Saturday, April 26, 2008

What's for dinner? What's in the 'frig?

I'm currently visiting my younger son for a few days. He lives in the Seattle area and loves to eat and cook. However this year as a very busy first year teacher, he finds that he is spending most of his time doing lesson plans and grading papers. So what's for dinner? What's available in the refrigerator, freezer, and on the pantry shelves to work with? We embarked upon a fun adventure and creative experience in his small kitchen!

We made a delicious supper with what was available without heading to the grocery store. We would call the recipe Spicy Tofu and Artichoke Stir-fry.

Here is the list of the ingredients we found and amounts used:

~12 oz. firm tofu - drain well and cut into ~1" cubes
12 oz. jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drain well (save marinade if desired for future use - could also use canned or frozen artichoke hearts but drain and rinse well to eliminate the salty brine)
4 fresh crimini mushrooms - wash and slice or quarter
4 green onions - chop white and green sections
1 small head of red leaf lettuce (or use any fresh greens such as spinach, kale, bok choy, etc) - wash, drain, then coarsely chop
1 teaspoon powdered garlic (or use fresh if available)
1 teaspoon powdered ginger (ditto as above)
couple of dashes hot sauce (taste at the end to add more if desired)
3 Tbsp. olive oil (divided use)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
2 cups already-cooked brown rice (or cook some up as you are preparing the stir-fry)

Mix soy sauce, vinegar, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and hot sauce together for marinade. Add tofu cubes to marinade, toss to cover with marinade for at least 30 minutes. Drain marinade and save to add to this recipe later.

Heat wok or large skillet until hot (hot enough is when a couple drops of water added to the wok evaporate instantly). Then add 1 Tbsp. oil to wok and heat. Add drained tofu cubes a few at a time to wok, stir to lightly cook on all sides, remove from wok with a slotted spoon and and set aside. Repeat until all tofu is cooked.

Add ~1 Tbps. oil in wok. When hot, add spices and mushrooms and white part of green onions to cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add drained artichoke hearts. Stir all until heated through. Then add tofu and lettuce and remaining marinade, stirring all together until all heated through.

Do a quick taste test to see if more hot sauce is desired, or put the hot sauce on the table for each person to add per their own taste.

Serve over reheated (or newly cooked) brown rice. Sprinkle with green onion slices for garnish. (An additional garnish that would be both pretty and tasty would be black sesame seeds.)

Serves 2-3 (we ate it all!). It tasted great!!

We had discussed going out to eat, but it actually took far less time to prepare this meal, it was not much effort at all even though we were both tired, it was fun to work together in the kitchen, and to be on the generous side, I estimate that this meal cost us no more than $8 total to prepare (with the most expensive ingredient being the jar of marinated artichoke hearts, which likely cost $4-$5). Adding a glass of a nice locally grown Washington merlot wine topped off the meal for a fraction of what we would have paid in a restaurant.

We gave a simple blessing by thanking all the farmers who grew the food that became ingredients for our meal.

I am an amazingly fortunate woman to have had the gift of cancer survivorship long enough to both give birth to my two sons and raise them into highly capable, creative, interesting, and tender-hearted young adults. Having the opportunity to share cooking, eating meals, and having discussions with them gives me joy that reaches deep into each cell of my body. The tears in my eyes as I leave each of them are tears of heart-felt gratefulness that I have had the opportunity to fully participate raising and fledging my baby birds from the nest that my husband and I have woven for them during the past 30+ years. :-)

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


lookinout said...

Excellent description. Hope your sons look back on this with the same pleasure you have in describing it.

Kim said...

Hi Diana

I'm reading your blog from Paris. It gives me a tear in my eye, especially as I think about my own baby bird on her way back from Mexico next month. Your sons are very lucky to have such a courageous and emotionally present mom. Oh, did I mention inspiring also? I love the way you take the ingredients that you have, and that life has given you, and make them into something nourishing.