Before we had kids, Bill and I used to cook meals together a lot. When we had kids, that kind of fell by the wayside for a while because someone usually had to tend to a baby or a small toddler or a baby AND a small toddler or two small toddlers…until now. Now, we've got a kindergartener and a preschooler, and they are amazingly tolerant of their parents' desire to both work on something AT THE SAME TIME.
So we've started doing that, mainly on weekends. Sometimes one of us does more of the cooking, and the other one is kind of the assistant and will maybe take charge of one dish. But still – it's nice to be elbowing each other out of the way and fighting over burner space on the stove top again.
The weekend before last, we did up some Asian dishes. Now, sometimes we'll stick to a particular country, like Japan or Thailand, when we pick recipes. Other times, it's just whatever sounds good to us or whatever we have ingredients for. Bill actually planned ahead for this meal, and went to one of the local Asian markets on Saturday so we'd have everything we needed to cook on Sunday.
Here's some of the haul:
That brownish bud-shaped thing to the right of the limes is a bud from a banana tree. You peel away the petals and underneath are little skinny banana blossoms that (obviously) haven't bloomed. They're a couple inches long and the same color as the outer petals. They don't taste like much, but you can detect a little sweetness. You could use them like lily buds, though lily buds, to me, have a distinct apricot flavor.
Anyway. That's what Bill likes to do – he'll pick a couple of items he's never seen before (usually labled "Fresh Vegetable" in English and something in Thai that he can't read. And sometimes he'll ask what it is, and other times he won't. It's fun.
He did most of the cooking that Sunday. My job was the spring rolls. We got our ideas and actual recipes from two books: Keo's Thai Cuisine, by Keo Sananikone and published by Ten Speed Press, and Classic Oriental Dishes, edited by Lisa Dyer – a bargain book put out by Smithmark years ago. We've had these for about ten years – along with a couple of other Thai and Japanese cookbooks we bought one day. They all bear the splatter stains from frequent use.
One of the nice things about having a garden (and growing a variety of hot peppers) is that we can make up batches of green and red Thai curries and freeze them in ice cube trays, to use all through the winter. (I say "we," but this is really Bill's territory.) So one of the easiest things to do for this meal was the green curry Chicken. (Extremely easy for me because Bill cooked it.) All Bill had to do was take out a couple of cubes of the green curry…
thaw them, and cut up some chicken,
and throw the whole thing together. (Those skinny brown things in the upper right are the banana buds, which he used in his soup.)
It's a delicious, hot/spicy, fragrant dish, and the recipe actually calls for shrimp, but you can use chicken, pork would work, and we've also used tempeh, which is a fermented soybean and grain product that's got a nice non-meat but meaty texture. For this meal, Bill also added in sliced red chilis (hot), mushrooms, scallions, cilantro, and baby corn. Here's a little glimpse of the final product….
Bill also made sesame noodles, primarily because if the kids didn't like any of the other stuff, sesame noodles are a sure bet. He's made these so often he doesn't use a recipe.
And the soup…it was kind of a thrown-together noodle soup using rice noodles and shrimp, cilantro, scallions, banana blossoms and a chicken stock.
I made the Thai spring rolls, as I mentioned, which I've put up in a separate post so it's easier to find later. But for now…some snapshots of the evening…
Bill at his "station" – the wok and the pot on the back burner are his. He'd already made the sauce for the sesame noodles, and the noodles themselves were in the warming drawer of our stove. Those bowls over on the right, near the glass of beer, are all his too. I have to juggle all my stuff in order to deep fry the spring rolls. He hogs the whole place….
This is the green curry chicken coming together in the wok.
And these (above) are some spring rolls just after I put them in the oil.
Time to eat…
We serve the soup in this…with some sterno in the center to keep it hot and to scare the heck out of Alex when the flame flares up. Heh heh. Dinner should be exciting, we say.
And speaking of exciting, we always put out chopsticks for the kids to use when we have any kind of Asian meals. Their techniques vary a bit….
They do love their sesame noodles…
They both tried a spring roll and some of the soup. Julia liked the mushrooms in the soup. Alex didn't like the soup or the spring rolls – he's a sesame noodles guy, and that's that. Julia also tried one of the baby corn from the green curry chicken dish, but didn't like the heat from the chilis. We don't force them to eat everything, especially the spicier dishes, but they can try anything they want. Sometimes if we don't put something on their plate, they'll want to try it, which is nicer for us than if they just see something odd we've put on their plates and they reject it without even knowing what it is. Alex will sometimes take a look at a new dish and just tell us he doesn't like it. But as long as it's not spicy, he has to try it. Just have a taste. If he doesn't like it, fine. But the point is to always try new foods. To be adventurous.