We’ve reached the halfway point of the Cottage Cooking Club’s exploration of River Cottage Veg and the group is taking this month to catch up on recipes they may have missed in previous months. As for me, I’m just glad my new copy of the book has arrived. Inexplicably, my first copy of the book disappeared during the great re-piping project in January and no amount of looking has turned it up. I suspect that I will find it, now that I’ve got another copy. At least I hope so, because I have a lot of notes in the margins of the original.
As a result, I missed last month and this month I’ve only got one recipe on deck – Winter Stir-fry with Chinese Five-spice. This is the sort of recipe I’d like to say that I make regularly, but really need a reminder to undertake. I used to make stir-fries all the time in my youth. Now I spend so much time exploring new recipes, that I forget about the kitchen skills I’ve carried for years. To be fair, in those days I also spent a lot of time on political marches, taking university courses, and dancing in clubs.
Things change, though perhaps we shouldn’t leave so much behind. There are political matters that are just as urgent today, life-long learners get more satisfaction from their lives, and those who dance into their twilight years seem happier than the rest of us. Stir-fries, too, shouldn’t become just the stuff of dinners out – they are the epitome of the healthy, well-seasoned home cooking that’s being encouraged by food advocates everywhere.
Seasoning is the key, along with paying attention to how much cooking each vegetable requires. Some of my youthful attempts at stir-fry were a little ham-fisted and needed a little more care than the lashings of soy sauce and lemon they suffered. It took time and practice to get the hang of it and I think that helped me to become a better cook overall.
This stir-fry is simple, relying on five-spice powder, soy sauce, and rice wine for flavour, with a finish of fresh lime juice. It’s also a good choice for that in-between season when spring gardens are only just being planted. Carrot, parsnip, and mushroom give substance to the dish, while shredded Brussels sprouts are nice alternative to the usual wilted greens.
I’d also like to say thank you to Andrea, our fearless and talented leader, who blogs at The Kitchen Lioness. She was kind enough to send participants an Easter gift and you can see some of the lovely ornaments she included, above. This group has been a wonderful way to connect with more talented and interesting bloggers. It’s also been a great way to explore my partner’s newly-vegan diet with him. We choose from each month’s offerings together and the group’s recipes have become staples in our everyday eating.
I’m looking forward to cooking through the rest of the book, barring any more disappearing cookbooks.
Here are the links to the rest of the group’s posts for this month. I encourage you to check them out – you’ll meet some wonderful bloggers and get some great inspiration for vegetarian eating.