Chicken Stir Fry – an accidental meal

I don’t consider myself a super gourmet chef creating avant garde creations that will be stolen and featured at the trendy restaurants in Boston but I think I’m more than adequate at cooking up a pretty good meal.  I really do make a lot of the recipes from my favorite bloggers here on WordPress because I trust that they’ve been tried and made by real people without the help of ‘staff’.  However, every now and then I head into the kitchen without much of an idea of what I’m going to do and end up with that accidental meal where everything just sort of works and the mixture of flavors just makes your mouth say “wow…this is pretty good!”.  The sausage with peppers was one of those great flavor accidents and this turned out to be another.  I think it’s the orange bell peppers.  Now, after watching my husband painstakingly pick out every pepper he found in the sausage dish, I should mention that although I say to slice the peppers, in this case I diced them and told my husband they were carrots.

Don't those peppers look like carrots?

Don’t those peppers look like carrots?

Before getting to the recipe though, I have to tell you about other accidents that didn’t turn out so well.  I’m talking about the kind that involve a teenager and cars.  We haven’t, so far, had any huge New England snowstorms this year but there have been small storms that seem to hit at rush hour.  I don’t care if Nicole is in her mid-20’s now, I’m still her mother so I can’t help but tell her to drive carefully when it snows (news flash, I just got an update that we’re going to get hammered with a blizzard this Thurs/Fri). Of course I’ll be telling her again to drive very carefully.  So sue me!  But I’m not going to stop.  And when I get the “Oh motherrrr….” I remind her of that first year of driving.

Let’s see, there was that morning when 5 minutes after leaving the house for school, we got the phone call from a sobbing (but safe) girl who’d come around a corner, hit black ice just as a poor fellow was backing out of his driveway.  So she hit him.  She was fine, he was fine, but he was so concerned about how upset she was that he brought her back into his house where his wife gave her orange juice and toast, and had her call us.  Now smacking into someone’s car and having them be nice to you doesn’t happen that often.  What also doesn’t often happen, is to find out that the guy you just hit is the admissions officer at a college that you’re thinking of applying to.  Yes, he did tell her to send him her application personally but she decided not to apply to that school.  Of course once everyone’s fine, the real pain comes with filling out insurance accident forms.  Not that I’m a total jerk, but I figured if Niki was old enough to drive a car and get in an accident, then she was old enough to fill out the form herself.  And I’m not stupid, so of course I read the report before it was sent in and recommended some changes.  A good rule when filling out these reports is to absolutely keep it straightforward, simple, and to be truthful which means…they do not need to know what time you left the house or that you drove by other cars that you did not hit.  Trying to come up with a concise sequence of events I asked Niki to describe step-by-step what happened.  “Ok, Niki…you were driving west on Howard St., then you came around the corner…then exactly what happened?”

The complete answer did not make it into the report because the answer was I don’t really know because I think I closed my eyes!”  Truth is important, but there’s some things that don’t need to go on an accident report.

Obviously, later in the winter I was really worried when Niki was driving  when a blizzard dropped over a foot of snow on us.  She was on a 2 lane highway, driving in a lane that had been plowed only to discover that for whatever reason, the plow had picked up the blade and she was heading for a pile of snow in her lane with someone to her left who wasn’t letting her merge.  She lost control of the car, hit a concrete barrier with the front of the car, which spun the car back around so that the rear end kissed the barrier, bounced her back scraping the driver’s side of the car, and finishing off the front bumper which is yet to be found.

When I got that phone call I had my doubts that the car was driveable but she assured me that a ‘guy’ had stopped and told her it should be fine, at least for the 20 miles or so to get home.  As soon as I heard the garage door go up, I ran down there to see…basically half my car come in.  I mean, no front bumper, hood buckled up, one headlight that was now a side light, dangling side mirror, not much left to the back of the car, fluids dripping, and the engine hissing.  But she was okay,  badly shaken, sore, and crying hysterically, but okay.  As I was standing there hugging her and trying to offer what comfort I could, my daughter didn’t fail me and came out with the best “Niki-ism” of all time…

Mmmooommm, do you think we have to tell Dad?

Reba McEntire has a song that goes…”What do ya say in a moment like this…”  Sorry, I’m really not the perfect mother because I just burst out laughing.  I mean, she only brought half a car home! And even if my husband was totally exhausted when he came home from work that night and didn’t notice all the extra room in the garage, don’t you think that headlight staring at him from the side of the car might catch his eye?

Although I wished the insurance company had just totalled the jinx car, they decided it could be repaired but it took quite a while.  Now I’m sure you can imagine my ummm…surprise when on a beautiful, sunny, warm spring day I got the phone call…“Mom!  You ARE NOT going to believe what just happened!!!”.  Probably not Niki, but give me a try.  “There’s an SUV sitting on the hood of the car!”.  Did not expect that one for sure.  As Niki was waiting for the SUV in front of her to pull into traffic, that girl (another young driver) panicked when a car beeped at her as she pulled out into traffic.  The girl threw her car into reverse without looking and yup…using my car as a ramp, the ass end of her SUV ended up on top of my hood.

I guess it may be true that accidents happen in 3’s because our insurance company had a nice break from hearing from us.  And that leads to good accidents that can happen – in the kitchen.  This is the second accidental great meal so I’m hoping for another one in the near future.  Please enjoy and if you’re driving PLEASE DRIVE CAREFULLY!

chicken stir fry 004

CHICKEN STIR FRY

4          Chicken breasts, thinly sliced
½         Cup soy sauce
¼         Cup brown sugar
1          TBL cornstarch
1          TBL minced ginger or a sprinkling of powdered ginger
3          Cloves minced garlic
1          Orange (or yellow) bell pepper, thinly sliced
1          Medium onion, sliced or diced
1          Bunch broccoli chunks
1          Nice pile of snow peas
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
2          TBL oil, separated

1.  Mix soy sauce, brown sugar, and cornstarch in a medium bowl.     Stir until smooth, then add ginger, garlic, and pepper flakes.  Stir sliced chicken in marinade & refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or ½ hour.

2.  Heat 1 TBL of oil over medium-high heat in a heavy skillet.  Cook bell pepper & onion until tender, then add broccoli & snow peas for about 5 minutes (keep them crisp).

3.  Add minced garlic to vegetables for just a few minutes to combine, then remove vegetables and keep warm.

4.  Add 2nd TBL of oil to pan over med-high heat, stir just the chicken slices in – reserve liquid.

5.  After chicken is cooked, return vegetables to the pan, then pour in marinade, simmering for about 10 minutes.  If sauce thickens too much, just add a little water or white wine.

chicken stir fry 005

Serve over Chinese noodles or rice…or as we had it – just plain as is.

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25 thoughts on “Chicken Stir Fry – an accidental meal

  1. Those stories make me cringe. Thank god nothing happened to Niki. I pray every time, my girls are out on the road. Dinner looks great. Make sure you have lots of left overs,cuz you ain’t leaving the house after this blizzard. Let’s hope we don’t lose power. Oh and yes.. from afar and without my glasses, those peppers look like carrots.

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    • Ah Judy, we all worry & I guess that’s just part of our job. We’re not about to change. I still tell John to be careful driving & he tells me the same. But I guess the best thing we can do for our kids is to let them learn. We’ve both got great, great kids & it’s up to us to have confidence in them. I’m not sure who was more terrified of Niki getting back behind the wheel after that first accident but some things just aren’t options.
      I am NOT looking forward to this storm & I think I’ve got everything I need so it’s in the bunker for me. I’ll deal with the snow but please, oh please let’s not lose the power this time!
      (Hey, I got away with calling them carrots & John LOVED the meal – go figure).

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  2. Diane love, love your stories, you are a wonderful mother! The Niki -isms are priceless!! This blog will become a book..then a Best Selling Movie!! Best Wishes to the author! Love Kathy

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    • Kathy – great to hear from you! I don’t know what kind of mother I really am but hey, she’s stuck with me. I’m sure Niki’s got plenty of stories of her own about me but I can always threaten her with disinheritance if she tells them. When my friend and neighbor said to me “you should write a blog”, I just looked at her and said “you mean these things don’t happen to everyone?”. If it should ever become a movie, I know there’s only one person who could star as Niki.

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  3. That food looks so yummy, and I’ll even eat the “carrots.” My person says it’s amazing the stories parents can tell when their kids are learning to drive. She has some too. Glad no one was hurt in those accidents.

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    • That first year of driving!!! Since Niki’s the oldest in the neighborhood, it’s been interesting watching all of the other parents go through the same thing. They used to shake their heads every time we had a rental car in the driveway – now they just nod knowingly.

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  4. Oh my goodness Diane. First I am glad that everyone is physically okay. What a bad stream of luck! Black ice is the worst and my teenagers are here in a place where is does not snow and they use public transport so my time is coming. On to the recipe great quick little accidently stir fry but after what you have been through I think I would have ordered a pizza and called it a night. Take care, BAM

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    • I do not envy you with 2 teenagers coming close to getting licenses. You know what New England weather is like, plus we’re out in the country with zero public transportation. I’ll tell you one of the best things we did is get Niki into a driver’s ed program that had a skid school with a track. It’s one thing to be told to steer in the direction of a skid & another to get on a greased track to actually do it. The ONE BIG RULE I had though was that if she was ever in an accident or a bad situation, that no matter what, if she was breathing that she make the call to me herself. That is one phone call you do not want to get from someone else even if they’re telling you that your child is fine!
      And believe me, there have been plenty of times when I’ve ordered a pizza & put my head under a pillow 🙂

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      • I am not looking forward to that at all. We plan to be in Asia a few more years so maybe a little maturity will help with the drivers training process for my teenagers when when we move back.

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  5. Thank goodness that Niki escaped the accidents unharmed, as did the others involved — and that she has such understanding parents. She sure had a baptism of fire during her first years’ driving. This morning’s traffic reports are filled with reports of rain freezing as it hits the ground. I think I’ll stay in for a while.
    This stir-fry you created sounds like a great meal, Diane,l and uses items most of us have on-hand. It’s easy enough to make that I should consider doing so the next time I’m about to order “Chinese” for dinner. Thanks for sharing.

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    • I think we all were lucky to get through our first year of driving. And to think that when I did it, there was no front wheel, 4 wheel, or all wheel drive or SUV’s. At least the cars are much safer now.
      Freezing rain – good choice of staying in. Snow is one thing but ice – I don’t care what you’re driving, there’s not a lot you can do when you hit it. Alas, we’re about to get 1-2 feet of snow and if that hits us I think we’ll all be hunkered down for a few days.
      We used to order out for Chinese all the time but after getting enough MSG headaches after eating it (yes, I’d ask for no MSG), I figured I could make my own. Try it some time – the vegetables are much crisper & you’re sure of the ingredients.

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  6. See… that is why we never had children! LOL!

    When people move here to Atlanta, and we get ice on the roads, and there are no sand trucks, or snowplows, and they all laugh at us “locals” who refuse to get out and “drive” ….us “locals” just laugh as the “non locals” slip and slide into the other “non locals” that are also out driving….Yikes!

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    • I hear ya! It’s one thing if you live in an area where they’re out there plowing & treating the roads, but some parts of the country just don’t have the equipment. Even here though, when we get snow, if you’re reasonable you can usual get home but it seems that I always see the SUV drivers who think they can climb the side of a building who end up in the ditch as they fly down the passing lane or ride someone’s bumper. Ice – nothin’ ya can do about that though.

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    • So true that age doesn’t matter & I even tell my husband to drive carefully. I think we’ll all be staying in the bunker tomorrow though. I just heard that we might get up to 3′ of snow now. I love Canada & Canadians but I wish they would keep their Alberta Clipper up there.

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      • I certainly agree about the Alberta Clippers staying up north. Winter wonderlands are beautiful but this one is going a little too far…six inches is the most I like at any one time.

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  7. These stories never get old! I forgot about a lot of these and I have to say my Niki-isms even crack me up! Really why I thought my dad wouldn’t notice half a car missing…I’m lucky I have very patient parents!

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    • Well darling, I’ll tell you what Grammie used to say to me “you wait until you have kids of your own – you’ll see!” Dad might not notice when I get a new haircut, he may not notice when I really, super clean the house, he may not notice when I buy new clothes, but there was NO WAY he could have missed 1/2 a car missing – plus that headlight that ended up being a side light was a little odd, don’t you think? AT least we can laugh about it now…HOWEVER – they’re now saying this storm could be as bad as the blizzard of ’78 so don’t you DARE leave your house tomorrow! (That way I won’t even have to tell you to drive carefully).

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  8. Oh, Diane — your stories are so refreshingly honest and always so funny. Not to mention, the recipe looks delicious as usual.
    And, this is another one of your posts that reminds me of something I’ve been meaning to say for a long time: Your daughter is very lucky to have such a caring, loving mom! The kind who drives in horrible traffic to bring her a meal; the kind who tells her to drive safe — and on and on! I would have loved to have a mom like you!

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    • What an incredibly nice comment & I truly appreciate it. I try to keep a sense of humor & can assure you that Niki & I have had many battles (hey, she packed all of her Little Mermaid underpants & ran away from home when she was 4 because I held back on cookies!). But you know, through it all I can honestly say we’ve got lots of love and many, many great memories. I think one reason why we’re so close is that she was a competitive figure skater which meant morning rides in the dark to the rink, to school after, then back at the rink. There’s something about riding in a car, in the dark & being able to really talk – must be not having to make eye contact 🙂

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  9. I seem to have missed this entry when it was posted and … shame on me! I just love the ‘can we not tell Dad’ part! Outstanding! I have a new driver myself. And he’s driving a truck that I own. I expect that something like this will happen with him (especially after riding with him today — I even asked him about his driving ‘Is your head all the way up your ass? Or just halfway?’) Great story. And great stir-fry! Glad everyone is OK!

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    • I truly hope that you don’t get these calls but I can tell you that by the third one, it’s less of a shock & more, “Ok tell me the story”. I wonder if they’d drive the same way if they bought the cars themselves, paid the insurance, maintenance & gas…just wondering.

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