Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Secret to Fried Rice..

Living in the Napa Valley means that I'm only about an hour or so away from San Francisco. We do day trips there fairly often. China Town is one of my favorite areas of the city. I love the hustle and bustle there. People shoving their way along the sidewalks...A little push, a little shove. 

There are tons of storefronts with goods spilling out onto the sidewalks. You'll see China doll shoes, silk purses, bamboo fans, teapots, housewares and fireworks. If you stop to take a closer look at that special something that caught your eye, a vendor will appear at your side within 5 seconds. Apparently people like to snatch fireworks or China doll shoes from the shops and then run. I never seen it happen, but this is the only reason I can come up with for why they stand there and eye you like a hoot owl. Maybe they are just being helpful. I'm not sure.

Anyway...I'll buy a little something if I have to have it (and I usually do) and then move along. I like to look at the strange herbs in the Chinese medicine shops. There are dried seahorses and scorpion tails. I wonder to myself what they are for. I'm sure they are made into a medicinal tea. A tea that I know I'll never taste! Speaking of tea, there's a man standing in front of a tea shop in the next doorway. He tries to lure me inside. He tells me that he's 85 years old. I'm pretty sure he's around 50 and he's lying to me. He's a little hard to understand, but I think he's telling me that tea is why he looks so young. It's the fountain of youth. I like tea and all, but there's no way he's 85. I'm not buying it. I move on...

Then I'm distracted. Suddenly I get a whiff of that greasy, fried foods aroma. I look around for the source. There it is! The corner Chinese food restaurant!! Red, smoked ducks are hanging in the window. This is the place! That smell pulls me in and I enjoy wor wonton soup, shrimp chow mein and orange chicken with sticky white rice. Another wonderful day in China Town! :)

Every time I eat Chinese food I think to myself that I need to learn how to make some of these tasty dishes at home. They look so complicated, but recently I've discovered that I can produce a few simple dishes in my own kitchen at home. Fried rice is one of them.

A couple of weeks ago I while I was in a local bookstore I came across Steamy Kitchen's Healthy Asian Favorites, by Jaden Hair. You can find a lot of free recipes here at her website I decided to go ahead and give the Seafood Fried Rice (from the book) a try. It was SO good and really easy to make!

The secret to good fried rice is to cook the rice the day before. Let the rice sit in the refrigerator overnight to dry out a bit. This makes a huge difference. For the recipe below, I just used shrimp because I'm not a huge fan of scallops.

Seafood Fried Rice (Steamy Kitchen's Healthy Asian Favorites by Jaden Hair)

2 Tablespoons oil (I used canola)
2 egg whites (this is for a healthier fried rice. I used one whole egg in mine)
1 green onion, minced
6 oz raw shrimp, peeled, cleaned and chopped
6 oz bay scallops
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 cups cooked rice (separate the grains with a fork)
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce. (The recipe says you can substitute fish sauce if you want - I like soy sauce)

Heat one tablespoon on oil in a pan (or wok) and scramble the egg. Remove the cooked egg from the pan and set aside. I used a separate, small frying pan to cook the egg and then removed it from the heat and let it cool. You can transfer the egg to a small dish and use the same pan to finish the remainder of the recipe if you wish.

Mix the sesame oil and soy sauce in a small bowl or cup so it's ready to add at the end.

Heat the remaining tablespoon on oil in the pan. Cook the green onion for 30 seconds. Add the shrimp, scallops (if using) and ginger. Stir-fry for another 30 seconds.

Add the eggs back in. Add the rice and peas/carrots. Toss everything together and then spread the rice out around the surface of pan. Turn heat to high and let it cook (don't stir) for two minutes. Then toss the rice. Spread it out in the pan again and cook for another 2 minutes (again, don't stir).

Pour the sesame oil/soy sauce mixture over the rice and toss.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tableau De Boucher..

I finally finished the Tableau De Boucher. And let me just say that "that took forever!".
The cow chart is cross stitched. I KNOW, I know...cross stitch is so 1980's! I still enjoy doing it though - even if it is old school. It's something that I can do while I'm sitting in front of the TV and I don't have to think too much. There are so many cute patterns to stitch. I thought it might be fun to incorporate cross stitched designs into some my quilts. For the quilted portion of this project I stuck with the red and black theme. I had some cute prints on hand so I did a patchwork border around the chart. I love how it turned out:  

Corner Detail

I hand quilted this piece for two reasons: #1, I love the look of hand quilting and #2,  I'm starting to experiement with machine quilting, but I'm not comfortable with it yet. I also used a white thread because I like to see the stitches. My hand work is just that...hand work. It's not perfect because it's not done on a machine. I think that's part of the charm.

(Giving credit where credit is due: The chart is designed by Marabaut d'ficelle. Her book is titled "Vaches et Cie" and is available on French Amazon).


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Easter Bunnies!

This morning as I was getting into my car I noticed two, big white bunnies hopping along in the side yard! I couldn't believe it. I've never seen rabbits in the neighborhood before. These were big and fluffy! What a wonderful start to the day :)


I'm hoping that they laid Cadbury eggs along the side of the house. I think I'd better go take a look. It would be sad if they did and my neighbor found before I did. :)


Friday, March 21, 2014

Current Project

Over the past year I've been busy working at a "regular" accounting job. I like making money as much as the next guy (I am trying to pay off my mortgage after all). That job took all of my time though and I had nothing left to give to creative work, let alone the occasional blog post. As luck would have it the client that I was working for sold her business. Since it's under new ownership I decided not to stay on. Now that I'm back at home for a while I got busy right away on a few projects. Here's a hint of an almost complete wall hanging:

Black, Red and YoYos


I stitched this cow butcher's chart (it's in French mind you!) several years ago but hadn't done a thing with it. I decided to use it as a component in a wall hanging. I'm hand quilting it so it's taking a while to finish, but I'm almost done. I was going to machine quilt it, but I'm just more comfortable hand quilting sometimes (control issues perhaps??). I recently bought a Baby Lock Symphany that will do free motion quilting, but I need to practice. Meanwhile I hand quilt in front of the TV.

Getting back to working on creative projects that I love has done a world of good for my soul! I'm sleeping much better at night and am much happier. :)

Happy Day!