Taking Cooking for Granted

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I am a firm believer of a human being should be able to cook meals. I like a vast variety of food, and I'd like them better if/when I've figured out how to cook them. Recently, I made tortillas - something I could've just bought - from scratch. The result was amusing to me.


But hey, they were awesome. Chubby and awesome.

My parents can cook, both - even my late father. My mom is making a living out of cooking. My late brother can make a *really* mean fried rice and isn't a stranger in the kitchen. In spite of his 'allergy' to greens and plants, he could use them in his fried rice or fried noodles as if he invented it. Naturally, I can cook, too. By proxy, I thought that everybody can cook. Even my oldest cousin-in-law, self-proclaimed non-cooking person, can actually whip up a standard stir-fry veggie dish. 

It really didn't register in my brain that someone can be so incompetent to the point of being hazardous in the kitchen - until I went to the US and meet my mom's friend, my hostess. 

The first question she asked me was: "How do you make scrambled eggs?"

Yeah. For real.

Nowadays, however, I realized that there *are* people who can't tell the difference between sugar and salt. Or ginger and turmeric. And no, it's not some sort of disease one can 'trendify' like autism or asperger's syndrome. It's basic ignorance (actually, kind of like the people who *did* trendify autism and/or asperger's).

Most of the times (in their lives), kitchen contents has been simplified - especially those living in western world and/or metropolitan cities. There are more powder-shaped condiments in supermarkets than in their actual, God-given forms. How many of you have seen and/or touch turmeric in its actual root form? Galanga? Kencur/smaller galanga?

I have. Fortunately, my mother - as cosmo as she is - believes that the actual forms of condiments have better taste in food. She's right, too. Whilst she would simply use an inch of galanga to make rendang, I had to use half a bottle of powdered galanga to make my rendang's taste come close to hers. 

Now, however, I'd like to share a simple recipe. Actually, I'm gonna write down this recipe just so I can send it (along with the how-to method) to my friend. 

Stir-fry mixed vegetables (chop suey) - one person, single meal size

  • 2 inches Cauliflower or broccoli. Chop to size of preference.
  • 2 inch Cabbage - chop roughly (about 1/2 to 1 cm length)
  • 1 Cai Sim/BokChoy - peel off its bunch & wash between the leaves! Then chop to separate the green leaf from the stalk. Separate stalk from leaves. Stalk should be an inch or two in length.
  • 1 clove Garlic, chop to tiny pieces, or if you have garlic crusher, crush it.
  • 1 cm ginger - chop to tiny teensy pieces, or bruise it & take it out after you're done.
  • 1 tbsp corn starch (maizena), dissolve using a cup of hot water. It'll be tricky, but if the water is boiling, it usually dissolve quite quick. It doesn't, however, dissolve like milk. Stir it through. 
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp shortening 
  • salt & pepper to taste (about 2 teaspoon salt, 1 tsp pepper should do it) 
Personally, I liked my chop suey to have some kind of animal in it - chicken or seafood. Do keep in mind that animals should ALWAYS go in the pan BEFORE the plants.
Heat up the shortening and sesame oil in a wok (if not, a large flat pan will do - there would seem to be a lot of plants on the table, but they shrink after they got cooked), put in garlic until it smells nice (about 10-15 seconds), then in goes the ginger. If you use powdered ginger, have about 1 tsp or two in. 
Then put in cabbage. Fry cabbage for about 20 secs until it wilts (it's a hard veggie, don't worry about it), then put in the bokchoy stalks, keep it there until it kind of darkens in color (10-15 secs). Then in goes the broccoli/cauliflower. Last in will be the leaves. The whole process should go in about a minute or two.
Don't forget to salt & pepper everybody at this time! Whilst stirring, put in the dissolved corn starch (you might want to run it through a sifter to keep the larger lumps out). Add about half a cup of water, and you have your chop suey! The broccoli & bokchoy leaves ought to still be a tad crispy. But it won't hurt! I promise.
You could also add some 'shroom - if you like. They can go in alongside the broccoli. You can add/subtract whichever veggie you don't want, and it'll still be yummy. 
Alright. Simple stir-fry. I need to keep in mind that western countries don't cook rice like I do - in a rice cooker and in large quantities. ;) Tomorrow, I shall share some fried-rice recipe - with chilli pepper.  


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