I’m just going to throw this out there, and you can throw it right back: The Duggar Family creeps me out, and I dislike TLC for encouraging America to embrace them. So there.
Of course this post, thankfully does not concern the Duggars and the birth of Mrs. Duggar’s thirty-seventh child and subsequent: “A Very Special Episode: The Duggar Uterine Prolapse.” It’s about the stir-fry I made tonight with all the crap from my fridge and garden plus a cabbage grown just for me by the lovely people at PathMark because the chard, as previously mentioned, was slimy. To make it sound more interesting than “stir fry” I like to call it “Inside-Out Potstickers.”
I also like to make myself more interesting by eschewing “Michelle” and calling myself “The Queen of Pain…and Balloon Animals!” Unfortunately, this name is not as apropos as the name of this dish because balloon animals freak me the fuck out. I do it anyway, just to see how well it will catch on.*
I had peppers**, onion, garlic and multi-colored carrots from the CSA, basil and Thai chiles from the yard, cabbage from PathMark and ginger and pork from Garden of Eden. Have you ever been in that store? It is aptly named, and I have to go in with a list or else. Which I did not do today, which is why I spent $45 on ginger and pork and lychees and blueberries and fancy butter and San Pellegrino Limonata and ten other things that were not (1) ginger or (2) pork. Also the very, very French butcher suggested I swap out my spouse for a new one because he dared to second guess my pork choice by asking the butcher his opinion. Or as they say in France, ‘eez ohpeenyeeon.
*Purple! I couldn’t shake the feeling that the purple pepper was a lesbian, and I cannot tell you why it occurred to me to dwell on the pepper’s sexual orientation in the first place. I merely report on what happened.
Luckily, I was on enough of a high from all the other local/cheap/free ingredients I’d be using and the Garden of Eden trip didn’t bring me down or convince me to get a divorce. Plus, have you ever had San Pellegrino Limonata or Aranciata? That shit is like liquid crack. Big Gulps have always weirded me out – should the human stomach be able to take in that much liquid? – but if you gave me one filled with aranciata it would be gone before you get the wrapper off your own straw. (Obviously, you’d also be drinking one.)
The Inside-Out Potsticker consisted of purple and green bell peppers; yellow, orange and red carrots; white wax beans; onion, garlic and ginger and pork over garlic and ginger-flecked wilted cabbage. Basically, what the dog’s vomit looked like after he got the whole Carvel cake off the kitchen counter and ate the tub of sprinkles and marachino cherries for the ice cream sundae bar.
In case you didn’t understand, sprinkles = jimmies. But they’re really called sprinkles. Get with the program.
The cabbage was supposed to be chard but The Slime Issue forced my hand and required me to make Brian go to PathMark for the cabbage, which I started cooking upon which we instantly found another, non-slimy bunch of chard in the fridge behind a half-eaten apple pie. Farmer John loves his rainbow chard. It was okay though, because I feel like I haven’t been firing off enough A-quality farts lately, so the cabbage was really a win.
After I’d wilted the cabbage down I wiped the hot pan down at great personal risk to myself and re-used it for the stir fry. I also used the by-product water the portable air conditioner generates to flush the toilet just now. Between those two things, the CSA and the home grown veg it’s like fucking Ed Begley junior up in here.
I got the pan hotter than I had for the cabbage, gave some more garlic and ginger a minute to make the house smell gorgeous, gave some diced onion a one-minute head start and then chucked all the pork (finely diced boneless loin chops; Garden of Eden had fresh currants and Scandinavian orange and coriander yogurt, but no ground pork) and veg in together. The goal: cook the pork through without overcooking and keep all the veg crisp. Don’t think I didn’t think things through before I just threw everything in the pan.
Okay, I didn’t. Here’s the problem with blogs: people read them, and then they get to know you and you can no longer lie with abandon. I actually didn’t know what would happen and wondered if I should have separated the pork and veg and, if so, which I would have put in first. It all worked out in the end though, so I let that thorny problem go.
Near the end of what I judged to be the correct cooking time, going mostly on the colors of the various elements, I tossed in the stir-fry flavor…is there a word like “trifecta” that you use when you’re talking about more than three things? If there is, I apparently, don’t know what it is, so I’ll call this the “hat trick” instead: sesame oil, soy sauce, hoisin, chile garlic paste and a little plum sauce to boost the sweetness. I added a little stock and some arrowroot to thicken and ended up with a nice little brown sauce to coated everything . I didn’t bother to taste for seasoning, assuming that the soy would add enough salt, the chile enough heat, and also I forgot.
Doesn’t it look like there are peanuts in this? I know, right?
I made a little cabbage mountain in each bowl while I thought back to the halcyon days of my youth…
“Where the ass cheeks swing while the big farts sing
On the little cabbage mountain.”
What, no one else had to sing “The Little Cabbage Mountain”* in 4th grade music class? Granted, my memory of everything pre-1998 is fairly hazy and I could be mis-remembering the song. There were definitely bluebirds, that much I can tell you. Maybe they were like the canaries in the coal mine, but for human gas? Though this is all sounding a bit grim for 9-year-olds. Forget I mentioned it.
I made a little cabbage mountain and spooned some pseudo-potsticker filling over each; a squeeze of lime, some torn up cilantro and the dinner bell was a’rung.
My method totally worked – IN YOUR FACE, FORETHOUGHT. The pork was cooked just right, and all the veg were crisp-tender; the beans especially still had some nice snap to them. The sauce was a little sweet, a little salty and a lot spicy and coated the cabbage as though it were noodles.
I could give you a cost breakdown, but since so much was pre-existing it seems silly; let this instead be a testament to (1) growing your own and (2) using up all the crap in your fridge. I could also give you a recipe but that also seems silly; let this instead be a testament to the power of soy, hoisin and chile garlic paste. (Yes, I know I paid for the CSA vegetables, but since I paid for them in February I’ve since forgotten so they seem free to me.)
*Actual song: “The Big Rock Candy Mountain,” a bowdlerized version of an old song about what Hobo Heaven would look like. Hint: There’re a lot of cigs and booze.