The Friday before last (sorry for the lag time) was a busy day. And POD’s hoping for a bumper crop of French fingerling potatoes, lettuce, parsley, basil, provider snap bush beans, and French hybrid melons; tomande, gold nugget, and patio princess tomatoes; and white wonder, Adam F1, and spacemaster cucumbers.
Plants on Deck enjoyed some much-needed attention on Friday and these potatoes were first up on the to-do list. As they had shot up from no inches to eight inches in just 14 days, it was time for the first application of additional dirt.
A layer of compost and potting soil was gently hilled around the potatoes, covering 2/3 of the exposed plant, leaving just a few inches exposed. And wouldn’t you know it? Just four days later and they need (make that “desperately need”) another hilling.
Which means the stroller’s going to be doubling as a wheelbarrow tonight.
The problem with cooking, and in the Endurer’s case, cooking very, very well, is that one tends to lose one’s taste for certain types of takeout (Indian, Thai, Mediterranean are always welcome). Namely, Chinese. Specifically, General Tso’s chicken. That delightfully gooey, spicy-sweet concoction, which used to spark cravings, now leaves us feeling not-quite-sated and strangely bloated and oozing in sugar-coated guilt.
All of this leads us, by way of Seoul and back, to Margaret Xu’s Lemon Chicken.
Peas, POD, where do the peas come it?! Well, standing in for the greenish-gray mountain of soggy broccoli that usually accompanies the good General’s dish, are a few of POD’s bright, crisp sugar snaps. Seeds that the hurricane planted back in early March.
Margaret Xu’s Lemon Chicken, Serves 2
Recipe from Phaidon’s Coco Cookbook
For the preparation and marinade
400 g corn-fed chicken fillets
1 tsp water
1 tbsp egg white
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 egg, beaten
60 g cornstarch
- Remove the skin and tendons from the chicken
- Carve grooves on the chicken about 2 mm wide, in a criss-cross pattern.
- Turn the chicken over and repeat step 2.
- Pound the chicken with a pestle to tenderize and flatten it
- Slice it into smaller pieces about 3 cm square and place in a large bowl.
- Add the water and let stand for 20 minutes.
- Add the egg white and light soy sauce and mix thoroughly.
- Add the beaten egg
- Place the cornstarch in a container and use it to coat the fillets evenly.
For frying and finishing
2 tbsp cooking oil
3 shallots, sliced
225 ml chicken stock
juice and zest of 1 lemon
salt and white pepper, to taste
120 g. rock sugar, crushed
2 tbsp organic honey
1 tsp cornstarch (cornflour) dissolved in 1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp lemon liquor (optional)
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil in a heavy pan over medium heat.
- Lay the chicken fillets in the pan, reduce the heat to low, and pan-fry on one side for about 5 minutes until golden.
- Add the remaining oil, flip over and pan-fry the other side in the same way. remove the chicken and keep warm
- Place the shallots in the pan and pan-fry slowly until translucent.
- Add the chicken stock and lemon juice, and bring to a boil. Add salt, pepper, sugar, and honey.
- Add the cornstarch mixture and stir over low to medium heat until thickened.
- Return the chicken to the pan for a minute. Switch off the heat, and add the lemon zest and sesame oil together with the lemon liquor, if using. Serve hot.
The plural is misleading…but here’s the first of the strawberries. Shared with the hurricane, it offered little more than the essence of strawberry, but after months of California and then another month of the only slightly better Florida berries, both the girl and the gardener were quite favorably impressed.
Happily, there’s more to come.