Ying’s Sesame Chicken Stir Fry

Being a writer, it’s a pretty amazing experience to have a personal relationship with your own fictional characters.  “Personal relationship”- It sounds pretty crazy.  Schizophrenia or something, right?

It’s not exactly the same thing; it’s not like our characters have audible voices or visual appearances (or at least not until we draw them.)  It’s all just in the head; like a daydream, a conversation you have with yourself, except one side of the conversation is a fictional character that you’ve written into a story.  Kinda like in the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, except if Walter Mitty had been imagining fictional characters instead of his boss or the co-worker that he liked.

Sometimes, the conversation you have with a fictional character can be quite enlightening.

Lacy and I have been cooking stir fry for years now, but we could never figure out the way to master the meal.  Chicken, tofu, etc… no matter what we tried… it tasted… “home-made”.  Which isn’t a bad flavor, not bad at all.  But not authentically Asian take-out.

“The trick is sesame oil,” we would always hear.  But we’ve tried sesame oil, and it’s never worked well in our meals.  We just… always seemed to do something wrong.  The flavors don’t mix well with… whatever else we do… I’m not really sure why.

But finally, one day, we had the kitchen completely to ourselves as we chopped the veggies and prepared the chicken for the stir fry (which was as simple as opening the cans and draining the liquid from it).  We were having fun, joking around in the kitchen, and “hanging out” with a character from one of our stories, one of our Asian characters.  While I was on one end of the kitchen chopping garlic and onion and the veggies for the recipe, Lacy decided to take the advice of Ying – our character – and experiment with the chicken and sesame oil.  She voiced the conversation out loud so that I could be a part of it. (Hence, the “having fun, joking around… and hanging out with a character” mentioned above.)

Lacy: Ying wants me to do something different with the chicken.

Kat: (sidetracked with chopping carrots) Oh….kay?

Ying: Please, please let me try it.  I promise it will taste good.

Lacy: (hesitant) I don’t know… we don’t like sesame oil Ying.  I don’t want to ruin the food for everybody.

Ying: Oh, please.  It won’t be ruined.

Kat: (stops chopping to think) Well…

Ying: Please.  I know how to do it. I cook like this all the time!

Kat: How different will it be?

Lacy: (still hesitant) Well it won’t be that different.  She just wants to put the sesame oil and maybe some soy sauce and ginger on the chicken before she puts it in the wok to cook.

Kat: Hmm…

Ying: (begging) Please.  I promise, it’ll be good.  Everyone will like it.

Kat: Well… what’s the harm?  It’s not that much different.  We’ll just do it this once, so… just let her do it.  (joking) Besides, she’s Chinese, she’d know how to do it better than we would, right?  (to Ying) Go ahead.

Ying: Yay!  Thank you so much, I won’t let you down.

Lacy: Ok. (shrugs) Let’s do this, Ying.

We were hesitant about changing our recipe, because we’ve never been able to make the sesame oil taste very good.  But Ying was so confident in her knowledge on cooking Chinese food, we decided to take her word for it and experiment with the food.

What resulted was… by far the best stir fry meal we had ever made.

Lacy wrote down the recipe, in the diction of her character Ying.  Here it is below:

Ying'sChicken-Ingredients

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: about 20 minutes

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

Cabbage, about 4 cupscabbageHeadTip

Baby Carrots, about 4 cups

Celery, 4 large stalks

Broccoli, 1 (12 oz.) bag frozen

Onion, 1 sweet yellow

Garlic, 8-10 fresh cloves

Sesame Oil, 1 tablespoon

Ginger, 1 teaspoon ground + additional sprinkling

Canned Chicken, 2 (12.5 oz.) cans

Soy Sauce, 1 tablespoon + additional sprinkling

Coconut Oil, 3 tablespoon

Coconut Sugar, 1 teaspoon

Red Wine Vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon

Salt and Pepper to taste

Steps:

YingsChicken-Rice

If you want to serve rice with your stir fry, the first step is to put the rice onto cook. Having a rice cooker makes this very easy. I recommend jasmine rice as a wonderful compliment to this meal, but you can cook brown rice if it’s your favorite.

Step 1 – Open cans of chicken and drain liquid. Place chicken in a bowl and stir in sesame oil and soy sauce (1 Tbsp.), then evenly stir in the ginger (1 Tsp.).

YingsChicken-ChickenStep 2 – Chop the vegetables. Cut the cabbage into large shreds, baby carrots into chopped pieces, and celery into crunchy slices. The onion should be diced, and the garlic also. This is all very good for your muscles and diet, to stand in kitchen and cut, except the crying part when you cut the onions, although some even consider that cleansing. I don’t know if I do.YingsChicken-ChoppedVeggies

Step 3 – The best pan to use with this recipe is a wok, because it is a deep pan that you can cook meat and vegetables in with a searing technique. Pour coconut oil into wok until the bottom is covered. Swish it around, to cover it more evenly. Add cut onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the aroma of the garlic fills the air and their colors change slightly (don’t burn it!). Drop chicken on top of the oil mixture, letting it stay on top, and cook on high heat until the garlic has browned, then stir, with a wooden spoon, the mixture together.YingsChicken-CookGarlicOnionsChicken

Step 4 –  Turn your oven onto “Broil” setting. Did you know that by putting the frozen broccoli under the broiler for about 5-10 minutes, you can remove the excess water and ice, and give the stir fry a better quality? That’s why you want the broiler on. Open the bag of broccoli and dump the florets into a cake pan, opening the oven and putting it under the heat. Watch it carefully because you don’t want the florets to get black on them; so in about 4 minutes, take it out of the oven and stir the florets, placing it back under the heat for another 2-3 minutes. When it’s finished heating, the broccoli will be less icy and a bit rubbery to the touch. That’s ok. You will cook it all the way in the stir fry.

YingsChicken-Brocolli

Step 5 – Keep searing the chicken on high heat. Juice is good. It keeps garlic and onion from burning. However, what you are trying to do is sear the meat until all the juice is gone and the chicken is being directly impacted by the heat, so you can brown the sides. Watch it carefully, letting it cook without stirring for about 3 minutes until you fold the chicken again, trying to turn it and let it cook on other sides. Cook until all the juice is gone and the meat is browned on different sides. (Some sides may be browner than others, and that’s good.) It’s about a total of 8 minutes cooking the chicken.

Juggle the task of checking the broccoli in the oven and chicken in the wok, keeping an eye on both while they’re cooking.

Step 6 – Add carrots to the chicken in the wok. This is a new layer, so begin with not stirring it in while you let it sit and cook for another minute on high. You can add more soy sauce if you want, and also, now it is time to season the stir fry with red wine vinegar and coconut sugar, because the carrots are delicious with their own seasoned taste.  After seasoning, stir the carrots into the chicken and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.YingsChicken-LayerCarrots

Step 7 – Add a new layer: celery. In this layer, you may add more ginger to your liking, sprinkling it in, to give the vegetables a bit more flavor, stirring the celery in after you season it. Cook for another 4 minutes on high heat.YingsChicken-LayerCelery

When you are able to slice a carrot with your wooden spoon, you are ready to move onto the next step.

Step 8 – Add broccoli on top. Do not stir it in. There should be enough liquid from the vegetables at this point, but if you need more (check the bottom to see) add more soy sauce. More ginger can be added (optional) in this layer, too, but only in a sprinkle. Cook for 3 more minutes on high heat.YingsChicken-Layerbroccoli

Step 9 –  In all it is about 10 minutes that you have been cooking the veggies. YingsChicken-CabbageAt last, add the cabbage layer and cook it only until the cabbage is slightly limp and less white in color, but it is best with a slight crunch which can only be kept with minimal cooking. Let the cabbage stay on top, and don’t stir until it’s almost ready to take off the heat. Salt and pepper this layer if you’d like to. I personally don’t like too much pepper but a little can add flavor. Add soy sauce, or take the soy sauce to the table for others to use it like they want. Some people like the saucy, salty taste while some the plainer flavor, I’ve learned.

Step 10 – Enjoy!

YingsChicken-Enjoy

 

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Update: Snapmade! We Approve

I’m thrilled to write that Snapmade has exceeded my expectations, and proudly I will say it’s worth giving the site a chance, designers and customers both. Kat and I will try to help their business grow by creating a store, and a line of products.

Originally, I had my concerns that the business wasn’t legit, for several reasons:

  1. Maintenance problems halted me from navigating the website, which is an indication the server is slow, unresponsive, or the coding is wrong.
  2.  The site claimed to accept PayPal payments, but until a purchase is made, from start to finish, I don’t assume anything’s true. I had to make a purchase before promoting my store.
  3. Snapmade’s site has been up and running since 2001 which means they’ve had a lot of time to work out site kinks, yet they still do what amateurs do, like the funky customer reviews (my red flag went up), and broken links which take you to error pages in Chinese. I have no bias against Chinese manufacturers, in fact I love them, but the problems my English-speaking customers may have is worth noticing.
  4. Snapmade has no known credibility. There are only a few people who are Snapmade designers, as can be seen from their website – it’s full of empty pages, upon empty pages, where they simply have no products from a lack of designers.

On the contrary, the simple facts Snapmade had a guest checkout and such cheaper prices “ruffled my feathers” as the saying says. It made me interested enough to give them a chance. Their products are manufactured and shipped from China, so they take two weeks to be delivered to the door after the online purchase is made, which is fast considering the journey.

But now, I can proudly tell you! My trust for them has grown after seeing the jewelry I ordered. Look, aren’t they just gorgeous? The quality of the items, the chain, the pendents, and the design printed:

 

First Product Display July 2017 (IMG_2549, smaller)
The only thing I can see that some customers may not like, is the glossy look the design has when the light shines on it, but indoors it isn’t noticeable. It looks like the above picture.

When my package came, it came about 3 days after my Zazzle order arrived, which is fine. I ordered from Zazzle and from Snapmade the same night, to compare the shipping schedule. Ha, it’s funny, after it arrived I asked Kat, “is it old-fashioned to be OK with a package taking 2 weeks to arrive?” She bluntly said “Yes” and that was the end of that. Ha, ha. Yeah, I’m old-fashioned…. but you have got to give the big wide globe some slack! The little parcel soars and rides across 7000+ miles to get to where I am! It’s not like we have teleportation …yet! Ha, ha.

But it got me thinking. If the owners of Snapmade need anything to succeed, it is designers, which is what I know about them, because as Sannly Huang on Facebook asked me, at the beginning of this year, can I join them (me, a designer) to help their business grow. So… if what they need is designers, why wait? My talents are meant to help, not be hoarded. Let me seize this day and start trying the best I can to help this year be the year Snapmade finds success. If it doesn’t work out, that’s part of being compassionate and helpful; I can move on like I have before. No pain, no gain.

So we have started, but that’s all right now. If you’re interested in seeing it, our shop is titled “ChicAmi” and we only have a few products. So far, the shop looks kind of basic, the design, and a little lacking. However, I promise the charm bracelet is a steal (great quality for low price!), and the rose necklace is a romantic addition to your indoor formal attire. You can see that for yourself (from the pictures)! Plus, the star bracelet makes a good friendship gift. Their prices are affordable, and I get way more royalty than I do on Zazzle for my work, which is the upside for me.

The three products shown above are the only I’ve bought so far; if you want to buy them, too, please head over to the store at this link -http://www.snapmade.com/mystore/ChicAmi – and if you can, use the Microsoft Edge browser, or ask the support chat for help if you have any questions, because the store is a bit sensitive which browser you use. I used Chrome at first and had to ask the friendly customer support why I couldn’t load my order. The chat answered responsively, and was a cheerful service which I recommend.

So… yay! That means Snapmade gets our stamp of approval!!!

Stamp of Approval

 

Girls with Swords, Week 3

For my birthday earlier this month, Lacy bought me a book that I’ve been wanting: The Art of War.  It’s said to be a great book, used by successful entrepreneurs  to improve their skill.  But as I read it during this time while I’m also studying Girls with Swords, I find we can apply it to Christian living, too.

“To all nations war is a great matter.  Upon the army death or life depend: it is the means of the existence or destruction of the State.” Sun Tzu in The Art of War

The existence of God’s Holy nation – Christians from every part of the world – depends on how well each of us prepares for our spiritual battle.   If we stand ready to fight against the spiritual enemies who wage war against us, we will be able to persevere and protect our people from the enemy’s attacks; but if we stay ignorant and in denial of the war around us, Satan will easily overpower us and cause the people of God to stumble and fall away.  War is a great matter, whether we stand in the offense or in the defense; we have to be ready for the battles ahead.

If the world hateth you, ye know that it hath hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, A servant is not greater than his lord. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.” John 15:18-21  (ASV)

This week, the Girls with Swords chapter focused on how we might be heroes just like the men and women spoken of in Hebrews 11.  Through faith, we can face the enemy and stand bravely for Christ.  With God as our power, we can be superhuman.

It sounds unbelievable; but don’t be fooled by Satan’s lies against this concept- you really are the hero of your own story.  The moment you chose to be baptized, you became an enemy of Satan, and all the angels in heaven rejoiced (Luke 15:3-10).  If you haven’t chosen baptism yet, then Satan’s legion of demons fight every day to keep you from making the decision of accepting salvation through Christ’s resurrection.  While God wants no man to perish but all to have eternal life through Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:1-6, 2 Peter 3:9), Satan wants quite the opposite. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), but Satan wishes that all people shall perish and none have eternal life.

Once you accept your role as hero, whether you perform amazing miracles like the hero Captain Sullinberger of the US Airways flight 1549 or you’re just a forgotten survivor, victim of life’s worst events the way that Chuck Noland was in the movie Castaway, you are a hero in your own story and Satan is trying to bring you – as a Christian – to ruin.

“Reacting does not equal choosing. Fear will drive you to react, but as you become more skillful with the sword, you will choose your response with the intent of honoring your Father – rather than protecting yourself.” -Lisa Bevere, from the Girls with Swords Fencing Manual

The best way to choose your response with an intent of honoring God instead of fearing the enemy is to prepare for the attack and be ready for whatever will happen.  To be ready, we must put on the proper armor so that we will have the protection that God provides us.

“He who does not know the evils of war will not reap advantage thereby. He who is skillful in war does not make a second levy, does not load his supply wagon thrice.”  Sun Tzu, The Art of War

If you don’t spend your time preparing, then the enemy will have an advantage over you and you won’t have enough “supply” -strength, knowledge, and will- to fight back.  On the other hand, if you prepare for war and grow skillful with the provisions that God gives you through Scriptures, then the enemy cannot surprise you with an attack that you didn’t expect.

Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us six articles of protection that we should wear in our fights against Satan.  We should never be found without them, unprepared.  Our enemy is always on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8), and will pounce the moment we set our armor aside for a moment of rest.

Heroes may feel afraid of something, but they trust in their power, whether its the power of their sword, or their own [superhuman] abilities, or something else. In [Christians’] case, God is our power.  -quote from Kat’s fencing manual

God is permitted to do what he wants with me, because I have no idea who I am anymore. I mean, if my ideas have to “be scrapped” before God can place me in his own, then let it be so, because my plans are void almost like a money check when it’s VOID. So Lord, I permit you. -quote from Lacy’s fencing manual