Thursday, April 26, 2007

Messing things up

Derrick and I made quite the mess this evening. We decided last weekend to make orange chicken, and made it this evening, along with broccoli stir fry. Both of the dishes were wonderful, but the mess at the end of the cooking portion of the evening was the most spectacular part of the whole process. We had broccoli leavings and onion peels in the sink; orange juice all over the counter and spots of various sauces all over the floor; just about every plate in the house had some kind of goo on it, as did almost every bowl. Derrick decided as long as I was taking care of the dishes (silly me) it was a good time for him to consolidate a bunch of duplicate spices, so soon enough a dusting of coriander, black pepper, and cumin coated several previously not too dirty surfaces. Derrick poured the cinnamon over the sink, but when the final level of the spice was millimeters above the lip of the jar, he blew a fine spray all over my head. And yet, everything is all clean and I am satisfied and at peace as I'm getting ready to go to bed, although it's too late--I'm sure to be tired and cranky tomorrow, but hey, it's Friday. Somehow making a mess like that makes the clean feel that much better. The fact that just a few hours ago the counters were sticky and gritty with spilled juice and spices makes their current smoothness that much more remarkable. I think sometimes my life is like this--I make a mess of things, or get behind in my work, or just somehow create some discomfort in my life; then, when the stress is resolved my life feels amazingly blessed and I can't help wondering how I am so lucky, or why my life is so good.

(I'm not quite so manic depressive as to call today a wonderful day after the spectacular mess that was yesterday, but I did accomplish a couple of things at work today that take enough of the edge off my stress that I can maybe see a positive ending for this semester.)

I have so much fun cooking with Derrick. I think it's my favorite way to spend time with him. We're definitely going to have to remember the orange chicken recipe--it was a winner.

Orange Chicken
3-4 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch or smaller cubes
1-2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp cornstarch

Marinate chicken pieces in remainder of ingredients for at least 1 hour. Add:
~ 4 tbsp flour, or enough to make thin batter.

Deep fry chicken pieces in medium (~350 degree) oil.

For sauce:
1/3 c molasses
1 c orange juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp garlic
1 tbsp ginger (can't cook without ginger and garlic!)
1 tbsp cayenne (or other hot) pepper--or to taste
1/2 tbsp - 1 tbsp orange zest

combine sauce ingredients and simmer until thickened. Pour over fried chicken pieces and stir to coat.

Derrick suggests brown sugar in place of the molasses for a lighter, more orangey flavor.

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