Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Frugal and Fancy Free: Tuesday Night Asian Cravings

I had to compete with Josiah for the usage of my camera this evening.

He likes to take pictures of all of his little guys in action. Notice the rubber band sashes that some of them are wearing? Priceless. I don't even accessorize that well.

We interrupt the creative flow of this blogger to bring you an update: Josiah was reading over my shoulder while I was typing and informed me that those rubber bands are straps. Who knew?

Anyhoo. I am continuing my nightly posts on cooking Frugally (and Fancy Free) by using what you have and recreating what you want to eat.

I have a confession. I am almost a Food Snob. In my perfect world I shop at the Health Food Markets or Locally Grown Food Marts. I keep chickens (well...maybe not) and grow my own herbs. I am not afraid of using the best ingredients...I love to cook and like to look at pretty, well prepared food. Well..and I'm obviously fond of eating it.

But, my world is seldom perfect. More frequently, I have a tight, tight, tight grocery budget. There have been times when the food in my house came from a food pantry. Food pantry food is a lot of canned goods, maybe a box of pasta and some peanut butter. I was always so grateful, but at the same time a little ashamed and humbled. You never know what life is going to dish out. It's up to you how well you flavor it.

Back to the subject at hand. Supper tonight. I had originally planned on using a piece of steak I had picked up in the Marked Down Meat Bin. I wanted to make my favorite Beef And Broccoli Stir Fry. It's simple and meets the Asian Cravings I have. But I discovered I am out of Oyster Sauce. And not wanting to waste a completely good piece of steak I decided to address my Asian Cravings another way.

The Egg. I really don't like the egg by itself. I don't mind it with some cheese. And maybe a little onion. Or potato. And maybe a tomato. But the eggs are good for you. And cheap. And they can be used in so many different ways. It seems as if every cuisine has a special egg dish.

If I am really in a pinch I will make Egg Drop Soup and Fried Rice. You can make Egg Drop soup with 2 eggs. That's it. And Fried Rice is a good way to use bits and pieces of leftover veggies and meat. My mom used to make the most beautiful and light Egg Drop Soup when I was growing up. It was clear and cornless.

Another Egg dish popular in Asian cuisine is Egg Foo Yung. While it takes more prep work it is so easy. The best thing about this dish is that you can also use bits and pieces of leftovers to make it. My vegetable crisper was looking a little moldy so I thought tonight needed to be the night I used some of my veggies up.

I also have a really good recipe for an Oven Baked Tempura. I love tempura. It is also a dish my mom used to make when I was growing up. The Oven Baked Tempura recipe is obviously more healthy.

You can  use any vegetables for Tempura. I used the rest of the bag of baby carrots (that were long past their prime), a sweet potato straight from my Dad's garden and a little bit of broccoli that was on sale this week. I love broccoli. I love it on a train. I love it in the rain. I love it a boat. I love it in a moat.

 This particular recipe has you make up a little batter, dip your veggies in the batter and then crust with Panko. Panko is great to keep around. This particular box came from a discount grocery. I got it for .25. You can use any type of flour. I try and eat at least a low gluten diet. I have issues. Some of them are medical. :<)

After I prepared all of my veggies for the Tempura, I started getting my veggies ready for the Egg Foo Yung. The best thing about Egg Foo Yung is that you can use anything. Shredded carrots, water chestnuts, spinach, bok choy. I am using a little bit of this and that. Cabbage, onions, bambo shoots, celery, mushrooms. Everything here was either under my bed in my "pantry" or molding in the crisper. By the Way...Cabbage is a wonderful "cheap" food. 

Of course, any respectable Egg Foo Yung needs a sauce. A lot of Egg Foo Yung 'gravy" recipes don't use Five Spice Powder. I love Five Spice Powder. I can't tell you how long I've had this particular Five Spice Powder. You might turn me in to the Old and Moldy Spice Police.

So after I cut up my veggies I throw them in my big skillet to saute. Somewhere. In the dark recesses of my storage unit I have a Wok. I have had to make my big skillet work. Which it has. The Studly Muffin got me this big skillet last year for Christmas.  This is why he is Studly. And why I love him. He knows what makes me happy.

After I sauteed my veggies I just added them to some eggs I had whisked up. I threw in some soy sauce and pepper.

Fry it in the Pan! Like little pancakes. Easy Peasy. It looks like I used more oil than I actually did. I promise.

While the Egg Foo was cooking I made a simple sauce to dip my Tempura in. Just a little mustard and soy sauce (or tamari). Josiah ate it on his rice.

Here is my plate. I added some rice to Troy's and Josiah. I just saw a picture of myself from Christmas and decided to lighten my simple carbs for a while. Overall, though, a healthy and easy meal.  And a cheap meal! The only thing I used in this meal that I bought this week at the grocery store was a little broccoli, a little bit of onion and a few eggs.

My recipe for Egg Foo Yung

A couple of cups of chopped veggies (I used mushrooms, cabbage, onion, bamboo shoots, celery)
6-8 eggs
soy sauce and pepper

2 cups of chicken broth (I used some chicken bullion + water)
2 T. soy sauce
a dash of sherry
1 t.  of five spice powder (leave it out if you wish)
2 T. cornstarch
1/4 cup of water
pepper to taste

Chop up your veggies and saute in a little oil. Whisk up the eggs and add the veggie mixture to the eggs. Ladle out the mixture (I used a 1/4 measuring cup) onto hot skillet or griddle.

In the meantime, heat the chicken broth and soy sauce to boiling. Add the sherry if you are using and then the five spice powder. Mix the cornstarch in a separate bowl with the (cold) water and add it to your boiling chicken broth. It was thicken instantly. Just let it boil just a few seconds and remove from the heat. Add the pepper to taste.

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