Wednesday, January 07, 2015

One of the Gifts I Made for Ethan + Recipes for Egg Drop Soup, Hot and Sour Soup, Chow Mein and Aloha Stir-Fry

Every year I make something for each person in my family. It is something special, something from my heart. Over the course of the year I keep my ear out for an idea for the present. At some time during this past year Ethan mentioned that he would like more real art and when he was looking through my sketchbook, he commented on some of the note pages from when I was reading a book about watercolor technique. He loved the drawings of the contents of the artist's bag. That is when I knew what I would make for him. When he was packing to go back on the ship in September, I arranged the items that he packed and took a few photos.
After he left, I spent some time thinking about which items to include in the drawing. I thought about what medium I should use. In the end I opted for pen and ink, or actually I opted for Micro markers. I drew items that had meaning for both of us. I included his canvas bag because it went on many of the mine exploring adventures he and his dad took. I included the box of writing implements because we like to sit and draw together. The field notes are an place where he jots down fun ideas, random notes, etc. His knife had to be included because he takes it nearly everywhere he goes. the leather knife rig was made during one of the times that we did leather work together. And of course I had to include a few of the patches that he loves. As I drew each item, I thought about Ethan, the fun we had, the conversations we enjoyed and I thought about who is becoming.

I was thrilled when he was thrilled with his gift. I intend to add a bit more detail to the canvas bag, but otherwise, it is pretty much done.

I also made a tiny, water-proof cookbook, but I will write about that in another post.

Here is what we had for dinner on Tuesday. It took a while to make, but it was worth the effort and the wait.

Hot and Sour Soup
Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence

4 dried Chinese fungi (about 1 ounce), such as wood ears or cloud ears
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 -inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon red chile paste, such as sambal oelek
1/2 cup canned bamboo shoots, sliced
1/4 pound barbecued pork, shredded
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
Pinch sugar
2 quarts Chinese Chicken Stock, recipe follows
1 square firm tofu, drained and sliced in 1/4-inch strips
3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Chopped green onions and cilantro leaves, for garnish
Chinese Chicken Stock:
1 (4-pound) whole chicken
1 bunch green onions, halved
4 garlic cloves, smashed
3 -inch piece fresh ginger, whacked open with the flat side of a knife
1 onion, halved
1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
About 3 quarts cold water

Put the wood ears in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes to reconstitute. Drain and rinse the wood ears; discard any hard clusters in the centers.

Heat the oil in a wok or large pot over medium-high flame. Add the ginger, chili paste, wood ears, bamboo shoots, and pork; cook and stir for 1 minute to infuse the flavor. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a small bowl, pour it into the wok and toss everything together - it should smell really fragrant. Pour in the Chinese Chicken Stock, bring the soup to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tofu and cook for 3 minutes.

Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir until smooth. Mix the slurry into the soup and continue to simmer until the soup thickens. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in 1 direction to get a current going, then stop stirring. Slowly pour in the beaten eggs in a steady stream and watch it spin around and feather in the broth (it should be cooked almost immediately.) Garnish the hot and sour soup with chopped green onions and cilantro before serving.

Chinese Chicken Stock:
Put the chicken in a large stockpot and place over medium heat. Toss in the green onions, garlic, ginger, onion, and peppercorns. Pour about 3 quarts of cold water into the pot to cover the chicken by 1-inch. Simmer gently for 1 hour, uncovered, skimming off the foam on the surface periodically.

Carefully remove the chicken from the pot and pass the stock through a strainer lined with cheesecloth to remove the solids and excess fat. Cool the chicken stock to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator, or chill it down over ice first.

Yield: About 2 quarts

Read more at:


Egg Drop Soup
via: The Kitchen

Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 for a light dinner
Base Ingredients
4 cups (32 oz) chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 to 4 large eggs
Salt or soy sauce

Flavoring Extras - Use one or all
1/2" fresh ginger, peeled and cut into rounds
1 stem lemongrass, bruised
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
2 star anise
6-8 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons miso

Soup Extras - Use one or all
1/2 block (7-8 oz) extra-firm tofu, cut into bite-sized pieces
8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 bunch baby bok choy, thinly sliced
4 spring onions, thinly sliced

Pour the stock into a saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Put the smaller flavoring extras you're using into a tea ball or spice bag. Add all your flavoring extras to the saucepan with the stock. Turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Scoop out all the flavoring extras with a slotted spoon. Taste and add salt or soy sauce as needed.

Add any soup extras to the stock and simmer for five minutes. Save some scallions for sprinkling on top of the soup at the end.

Scoop out 1/4 cup or so of the stock and whisk it with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk this back into the stock and let it simmer for a minute or two until the broth no longer tastes starchy.

Whisk together the eggs in a small bowl with the remaining teaspoon of cornstarch. Make sure your soup is at a bare simmer. Holding a fork over the bowl (see photo), pour the eggs slowly through the tines. Whisk the broth gently with your other hand as you pour. Let the soup stand for a few seconds to finish cooking the eggs.

Serve immediately, topped with thinly sliced scallions.


Chow Mein
via: Damn Delicious

1/4 cup soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon white pepper (I might leave this out last time - Ellie does not like this)
2 (5.6-ounce) packages refrigerated Yaki-Soba, seasoning sauce packets discarded* (I used Ramen noodles and they worked just fine.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, sliced diagonally
2 cups shredded cabbage

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, ginger and white pepper; set aside.
In a large pot of boiling water, add Yaki-Soba until loosened, about 1-2 minutes; drain well.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and celery, and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in cabbage until heated through, about 1 minute.
Stir in Yaki-Soba and soy sauce mixture until well combined, about 2 minutes.
Serve immediately.

*Yaki-Soba is ramen-style noodles and can be found in the refrigerated aisle of your local grocery store.

Aloha Stir Fry
via: The Ramblings of an Aspiring Small Town Girl

1 lb tri tip steak thinly sliced (I used a t-bone steak and some pork chops I had on hand. It worked well.)
Chow mein noodles (see recipe above)
½ yellow onion sliced (I used a red onion)
2 cups Aloha soy sauce (if you can’t find it, reduced sodium soy sauce will work too)
¼ tsp fresh ginger shredded
4 garlic cloves minced – divided
1 tbsp oyster sauce (I did not have this)
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup pineapple juice
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1/2 tbsp seasame oil
Veggies of your choosing: Bean sprouts, carrot, broccoli, snow peas, snap peas, etc.

Servings: 4


Marinade steak in shoyu, oyster sauce, ginger, ½ the garlic, and brown sugar for 1 hour. (I did not have time to do this. It marinated for about 20 minutes and was still very tasty.)

Prepare chow mein noodles according to package directions.

In a large measuring glass or bowl whisk apple cider vinegar, pineapple juice, hoisin, sesame oil, and cornstarch.

Chop and prep your veggies. I like to have everything ready to go before I start using the wok.

Heat wok and cook steak with 1/2 cup of marinade for about 2-3 minutes on each side.

While steak is cooking, add 1 cup of the marinade to the apple cider mix you just made and whisk.

Remove steak from Wok

Add onion, the other 1/2 of the garlic and any other firm veggies that need to be cooked for a bit in the wok to soak up the liquid (about 3 minutes).

Add noodles, the rest of the veggies, and steak to the wok and stir.

Add the marinade/apple cider vinegar mix to the wok at about 1/2 a cup every couple of minutes and toss. The liquid will soak up so taste test before adding each 1/2 cup. Once it’s to your liking, stop! You may not need to use all the liquid.

Cook until it’s food :) About 5-8 minutes.

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