My cookbooks and I go back so much further than my blog and me. We have shared lots of good times. There are recipes buried in my shelves that were well loved in times of my life. When I saw that the Cookbook Challenge for this fortnight was citrus all I could think was orange and that meant Hal's Stirfry Sauce from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen.
Citrus is not my favourite family of fruit. I hated lemon desserts growing up, wouldn't go near the sour grapefruits that my mum ate for breakfast and I don't eat as many oranges as I should because they are so messy. Every now and again I remember how much I like oranges. I dislike the sourness of most citrus fruit but oranges have a pleasing sweetness. Often when I see lemon in a recipe I can't help but think orange would be preferable.
But back to the cookbooks! When I first went vegetarian, I had a love affair with Mollie Katzen's Enchanted Broccoli Forest. We all like cookbooks with lots of glossy pictures but this book has enough charm to be forgiven for lacking any photos (other than of Mollie). Despite the lack of photos, I still think it is one of the most beautifully presented cookbooks, in a hippy kind of way. Mollie Katzen illustrated the cookbook and hand wrote all the recipes. The book is imbued with a love of food.
Even today many years later, I can reel off a list of favourite recipes that are remembered fondly as bringing joy to my newbie vegetarian diet. Mollie Katzen had great ideas, fun recipe names and the recipes worked. Green green lasagne, tofu nut balls, spoonbread, the enchanted broccoli forest and Hal's stirfry sauce. Not only are the recipes inspiring but the book is full of useful advice.
Towards the back is a section on vegetables. It gives advice on chopping and how to enjoy them. If you have the book and haven't looked at this section, I encourage you to read it. At the end of the section is a recipe for Hal's Special Sauce. I tend to call it Hal's Stirfry Sauce because I associate it with stirfries. This is where I learnt to stirfry when I lived in households with woks (those were the days)! Her advice about dividing up vegetables into groups according to how quickly they cook was invaluable and still informs how I cook today.
Once upon a time when I used to make this sauce, I had a hot wok and peanut oil so I could cook the vegetables really really quickly. I would serve the stirfry with the vegetables just cooked, with a slight snap to them. No longer am I so particular. I am happy to just get it on the table.
It is ages since I made this sauce, but I am glad to have been inspired to revisit it. I had a near disaster when in a heavy conversation with E about the dishes and spooned out custard powder instead of cornflour, but luckily checked the label on the container before adding it to the sauce. I also sat down to eat it only to have Sylvia crying in her cot and needing a cuddle. Yes, getting dinner on the table is challenge enough for me. It doesn't have to be perfect.
The sauce seemed exotic as a new vegetarian but now it is a bit less exciting. However the flavours meld beautifully into a tasty, easy sauce. I cooked it with lot of vegetables. The half cabbage took quite some time to cook down before I could begin to add more vegies. I think it took almost half an hour to cook altogether. I also added tofu and hokkien noodles. Maybe I cooked a bit much as the sauce wasn't as intense as I remembered it but it was still delicious and went down well with everyone in my house. I don't know who Hal is but I would love to thank him.
To find out more about the Cookbook Challenge and see what others are cooking, go to my Cookbook Challenge page or checkout the Cookbook Challenge community page.
Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: WHB: Tomato and Peach Relish
This time two years ago: Hot weather, hopeful politics and summer food
This time three years ago: Stuffed Pears - in the swag
Hal's Stirfry Sauce
From The Enchanted Broccoli Forest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup tamari (or soy sauce)
1 Tbsp honey (or other sweetener)
1 Tbsp fresh ginger
1 clove fresh garlic, crushed
2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp cornflour
Mix all ingredients together except the cornflour. Spoon cornflour into a separate small bowl (or measuring cup in my case) and dissolve with a few spoonfuls of the sauce. Stir cornflour into the sauce. Add sauce to stirfry a few minutes before the end. It should thicken slightly once brought to the boil so it coats the vegetables, noodles or whatever you choose to add.
UPDATE: check out my vegan version of Hal's stiry sauce.
On the stereo:
In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003: REM
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