Sam was out of town for the latter part of last week. Thalia, my daughter, and Nana, my mother in law, were both house sitting. So I was a "bachelor" from Thursday night until Sunday, just me and the dogs. Sam had flown up to New York to help our friend, Jeff, who is moving back to Birmingham drive down. Samantha and Jeff have been friends since high school. Let that sink in a moment. That's a really long time and is really quite remarkable. I certainly can't say, and I don't think many of us can, that I've been able to maintain a friendship like that. Sure, I know a lot of people who knew me as far back as high school. And yeah, we're Facebook friends but, trust me, that doesn't count. I mean real friends. Someone you have maintained steady and consistent communication with regardless of physical distance. Someone who has been an active witness to all the changes 30 plus years of life can bring.
Now I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with the majority of us who don't have such long term relationships. In truth I actually do have a similar relationship in Samantha. We met when I was twenty and have been pretty much "going steady" ever since. BUT, I think there is a big difference between a romantic relationship and a friendship. A romantic relationship can and should include elements of a friendship and most friendships probably do best to avoid the sexual and emotional entanglements of a romance.
For most of us, the roller coaster of life makes it hard to maintain the type of long term friendships I'm talking about. Changes bring about changes. College put an end to most of my high school friendships. Moving to Georgia near the end of my college career ended most of my college friendships and moving back to Birmingham when Samantha was pregnant with Madeline ended most of my Georgia friendships. Some friendships managed to span some of these changes, but life, death, children, and career changes often proved too big a change to manage over the long haul.
I'm really proud of Samantha. Although, I suspect pride is not exactly the right term for this for I had nothing to do with any of it besides being a passive observer and her companion through it all. So maybe admiration is a better word. I admire Samantha for her tenacity in the face of all of life's changes and her ability to stay close to those she loves regardless of distance or life circumstances. I am proud because she deems me worthy of being one of the ones she keeps close.
While she was gone I spent those days attending to needs closer to home. Minor repairs, continuing the Sisyphean task of improving access to the gym, and trying to harmonize what I need from this environment with what the environment itself needs to thrive took up most of my days. I did still take time to cook, but most of my cooking was riffing on leftovers or elevating a simple ingredient with pre-made enhancements that were already on hand (i.e. leftovers.)
The great thing about having all of this homemade yogurt on hand is that my morning meals are pretty much set. A big bowl of yogurt, my homemade granola, and some berries and I'm good for most of the day. The yogurt has keyed me in to how beneficial regular doses of probiotic foods can be. I try and center at least one meal around something fermented every day now.
Yogurt is my go to most days, but one day I took leftover beef and broccoli, added a couple fried eggs and a healthy serving of kimchi. Another day I took tired old rice and made fried rice with thin sliced beef, vegetables, and kimchi. At present I've got about a gallon of sauerkraut fermenting on the counter. It's been going for about a week now. Once it's done I'll be sure to share with you the details.
I say all this to preamble that the meal I'm sharing today fits in that quick and simple category. Salmon, rice, and some sort of vegetable is ideal for a quick supper and in general can be prepared in the amount of time it takes to cook the rice.
Monday Night Salmon and Rice
First off, start your rice. I give a detailed description about making rice HERE, but if you've got one and it's free use your Instant Pot. It's just too simple not to. Don't forget to wash the rice first!
While the rice is cooking assemble your other ingredients. We were having asparagus so Sam trimmed the ends and I put on a pot of water to boil. Salt the water well, at least two or three tablespoons to the pot. Once the water is boiling toss in the asparagus and blanch quickly. Not only does blanching brighten the colors it also pre-cooks the vegetable and renders a better stir fry. Generally, I blanch vegetables like broccoli and asparagus or green beans. Don't leave your veg in the water longer than 20 or 30 seconds. Pour into a strainer.
For dinner last night I used my wok. I got it good and hot and added a few tablespoons of peanut oil. After salting the salmon on both sides I Introduced it to the wok and seared it quickly. Just a quick crust and a flip to sear the other side. I like my salmon best when it's still quite rare on the inside, but you do you.
I made a quick sauce of rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, and chili sauce. After the fish was done and set aside I added the asparagus and stir fried until I liked the look of it. Then I added the sauce. After a few tossings to thoroughly coat and flavor I added in a small slurry of corn starch (one tablespoon of corn starch mixed in two to three tablespoons of water) to thicken the sauce. Once the sauce had thickened enough to stick the vegetables it was time to plate, or perhaps bowl.
A couple scoops of rice, one or two servings of salmon and a generous portion of asparagus and sauce spooned over the top. It's a ridiculously good meal for just under 30 minutes worth of work. Give it a try and tell me what you think.