Questions, a Confession, a Request and a Recipe

Upon listening to some podcasts and reading some postings by the brilliant Merlin Mann on successful blogging,  I  ended up having what I imagine was an unintended reaction to the posts.  I stopped blogging.   I’ve been struggling to decide what it is exactly that I want to talk about, who I want to talk to and why I even started this in the first place.  I’ve been thinking too much.  The answer is pretty much right in front of me.  I love to cook.  I love to surf the net.  I tend to surf the net in search of great recipes and ideas that will help me become a rockstar in my kitchen.   I think that my focus is narrowing here.

First, a confession of sorts.

I really wish that I knew of my passion for cooking long ago, before choosing to go to Architecture School.  I might have ended up in the kitchen for a living or even applying that passion to my architectural education.  I had many friends in school that were very passionate about a variety of subjects and pastimes; from fishing, music, farming and sailing to dance, painting and poetry.  I hadn’t found mine yet.  I was  struggling often to find something to grasp in my architectural education that would give me a starting point or, at least, perspective from which I could approach a design .  I was always envious of the others because they knew what they loved to do and they attempted to apply it to their designs.  It is the architectural thought equivalent to that first bold brush stroke on a blank canvas or the first words typed on the blank, white screen of a blog post.  I had no idea where to start and no particular point of view when it came time to start.   The more envious I became the more desperate I was to find that thing that would let me in to a world that was so very complicated yet seemed so arbitrary.  The more desperate I became the more I started to flounder and drown in my own worry.  I began to hate Architecture.

However, I would never give back the fantastic education that I received.  More than learning about buildings,  I learned a way to think and a way to look at the world.  I have been able to apply much of my education to set design for film and television and have made an okay living at it.   I guess my challenge, now that I have acknowledged my passions, is to combine my passion with my design education.  On this, I have to think more and I will not bore you with the battle that is soon to rage in my head.  This is all sure to end up here in future posts anyway.

A Request.

Junior posted on my previous entry that he needed a simple recipe for something to put on rice.  Well, it is probably too late for that but I will post something that I tried this week and quite enjoyed. This actually came from RealSimple.com.  My wife receives this magazine and I always figured that it was only about organizing and storing stuff in pretty boxes, but she pointed out to me that it is actually about trying to make your life simpler in all aspects, including cooking.

Originally posted on Real Simple.com:

Chicken Teriyaki Meatballs with Edamame and Snow Peas

1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
1 1/4 pounds ground chicken
2 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 pound snow peas, halved crosswise (3 cups)
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Cook the rice according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the chicken, scallions, and ginger. Shape into 16 meatballs.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the meatballs, turning, until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Wipe out the skillet. Heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add the peas and edamame. Cook, tossing, for 2 minutes. Return the meatballs to skillet.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce and sugar. Add to the skillet and simmer until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve over the rice.

Tip: To keep the ground chicken from sticking to your fingers, wet your hands before forming the meatballs.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

NUTRITION PER SERVING
CALORIES 431; FAT 17g (sat 3g); CHOLESTEROL 64mg; CARBOHYDRATE 44g; CALORIES FROM FAT 34%; SODIUM 842mg; PROTEIN 26g; FIBER 4g; SUGAR 10g


Doug’s Notes:

I am assuming that you have a working knowledge of how to do a few things in the kitchen so I won’t break down the whole recipe and over-simplify it.  However, I know that some things that seem so obvious to people that cook often and really enjoy their time in the kitchen can be a bit scary and off-putting to those that simply “eat (or cook) to live” rather than “live to eat (or cook)”.  So here are some of my notes on this recipe that I hope make it a little easier to understand and enjoy.

The ingredients:
Long grain rice: This is your basic white or brown rice that you probably have sitting in the pantry right now. Brown rice is reported to be much healthier but takes longer to cook so you decide.  The 1 1/2 cups is the uncooked amount.
Ground Chicken: You know what this is but you could also use ground turkey.  Some day I may try ground salmon, but the cooking time would have to be adjusted for that.
Scallions: These are green onions. This is common knowledge to some but confusing to others when they are called one thing in the recipe and another at the grocery store.  I have NEVER seen them labeled as scallions at the grocer so I don’t know why they do it in recipes.
Grated Ginger: Do yourself a favour and buy a jar of pre minced ginger and keep it in the fridge.  I found mine at the local Price Chopper in the “Asian” section.  This may not be the celeb-chef way of doing things but it saves a lot of time when you are prepping.   While you are at it, pick up a jar of minced garlic too.  It’ll come in handy.  Otherwise, if you want to use fresh ginger, peel it with a spoon.  Yes a spoon! It works wonders. Then have fun grating it.  I usually use one of these.
Frozen Shelled Edamame: Those of you that have been to a Japanese or Korean restaurant will know these little gems.  Edamame is another way of saying Soy Beans in the shell.  You can find Edamame, either in the shell or already out of the shell, in the frozen food section of the grocery store probably where they keep the frozen Asian food or along side the regular frozen veggies.  My local Loblaws had it between the Dim Sum dumplings and the regular frozen beans.  These are a great snack on their own.  Just place the frozen in the shell beans in boiling water for about 5 minutes, drain and sprinkle with a good pinch of coarse salt  like Kosher.  Eat the beans inside by pinching the shell and squirting the bean into your mouth or my just placing the shell (mmm salty) in your mouth and closing your lips around it and pulling out the shell leaving the tasy bits inside.

Tweaks:
I was really taken by the beautiful, bright green colour of the peas and beans together and was excited about their contrast against the white, jasmine rice on top of which I was about to place them.  I followed the recipe though and added the soy sauce to the pan with the vegetables and meatballs and found that the soy tended to dirty up the look of the veg.  I would suggest removing the veggies when they were cooked to a nice crispness (remember to taste your cooking and try them when you think they look done). Then adding the soy mixture to the meatballs alone. Then putting the veggies on a nice mound of rice on the centre of your plate with 4 or 5 meatballs then a healthy drizzle of the sauce over top and around the plate to your taste.  Your food will not look muddy and will, instead, be a bright, fresh looking meal worthy of your time spent on it and deserving to be eaten.

This recipe was very tasty and well worth a try.  It was very quick to prepare and easy to clean up in the end.  If you wanted to work this into a weekly meal plan I would suggest buying some extra ground chicken and saving that for chicken tacos later in the week.  And, if you are so lucky as to have the time and the freezer space, I would also reccommend making extra meat balls and freezing them after cooking them.  It’s always good to have emergency meatballs in the freezer for those times when you haven’t had the time to shop or plan.

I hope that you try the dish and enjoy it. I know that it will be making an appearance on our table again.

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5 comments on “Questions, a Confession, a Request and a Recipe

  1. hey i also heard you can freeze your ginger and then just grate it straight on frozen, without peeling it. Haven’t tried it yet, but am going to. tired of going for the ginger and finding a wizzened up little sad nubens.
    keep on trucken’ slugger.

  2. I have used frozen ginger many times and it works quite well. In fact, I would recommend it any time you want to use grated ginger. You can peel it with a spoon even when it is frozen. I found though that I never remember that I have a piece in the freezer until I find it while searching for something else. The jar somehow has seemed easier. Open jar, scoop out ginger. Done. It’s a bit easier to clean a spoon than a microplane too. Cheers.

  3. Dude:

    Gotta run right now, but I will write more later. For now, great post and congrats on finding something of a focus. My brotherly two cents is not to limit yourself too much re: subjects. If you’re writing for the fun of it – rather than trying to reach a particular audience and make money at it – you should write what you want rather than struggling to stay on message. That having been said, having a general organizing theme helps keep the momentum going (for me, obviously, it’s been writing about the challenges of our new life in the country). Good stuff, and I’m DEFINITELY going to be trying this recipe. This week!

  4. We’ll try it too — it sounds a little like a recipe we make with green beans, ground pork, and fish sauce. My mouth is already watering.

  5. Pingback: Kitchen Roundup « Heroes in Rehab: the blog

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