It has rained nonstop for the past two days, yet I am full of hope for the new year. My mother believes rain is an auspicious sign on New Years and birthdays – it washes away the transgressions and bad luck from the previous year. I am inclined to agree with her, as 2014 already feels like a fresh start.
Our New Year’s Eve shenanigans consisted of eating shrimp gumbo, hanging curtains, building a bonfire with the tree branch that fell on our roof, watching Muay Thai Warrior, and shooting off bottle rockets in the backyard. Lots of beer and one can of Redd’s Strawberry Ale were also involved (the ale was all I drank, and it wasn’t a full can to start…this girl knows how to party). We had just one guest and the older I get, the more convinced I become that quality in friendship is better than quantity. Of course, I would have loved if all my close friends and family could be together. Mom sent me a photo of herself and some of my relatives toasting champagne glasses, followed by the message, “Yeah, why not?” In my mind, she added an impish chuckle. My pious mother normally avoids drinking alcohol because it muddles mindfulness, but this year she really mixed things up with her one half glass. Guess where my trait for low alcohol tolerance comes from? Brother got it as well but chooses to ignore his limitations. He is ambitious that way.
On New Year’s Day, I utilized my day off from work to roast a turkey that some dear friends gifted us. It was an overwhelming surprise – I felt like Tiny Tim holding a Christmas goose. The turkey turned out great (500 degrees for 30 minutes; reduce to 350 until thigh temperature is 165 degrees), but I forgot to take a photo before DP started carving. By then I was too tired to play photographer anyway, which is unusual, for an Asian. To accompany the turkey, I also made stuffing, gravy, cornbread, and sautéed green beans. Not quite a full-on turkey dinner spread, but passable. The most remarkable event during the food preparation was a serendipitous cornbread epiphany! I’m not sure yet if I will share or save it as one of those “family secrets.” But I will say this: after 8 years of making cornbread, last night’s version was the fluffiest and moistest, ever. (Hint: I should have baked the cornbread first, but the turkey takes longer, so I decided to get it out of the way. They can’t very well be cooked at the same time either.)
As a consolation for withholding the cornbread secret, I shall post my green beans recipe. I wanted to create an Asian fusion dish, to change up the typical flavors of turkey dinner. Why do I call them “inspirational” green beans, you ask? No particular reason – it was just my general mood when cooking this meal.
Inspirational Green Beans
– At least 1 lb of green beans (they disappear quickly!)
– 2 tsp olive oil
– 4-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (I love garlic, so adjust according to taste)
– At least 3 tablespoons soy sauce
– 1 tsp grated, fresh ginger
– Pinch of sugar
– 1 tsp lime zest
– Cracked black pepper, to taste
1. Heat up a wok and add olive oil.
2. On medium heat, lightly sauté garlic for just a few seconds.
3. Add green beans. Toss well.
4. Add soy sauce, sugar, and ginger. Keep tossing. The soy sauce should just coat the beans without overwhelming them.
5. Beans should only cook for 6-8 minutes total. I like them rather crisp and while they’re still bright green.
6. Turn off heat. Add lime zest and cracked pepper. Toss well again. Serve hot!
With each bite of this meal, I contemplated the generosity of others who made it possible. I wish all of you a wonderful 2014, full of compassion and epiphanies. And although I send positive thoughts to everyone, I linger on those I know who need it most at this time.