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It’s Just Dinner, Right?

Actually, no. It’s not. And that’s the message I hope to convey with this blog. This is my very first post, by the way. Thanks for giving it a read.

So…dinner. I don’t want to sound preachy (even though I am a food evangelist), but dinner should be an event—something that has meaning beyond preventing being dragged off to social services for starving your family. I don’t think we should “settle” when it comes to eating, and every meal should be special in some small way.

In pursuing this idea of making meals—especially regular, weeknight family meals—special, I do often put extra pressure on myself. Last night is a perfect example. I had been out of town for several days, so the refrigerator was pretty bare. Plus we had a full afternoon of math worksheets, ice-skating lessons, and soccer practice. Some spaghetti tossed with a jar of sauce would have fit perfectly with my my schedule. But I decided on using the fresh veggies we did have for a stir-fry instead.

Stir-fry is a little like scrunchies and creme brulée—a fad that you didn’t really notice was a fad but now it isn’t trendy anymore. But in the 90s it was huge, right? I got a very cool Calphalon wok for my 30th birthday, and it was one of my favorite pans until a few years ago when I got my 14-inch Anolon Advanced nonstick skillet, which is not just one of my favorite pans but something I think I’d save in a fire. Even though stir-fry might not be a hot food trend, it’s still worth making; it’s a great way to use up random veggies and things like frozen shrimp.

Stir-fry is easy to make, but often I think it’s not as good as it could be. So I thought I’d make my first post a brief Stir-Fry Lesson. The key is to cook everything in the right order and very quickly. Before you start, make a huge batch of brown rice (seriously, huge—you can use leftover rice for fried rice, rice pudding, side dishes, etc. all week long). I make almost an entire bag of Lundberg short-grain brown rice at a time.

Cut the vegetables in large-bite-size pieces (I used red pepper, zucchini, summer squash, asparagus and mushrooms). Heat some olive oil (I use extra virgin olive oil for almost everything) and crushed garlic on medium-high heat in a large skillet or wok if you still have one. When the oil is hot, add the red pepper, cook for two minutes, then add the asparagus, cook for two minutes. I usually add the squash and mushrooms at the very end. The idea is for the veggies to stay crisp (if you’re using broccoli, which is great but I didn’t have any, add it in the beginning, too.), so base the order of adding them on their relative cooking times. As my five-year-old said, “It’s like a hot salad mixed with vegetables.”

My daughter helped with her "kid knife."

Once the veggies are cooked, dump them into a bowl and cook the meat separately using the same pan. I used a bag of partially thawed shrimp, the big, fat kind; I cut the tails off, but it’s fine to leave them on if you don’t mind getting your fingers a little messy while you’re eating. You can also do cut chicken, beef, or tofu of course. When the meat is almost done (pink throughout for shrimp), toss the veggies back into the hot pan. Add a little soy sauce, a few drops of fish sauce, or whatever sauce you like. I used about 2 cap-fulls of soy (the tamari kind) and a teaspoon-ish of fish sauce, plus a few shakes of crushed red pepper. The water from the shrimp mixes with the condiments to make a nice but light sauce, I must say. Here’s how it looked.

Gorgeous, no?

Serve the stir-fry right away with the brown rice. We like things hot and spicy so I always have a bottle of Huy Fong Sriracha chili sauce on hand. That stuff is the bomb. We rounded out the meal with some edamame mixed in green salad. Pretty special and totally doable on a Monday night, by the way.

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This post has 14 comments

  • David Wallace says:

    it was more than gorgeous…it was so delicious! i loved first blog even though i don’t know what scrunchies you think those shrimp are wild or farm raised?

    • I think you are a genius as a mother, cook and friend! Way to go Bevin!! You better watch out. People are going to start showing up unannounced at your house for dinner!

  • Barb says:

    All I got to say is that you are a Rockstar (yes, with a capital R) in about 10 thousand ways!

    Here are just a few of them:

    1. You win the daily tiara for being Action Jackson and pulling this off with this much detail out of the gate. Holy cow (or should I say holy shrimp?), what will happen when you actually have time to visit the Farmer’s Market?

    2. This is so artfully done that it brought tears to my eyes.

    3. Yes, you ARE a food evangelist and there are about 5 things in this post that I want to learn more about from you. (like why would you save that pan in a fire and how do I get one? I keep buying pans and hating them before the month is out.)

    4. The end result was a work of art and the process even better.

    5. So much fun to read.

    6. So awesome to look at (I love seeing Lauren helping in that photo.)

    7. The scrunchies metaphor made me laugh for 5 minutes and I will never look at my wok again the same way without thinking of you.

    8. Hey! I love creme brulee still and without exception! Call me a geek, but I love that you are engaging me enough to make me defend it.

    I am jumping up and down clapping for you in the biggest way. Don’t make me take out a Bic lighter! (Remember you’re a Rockstar…)

  • Beth Bowlen says:

    First of all I cant spell so get used to it! Second of all I do know what a scrunchie is and am embarrassed to say I am prestenly wearing one! I have to tell you why before I get into the real subject of food! I do allot of running and horse riding and regular hair bands pull my hair out and a scrunchie, as lame as they look, doesnt:)! So much for my vanity! Third of all I’ve never blogged so I hope my comments and additons are what we are suppose to do
    After a weekend get away I too found my refergerator empty, and was in a dinner crisis. I had some cold ripe avocados and I love making guacamole! I have a secret that I will only share on the blog. I put minimal ingrediants so that the real taste of the avocado comes through,. I put a table spoon of salsa, salt and pepper and finally garlic salt to taste. The more you whip the avo’s when you stir the better it taste. Let me tell you I always get very a favorable response to the guac and never tell my garlic salt secret! I found a can of low fat refried beans some black beans and jalopena peppers and stirred them togeher and added in the assembly line; salsa, lowfat cream cheese, lettuce and tortillas. I heated the bean mixture and tortillas on the stove top and then we made our own soft tacos. They were so yummy…… and easy and most importantly home made:)

  • lucy wallace says:

    I love your blog!!!!I predict a great future for the Food Evanglist! I can’t
    wait for the next recipe!Lucy

  • lucy wallace says:

    I love your blog!I predict great things for THE FOOD EVANGLIST-I can’t

    wait for your next recipe!

  • John Michael says:

    If that stir-fry is what you had for dinner on Monday after such a busy day…I’m more than ready for what you’ll make on Tuesday. What a picture of everyting in the Wok. Can I get a signed print? It looks delecious…and your right…totally doable if your organized because everything is cooked quickly. Dinner is family time and it’s fun to make something special. Do some BBQ stuff.
    WOW! I just wrote my first Blog…maybe I should learn how to twitter now.

  • Deb Nelson says:

    I enjoyed your first entry, Bevin. This being the first time I have read any of your writing…I was pleasantly surprised by the way you captured my interest in your descriptions. Having been to dinner in your home, I could picture the entire evening….and it was fun to imagine Lauren helping you, too.

    Thanks for the tips on stir-fry, also. A favorite dish of Eric’s and mine, however, I was not aware of the “timing steps” (in the order of cooking specific things) that could greatly enhance our own dining experience….HA! I look forward to your next article.

  • Reina says:

    Bevin, this blog is genius! Way to go.

    This entry about dinner so true. Dinner and meals as celebration and for enjoyment in and of themselves are all but gone from American culture. Many of my kid’s friends (now teenagers) say they don’t even have dinner tables at their homes; they eat watching TV. Wow. It’s like the 70s but without those lovely TV tray stands we had folded neatly in a corner of the living room which somehow gave the whole eating-in-front-of the-TV while we watched Starsky and Hutch a more family feel.

    The only thing I would beware of is the non-stick coatings on so many of the “nice” pans for sale these days. Last summer, I looked into the health hazards of those chemical coatings as they become heated and are released into the air and our food during cooking. I was alarmed at what I found. I now own only stainless steal and iron cookware. But then again, I’m afraid of chemical sunscreens, too, so take this advice for what it’s worth.

    ps. My teenage daughters are loving my old scrunchie collection. Just hold on to stuff; you never know when it will come back!

  • bowenshea says:

    But I thought your 30th birthday WAS just a few years ago, so you got Calphalon and the other pan right around same time, right?!?!?!? “;>)

    I’m impressed your hubby reads your blog. I have to put in special plea when I want Jack to read mine…

  • Mom says:

    Hi sweetie — love your blog — know how important this is and you’ll continue to do a great job!!! Next time I’m over you can serve “wedding soup” — it looks incredible. Just home from shopping, yes — I’m working on it — mostly organic; I’m worth it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! xo mom

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