Writer’s Block

Monday, May 25, 2015


Wait, what should I do here?


Well I survived my year-long provisional existence, where every day lasted a month and the year was over in two weeks.

I had a nice visit with some new friends at the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County Oregon, and got to spend a few days wandering around Portland.

All good.

And I had on my list of things to do before leaving “write blog post” but it didn’t happen, so that is still on the list.

And now I’m back but I have NOTHING TO SAY.

But in a desperate attempt to get this crossed off my list, I’m writing anyway.

My parents came to visit for my graduation, my mom said that it had been a while since I’d given them a new recipe. She said I was due. I said, “Hmm… I don’t have any new recipes because I haven’t cooked anything.”

I said here’s my recipe for the year: you can get a McChicken sandwich and a yogurt parfait for two dollars at McDonald’s. Cheapest meal around. You can’t even get food at a convenience store for that.

She was nonplussed by this bit of wisdom. Nor has anyone else I’ve shared it with been much impressed.

Go figure.

Nonetheless, I stand by it. This works especially well when you leave your house at 7:15 a.m. and return at 9 p.m. (or later) every day. There is a McDonald’s every half-mile in this country, and if you have two dollars ($2.15 if you’re in Durham, sales tax is 7.5%), you can stop thinking about what you might or could or should eat and just go get a chicken sandwich and yogurt parfait and be done with it. And no dishes either.

Problem solved.

The last new recipe I gave my parents was Marion Cunningham’s version of mahogany chicken. It meets all of my key recipe criteria: easy, cheap, good. And it makes good leftovers, all that yummy sauce. And if I ever manage to get back to cooking actual meals again, it will be one of the first things I make.

(For the record, I have moved past the McChicken sandwiches and on to scrambled eggs, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten. One step at a time.)

So this post won’t help my mom, she already has this recipe, but maybe someone else will like it.

Mahogany Chicken Legs with Fresh Ginger
from The Supper Book by Marion Cunningham

4 Tbsp peanut oil
8 chicken thighs and legs
1/3 cup peeled and sliced (1/4 inch thick) fresh ginger
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sherry
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup sliced scallions [optional]
1/2 cup whole cilantro leaves [optional]
4 cups steamed long-grain white rice

Put the peanut oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces, skin side down, and the ginger slices. Brown the chicken for 10 minutes, then turn over and brown for 5 more minutes. (It is important to use a deep skillet because the chicken tends to spatter while browning.) Reduce the heat if necessary to keep the chicken and ginger from burning. If the ginger slices brown too quickly, remove them to a paper towel and put them back in the skillet when you add the soy mixture.

Mix together the soy sauce, sherry, and sugar. Pour the soy mixture over the chicken, cover, and cook for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the scallions and cilantro leaves. Serve immediately with the rice.

6 Responses to “Writer’s Block”

  1. Molly Says:

    So the thing I find amusing about your McDonald’s meal is that even though it’s cheap, it is double your food budget for the entire day from the dollar-a-day era.

  2. lessisenough Says:

    I know, how far the mighty have fallen!

    At one point I was talking to my dad about how much I was spending on food, I said I’m spending twice as much as I used to. He said twice nothing is still nothing.

    So I will just say that I was spending way more than a dollar a day to eat very badly. Eventually I gave up on shopping altogether, because I was buying food that I would throw away, because either I wasn’t home to eat it or it was just too much to deal with and it would go bad. So I was spending money on groceries and then eating out anyway. I decided just to skip the first part.

    A friend who works crazy hours suggested getting sandwich stuff, because you can almost always eat a sandwich and it doesn’t generate much in the way of dishes, and it keeps for a while. So then I started going to Trader Joe’s and getting cold cuts/cheese/tortillas and that was a pretty good solution, I ate a lot of wraps.

  3. Elizabeth Says:

    Love the photo, and I think it would make a great line for a commencement speech. Congratulations on your graduation. And I have a recipe for you – roasted cauliflower with pistachios and capers. So good and so easy. Just put it with olive oil, salt and pepper in a baking dish and bake at 400 for anywhere from 20 – 40 minutes, depending on how hungry you are and how crunchy/crispy.

  4. lessisenough Says:

    Roasted cauliflower with pistachios sounds divine, I’ll have to think about the capers. I actually think you can roast any vegetable and it makes it taste 10 times better. Thanks for the tip! I’ll pass it along to my mom.

  5. Awwww, you were in Portland! BTW, capers that have been roasted till they are crunchy are really good!

  6. lessisenough Says:

    Yes, quick trip to Portland, fun!

    I will try the roasted capers. I LOVE pistachios, so that part sounds great. I have a good recipe for cabbage with sunflower seeds, which that reminds me of. But I don’t remember right now how you cook the cabbage, I think you stir-fry it. Then you add bacon grease (!). (Not surprisingly, it is really tasty. But the bacon grease sort of drags down the health aspects…)

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