With a mind full of angst, confusion, and all of those other negative thoughts, I left my parent's house in a huff on the morning of my 18th birthday. Whether they believe it or not, I love my parents dearly and cried almost every chance I got when I left home (and for just about every little reason, valid or invalid, it did not matter).
Whilst living in an apartment with two good friends, I got very unhealthy and even more depressed, mainly because of the huge shift in my life, hurting my family deeply, and because I ate almost the same thing every day. I was quite low on money at the time and so I sacrificed my health to raise my savings account, even though that sounds pretty dumb...
Thankfully, my family and I grew closer after slowly talking to each other over text and calls. In fact, I do believe the distance helped and put things into perspective, despite the pain I've caused. Also, during a poker party I was invited to, I eventually got to befriend Richard whom I formerly only knew as my coworker. Friends of his and acquaintances of mine overcrowded the room with beer bottles, poker chips, and candy (we don't drink, by the way, so Rick and I were not drunk!). Now, before I open a lovely can of worms about Rick (and probably go too overboard about my love for him), I just want to get to the point:
that night, he and his room mate made this epic stir-fry with tofu, ramen noodles, and mixed veggies in a sweet and sour marinade. Because all I've been eating for weeks after I left home was oatmeal and spaghetti, one bite of the stir-fry that night and my stomach was going wild, saying thank you to me over and over and perhaps even yelling at me for why I hadn't been feeding it such awesome food for so long.
Case in point, every time I cook up stir-fry, no matter what type or way, I always remember those times when I was lost but still happy and blessed to know that people care about me. I opened up about my story to my friends when the poker game was over and all of them supported me and gave me great advice. Also, I went for so many helpings of that ramen stir-fry. Goodness gracious, did my body need that.
So, enough with all that, right? However, I don't think that memorable moment will ever leave because I remembered all of it again when we made this tonight:
Need I mention the name our dinner?
It makes me happy and sad all at the same time; thoughts about my family, friends, where I'm going to sleep that night, how to stay optimistic when things seem hopeless... All in all, I am glad and thankful for that time in my life, something I need to let my family know on this upcoming occasion in four days... (I love you, mom and dad) <3
Hmm... I think I should really start talking about food now. After all, this is a food blog. Let us finally begin, shall we? =)
Because almost every stir-fry we make is different, I will not be typing out extra-specific steps of how to make it one type of way. For example, Rick and I always add different vegetables and whip up a different marinade every time (actually, he is the marinade and tofu master, while I'm the vegetable ninja). So let me sum it up this way:
To make an awesome stir-fry, you first need to choose your protein. Tempeh, tofu, and mock-meat made from wheat gluten are good ideas, though mock-meats are not my absolute favorite. I usually do tofu for stir-fry because it's more Asian that way. *wink*
Next, select which vegetables you'd like. I have to admit, I don't eat tons of veggies every day but it's ridiculously easy to do so when you either 1) own a Vitamix, or 2) think of creative and delicious ways to eat them! Adding veggies to meals is not difficult at all and can actually be fun... or maybe that's just me and my veggie-chopping skills talking. Good stir-fry veggies to consider include: broccoli, carrots, eggplant, snow peas, onions, and bell peppers. You can also add other additions like water chestnuts, pineapple chunks, or sliced almonds/chopped cashews.
You then need to make a marinade. Our stir-fry marinades are never, ever the same. We don't measure or plan it out. Rick just throws a bunch of Asian flavors into a bowl and soaks the tofu in it for a couple of minutes before cooking the tofu to a golden brown color (yum). I do apologize for not giving thorough advice here but all I got to say is make a marinade that suits your desired flavor for the recipe, whether it's sweet, sour, salty, or all of the above. Take for instance tonight's meal: Rick used a combination of brown sugar, hoisin, soy sauce, lime juice, and sesame oil, in no order whatsoever. If it tastes great, then you have a marinade. Make sure you can coat the tofu in it well.
Then it's time to cook it all! Want to know some good news? Rick bought me a much-needed wok for our anniversary! (You can hear about my troubles about not using one by clicking here!) I'm so glad and thankful because dinner was so much easier to cook than usual. I usually cook the veggies and tofu separately, which adds more time and dishes to wash, but we ended up throwing and cooking everything in the wok. So easy. I totally recommend it. However, cooking the stir-fry ultimately depends on you and how you want the texture to come out. =)
Finally, serve it with noodles or rice. Because I'm a health nerd I almost always choose brown rice for stir-fry. However, whether or not money is an issue, cheap ramen noodles do the trick, as well. Cook the rice or noodles separately and then you may add them to the wok along with the veggies and tofu, if you'd like.
So there you have it! Yes, apologies for not being entirely specific but making your own stir-fry is a very creative and fun project. In fact, cooking in general is a project of some sort, which is probably why I love it so much.
To (finally!) end my post, I want to say cheers to the magical nostalgia of stir-fry.
PS: If you read through this entire post, then congratulations: you're awesome. ^_^