13 June, 2010

summer garden stir fry

Last weekend my husband and I were in Austin for a beautiful wedding. I am so glad to have had that time with some dear friends - that is how I most want to spend my time before moving. I also had fun dancing. The whole weekend was a mini vacation. I cannot believe it is already the middle of June. As much as I want to just relax and take it easy for this final month before moving and medical school, I must repeatedly tell myself that it's okay to be "lazy". I do have the time for yoga every day, and cooking, and reading, and checking out garage sales, and doing fun things with my friends. It's difficult because we live in a society that has made busyness a virtue. I bet even your retired grandparents will occasionally tell you that they are busy. Here is evidence that this mentality has deep roots: the latin word tium is translated as leisure and peace. The english derivative of this word is otiose, which means "serving no practical purpose or result." I find that problematic, but knowing it also helps me to understand why I experience this free-floating anxiety.

Now then, moving on. While we were still in Austin, we went to an art museum and the farmer's market. I came home with this smooth, sweet and spicy heirloom garlic.

Since then I have been quite blessed by a friend's garden and the farmer's market here in Denton.

Last night I made a stir-fry with a bunch of it. I think this is one of the best ways to eat really fresh, flavorful vegetables because they are lightly cooked and seasoned, preserving all of their inherent taste and crispness. My friend Crystal dropped by last night to deliver these patty pan squash and peppers.

I also had these "yard-long beans" from the farmer's market.

All the work of making a stir-fry is in cutting up the vegetables, cooking only takes about 10 minutes. The other great thing is that you can easily vary it based on whatever vegetables you have. I used Mark Bittman's basic stir fry recipe from How to Cook Everything. (This book has a special place on my counter top, I use it so often.)

Summer Garden Stir Fry Recipe:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 lb. extra firm tofu, cubed and dried on a paper towel (optional)

1 tablespoon minced heirloom garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 leek, thinly sliced
2 sweet italian peppers, seeds and stem removed, chopped
1 large patty pan squash, cut into match sticks

1 large carrot, julienned
2 celery stalks, sliced
1/4 cup reconstituted oyster mushrooms, sliced
1 cup yard-long beans, cut into 1-inch segments

1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon orange mint and cinnamon basil, chopped
1 tsp. black sesame seeds.

Prepare all the ingredients before you start cooking. Put the garlic, ginger, leek, peppers, and squash into one bowl. Put the carrot, celery, mushrooms, and beans into another.

Heat a large skillet on the stove over medium-high heat until it is quite hot. Add 1 tablespoon oil, swirl it around, and add the tofu. Stir occasionally, cooking so that the tofu is golden-brown on each side, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel, to absorb the excess oil.

Return the pan to the stove and add enough oil to coat the bottom, up to 1 tablespoon. Add all the vegetables from the first bowl: garlic, ginger, leek, peppers, and squash. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring frequently. 

Then add the vegetables from the second bowl: carrot, celery, mushrooms, and beans. Continue stirring and add the water after a couple minutes. When everything is almost finished cooking, about 5 minutes more add the soy sauce and stir. Add the tofu back to the pan and stir. Remove from heat. Add herbs and sesame seeds just before serving, or just set them on the table along with some red pepper flakes so that everyone can choose how much they would like. Serve with brown rice.

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