Tuesday, October 20, 2009

From the Boring Ol' Cook


A Recipe
Tonight as I was frantically chopping broccoli, Bug dashed into the kitchen. She was wielding a plastic sword, and wearing a breastplaste and helmet.

"Aha," she said, in her most deep, fierce voice! "I am the knight! And who are you?"

"I am the fair maiden, Sir Knight," I replied.

She looked me up and down, and said,"No, you are not a fair maiden. You are the cook of the castle."

Are you kidding me? Even in the realm of fantasy, I am still, just the cook. At least I'm the castle cook, though, and not like a normal peasant, right? I could have to work scooping manure, or be locked in the dungeon for witchcraft (been accused of that once or twice...). I supposed I should be grateful for my lot in life.

That said, as the cook of the castle, I've been known to prepare some lavish banquets in efforts to find favor with the ever-so-particular nobility . Tonight's feast was a royal success: our knight and the ladies in waiting were pleased (and the cook, too, mind you). The King is yet to return from his daily journey to the demanding hospital empire, and has therefore not voiced his approval - but as his cook of 9+ years, I've come to know a thing or two about his preferences, so I'm giving it a two gold gem-adorned ring thumbs up. Give it a try and let me know how it goes over in your realm.

Crispy Orange Beef (from Allrecipes)
1 1/2 pounds beef top sirloin, thinly sliced
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup long grain rice
2 cups water
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons orange zest
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (I forgot to pick some up, so I just used dried)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
oil for frying

Lay beef strips out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Allow to dry in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, rice vinegar, orange juice, salt and soy sauce (I also added 1/2 tsp sesame oil). Set aside.

Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Toss dried beef in cornstarch to coat. Fry in the hot oil in small batches until crispy and golden brown; set aside. Drain all of the oil from the wok except about 1 tablespoon.

Add orange zest, ginger and garlic to the remaining oil, and cook briefly until fragrant (I also added about 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds). Add the soy sauce mixture to the wok, bring to a boil, and cook until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Add beef, and heat through, stirring to coat. Serve over steamed rice.

And an Update
Oh yes - and for those of you still reading - thanks for your concern over the past little bit. We survived the swine (only Lu got it), had my car professionally cleaned (thank heavens for the free detail coupon when we bought the car...) and even packed John matching clothing for his brief trip.

However, the day after returning to school, Lu's school called once again. She vomited in her classroom. I learned that that can be the first sign of strep. Mothers, take note. So, she was out for another two days of school.

But...for now, everyone is healthy and well. I'm beginning to see the humor of the past two weeks, and counting my blessings they're over. I wonder what next week will bring?!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Trying to Stay Calm...and Failing

I need to vent or I might start crying, and I can't do that today. Sometimes there just isn't time for tears. Yesterday Lu's school called to let me know she had a temperature of 102.2, and would I please come pick her up. I did. She proceeded to get sicker throughout the day. I had already committed to take a pot of soup to the teacher appreciation luncheon today, so I worked last night after the kids were in bed, getting everything ready so I could throw it together in the morning; it would just have to simmer. I didn't know what the morning woudl bring, and wanted to be prepared.

This morning, Lu's fever is at 102.8 and she is so dizzy she can't walk without holding onto the wall. John says she has the flu, probably swine flue, based on these and other symptoms. But I still need to get soup to school.

On his way home from work this morning, John calls anti-viral medication into the pharmacy. When he walks in the door, I put Booster down for a nap, and take my bungee-corded closed crock pot of soup to school. I leave the big girls home, with the doors locked, while John settles in for a short nap (he's been working since 7:30 last night; it's now 10:00am).

Bungee cords are useless when a crock pot falls on it's side. That's what I learned. I learned it when I turned into the school's parking lot. I went inside to let them know that the soup was now being absorbed by my car's mats, but that I didn't flake on them. Nevertheless, there would be no soup for them. Sorry, teachers. I feel really bad; it was good soup.

Then I left for the pharmacy. When I arrived I was informed that Walgreens (all of them within a 25-mile radius) are out of anti-virals. Sorry. Did you know you have only 24 hours from the onset of symptoms to get the anti-viral medication into the patient for it to be effective? Nice.

Oh, and John is leaving this afternoon to head out of town for a conference. He needs to sleep, so I offered to pack his bag, make a lunch, and drive him to where he's picking up the charter bus. I'm happy to do it, but with the turn of events, it's just one more thing. And I'll have to pack his bag in the dark (so as not to wake him up) and do it while trying to keep Booster quiet ("Dad-EEE!" repeated over and over again is not sleep conducive).

And parent-teacher conferences are this evening. But now I'm not going, because my sitter doesn't want to risk the flu. Which I totally understand, but...

It's only 11:13. The day is young, and so far it's not off to a good start. I think I might cry. But I know I won't, because first I need to find a way to shampoo my car with a sick kid and a baby in tow. And pack John's bag, and deal with the rest of this day.

I finished a really interesting book last night, in portion, about Judo. Judo commands total calm and balance in one's life. Obviously, I didn't absorb much of what I read. To quote an old movie, "Oh, no, I suck again!"