A Sauce for Any Crisis
March 16, 2014 § 2 Comments
My sister was the first to hear me complain, just hours after the bicycle accident on Wednesday that left me supine on the couch and staring into the abyss of future days spent in the same position. “You know what I can’t stop thinking about right? I have a beautiful bunch of kale in the fridge, and if I don’t do something with it now it’s going to wither up!” As usual when I go on food rants, she listened patiently and politely sympathized as a sister must, though I knew she was inwardly sighing.
Every time I passed it for a glass of water, or threw open the freezer for a slice of bread to toast, I could feel that bunch of kale silently glaring at me all the way through the refrigerator door. By Friday I could no longer bear the echo of “food-waster” running through my stir-crazy head. I hobbled to the kitchen on my crutches, pulled out the kale, a large leek, and a single egg, and set the knee of my ankle-sprained leg on a pillowed chair next to the counter. Thirty minutes later I emerged with a satisfying lunch, an eased conscience, and a pounding, swollen ankle. As I eased my shocked body back into bed I promised myself to relax on the cooking front and rely on the generous amount of homemade food already stashed in the freezer for a rainy-day-meal-on-the-go. Of course three hours later I was back in the kitchen, determined not to miss eating pie on that most rare and delightful holiday of math and food convergence- Pi Day. So okay, I accept it: I have a problem. My name is Hannah and I am a cooking addict.
It was my mother’s response to hearing all about my frustration over being confined indoors and denied mobility that finally offered a solution. “Just do simple things Hannah. Remember the things you grew up with.” This compromise between a freezer-dependent diet and my never-make-the-same-thing-twice attitude promised to itch the cooking scratch without aggravating the ankle too much: a sort of electric cigarette for the gastronome.
I returned to the kitchen already confident in what I would make: a stir-fry. There is nothing so versatile, so quick, and for me so perfectly nostalgic of childhood (not even the almighty bread) – and it was undoubtedly something I could throw together on a plate, using one small steak knife, a spoon, and a grater. But none of these things were the reason I decided on the stir-fry ultimately. No, the real clincher hides behind faux-big players like which vegetables to choose and the somewhat more important order of their addition to the hot skillet. It is actually all about the sauce.
Over the years I have tweaked and varied a particular recipe that I began making in high school for dipping my first homemade egg rolls in. In college that sauce made a plate of potstickers with my roommates a special, elegant affair between midterms. Now I like it tossed over sautéing vegetables while they are still crisp, coating them in a surprisingly unctuous glaze of mapled lime, garlic, ginger and soy sauce. There is no exact recipe I can relate to you for this particular food experience, merely an outline to follow and adjust to your own liking- just as one should when cooking out of frugality and nostalgia, and perhaps, like me this time, on crutches.
A Sauce for a Stir-fry, or Egg Rolls, or Potstickers (ie Adaptable to Your Particular Life-Crisis):
*Note: the below measurements make a somewhat spicy sauce*
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp maple syrup, agave or even orange juice
3 tbsp soy sauce
zest of one lime
3 tbsp lime juice
approx. a 2″x1″ piece of ginger
3 cloves of garlic (at least)
Mix together all ingredients, let mingle together to get acquainted for ~thirty minutes to really allow the garlic and ginger to exude into the rest of the sauce. Prepare before your stir-fry ingredients to further time the whole production.To use it in a stir-fry:Prepare your vegetables! I chopped up (proudly over a large plate on my lap, with a steak knife in hand and my ankle propped up on top of the counter): 1 leek, a handful of asparagus, half a package of tempeh, and one roasted sweet potato- because these were the particular vegetables in my fridge. They are not the ideal vegetables, but they did very well for me on this particular occasion.