The five or so local grocery stores all know me on a first name basis. I go to the market six days out of the week, sometimes twice a day if I forget something. I didn’t think much about it until I ran into a former student at the nearest Vons.
It’s amusing to see students, even former ones, outside of the classroom because they usually get nervous as hell and ask me some of the most outlandish questions to fill the uncomfortable air. I think the idea that a teacher has a life outside of school trips them out, and many of them are just beginning to acquire the social skills necessary to navigate out of the teenage universe, which can be daunting. I will tell them in class, “I don’t just fold up and go in the closet when you leave. I actually live. I wear shorts. I even have feelings.” The fact that I have a child, I know, makes them realize at some point that I had to have sex at least once, which probably just turns into an imaginative wonderland for them as they listen to me prattle on about how memorizing the beginning lines of Chaucer’s Prologue to the Canterbury Tales is a rite of passage for any English-speaking human. Or perhaps I adopted, so then I never had to “do it,” which would make things easier for them, I’m sure.
Anyhow, the student at Vons had graduated the previous year. She asked me, “Are you still at Pioneer?” This is my favorite student question, and I get it often from graduates because they have no concept of a “career” yet; they think that I might just decide to quit teaching and move on whimsically to start working on the Christmas tree lot seasonally or fill in the void at the mall’s coffee shop to make ends meet. This naivety is among the reasons why they’re endearing to me and why I love teaching them.
She then proceeded to tell me that her friend works at the store and that she said that I come in there every day, and that it’s kind of weird. I attested that I do, indeed, shop often because I need certain ingredients for what I’m making, of course. What I didn’t tell her is that going to the store for alcoholic beverages accounts for much of my ubiquitousness on those premises.
After this meeting, I have gotten a bit self-conscious about my shopping frequency, but not enough to change my ways totally. Still, I will now try to “make do” with what I have in the kitchen, MacGyver-like, and see what happens once in a while. Such is the case with this Ginger Chicken with Mushrooms.
When I opened the fridge, I had mushrooms and ennui-inspiring boneless chicken breasts. I did some googling, found this recipe (http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,honey_ginger_chicken,FF.html), tweaked it a bit, and embarked on my mission. It’s quick to make, easy, and awesome. Serve it over rice and some stir fry veggies and you’ll be whistlin’ Dixie.
Ginger Chicken with Mushrooms
1 bunch of green onions, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
1 large chunk o’ ginger, peeled and finely minced
2 tbsp. oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
Heat the oil in a skillet (if you have a wok, have at it) over medium high heat. Add the chicken cubes and saute them until they are browned all over, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and set aside.
Add the onion and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes (if you need to add a bit more oil after removing the chicken, then do so). Raise the heat, add the garlic and mushrooms, and saute for 2 minutes. Return the chicken to the skillet.
In small bowl, combine the soy sauce and the honey. Pour this over the chicken mixture. Add the ginger and mix it all well. Saute this for about 5 minutes longer, or until the chicken is cooked through. Add the green onions and serve.
This dish is so simple to make and quite fulfilling. The ingredients are easy to find too. If you have trouble with anything, I’ll meet you at the market to help you.
Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.
©Jon Marino 2013