A Red Pepper Friday

Today is not my day.  I woke up at noon.  I know… what a waste.  Then came breakfast.  What a catastrophe.  I guess I should have known better.  I mean, you can’t have a whole week of good cooking without a slip here or there, right?  Right.  Yesterday I made pancakes for Dustin.  There was leftover batter so I thought, hey, why not make waffles today?  Maybe it was oversleeping, maybe it was the gloomy weather, but for some reason, I chose to just throw the batter on the waffle iron.  Just as it was – pancake batter.  I should have been thinking, “Um, Emily? It’s called pancake batter.  What, you think you can just pour that into the iron and presto! waffles?  I don’t think so!”  No, instead, I was thinking, “I want waffles.  Why white flour?  I should have made gluten-free ones.  *Sigh*”  So, rather than pay attention to the task at hand; rather than think logically; I was selfish.  What happened to these pancakes turned waffles?  Well, the smell was amazing.  Wafting through the house, awakening the senses.  The result?  Terrible.  Rubbery.  Wet in the middle.  Burnt on the outside.  Separated layers.  I drenched them in fresh maple syrup and handed them off to Dustin.  He ate them.  I don’t think he enjoyed them.  To go with the “pan-affles”, I melted some dark chocolate in a pan, and added it to a cup of Keurig brewed hot chocolate.  The only problem?  The Keurig malfunctioned and sent all the chocolate powder into the cup with barely any water.  So I basically had a cup full of chocolate mixed with chocolate powder.  I added water, but the result was a sweet, too sweet warm chocolate.  *Sigh* It’s just not my day in the kitchen.

So rather than dwell on the negative, I want to share with you some FABULOUS foods I made this week!

First off, Thursday breakfast – a mix of potatoes, carrots, onion, bacon and spices.  Delicious.

Emily’s Breakfast Medley

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1 carrot 
  • 1/4 onion*
  • 2 slices bacon
  • sea salt
  • pepper**
  1. Add olive oil to pan and heat on medium.
  2. Dice the potatoes (medium to large dice).
  3. Add potatoes to pan.
  4. Slice the carrots. 
  5. Add carrots to pan.
  6. Slice the onion. 
  7. Add the onion to the pan.
  8. Cut bacon into tiny pieces. 
  9. Sprinkle the bacon among other ingredients in pan.
  10. Let cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.  
  11. Stir up the vegetables to allow to cook on all sides. 
  12. Let cook for another 10 minutes untouched.
  13. Stir up again and let cook some more.  
  14. Continue until potatoes are soft (a fork will easily slide through them).*** 
* I used a red onion here.  Vidalia onions work well, however.  You may choose to add more if you like onions, or omit if you don’t!
** I added coarse ground peppercorn.  You may use regular black pepper.  Add red pepper for heat.  
*** A smaller dice will cook faster.   
Add spices or herbs you enjoy – cayenne pepper, garlic salt, thyme, rosemary, etc.
I added pea shoots to the finished product and served in a bowl. 

 Really, any leftover vegetables can be thrown into this dish to create an easy, hearty breakfast.  Try serving with fresh greens – spinach, romaine, mesclun mix, sprouts, etc.  Add some garlic and more onion for added flavor.  Try adding sweet potatoes, yams, celery, or mushrooms.  There are so many ways to easily make this dish your own.  Go ahead, explore!

Earlier in the week – Kung Pao Chicken with peanuts.  This was a recipe adapted from the Kung Pao Chicken recipe in Grace Young’s cookbook, “Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge”.  I know I’m always referring to her book.  You should really check it out.  Before her book, I NEVER ate stir-fry’s.  Now?  They make up dinner at least twice a week, some times more.

We threw together ginger, garlic, red bell pepper, peanuts, scallions, and chicken, mixed with the stir-frying essentials – soy sauce, rice wine, salt, cornstarch, and sesame oil. The balsamic vinegar and sugar addition to this particular stir-fry works wonders.  We always stir-fry with peanut oil.  The flavor is wonderful.  The aroma is even better.  Clearly this would not be the recipe for you if you have peanut allergies.  We’ve found a perfect gluten-free soy sauce to use: San-J Organic Tamari.  Apparently, tamari sauce is the term for wheat-free soy sauce.  Who knew?  The San-J organic Tamari comes in a gold-label, and is inexpensive.  There is also a non-organic version, a low sodium option, an organic low sodium choice, and travel packets available.  Oh how I love the internet.  Information at your fingertips, 24 hours a day.

Red peppers have been gracing many of our dishes lately.  the Kung Pau Chicken, Hoisin Pork with Peppers, and Sichuan Pork with Peppers and Peanuts (once again, Grace Young is to credit for them all).

I do love red peppers.  Much more so than the green ones.  As I was slicing through this pepper to prepare the Hoisin Pork, I was taken aback by the beauty the red pepper holds inside.  I wish I was a photographer, with one of those oversized, “I take perfect pictures”, cameras. I would have captured that intimate moment to share with you .  The rich, deep reds; the glossy finish; the smooth, but textured surface – I felt as if I had sliced a masterpiece in two, a work of art now laying in pieces upon my workspace.  I grew an even greater appreciation for the fruits of the earth, the items we take for granted, the things that fuel us and fill us.

With art and food in mind, I will leave you today with the words of British celebrity chef, Keith Floyd:

Cooking is an art and patience a virtue… Careful shopping, fresh ingredients and an unhurried approach are nearly all you need. There is one more thing – love. Love for food and love for those you invite to your table. With a combination of these things you can be an artist – not perhaps in the representational style of a Dutch master, but rather more like Gauguin, the na├»ve, or Van Gogh, the impressionist. Plates or pictures of sunshine taste of happiness and love.