March 4th, 8:35 AM: Congratulations to our book giveaway winner, Sally (proverbialreads)!
For most of us, time is at a premium. We juggle work, caring for family (children and sometimes parents too), writing deadlines, and more. In a perfect world, we'd have time to wander grocery stores and farmers' markets and ogle food--oops, that may have been a bit subjective. I'm a food ogler, label-reading junkie . . . and prone to produce pinching. But even if that isn't your thing, I think you'll admit that the hunting, gathering, and preparing of food takes time--and making healthful choices isn't always easy.
That's where stir-fry can help. The ingredients are endless, adding meat is an option. And many grocery stores now offer fresh, pre-packaged stir-fry kits in the refrigerated area of the produce section (complete with instructions). Since, admittedly, I like to wander, ogle, and produce-pinch, I usually gather my own ingredients for stir-fry. Like:
This baby Bok-Choy
Tender, tasty, slice and cook stem and all
I like to stir fry with Toasted Sesame Oil (amazing nutty flavor!) Tamari sauce (gluten free soy sauce) and sometimes use mushroom broth instead of chicken broth
In the photo below, you see that I've added Snow Peas, green onion, sweet red pepper, and water chestnuts (canned, sliced) to the baby bok choy. It takes only a few minutes to stir-fry the veggies to a tender-crisp doneness.
If you like, you can add leftover beef, chicken, or pork strips, tofu--or perhaps shrimp. Pre-packaged Japanese noodles (also found in the refrigerated produce section) are a great addition--stir them right in at the last. OR, use the stir-fry to top rice. One of my favorites is Jasmine rice, which I've recently found in an organic brown option.
If you choose a quick cooking rice, or leftover rice, this healthful meal can be ready to serve in under 30 minutes. Not counting extended grocery story wandering, ogling, label reading, and produce pinching, of course.
So, where do the SUSHI and RODEO come in?
In this snippet of a scene from my first Mercy Hospital book, CRITICAL CARE , where hero Dr. "McSnarly" Caldwell convinces our heroine, nurse-educator Claire Avery, to leave the hospital rodeo for a picnic at northern California's Daffodil Hill:
He laughed and reached forward until their bottles were a hairbreadth apart again. “I thought I was doing pretty well today,” he said, glancing back toward the masses of blooms. “Even you looked happy for a minute there, Educator.”
Logan leaned nearer, his gaze holding hers for a breath-catching moment, and Claire saw that there were flecks of gold in his eyes like the sparkle of treasure in some clear California stream. She could feel the warmth of his skin, smell the soapy clean scent of it, and see the soft texture of his lips. She wondered what it might be like to . . . “Cheers, then!” she said much too loudly, clinking her water sharply against Logan’s, then scooted backward so fast that she crashed into the chicken pecking at her abandoned sushi. It squawked furiously and scurried off . . . almost as fast as Claire wanted to.
Logan was silent and she didn’t dare look back at him. She busied herself with retrieving the sushi, hoping to hide her blushing face. She was a fool to have come here today. She hadn’t had enough sleep to make rational decisions. Obviously. Or why else would she go off into the woods with a man she barely knew, probably didn’t even actually like, and then start imagining what it would be like to . . .
“I wasn’t trying to kiss you,” he said, breaking the silence.
. “What? Oh . . . I was thinking that.” Claire forced herself to look at him, to stop panicking. He was doctor, not a mind reader.
“You were . . . You sat on a chicken.”
“I . . . well . . .” Claire sputtered helplessly for a moment and then struggled futilely against a surge of laughter.
“Frankly,” Logan said, watching her laugh, “I’m insulted by that. Traumatized maybe. Yes.” His voice faltered, slowly dissolving into deep laughter that blended with hers. “I might . . . need . . . counseling.”
She threw the sushi. He ducked.
Making it clear: Even if I did admit to ogling food . . . I never sat on a chicken!
How about about you: run-in with a chicken, love to wander the grocery aisle, have favorite ingredients for stir fry? Leave a comment below (with an e-mail address) and I'll enter your name in book giveaway for a signed, personalized copy of Critical Care. If you already own it, I'm happy to sign it for a friend or as a donation to your library. I'll draw the winning name (via random.org) on Monday, March 4th, and notify the winner by e-mail.
Until then, Bon Appetit!