Friday, March 24, 2006

Dietary Indiscretions

Larry has been out of town since Wednesday. Dinner, as a result, has been a rather haphazard affair. It is hard for me to cook a nice and proper meal for myself and a pack of heathens. They would be happy with pizza and pasta every night, but that is expensive and I don’t want to. Since I’m the adult I get the final say.

My cooking ennui has also been compounded by the fact that I have been shuttling kids to practice every night this week. Friday is our one night off, unless we decide to go to services. (This is not going to happen tonight since there is no way I’m schlepping four kids to temple by myself.) It is very hard to cook for five when four of the people only want toast. It is even harder when it is nigh on 7:00 pm (7:30 last night) and you haven’t even started. Normally Larry will meet me at the practice field and I’ll duck home early to get dinner started. Ideally we have dinner at about 6:40 pm.

So Wednesday we had an exciting dinner of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli. Hurrah for square pasta! It’s ready in 5 minutes, which includes opening the can and dumping the contents into a microwave safe bowl. Nutritionally it is not the greatest, but I will admit it is one of my comfort foods.

Thursday was bit more of a challenge. Jake’s practice runs from 5:30 to 7:00. Add in loading everybody back into the van and driving, we are not home until 7:30 pm. I decided that instead of trying to deal with starving children we would eat before practice. Normally when the boys get home from school, about 4:00ish, I give all four a snack (usually something from the ice cream food group). Instead we had hot dogs and corn at 4:30 pm. We ere done before 5:00 and were soon headed back out the door.

Tonight I will actually cook dinner. The kids have been hankering for a dish I make with tofu, so that will be what we’ll be eating. It’s a dish loaded with peas and it really isn’t good for Larry’s digestive system. This is a good time to make it since Larry won’t be back until Sunday. It is a decidedly non-Kosher dish, but we love it. It is from The Frugal Gourmet, by Jeff Smith.

Bean Curd in Hot Meat Sauce

1 cake fresh firm or Chinese-style bean curd
1 cup coarse-ground pork (I’ve tried other meats, but pork is best. Lamb was okay.)
2 tablespoons white wine
4 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon hot bean sauce(or mein see and mixed with red chili and garlic paste)
½ tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons light or dark soy sauce
1 cup frozen green peas
2 teaspoons hot pepper oil or 1 teaspoon cayenne
¼ chicken broth

Dash of salt to taste (optional)
Black pepper to taste
2 green scallions, minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Cut the bean curd into ½ inch cubes, and drain in a colander.
Marinate the pork in a mixture of the white wine and 1 teaspoon cornstarch for a few minutes. Then fry in a hot wok containing the peanut oil. Cook for just a moment, and then add the bean curd cubes. Add the hot bean sauce or mein see mixed with red chili and garlic paste, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, peas, and hot pepper oil or cayenne. Stir-fry for about 1 minute.
Add the chicken broth and optional salt, and stir over high heat until mixture comes to a boil. Thicken the sauce with a mixture of 1 tablespoon water mixed with 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Garnish with the black pepper, scallions, and sesame oil. Serve hot.

I like to serve it over rice.

The kids love it. They fight over the cubes of tofu. Silly monkeys.

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