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