1980 Sense and Nonsense
A few weeks ago I added a utensil to my collection of kitchen gizmos that has completely changed my way of life.
I allowed myself to be persuaded that “wokking” is the only way to cook. An Oriental “Galloping Gourmet” on television dazzled me with his one-liners (both on and off his apron) and his knack with chopsticks and cleaver.
He unleashed a primitive urge in me to buy everything in sight at the Chinese cuisine section in the grocery store. I bought a wok and all the utensils that slice, stir and strain. I also bought a colourful selection of sauces, oils and other “Chinesey” condiments.
I proudly brought my loot home and stacked it in the kitchen. First of all, the wok wouldn’t fit neatly in any of my cupboards. It was too big to fit in with the round pots and too round to fit in with the square pans. I ended up storing it in the oven.
My wok came unaccompanied by any instructions whatever. It did however come with a lid and what I assumed to be an added bonus – a stand for an electric stove. Since I have a gas stove I decided in my ignorance, that no stand at all was necessary.
When I placed my shiny new wok on the naked flame, an ugly blue discoloration resulted, which neither Mr. Clean nor Mrs. Ray could remove. My first wokful of stir-fried spinach removed the stain in less than five minutes. My mother and Popeye the sailor-man would have been proud of the power in that placid looking vegetable!
Luckily I have always hated spinach – stir fried or otherwise!
My recipe book with the smiling face of our television host on the cover has helped me become a semi-expert on the art of preparing Chinese food. Now, instead of opening a can or defrosting a package of frozen vegetables, I prepare them the nutritious way
I rise early, before dawn, and raid the garden. I drive miles to buy goodies such as mushrooms, bean sprouts and bok choy. I wash, chop, stir-fry and strain. Sometimes I package the fourteen vegetables and meats in neat little wrappers and deep-fry them.
I grate, marinate and wait, and if I’m lucky my concoctions are ready to serve for the big meal of the day.
I originally bought the wok with the thought in mind that I could con our youngest child into “liking vegetables.” Deep down I knew that there was no way this could happen. I have a theory that there are only two kinds of people in this world – those who love vegetables and those who don’t.
Most of the children I have known were in the latter category.
I used to bribe, cajole and sometimes threaten my older children into eating their vegetables. To this day they distrust anything that is green (unless it is money) I scored 100% wipe-out in past parental nutrition.
Therefore, with our youngest child I am experimenting with a totally different technique. Trickery! I sneak vegetables into cookies and chop them up so fine they are almost invisible into soups and stews. I lie a lot. When she asks,“Are there any onions in this?” I hem and haw and make noises that sound like “no.”
Last year I had the help of her kindergarten teacher. Our daughter would come home on “snack day” extolling the virtues of celery sticks and alfalfa sprouts. However, Kindergarten only last for one year and the latest bag of alfalfa sprouts is growing a wonderful crop of cattle fodder in the refrigerator.
There is no way our daughter will eat Chinese food, with or without plum sauce. The vegetables are plainly visible – big, healthy looking and green! When I wok it is also necessary to whip up something “western” for her – such as a peanut butter sandwich.
Actually I do enjoy cooking the Chinese way and I have discovered a bonus use for my wok. It is the greatest thing for rising bread dough! I place the rounded bottom on a stove burner and the heat from the pilot light is enough to warm the dough easily and quickly.
Steven Yan, do you “wok” your bread? How about putting that on your apron!!