When we lived in China we were introduced to a vegetable that was not commonly used in the U.S. pea tops (sometimes sold as “pea leaf”)—the tender ends of the pea shoots. Pea tops is not something you will find in Western supermarkets, you will only find them Asian markets—in season. Frequently, I would use these in a soup, but today wife Jan asked for them in a stir fry. Lately, there has been a bowl of Mandarin oranges on my counter and—as I was gathering ingredients for my stir fry—I decided, “Why not throw a couple into the mix?”
Category Archives: Main Dishes
This meal started with my wife Jan noticing that I had a ripe avocado on the counter. “We should have tacos, hmm, grilled shrimp tacos,” says she. I know that she is also very fond of grilled corn, so I suggested grilled corn salsa to go with the tacos. Thus a meal was born.
In the morning, I had decided to reheat the leftover chili for dinner. When my daughter Eilene finally woke up, she said, “Oh yes, I forgot to tell you that my friends are coming over tonight”—dinner for six, not three. I could have thinned out the chili with more beans, but one of her friends does not like beans. After a discussion, we settled on Thai red curry chicken soup.
Mapo tofu is wife Jan’s favorite dish, so this is a common meal in our house. The tradition way of making it is with just tofu and sauce with just a bit of pork, green onion, and of course Sichuan pepper. I usually make a stir fried bok choy dish as a vegetable side, but over time I have gotten lazy and combined the dishes into one—adding the bok choy directly into the mapo tofu. Today, Jan asked me to buy some mandarin oranges and I thought, “Why not add them to the dish?”
Wife Jan is on the Noom program and is still giving me lists of recipe names from her app. Many of these recipes are directly from Prevention, but I could not find this one on-line so I decided to wing it. Starting with the idea of a grilled seafood soup—the recipe name my wife gave me—I thought about what would go into it.
Wife Jan and I were wandering around the local Japanese market and she said it had been a long time since I had made sukiyaki. This is one of the dishes my mother, Claudia, would make as I was growing up. Since I was making this as a weekday dinner, I pared down my original recipe to feed three people—you may also increase the number and kinds of vegetables to feed more if necessary.
Wife Jan has asked me to make blue cornbread. In and of itself cornbread is not a meal, it does though pair very well with chili. Wife Jan is on the Noom program and is pushing me away from red meat—so I am switching one of my chili recipes to chicken. This is a weekday meal, so I am taking a few shortcuts—like canned beans. I also have chili powder left over from the last time I made chili.
When I asked wife Jan what she wanted for Mother’s Day dinner she looked at the list of Noom recipes she had given me. One of the few that she listed that I have not already done was chicken skewers. Looking at the Prevention recipe—Most, if not all, of Noom’s recipes are direct links to the Prevention site—it struck me as under-seasoned and dry. Jan suggested that she really liked za’atar, so I went with that. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend of thyme, oregano, marjoram mixed with toasted sesame seeds, salt, and frequently sumac—although each country, from Morocco to Iran, has their own distinctive blend.
Wife Jan is now on the Noom program and I am trying to adapt my cooking to her needs. I have discovered that all of the recipes in the Noom app come directly from Prevention. While Noom has only been around since 2013, Prevention magazine—which was started in the 1950’s—was a major resource for Jan when she was doing research on holistic health in the 1980. Jan went through the Noom app’s recipes and wrote down the names of several that she wanted me to try making.