Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Gesundheit! I want to celebrate two teensy recent successes with you.

Success Numero Uno:I did not cave in and buy any chocolate candies for Halloween this year. Not even after the day itself when everything was marked down to half price. Sorry for handing out what many would consider the cheap stuff, neighborhood children!

That meant when (no "if" in this equation) the Hub and I did hit the Halloween leftovers (AND the bag we essentially scarfed down all ourselves in the two week run-up to Halloween) it was artificial flavored and colored sugary stuff sure enough, but it was Fat Free artificial flavored and colored sugary stuff. (cue crowd "oooooooooooh" noise followed by wild burst of applause).

Thank you, thank you, no really, thanks a lot, you can stop applauding now, really, (holds hand up), seriously, thanks very much....

Sucess Numero Dos:I finally got my act together and actually prepared the recipe for Marc's Cashew Chicken I'd salivated over on Simply Recipes recently after having the printout prominently displayed on my counter for four full days. It got to where I couldn't look at the piece of paper. It just sat there, mocking me, representing as it did one more thing I wanted to do but hadn't. Until I did yesterday, that is.

That success was twofold: I did what I set out to do AND the chicken was every bit as delicious on the plate as it read to be on Elise's blog.

The Hub had only one complaint about this: he felt the serving I gave him for dinner last night was too small. This was followed up by a mild fritz of sorts upon his discovering that yes, although we did have leftovers, I had in fact already stashed said leftovers in the refrigerator.

A recent practice I have employed, after two reasonable servings are on our plates for dinner, of putting whatever is left into a container that goes directly into the refrigerator, has proven to be a fairly successful gambit for preventing an all too common after dinner debacle which runs a bit like this.

One or the other of us will arise from where we have eaten, stack and then stroll virtuously (we are cleaning up yes? yay us!) into the kitchen with our dirty plates, ostensibly to place them in the dishwasher.

At this point however, the Hub might cave and dish up a second, hopefully slightly smaller version of dinner from the still warm leftovers in the pots and pans. Which is at least an open admission "I am going to eat more".

More perniciously, if I am the one taking the dishes into the kitchen, I sometimes end up standing flatfooted at the kitchen counter, "cleaning up" by scraping out and eating the remnants of some portion of our dinner directly from the pot or pan, often using the serving spoon itself.

Worst case scenario for me? The above happening while the water is running full blast for no good reason into the sink as I am power spooning that extra serving of mashed potatoes into my mouth.

Waste not want not!

Or put another way, Ask not for whom the elastic waist pants toll, they toll for thee!

So yes, putting any leftovers immediately into the refrigerator at least means if either of us is going to ignore that we have just eaten what is considered a normal portion of whatever is for dinner and get ourselves more food, we at least have to go to enough extra trouble to do so that it will hopefully make us stop and think long enough to realize: this is eating that is not about being hungry.

Back to Marc's Cashew Chicken.
Photo from Simply Recipes website
I have only one quibble with this recipe and that is with regards to the suggested addition of minced fresh ginger to the marinade.

The flavor was fantastic but the high heat for all the stir frying meant the ginger bits in the marinade over browned. Next time, I will either put the ginger into the marinade and then strain it out and discard it before cooking, or I will put the minced ginger in towards the end with the chopped onions instead.

I think my final answer will probably be B: add the ginger in with the onions. Once those bitty bits are in the marinade enough of them will stick to the chicken pieces that even after straining there will be over browned remnants in the end product. Which said over browned remnants, I hasten to add, did not keep us from snarfing down every delicious bite last night. No, no, not at all.

This cashew chicken had deep layers of flavor, was easy to make, fast to cook up, and especially simple after I did most of the prep hours ahead. Getting all the chopping and cashew boiling done at the same time I placed the chicken pieces into the marinade meant dinner was ready rapidamente.

Check the full recipe out here and see what you think.

How did you do at Halloween? Lots of trick or treaters in your place or no? Apparently some neighborhoods were swamped with kids from all over the area while others, like ours, had just enough of a crowd show up to mostly drain the candy cauldron.
I am the ghost of Halloween past.....
Granted, I was doling out the treats by the hands full to each child, but I figure that was the best way to make up for the whole "no chocolate here!" scenario.

Next up Holiday wise is Thanksgiving, and while I am not especially grateful for the recipe frenzy this season typically triggers "48 new ways to prepare cranberries!" I am happy that this year, as it turns out, all our merry band of four will be gathering for a shared meal after all.

With the Hub and both my babies at the table, food will be running a very slow second in the race for my attentive gratitude. Give me a chance to hang out with my family, and I am already one satisfied gal. Add to that the prospect of a (small! really!) piece of leftover pumpkin pie for breakfast the next morning, and it doesn't get much better.


PassivePastry said...

That looks delicious! And I need to take your advice... Boyman and I have said several times that one of the major things that make us click as a couple (and seperate us from others) is our ability to finish off all our dishes...even the ones that should feed a small family... ummmmmmm...

Iris said...

I'm so happy to hear y'all will be a party of four at home for Thanksgiving! That recipe sounds delicious; since I'm not fond of chicken, I'm wondering if I could adapt it to a firm fish?

We only had three trick-or-treaters, but I was REALLY good this year and only bought a small quantity of organic lollipops and raisins, knowing we'd eat 'em fairly guilt-free if we had leftovers. And we do have leftovers. Maybe I'll throw some of those raisins into my cashew fish experiment...

texasdeb said...

It would need to be a firm fish for sure, but I don't see why the marinade wouldn't work. Pork would work. Whatever the protein it will end up tasting like the marinade so I wouldn't use anything known for its own distinctive flavor in this.

We did discover this is one of those uncommon dishes that does not reheat particularly well. Not sure why, but it did taste a lot better the first go-round. I will adjust amounts accordingly to avoid leftovers when I make it next time.