Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Return To Femininity, Blogging and Chicken.




Son and Darling Daughter returned to school a month ago, and I don’t believe I’ve ever blogged so much.

In my own little head, of course.

No joke.  These past few weeks, I’ve been teeming with what I hoped were carefully-composed sentences, clever turns-of-phrase, and tidy little anecdotes.  Nonetheless, my last Feminine Wiles post was over a month ago.

My own fault, really.  Way back at the end of August, surveying the month ahead, I honestly thought, finally, some time to myself.

At least, I hope I “thought” it.  I hope I didn’t actually say it out loud, because even the bats in my attic could see that September was booked before it began.  It is, after all, September, and not January, marking the beginning of a student’s “new” year.   Thirty days hath September, and each of ours was packed – with middle school and varsity cross country meets, Scout meetings, school dances, Homecoming, school football games, daily cross country practices, a return to Sunday School, the obligatory back-to-school meetings, orientations, and shopping – not to mention my own school commitments and the usual, unusual rounds of Charlotte medical professionals.  (Son’s early season injuries have prompted countless appointments.  The only medical advice we haven’t yet sought is from voodoo practitioners.  But that’s because none have yet recommended by name.)

So September has been crammed with scheduling, scheduling, scheduling, meeting, meeting, meeting, transporting, transporting, transporting,.  Then, my trusty and beloved iMac crashed.  (I know, I know.  “Every hard drive will fail.”  Use me as your case study.)  One morning, after the kids boarded the bus, with the click, click, click of a darkened screen, all my scheduling and meeting and transporting vanished.  Poof.

As Darling Darling would say, “WTF?”  (“Why the face?”  Don’t you love it?)  Gone were financial records, photos, iTunes purchases, my freshly compiled book fair list, and then, more cash than I care to confess just to get us back on our computing feet.

Perfect.  (Sarcasm.)  I could've used that extra cash, because anyone knows that all these back-to-school activities also mean “back-to-Chick-Fil-A.”  And Bojangles.  And, on occasion, KFC.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love chicken.  But I don’t know that I can face another “no-butter-extra-pickles-Chick-Fil-A-sandwich.”

In the midst of all the “busy-ness,” though, I’m reminded of another, easily prepared and easily adored chicken dish – one that can be cooked up in a snap and fits in some vegetables.  Or -- between you and me -- lots.

Son and Darling Daughter have long been fans of chicken lettuce wraps, and one harried evening around Labor Day, I had to wonder, why don’t we just make some?

Finally, in these 30 days of September – success.  Chicken lettuce wraps are now a weekly fixture Chez Wiles – inspiring me, perhaps, to finish working out my recipe for East-Meets-West Mu Shu Pork.

In October. 

You know, when I have some time to myself.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

1 teaspoon toasted (or dark) sesame oil

2 ribs celery, finely chopped
10-12 baby carrots, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
2 tablespooons freshly grated ginger
1 pound ground chicken 
1 can whole water chestnuts, drained, finely chopped
2 tablespoons prepared Chinese plum sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon chili oil (or hot pepper oil)

Large leaf lettuce, Bibb lettuce or iceberg lettuce leaves

In very large, nonstick skillet, heat sesame oil over medium high heat until smoking.  Stir in celery, carrots and bell pepper.  Sauté 5-6 minutes, or until vegetables are softened and slightly browned.  Stir in garlic, ginger and chicken, and cook, stirring, until chicken is cooked and slightly browned.  Stir in water chestnuts, plum sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar and chili oil until well combined and heated through.  Serve hot, a few tablespoons at a time, rolled up in lettuce leaves.  Holy cow.  Or chicken.  This stuff is good.
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