (optional: add honey) then cook until desired singed-ness in 5-8 minutes (do not cover), scraping sticky parts occasionally.
Add more soy sauce to taste if needed.
Serve atop brown rice.
Optional: add toasted cashews at end.
Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars.
I may have been making variations for 10 years, but it should be new to you.. Likelihood of Repeat: 100%
So convenient as a fallback dish if you find old celery in your fridge, peanut butter in your pantry, and maybe have some frozen chicken hiding in the back of your freezer. Lesson Learned: It’s much easier to cut more even, thinner slices of chicken if you do so while it’s still partially defrosted. The thing that really makes this dish is just enough browning of the chicken, and then caramelizing of sugars in the peanut butter mixture as you saute (to get crunchy sweet stuff in the mix).
It’s that time again, about every quarter, my freezer starts to get too full of vegetable scraps, at which point I take ’em all and make some stock. In today’s case, I didn’t happen to have any leftover meat scraps that would have made it into a 4, 6 or 8-hour+ long process. Pffft. Unless you have no day job, or work from home, even the vegetable stock process requires a good chunk of time at home, even though it’s not active tending. This is certainly a recipe for the “60 Minutes – Multiday” folder, due to the freezer, and the collecting of scraps over time.
When my brother heard I make my own stock, he remarked “how…Depression Era..” I used some wee sage sprouts in the ‘miscellaneous herbs’ category from an herb starter kit gift from same brother this time. Haw.
Makes about 4 cups, after 2nd boil for 45 minutes
5, 32 oz reused yogurt containers of loosely packed frozen veggie scraps*
3 Liters (around 9 cups) boiling water
arbitrary amount of miscellaneous fresh herbs (8/18/13: green onions, oregano, crushed garlic cloves and parsley)
1. Consolidate vegetable scraps in a mixing bowl, and separate out any onions, garlic, celery, herbs and mushrooms.
2. Boil water in percolator.
3. Optional step but tasty: in large stock pot, sauté onions, garlic, celery, mushrooms and miscellaneous fresh herbs in olive oil over medium heat, about 3 minutes or however long to sweat them.
4. Add remaining vegetables to pot and pour in boiling water until vegetables are just covered (approximately get to 1:1 ratio of ingredients to water).
5. Bring almost to a boil, then simmer for 30-40 minutes. Skim any scum off the top occasionally.
6. Pour boiled contents into a mixing bowl with colander, remove spent ingredients with colander.
7. Optional: return liquid to stovetop and boil down to desired more-concentrated volume; I boiled it for another 45ish minutes.
8. Pour liquid through second strainer, and let cool.
9. Chill to use immediately, or freeze stock (I like using an ice cube tray, then transferring after frozen to ziploc bags and labelling with a sharpie).
*I avoid saving the following vegetables, as they have too heavy a taste, or tend to dye the stock a scary deep red: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages (includes brussel sprouts), and red beets. I like using clear plastic yogurt containers, or at least with a clear top so you can tell what’s inside once it’s frozen.
Storage Note: the stock should keep in the freezer for 4-6 months. Meatification tip: Veggies take around 2 hours, the rest goes: simmer +3 hours for chicken, +5 hours for pork, +7 hours for beef or veal. I tried beef once and it felt like forever since I boiled it down after removing the spent veggies in the last hour. I am never doing that again, too tedious, for similar flavor. One time my house accidentally smelled of curry for 3 days after.. Usage tip: when you use these for a recipe, you may want to salt a little more to taste, since it won’t be as salty as commercial stock.
Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 1 of 5 stars.
The novelty herein lines in the additional 1/3 of my freezer that is now empty, and 5% now has some free, homemade stock ready for use in soups, roux, cooking rice, risotto, and other things. That, and I like giving my vegetables a second life before they go on to the food/yard waste for their third life as compost.
Likelihood of Repeat: 100%
Stock-making has become a chore-Sunday routine every several many months. I see no likelihood of dropping it. Lesson Learned: from making this, and other items destined for the freezer (like too much soup), I have learned that it’s useful to keep a sharpie nearby in a kitchen drawer for easy labeling of ziplocs.