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The best things since unsliced bread

Yesterday brought some serious highs and lows, and not only in the stock market. On the low side, let’s just say this: on an ever-longer list of things never to do again, never walk into a new salon and ask, in your best can-I-get-this-for-free voice, “Is there anyone who could give me a quick bang trim?” And certainly never ignore your instincts when the schlumpy-looking guy named Bob, who is busy reeking up the front desk with cigarette breath, and, the more I think about it, quite possibly doesn’t even work there, says, “Sure, I can do it” and comes at you blunt-style, straight across the forehead with a pair of scissors. Next time I’ll just get tipsy and do it myself, thank you very much.

On the high side, though, there was the baby with her real smiles that no longer portend poops, and how she aims them (the smiles, that is) right at her big sister. And, to finally mosey around to food, this article about Americans starting to eat like real people again just warmed my heart.

Then there were dinner and dessert. I realized recently that I point my days at dinner the way a lot of people point their living room furniture at the TV, giving it a disproportionately big role in the grand scheme. Well, on that account, yesterday sort of organically grew into a surprisingly good day to be the girl peeking out from beneath my butchered fringe. All it took was two recipes that can be prepared in less than 10 minutes each. For dinner, chicken, long bean and shiitake stir-fry. For dessert, Sid’s Chocolate Silk Ice Cream from Ronnybrook drizzled (okay, come at blunt-style) with caramel sauce and sprinkled with sea salt. On an ever-longer list of things to do as often as you can, there’s a lot to be said for making caramel sauce on a whim.

Stir Fry with Chicken, Shiitakes and Long Beans

2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons peanut, grapeseed or other neutral oil
3 garlic cloves, smashed and sliced
A pinch of red chile flakes
1 bunch long beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 good handfuls shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced
1 pound boneless chicken tenders, cut in half crosswise, white tendons removed

Prepare all ingredients before starting to cook, because once you start, it’ll be over in a flash.

Combine the soy sauce, hoisin sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved. Set aside. Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until smoking. Add the garlic, chile flakes, long beans and shiitakes all at once and cook, moving rapidly around the bottom and sides of the wok, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the beans have become just slightly tender and started to acquire a few blackened spots. Add the chicken and cook, again stirring rapidly, until almost cooked through. Add the soy sauce mixture, stir to coat all ingredients, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes more. Serve with rice – brown basmati is our favorite.


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  1. Aww, Jill, thanks!

  2. Jill

    Can I just say you amaze me every time I read your stuff… not only are you an AMAZING cook/chef (whatever is the correct terminology, coming from a non-cook/chef…LOL)… but your writing is absolutely amazing…
    Seriously waiting to receive the first copy of your book! 🙂
    OH… and the pic of the girls… LOVE it!!!!