Thursday, September 29, 2011

"How to Cook Chinese/Japanese/ Filipino food at home"

To be honest, I don't know which this recipe is. The rice bit is (with minor adjustments by me) from my aunt , who is Filipino, but the rest is just what I thought smelled good and looked oriental. And it tastes FANTASTIC, if I may say so myself. A friend of mine saw this dish once and thought I had ordered it from a Japanese restaurant. And it must be sorta kinda authentic, since part of it came from my aunt, right?

I've never had restaurant-style oriental food (only dishes made by people from those countries - lucky me!), so I don't know if this tastes like what you would buy in a Japanese or Chinese restaurant. Make it yourself and tell me.

This recipe below makes one serving. Multiply it according to how many people you need to feed. Of course, like most cooking, it's very flexible. Add a little extra rice to make it stretch. Skimp on an egg or two if you don't have enough. And so on and so forth.

So...Here we go: (And, once again, I apologize for how wordy my recipes are. Can't help it!)

Orient Rice, Amber-Style

~ minced garlic (the kind you buy in a little jar in its own juice is so convenient! ...But you could chop fresh garlic too. Just be sure to chop tiny.)
~ 2 TBS butter, or a little less. Maybe 1 1/2 TBS
~ 1/2 cup cooked brown rice, one day old (the age is important so that it's not too moist.)
~ 1 egg (home-raised is best!)
~ 2 TBS ground beef, cooked with onions (Is your family like mine, where you cook up a bunch of ground beef with onions at one time, early in the week, and use it throughout the week for spaghetti, sloppy joes, soups, casseroles, etc.? I just grabbed a little bit from the fridge.)
~ 1 tsp. soy sauce (Please do measure this - just 1 tsp. is enough! Ever read the back of the bottle? 1 TBS gives you 38% of your daily salt allowance!)
~ 1 large carrot, scrubbed
~ 1/2 of one large green sweet pepper (fresh from the garden is delightful!)

Are you ready?
: (Note - you will be making two parts for this dish - rice, and fried vegetables to go on top. Make the rice first and keep it warm, or, if you're talented, get the veggies going, and when they're almost done start the rice.)

Rice Directions:
Melt some of the butter (3/4 TBS or less) in a small frying pan. Once it is melted, turn your heat down to simmer and add a small scoop (1/4 tsp. or so, to taste) of minced garlic. Let that saute until the garlic is soft and smells wonderful. Don't let the butter get too brown. Keeping the heat low is key. Think slow cooking.

Add the cooked meat, and toss to coat in butter. Let it heat for a few moments. Turn the heat up to medium. Once it reaches the heat level you would use to cook eggs, continue.

Now, you want to do the next three additions quickly, so have them all ready. Have your rice measured out and ready to dump in, plus 3/4 tsp. of soy sauce and one egg.

Add the egg to the skillet and stir with a wooden spoon. You're making scrambled eggs. As soon as the egg starts to cook, add the rice and soy sauce. Stir continuously as the egg cooks. You want the rice to fry, but you don't want the egg to over-cook and be rubbery. Find that perfect moment of "doneness." And remember, eggs always continue to cook in their own heat once you take them off the stove, so stop a few moments before you think they're done.

Now, set the rice aside, but keep it warm until your veggie topping is ready.

Fried Vegetables Directions:
Chop your carrot and green pepper into 2.5" lengths. Then slice the pieces into strips. The strips should be thin, like a lasagna noodle, and about 1/4" wide. Now melt your remaining butter in a larger fry pan, and saute a small amount of garlic until soft. Turn heat up to medium. Add remaining soy sauce (about 1/4 tsp.) and the carrots. Let the carrots cook for 2-3 minutes, to give them a head start, since they're crisper, and then add the green pepper. Fry until the veggies are soft and limp, and just starting to caramelize around the edges. (Mmmmm!) Remove from heat and serve over the rice.

Try to restrain yourself.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Virginia Earthquake

Saturday, as I sat on top of a mountain (yes, really!), I told two friends that I really needed to write a blog post about "the" earthquake, but that it would be senseless to write so late. I mean, honestly, everything that can be said about it has been said about it, right?

All except my bit of the story.

So, what do you want to hear? An explanation of where I was, what I thought, how I panicked? ...or an explanation of what in the world I was doing sitting on top of a mountain on Saturday?

That one is easy. I climbed up there. All 1.5 miles. Lovely climb. My favorite mountain in the world. It is nothing but bare rocks at the top, so the view is unimaginable unless you've been there.

So we were sitting on rocks at the top of the world discussing blogs and earthquakes.

Just in case you are a reader from another country, or the other side of my country, let me explain: I live in Virginia. On August 28th, an unexpected 5.8 earthquake rattled life all up and down the east coast of America. We felt it.

Everybody has their own story about where they were and what they were doing when the earthquake hit. I doubt we'll ever forget it. It was the first - and maybe the only - earthquake I've ever been in. (Honestly, an earthquake in Virginia?)

Actually, I didn't panic. It took me about 10 seconds to realize that this was not a plane overhead, a train close by, or our friendly neighborhood quarry giving off a long blast. The word "earthquake" hit my mind, and I suddenly knew. It took approximately 2 more seconds for my heart rate to kick into high gear.

My first thought was to warn everyone. "But who would believe me?" Honestly - in the midst of what could have been a emergency situation, for all I knew, I was worried about what people thought of me. I'd rather not analyze this part of my reaction.

My next thought was wonder - how bad was this going to get? And I wondered if I should try to find safety. A doorway was nearby, and I stood in it. The ground was still vibrating, and the loud rumbling continued steadily. A friend of mine stood in the doorway across from me. "Do you know what's going on?" she asked (she's from California).

"It feels like an earthquake!" I replied, trying to sound skeptical in case I was wrong.

"That's exactly what it is!" she replied.

We stood there in silence and waited for something to happen. I thought about the plates miles and miles beneath me, grinding over one another, affecting so many people. God was moving the world - and those atheists couldn't do a thing! I found it quite satisfying to think how frustrated they must be to realize it. Then I realized I was quite helpless - and the concept of my own insignificance in the realm of the universe nearly suffocated me.

I didn't know what to expect. When the noise and shaking just kept going, and going, and going, I began to wonder if something really big was going to happen. Would the building collapse? Would our town become a disaster area? Were people being hurt?

"This is what the end times will be like..." Then a breath of wonder caught in my throat. Could it be?

Then, as suddenly as it started, it stopped. It was over. We were still here.

My pulse was throbbing in my wrist and chest. My legs were having their own private little earthquake. But, strangely enough, the sensation in my mind was one of disappointment.

That's it? I wanted to feel it again, just to know I hadn't dreamed it.

A few minutes later, I realized why I was so disheartened.

It could have been the rapture.

But it wasn't.

I suddenly ached so much to see Jesus that my eyes got misty. "Why don't You come, Lord? When will it be?" There was no regret, no longing to live "a few more" days here. For that glorious moment, all I wanted was Him. And I was sad He hadn't come.

Then I realized what would have happened if that HAD been the rapture. There is so much to do! So many people to reach! So much to say! Reality slapped me.

Facebook came alive moments after the quake. I read the posts, imagining what facebook will look like moments after the rapture. What will they say? Oh, the panic that will surge in their hearts! The hopelessness of it all! My heart aches for them - and yearns to spare them that.

There is much to do, folks. Much to pray for. We've been given a precious gift - time. Time to work, and preach, and implore.

Let's not waste it.