Monday, May 25, 2015

Adventures In Cooking

So, I've been trying to get more vegetables in my diet, which is a challenge sometimes since I don't like to cook all that much nor do I like vegetables all that much. I have been keeping cut up carrot sticks in the fridge to have at lunchtime but you can only eat so many carrot sticks.

I found a stir fry cookbook at my favorite cheap used bookstore and have tried out a few of the recipes and I may just have to give up on that cookbook because far not so good. I made one chicken stir fry with walnuts which was okay, nothing to write home about, but Keith does not like walnuts, so that recipe is not a keeper. I thought it was okay, but again, not a keeper.

Then I tried an orange chicken recipe but used pork instead and I don't know if it was the pork instead of chicken, but it was so blah that we ended up going out to eat instead.

And then yesterday I tried a five spice beef recipe that looked really good in the pictures but I found out that I don't like the flavor of Chinese five spice.

It took quite a bit of effort just to get the ingredients for the five spice beef, five spice powder not being something that I was able to find at Vons. Normally I would have just given up on the recipe but I already had the sirloin and vegetables in my cart and was too lazy to think of something else to make with them or put them back, so...

I had to drive all the way across this side of town to go to the Asian Market where I was pretty sure they would have Chinese five spice powder, ha ha. I had only been to the Asian Market once before and that was years and years ago when I would go to a now defunct bead and yarn shop that was next door to the market. The market had expanded since then, taking up part of the bead and  yarn shop's space and putting in a teriyaki bowl counter.

It smelled really odd in the market and I felt like I was walking into a market in actual Asia somewhere, rows and rows of things that I had no idea what they even were piled up high and a little on the dark side in there. I found the spice row, next to an entire row of asian style dishes and those weird little spoon things, actually two rows of dishes and weird little spoon things, and hunted for the five spice powder, which I could not find. I finally went to the checkout and waited for the cashier to finish with some customers to ask about the spice, and she went over to find it for me, it taking her a while to spot it. It was a huge bag of five spice powder and just said 'spice' on it so even if I'd spotted it I wouldn't have realized that it was what I was looking for. The huge bag was only $3.99 so okay, I'll get it and make the five spice beef, even if all I need is a teaspoon of it for the recipe.

They also had two entire rows of nothing but tea. Lots and lots of tea.

The recipe itself was not hard, just a whole lot of steps, involving cutting up the sirloin first and soaking it in a mixture of soy sauce and cornstarch, which makes the beef kind of crisp up when you cook it. Then carrots, red and yellow bell peppers, and onion need to be cut up, then some water stirred up with some more cornstarch, dark brown sugar (which I also had to buy since we don't usually use dark brown sugar for anything) and the aforementioned five spice powder. Then you cook the carrots first and take them out of the pan to be mixed with the rice that you are going to serve the five spice beef on. Then you cook the other vegetables and take them out of the pan. Then you cook the beef, add the peppers and onion back in, stir in the sauce and bring it to a boil to thicken up and then you are done. Just a lot of steps and referring back to the recipe quite a bit because I've been known to not read a recipe thoroughly enough and have screwed things up many a  time.

The dish came out looking okay, but the five spice powder has a very odd flavor, it being a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, star anise, fennel seed and peppercorns. Too clovey for my tastebuds I guess.

So, I've got a big bag of five spice powder in my cupboard if anyone needs any.

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