Sunday, October 21, 2018

Ramblings and Recipes, Part 10 - The Diminishing Family


 “However painful the process of leaving home, for parents and for children, the really frightening thing for both would be the prospect of the child never leaving home.” – Robert Neelly Bellah
Each time one of my children went away to college, a bit of my heart was torn out, wrung through a shredder and trampled.  I felt empty inside, like biting into an ├ęclair to find that the fluffy cream was missing.  But then I discovered the result of spending all that money on college tuition, dorm fees, meal plans, and books… they come back home.  Not always immediately, but eventually each one of my three children found their way back into their old bedrooms, sometimes bringing along a new family member with them.
After Tracy’s first year of college, she came home for the summer and informed me that she wasn’t going back to the university in the fall.  She was going to take a year off to travel the world and to ‘find herself’.  I told her that was such an exciting idea and when she finds herself I hoped she would also find the money to cover all of her travel expenses because it wasn’t coming out of my pocket.  And I further suggested that she “find herself” rather quickly and settle on one specific major in college.  “You can’t take ‘feeler’ courses forever”.  Tracy changed her major more often than most college students changed their underwear.  Well, maybe it wasn’t quite that bad, but we did declare that she was in the Major of the Month Club.
Although I didn’t get to talk on the phone much to Jamie when she was away at college, I was very proud of her for studying so diligently.  Every time I called her dorm room, her roommate would tell me that Jamie was at the library.  I pictured her sitting at a table with books piled up high on each side of her, studying everything from English Literature to Advanced Calculus.  Then I found out that “The Library” was a bar down the street.
Instead of going away to a university, Michael went to a local college.  Michael had always been a bit of an entrepreneur.  In high school he would buy a large economy bag of Tootsie Roll Pops for $2 and then he would sell them individually to his classmates for 50 cents each, making a tidy profit.  

We owned a rental house not far from the college campus he planned to attend and he wanted to know if he could live there.   Since we used the rent we received from that house as part of our income, I couldn’t see just giving it to him.  So he found three other boys to share the house with him and pay rent… all of the rent.  Michael took the master bedroom with his own private bathroom and the other boys shared the other two bedrooms and one bathroom.  
As far as a meal plan was concerned, Michael had that covered as well.  Two of the boys worked part time at their aunt’s Thai restaurant. At the end of each day, they took home all the pre-cooked food that was left over. The third boy he was renting a room to was going to culinary arts school and had an allowance for ingredients to practice his cooking skills at home. Food was plentiful in that house. 

But Michael still came home to do his laundry.

SPICY THAI BASIL CHICKEN
Ingredients:
·       1/3 cup chicken broth
·       1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
·       1 Tbsp. soy sauce
·       2 tsp. fish sauce
·       1 tsp. white sugar
·       1 tsp. brown sugar
·       2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
·       1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, coarsely chopped
·       1/4 cup sliced shallots
·       4 cloves garlic, minced
·       2 Tbsp. minced Thai chilies, Serrano, or other hot pepper (or adjust to taste)
·       1 cup very thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
·       2 cups hot cooked rice
Procedure:
  1. Whisk chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, white sugar, and brown sugar together in a bowl until well blended.
  2. Heat large skillet over high heat. Drizzle in oil. Add chicken and stir fry until it loses its raw color, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in shallots, garlic, and sliced chilies. Continue cooking on high heat until some of the juices start to caramelize in the bottom of the pan, about 2 or 3 more minutes. Add about a tablespoon of the sauce mixture to the skillet; cook and stir until sauce begins to caramelize, about 1 minute.
  3. Pour in the rest of the sauce. Cook and stir until sauce has deglazed the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until sauce glazes onto the meat, 1 or 2 more minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in basil. Cook and stir until basil is wilted, about 20 seconds. Serve with rice.



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