Tag Archives: Success

Thai Stir-fry – Confirming a Food Photography Rule



I love Thai food.  I think this fondness is rooted in the coconut milk that tends to be in most Thai food that I have had.  It adds a lovely creaminess to the dish, and really just liking coconut doesn’t hurt 😉

It was during a Thai food craving that I decided to try making my own Thai-inspired stir-fry, complete with coconut milk!

Click here for the recipe I used or scroll to the bottom of the post.

A good stir-fry is a great idea for a quick meal.  You can pretty much chop up whatever veggies you have on hand, search your freezer for some frozen ones if you want to offer even more variety, add some spice, some sauce and  you’re ready to go.  Vegetarian or laced with meat, it all works!

This stir-fry turned out to be quite easy and therefore, I have few pictures to share.  I got so involved with the creative aspect of adding whatever I had on hand that I forgot about the camera. 

This is a good thing though.  

I’ve heard that brown food doesn’t necessarily photograph well.  It is said that such food doesn’t look quite as appetizing as bright fresh greens, reds, oranges.  I can’t disagree….See for yourself….


It was honestly really, really good!  But the picture just doesn’t do it justice….

Preparation?  A lot of chopping.  I bought a few things to add to the stir-fry such as fresh ginger and eggplant, not necessarily items I always have on hand.  In addition to those, I chopped up zucchini, onions, celery, peppers, garlic, and bok choy.

I sauteed the onion, garlic, chili flakes and ginger in a bit of oil for a few minutes to soften them up and, while they were frying, I mixed up my sauce.

Again, brown goop…not so photo friendly, but still delicious!

It was easy to mix initially, but it then took some time to perfect.  The ingredients included coconut milk, soy sauce, lemon juice, chili flakes, and brown sugar.

I had to keep tasting and adding more soy or lemon juice to get the flavour just right.

When my onions were translucent, I went ahead and added all my chopped vegetables, including a little bit of my sauce into the fry pan, and let it continue to saute for another 4-5 minutes to bring out the taste in the veggies and allow them to brown slightly…yeah, there’s that “brown” theme happening again!

Sauteeing the veggies

Once the veggies were somewhat sautéed and smelling good, I added my remaining sauce, covered the pan and let it simmer. I let it go for awhile while I waited for my rice but the simmering time will vary…depending on how tender you want your veggies.

So, in the meantime, steam up some rice and slice up your basil leaves.  

Put on rice.  Top with basil and eat!

The result is a fast, easy, slightly creamy, slightly spicy awesome stir-fry!  Just avoid taking pictures ;P


THAI STIR-FRY

    • 1/2 purple onion, chopped
    • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
    • 1-2 thumb-size pieces ginger, sliced into long, skinny pieces
    • 1/2 tsp. chili flakes
    • 1 medium-size carrot, sliced
    • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
    • 2-3 sticks of celery, chopped
    • 1 red pepper, sliced into strips
    • 1 small eggplant, cubed
    • 2-3 cups baby bok choy (leaves left whole if not too large, otherwise cut in half or thirds)
    • fresh basil leaves
    • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
    • STIR-FRY SAUCE:
    • 2/3 cup coconut milk
    • 3+ Tbsp. soy sauce
    • 3+1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
    • 1/3 to 1/2 tsp. chili flakes
    • 2+1/2 tsp. brown sugar

    Preparation:

    1. Combine all ‘stir fry sauce’ ingredients together and be sure to taste the sauce.  The coconut milk should kick in at the end, with the salty or spicy noticed first. I ended up adding more soy and lemon juice as I found my sauce to be somewhat creamier than I wanted, but really preference is up to you.
    2. Saute the onion, garlic, ginger, and chili flakes over med heat for a few minutes, then add your vegetables, allowing them to brown just slightly.
    3. Add your stir-fry sauce and bring to a simmer.  Allow the mixture to simmer for 5 minutes or so (my time varied as I simmered the mixture until my vegetables were tender). The mixture will remain pretty saucy, but it is meant to.
    4. Finally add the bok choy. Continue to simmer until bok choy is cooked but still bright green with some crispness (2-3 minutes more).
    5. Remove from heat and do one last taste-test. Top with fresh basil and serve over rice.
NOTE: The original recipe which was my reference can be found HERE.

Yummy Beet Salad…(Why didn’t anyone tell me beets had whiskers?)


I love beets!  Pickled, boiled, roasted…they’re just so damn good!  I haven’t cooked with them all that often but when I do, guaranteed there is a satisfying meal ahead…as well  stained hands…pinkish dish towels…Yeah, the dye kind of shows up everywhere doesn’t it?

And I do mean everywhere.

…-

We’ll leave that and move on.

Some friends recently went on vacation for a couple of weeks, which resulted in some evicted, homeless produce arriving on my kitchen counter.  It was an interesting assortment of stuff…broccoli, spinach, lettuce, peas, goat cheese and BEETS!  I considered making just one big salad, as one would faced with such produce but I wanted to take things a little further…and I also wanted to cook at least two posts worth of yumminess to end the dry spell that had found its way onto this blog.

That dry spell…by the way…is all Mother Nature’s fault.  When my faucets are having a hard time finding cold water for me to drink, the stove is remaining dormant.  That’s just the way it is.

Anyway, from the produce pile, I did end up making a salad, along with a side dish and a main course! Okay, I admit I added ingredients to the pile…but still, the homeless produce was the inspiration!  So big thanks to H and P for dropping it off rather than kicking it all to the curb to find its own way in this world! 🙂

This post details the salad and the other two pieces of said meal are forthcoming…three posts from one meal!  Sweet!

So, on to the BEETS!!

Click here for the recipes or scroll to the bottom of the post.

These beets desperately wanted to become salad. I could tell!

I had four beets, although three were enough to make two large side salads so I had leftovers.  I scrubbed and washed them. Even plucked their antennae-like whiskers!  Creepy!  Who knew beets grew facial hair!

OMIGOD, I think they MOVED!!

I cut them all in half, leaving the skins on, dropped them in a pot,  added enough water to cover them and allowed it all to boil for about 40 minutes.  Timing will depend on the size of your beets of course.

I'm not a fuchsia fan, but I have to admit that beets are just a lovely colour!

Next up? My favourite part of this recipe!  Candied nuts!

I have had many salads lately at restaurants that included candied pecans and I absolutely love what they add to the dish.  I tend to prefer vinaigrette-type dressings and the sweetness of a candied pecan complements the tartness really well!

So, I decided to sweeten up my own pecans.  I used about 1/3 cup…

…roughly chopped ’em up…

…and placed them in a pan over low-med heat.

When they were warmed through and almost actually toasting, I was supposed to add maple syrup.  Warmed through?  How was I supposed to figure that out without actually touching one?  They don’t pop, sizzle or release any aromatic oils that I noticed.

They burn though!  And fast!

So, in my case, when I saw one or two pieces start to blacken, I assumed it was syrup time!

I absolutely love the smell of maple syrup, even when it’s boiling in a fry pan.  I actually had no idea how loud it would snap, crackle, pop when it hit the pan…so just a warning, don’t have your face leaned over the pan when you add the syrup, k?  Or be prepared to jump…as I did!  lol

Once the pecans were coated, I poured them onto a small plate and set them aside to cool.

By this point, the beets were done.  I strained them and ran cold water over them for a bit to help them cool down faster.  At this point, and you know this if you have ever boiled beets, I was able to easily slip their skins off.  I love that part!  It feels so strange, almost dirty….the top layer sliding off like a silk negligee. (Bet THAT makes you want to go boil beets, doesn’t it!)   Once all my beets were naked, I cubed them.

Little beet-y cubes

Finally, it was time to put the salad together.  I lined two bowls with a handful of mixed greens, followed by a cup of so of beets.  (At this point, all it to taste!)  I picked up some pecans…well, I *attempted* to pick up some pecans…but by grabbing one, I got them all…and the plate!

Maple pecans...yup, a little burned, but still delicious!

Maple syrup makes for a really effective glue.  So be ready to spend a few minutes breaking all the nuts apart.  As you can see, and as I mentioned, mine were slightly burned but they were still delicious!

Sprinkled them all over the salad and topped it all off with goat cheese!

For the dressing, I used a simple straightforward balsamic vinaigrette.

The salad was delicious!  And even though the Boy isn’t very fond of cooked/candied nuts, he emptied his bowl, as did I!

Have I mentioned how much I love beets??? 😀

The only improvement I would make is with the actual cubed beets, although I’m not sure at this point what that improvement would look like.  B and I agreed that the beets were yummy, but a little bland.  Perhaps that’s because we both love pickled beets and are used to beets dripping with vinegar-y goodness.  More dressing may have helped….or perhaps soaking the beets alone in the dressing and then creating the salads?  Suggestions?

Regardless, it was still a success and I would definitely make it again!

….So we used up the beets…but what to do with…Beet Greens???

Beet greens are dealt with in my next post!! ...Huh? What was that?...OH! What's up with this picture, you ask? I have no idea! lol

Beet Salad


  • 3 beets – scrubbed, trimmed and cut in half
  • mixed greens*
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped pecans
  • maple syrup, enough to cover the nuts
  • balsamic vinegar/olive oil for dressing, mixed to your preference (I like my dressing fairly vinegar-y)
  • goat cheese, enough to top off two side salads

Directions

  1. Wash your beets (pluck their whiskers), chop them in half, put them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then cook until tender, approximately 40 minutes or so.
  2. Drain and then let them cool.  Once cool, cut into cubes.
  3. Slowly heat up the pecans in a fry pan over low to medium heat.  When they’re warm (or on the precipice of burning, as in my case!), pour in the syrup and stir everything together until they are all coated.  Then, put them on a plate to cool.
  4. Mix up your dressing in a separate dish.  I made a simple balsamic vinaigrette.
  5. This next step is totally dependent on how hungry you are! Create a bed of greens in each bowl, top with your cubed beets.  Sprinkle pecans (well, after you break them apart!) and goat cheese to your heart’s content and then add dressing.

Makes 2 servings – I was able to make two large side salads.


Eccentric 31-yr-old newbie-cook in need of readers …


The title should probably read more like:

“Eccentric non-cook in need of readers who CAN cook and/or who appreciate experimentation, humor and who know how to use a fire extinguisher”

Poisonous or no...I didn`t eat them!

Yep, you read the title correctly.  I’m a 31-year-old Canadian woman who has never learned to cook or bake or braise or garnish…you name it, I likely have not done it.  Friends have insisted that I’m not the only one; that there are many out there in the same position.  Hopefully, if that’s true, some of you will find this blog and follow me throughout my adventures and experimentation!

I also hope to have some readers join in who know their way around the kitchen.  For each recipe I post, I plan on sharing my thoughts on the process.  What worked? What didn’t work?  At what point did I think, “What the hell?  Is that right?”  I freely admit I am new to this whole cooking process, so feedback, thoughts, suggestions, and comments are beyond appreciated and will be well-received!

So, how does someone grow up and get by without knowing any cooking strategies beyond microwaving soup and making Kraft Dinner?

I was never forced to cook growing up.  I just wasn’t interested and I think my mother could see what a losing battle it would be to try and get me to remain in the kitchen for any length of time.  As it was, getting me to do dishes after meals was a daily struggle!

Somehow I’ve either always been able to fake it or I have had someone else around who enjoyed cooking.  Various boyfriends have been awesome cooks and, in some cases, they preferred having me away from the kitchen unless the goal was some type of burnt or crunchy dish.

There have of course been times in my life when I lived alone and had to feed myself.  I became an expert in opening cans and turning on microwaves.  I can only imagine the amount of preservatives I have consumed over the course of my life and expect that after death, I will likely not require much in the way of embalming.  My lovely boyfriend would add at this point that my alcohol consumption likely will help with this but let’s not wander down that road just yet! <grin>

I’m not sure what kick started my interest in food preparation, but suddenly I found myself wanting to eat meals, desserts, breads, all made by my own hands.  I wanted to cook, bake, create, experiment and of course, eat said experiments!

Soon after that desire kicked in, I blinked and found myself in my kitchen surrounded by ingredients, measuring cups, and utensils I couldn’t even name.  After the panic waned, I have to admit I began having some pretty cool experiences in my tiny, little kitchen…successes and failures.

To this day, I even enjoy those unsuccessful attempts (tag: Epic Fail), or when a dish doesn’t turn out exactly right but remains edible (tag: Edible Failure).  I’m learning, and that’s the point!

Add to that my eccentric nature and my preference for the dark and morbid and we have a formula for a fascinating, out of the ordinary, cooking blog.
The desire to cook came paired with the desire to share.  I want to share my creations and my cooking experiences and that is what has led to this blog.  I’m hopeful that some strategies I come up with in the kitchen are helpful to others but even more so, I am hopeful that my readers will be willing to offer thoughts and suggestions.  Finally, I hope that this blog piques the curiosity of others like me who have spent years avoiding the full use of a kitchen, favouring instead microwaves and frozen dinners.


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