Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Whatever Happens To Be Handy Stew

I've had such a lot of fun since rediscovering my electric wok. You know how it is. You get a super-duper, handy-dandy appliance that does everything but diaper the baby and you put it carefully away on a shelf or in a cupboard -- and forget you've got it. Out of sight is truly out of mind with kitchen appliances.

That's pretty much what had happened with the wok. Until I decided to pull it out for something a month or so ago. I'd forgotten how fast it did its job and how easy it was to control the heat. Haven't used a frying pan since. Nor have I put the wok back in the cupboard. Nope. It sits its purty red self right out there on the counter ALL the time.

Another thing that sits on the counter (because it comes with a convenient storage unit) is my V-Slicer mandolin. Slices, dices and juliennes quick like a bunny. I'm constantly trying to figure out new ways to use it because it's just fun. If I'm putting 'taters in a soup or stew, the thick julienne cut is perfect. Carrots come out just right on the thin cut. They not only cook faster, they look elegant.

The Dynamite Duo came in to play this evening when I decided to make one of those Whatever Happens To Be Handy stews. One of my favorite easy and quick meals and limited only by ingredients on hand. Which means, of course, your stew will likely contain different ingredients. No matter. Whatever happens to be handy.

First I took the kitchen shears and snipped a small boneless chicken thigh into bite-sized pieces and started them browning in a dab of olive oil. Then I thick-julienned one medium, unpeeled potato and threw that in. A quick browse through the freezer yielded a package of frozen mixed veggies, the Scandinavian mix with broad beans and zucchini slices and carrots and I don't know what all. Shook a bit of that into the sizzling mix and tossed it all together, along with seasoning. Turned the heat down, put on the lid, and read a couple of short stories in a science fiction book.

When I checked the doneness of the potatoes (just right), I added two cups of chicken broth and brought it to a boil. Then I added some cornstarch for thickening and said, "Shazzam! This is some kind of righteous chow." Dished up a bowl, sprinkled it with some crumbled Feta cheese and knew all was right with the world, at least for a little while. Comfort food. And it's even healthy!

Just haven't had the nerve to add chocolate to it.

Almost forgot my usual apology to John Wagner, the brilliant cartoonist who does the Maxine character so very well. The above is one of those captionless cartoons that seem to wander the Internet and emerge now and then with a new caption. Just want to emphasize that when I use my Maxine alter ego, the words I put in her mouth should never be blamed on Mr. Wagner.


Stephanie said...


bb said...

I have a bread maker out of sight, out of use. But my favorites are the steamer and the grill. Don't own a wok, no place to put one.

John Bailey said...

That sounds like a bodacious meal, Dee. I have a similar approach, requiring a can of corned beef, a couple of onions to start, and then whatever I can find lurking in the fridge. Haven't got a wok, though. Graham goes all strange when faced with a wok and is inclined to do indigestible things with bean sprouts and such... :-)

John Bailey said...

Oh, I meant to say... mix lots of fresh ground black pepper with grated chocolate and you can add it as a garnish to just about any savoury dish, with astonishing results... it's especially good with scrambled eggs ... :-)

Mage said...

Boy, the only thing our kitchens have in common is the cornstarch. LOL

Dee said...

Hi, everyone!

Bonnie, steamer and grill are GOOD.

John, you bowl me over. The Maxine caption was said in jest and now you've got me prowling the Internet for spicy choccy stuff! And you know I'm gonna test out the scrambled eggs!

Steph -- yes, YUM!

Mage, stick with me, kid. I'll corrupt you yet. (smile)