What’s For Dinner Tonight, Hunny? Stir Fry?
Stir Fry. It’s what’s for dinner. Again. We’ve been in China for 9.33 weeks (though it feels more like 93.3 weeks) and have eaten a varietal of stir fry, oh, I don’t know, 2 million times. While acquiring “western” foods is actually quite easily done, they’re the Safeway varietal that come frozen and in cans – i.e. they’re all heavily processed with less than quality ingredients. The icing on that cake is that they cost 3 to 4 times more than what they would in the US. As such, I’ve basically decided to shop at local markets and only buy things Made in China (hehe, THAT shouldn’t be real hard, huh?) and consumed by Chinese people. It’s been a fun introduction to all sorts of greens and veggies I can’t name, beancurd processed in a multitude of ways, and buying things that I’m only 80% certain I can identify. My typical shopping trip looks like this: tofu, greens, eggplant, leeks, bell peppers, carrots, garlic, ginger, apples, bananas, glass noodles, brown rice, yakult (for the groms), bread, coconut milk, and Tsingdao (beer). Literally. So it shouldn’t surprise you when I say that dinner seems to always end up a different shade of stir fry. I’ve honestly and earnestly tried to find different Chinese dish recipes online, but try as I might, it only ends up feeling like a slight variation of… stir fry.
I have, however, started playing with different raw sauces (blended in Vitamix), made from the standard list of ingredients. Here are a few of my creations:
1) Carrot-Garlic-Ginger Puree, to saute stir fry in, of course.
2) Bell Pepper-Spinach-Garlic Sauce, put over, what’s it called again, oh, right, stir fry.
3) Sweet Potato-Garlic-Carrot Mush over Tofu (with stir fried veggies on the side).
Yup, GARLIC in EVERYTHING.
If you don’t yet own a Vitamix, go now and buy one. Seriously, it’ll be the best appliance investment you’ll EVER make. I promise.
Since starting at a Chinese preschool about a month ago, Safari has MIRACULOUSLY become more interested in things that don’t have flour or sugar in them. Lunch is provided and is always Chinese food, so she’s been forced to try *exotic* things like napa cabbage and carrots… imagine that, CARROTS. I mention this because she has actually been eating dinner, without us having to play the let’s-pretend-you’re-eating-anything-but-what-you’re-actually-eating game or making her her own special dinner. In that regard, China has been a positive influence on the little lady.
While pork and chicken can be found on our table when eating out, I choose to cook mostly vegan at home (Safari is a self-proclaimed “Meat Eater”). If the fish coming out of our backyard bay weren’t suspiciously toxic, we’d be eating mass amounts of locally caught, fresh from the source, seafood as well. But alas, the Pearl River Delta is one of the most heavily polluted in the world (caused mostly by industrial runoff – heave metals and such) and I’m pretty sure we’re already getting our fair share of toxins through the produce we eat. This, among many others, is something I just have to accept while we’re living here. Being exposed to more environmental toxins than usual is something we can’t entirely protect ourselves from. We can filter our water and the air in our apartment, but we can’t grow our own veggies or purify the air outside. And I just have to hope that our amazing bodies can react and adapt appropriately. That and make sure to keep enriching our smoothies with chlorella (helps body dispel heavy metals) and smuggling in clean nuts/seeds/grains (shhhh, don’t tell).
One of our staples is almond milk. We brought loads of almonds with us and have been able to source some decent ones here. I make a batch every other day and use it as a cow’s milk substitute. All you need is high powered blender (have I mentioned the word Vitamix? – though you can use a regular blender as well) and a nut milk bag to strain the glorious liquid through. SUPER easy. Here is a tutorial, from Oh She Glows, if you’re so inclined (she adds all sorts of yummy stuff – I keep ours simple, just almonds and water).
And lastly, after some inspiration from The Vegan Cowgirl, we’ve been indulging in Banana-Coconut-Cashew Ice Cream, regularly (as in every other night).
* Blend 5 ripe bananas, 1 can of coconut milk, a splash of vanilla extract, and 1 cup of cashews
* Freeze overnight
* Let defrost for 30 minutes, re-blend, and ENJOY!
Nothing like feeding your kids ice-cream and feeling great about it. And seriously, it’s good. Like for real good, good.
Oh, and also Coconut-Chia Seed Pudding.
* Mix 1 can of coconut milk with 1/3 cup chia seeds and 1/4 cup of honey, let thicken in fridge overnight and oila!, a delightful, protein infused treat for the kiddos (and yourself).
So yea, stir fry. I’m going to try to work on my cooking creativity – with my western skill set and limited resources. Every night is a what-can-I-make-with-what’s-left-in-the-fridge kind of cooking experiment, which I must say, is sort of my favorite way to cook.
What are you cooking for dinner tonight?