Welp folks, these past few months certainly have been an epic cluster of fucks.
It’s been nearly a year since I’ve posted any updates here. Unfortunately because I finally managed to make a job stick (also a year this month) the only way I could have made time for enriching creative expression would have been to sacrifice valuable hours spent drinking myself into a series of blackout stupors and watching the last remaining vestiges of my sanity and self worth hitchhike to more hospitable climes. I am now 25 days into intensive recovery so committing sloppy, dramatic slow motion suicide has been bumped down to the bottom of my personal priority pyramid. While attempting to distract myself one recent day from the homing signal in my head that makes my feet tread, unthinkingly, towards yon Applebee’s to splash into a bottle of cheap chardonnay like a freshly hatched sea turtle finding the sea, I remembered this blog. Oh yeah, thought I, I kinda dug that once. I even enjoyed it while sober!
So yeah, I’ve been plugging away at this job, learning lots of new things, actually doing some bona fide back of the house professional kitchen craft for once. Almost got a promotion, but I sort of took myself out of the running for that when my mental stability stock crashed and burned. But I didn’t tear off my apron and quit in a tempestuous rage (see? progress!) and I started making new plans to relocate within the company to a bigger, nicer city with decent public transportation. And that move is still in the cards for me, but sadly it seems that I shall be peacing out all by my lonesome.
Yes, my dear Gingerfanboy, the delightful and adorable heretofore rocker-of-my world, has decided that he’s had quite enough of my alcoholic emo-antics and has opted to withdrawal his claim on my affections. It’s my own doing. He gave me plenty of chances to prove that I could grow as a person and become the healthiest possible version of myself, and I failed them all. As he’s fond of putting it, I’m probably not fit for anyone right now. Maybe I never will be. He doesn’t trust me- hell, I’m not even sure if he even likes me anymore. But ever the steadfast friend, he is still one of my strongest supporters and allies, ferrying me about town to my meetings and continuing to dwell with me in the apartment that I barely manage to keep tidy. He was definitely a keeper, and I’m going to miss him for a very long time.
But wait! Don’t cry, Emoreader! Something terribly peculiar happened the day he broke up with me. I DID NOT GO OUT AND GET DRUNK. I know, right? Like, what better time would there have been? Instead I managed to call my substance abuse counselor in between guttural sobs. I wanted to be talked off of the ledge for once. Sick and tired of being sick and tired? Trite I know, but that was me. Maybe I’ll never know why the big important epiphany didn’t hijack my brain until after I’d lost the most important thing in my life, but hey, I’ll take it.
I will also take my psych meds, and continue to take them for the rest of my freakin’ life because now that I’ve gotten a taste of what it feels like to be treated for bipolar disorder AND not abusing mind altering substances I find my faith in pharmaceuticals somewhat restored. I’m not saying that medication should be the first and only answer in every case of psychological dysfunction, but I’m definitely responding to situations in a manner befitting a rational adult person for the first time in my life. Find fault if you must; say that pills are a panacea, that they are just a way to dull and dilute an eccentric personality. Because they can be both of those things, but they don’t have to be. For instance, I’m writing in this blog again, aren’t I? And believe me, I’m still plenty fucking weird.
Okay, fine, we can talk about the food now.
This recipe was one that I was very excited about, until I flung open my cabinets and realized that I was missing a substantial portion of the required ingredients. Since I don’t live within hoofing it distance to a grocery store anymore I had to make some last minute substitutions and proportion adjustments to bring it together. It actually came out amazing. Lets hope my current circumstances take a similar turn. =0)
Curried Tofu Stir Fry in Peanut Sauce
– 1 package extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes and left to dry
– 1 1/2 cups dry roasted peanuts
– 3 or 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
– about an inch of fresh ginger root, chopped
– the dash of red curry powder I had left in my spice cabinet, plus a generous portion of some yellow curry powder from Jamaica.
– 1/2 cup flour
– a few healthy dashes of powdered cayenne pepper
– some cinnamon
– 1 cup peanut butter. Mine was fortified with flax seeds!
– 1/2 can coconut milk
– the two packets of soy sauce I had in my fridge left over from takeout ages ago, because I just assumed that more tamari had magically appeared in my pantry when it in fact had not (score 1 for food hoarders!)
– 3 tbsp fish sauce to compensate for the lack of soy
– 2 tbsp key lime juice, because regular lime juice doesn’t magically appear in the fridge when the bottle is empty either
– 4 frozen cubes of my signature poverty vegetable broth (or about 1/4 cup regular broth or stock for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about)
– some basil (I always have fucking basil, that DOES magically appear. But no, it is not Thai basil because they do not sell that at the Bi-Lo)
– 2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for stir frying (would sesame oil taste much better? Yes. Does it come in smaller and pricier bottles? Also yes. Connect the dots)
– a few dashes of rice vinegar
– two pinches light brown sugar
– 1/2 box whole wheat thin spaghetti or angel hair noodles
– a good sized bag of frozen bell peppers
– 1 can baby corn
– 2 cans sliced water chestnuts (or less than that. Or none. I just really like water chestnuts)
– red pepper flakes to taste
– salt (duh)
Chop a block of extra firm tofu into small cubes and allow to dry for as long as possible on paper towels. The drier the tofu, the better it will fry up.
Toss 1 cup of the peanuts, the curry powders, flour, a pinch or two of cayenne and a dash of cinnamon into your shoddily constructed 20 dollar close-out store food processor. Struggle like hell to get the lid to line up where it needs to go so the machine will turn on. When that inevitably fails, grunt laboriously as you wrench the lid, which is now stuck, off of the bowl. Decide that your 25 dollar blender purchased from a slightly more reputable retail establishment would be the better tool for the job and send aforementioned food processor sailing off of your second story balcony. Make sure you relocate the ingredients into the blender first though, or you will be picking gravel out of your tofu breading.
Pulse the mixture gradually, stopping to stir it often. Do not over process, or you will end up with a sort of curry flavored peanut butter. I actually did get a little bit of that and it wasn’t half bad, so maybe I’ll use that for some creative condiment inspiration down the road. When the breading has reached a grainy uniform texture, put it into a large ziploc bag along with your cubed tofu and shake it like a baby.
Make sure you use a strainer or fine mesh sieve to shake the excess breading away from your well coated tofu so you don’t end up with big gloppy bits in your sauce.
Give the blender a rinse and fill it up with the peanut butter, garlic, ginger, coconut milk, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, rice vinegar, brown sugar, a couple generous sprinkles of basil and powdered cayenne according to your own heat tolerance. Blend ingredients until smooth.
Cook pasta according to package directions. In the meantime, heat a shallow layer of vegetable oil in a wok or skillet over medium high heat. Add the tofu when the oil just begins to ripple, stirring frequently to encourage even cooking.
While the tofu is cooking, pour the sauce into a medium saucepan and heat over medium, whisking in the broth.
When the tofu is slightly browned, add the corn and stir continuously for about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and water chestnuts next, tossing until the peppers and softened and the ingredients are heated through. Pour in the sauce and add the noodles. Stir vigorously until all ingredients are combined.
Crush 1/2 cup peanuts into small pieces using a ziploc bag and a heavy object. You can either mix them into the stir fry or sprinkle them on top as a garnish- or both! Go crazy! I sure do! Top each portion with red pepper flakes to taste.
While he may be gleefully marking off the days until our lease expires and he can be emo-free at last, Gingerfanboy still appreciates it when I get down in the kitchen. He enjoyed this dish even though it didn’t feature any meat, though I had to portion his out before I added the water chestnuts. It was so well received that he wanted to take a helping for lunch the next day, so I set aside a serving in a tupperware container with the water chestnuts picked diligently out. It’s not much, but a broken-hearted girl does what she can. =0)