May 5, 2008
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. The show was out in Maine and I felt a bit of envy this time around. There are a lot of places I'd like to visit in my one short life, and Maine is right up there near the top of the list. Everything about it seems rugged and lovely, and I'll get there one of these days, but until then I'll have to contend with little bouts of envy when someone I know visits Maine.
I don't harbor ill feelings about it, though. There's really no point. My turn will come around one of these days, and my biggest problem will be having to choose where to go. Maine? Banff, Canada? Ireland? Who knows. But lamentation in the meantime is a waste of energy, and there's too much of it in the world, anyway. I'd rather focus my energy on something else, something we need more of. Like tenderness. And I'm not alone. Elvis was all for tenderness, and Mr. Keillor himself sang about it during Saturday's show, how he'll take a little tenderness over a long list of things. Which got me thinking.
It's underrated, tenderness is, and it's pushed to the side and forgotten. Mainly because it requires a few things we're either hesitant to give or just plain incapable of mustering up. To be tender, you need to pay attention, you ought to have patience, and you really must be diligent because tenderness isn't always well-received. (It's a quiet thing, and sometimes people don't recognize it so you have to give it another go.) The thing is, being treated with tenderness makes a person feel less lonely, AND it makes you feel like you've got something worth some attention. And sometimes it can calm a person. Which is why children are good candidates. You can simply read them a story, or wash their hair for them, or give a little backrub and they get this look on their faces and sometimes they hum or sigh. Same with the love of your life. I recall a rainy day in the not-too-distant past when I wasn't feeling too well and lay down for a while and Mr. Sundberg covered me with blankets straight out of the dryer and then gave me the longest foot massage ever. I haven't been that relaxed in years. I thought I might die from joy. And remember, strangers can use a bit of tenderness, too. There's always that element of surprise when someone you don't know gives you a bit of positive energy.
If I were Teacher of the World, this week's assignment would be just that: find someone who could use it and share a little tenderness, whomever and however it may be. You just never know.
This is a wonderful recipe for a rainy day, particularly a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Don't let its length scare you off. It's fairly simple, and once you make it, you'll have it in your head so next time around will be a breeze. Plus, it's absolutely delightful and easily doubled for a small dinner party.
Sweet and Sour Pork
1 lb pork loin, trimmed and cut into 1" x 1/2 1/4 cup cornstarch
1 bell pepper, green or red or 1/2 of each is nice, cut into 1" squares
1 20 oz can of chunk pineapple (save juice for sauce)
1 medium carrot, julienned to 1/4 " thickness
4 oz fresh mushrooms, halved
1 medium onion, quartered and separated
2 T soy sauce
1 egg white
1 clove garlic, minced
Sweet and Sour Sauce:
1 1/2 T cornstarch
1/2 cup cider vinegar3/4 cup pineapple juice
3 T catsup
1 T soy sauce3/4 cup brown sugar
Prepare marinade and mix with cut up pork in Ziploc bag. Marinade in fridge for an hour or overnight. Mix occasionally by kneading Combine all ingredients for sauce in 1 qt saucepan. Bring to gentle boil, stirring constantly, then simmer until thickened and clear. Keep warm.
Dredge pork chunks in bowl with about a cup of cornstarch in it. Deep fry in hot oil (375 degrees or so) until done through, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Deep frying may be done in a wok or in a separate deep fryer.
Heat wok (or large skillet) and add 2 T oil. Stir fry onion, carrot and pepper for a minute, then add mushroom and stir fry 1-2 minutes.
Add drained pineapple chunks and sweet and sour sauce. Heat through, stirring occasionally.
Add meat, stir, and cook over low heat until warm. Serve over steamed or fried rice. Serves 4.