Ginger – Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Scenes from Kentucky and Felix Mendelssohn
Most days, I wake up not knowing what I’ll cook.
Most days, I find inspiration in the market as I meander around. I always have a list of “necessaries”. Today I had to pick up dish soap, and tea, and a pair of size 11 (little girls) sneakers for Rosie. It was an “emergency purchase”.
The kids played outside so much last week, and over the weekend – all of Rosie’s shoes were saturated with mud. Normally I would have prompted her to put on her rain boots before she went out to play, but I was down with the flu all week. I could peek out the window for short periods of time and squint, and see the kids playing. I was so happy that they were happy; I didn’t notice, nor care about which shoes Rosie was wearing. So Rosie went to school this morning with the only foot coverings she owned that were not caked in wet mud – A pair of pink, fluffy slippers. She didn’t mind at all. She was quite proud of them, actually.
Regardless, I found Rosie a cute pair of pink sneakers while I was shopping, plus a pack of ruffle socks. Feeling triumphant, I dropped them by her school on the way home. She was thrilled. It’s not the first time farm life has forced me to buy “emergency shoes” for the kids. It’s days like this I’m (extra) grateful I can afford things like “emergency shoes”.
I also bought some fruit for another luxury- my “daily fruit salad”. Thinking ahead to what I wanted to cook today, I bought chicken breasts, and the right vegetables to make some lettuce wraps. It was the butter lettuce that inspired the wraps. Once I had the idea, there was no turning back.
On the way home, I got to visit with this beautiful cow. I’ve grown to love the cows here. They dot the hillsides with their gentleness – and occasionally a new calf can be spotted in the shadow of it’s mother. I’d like to go up and pet a calf, but I have way too much respect for mothers to do that.
When I got home, Colonel Junior was sullen and dejected. He doesn’t understand why his kids were home for one straight week, and why they got to play all day and every day in the mud and the ponds, and now, why they are all suddenly gone again. They are his “pack” after all, and he adores each one of them.
I’ve been listening to Mendelssohn a lot lately. It’s powerful, intense, and always tells a great story. Today it was Violin Concertos in the kitchen, yesterday it was The Heberdes Overture (Fingals Cave). The kids loved the Heberdes Overture so much they wanted to listen to it on the way to school this morning, then on the way home this afternoon. They said they could hear the waves crashing on the caves, and see the seagulls gliding on the wind. I’m not a fan of driving, but if I can turn my van into a traveling music school, then that’s ok.
A hodgepodge of vegetables, plus a pack of chicken breasts. That’s green onion, butter lettuce, ginger, mushrooms, red onion, carrot matchsticks, and cilantro. You’ll also need sesame oil, soy sauce, sesame seeds and about 10 cloves of garlic.
We’re going to do one of my favorite new tricks: and that’s grinding (mincing) our own lean chicken meat. People always ask me what in the world a food processor is for. Well, it’s for processing food! Haha. Afix the metal blade to your food processor.
Get a big bunch of green onions and reserve three for a garnish. Take the rest and chop like so.
Place 3 chicken breasts in the food processor, and add the chopped green onion.
Next, pull of one “knob” of ginger from the big root, and peel the skin off, using a sharp knife.
Slice the ginger into rounds.
Layer the ginger on the green onions and the chicken. See what we are doing here? We’re going to make a minced Asian-inspired chicken sausage.
Lately I’ve been impressed with the individually bagged garlic clusters.
Use all of the garlic cloves. Add 3 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil.
Reserve 1/2 the bundle of cilantro for garnish. And just shove the rest in there.
Ok, got that? That’s 3 chicken breasts, bunch of green onion, a knob of ginger (peeled), a shit ton of garlic, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 3 tablespoons soy sauce and 1/2 a bunch of cilantro. Now, PULVERIZE!!!
Poetry, I tell you. Poetry.
Think we’re going to brown it now? Think again hotshot. Remember those mushrooms? Oh ya, you thought I was going to forget.
Chop the mushrooms and brown them in about 1 teasooon oil.
Add about 1 teaspoon soy sauce to the mushrooms just as they are almost browned. While your mushrooms are browning, slice up the other garnishes. Green onion, red onion and cilantro.
Arrange the mushrooms near the other garnishes, and set aside.
Now we’ll brown the chicken!!
Okay, now this part’s tricky so pay attention. Your chicken is not going to change color while it cooks. Because of all that green crap (delicious) that we added to it, it’s not going to turn from peach to white like chicken breast normally does when you “brown” it. It’s going to change from green to green. And if you can’t identify cooked chicken texture, you run the risk of eating undercooked chicken. *wree WREE WREE WREE * (horror sounds). So look at the photos of my cooking progression and do not stop until your mix resembles the last photo.
Grab a leaf and load it. These are truly fresh and delicious.
Colonel sure was happy when the kids got home from school. He missed them.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds for a finishing touch.
Give them a try!
Thanks for reading my blog! – Shannon Vavich