City Love: Corner Store

So. Today was an Inside Day. The magic of President’s Day brought me no class whatsoever, and I indulged that precious luxury of accomplishing every single task that I could while still wearing my pajamas. (envy me, my pajamas are a red, flannel, and polka-dotted). Then, at the ripe hour of 4:30, I was thrust from my apartment by an unavoidable need for brownie ingredients. So I doffed the jammies, donned my fake-ugg boots and walked precisely 1.5 blocks to my favorite local grocery. This is no ordinary corner store: it’s a full-on market with an impressive selection of dried chiles and bizarre meats.

(There was one day when I was there with the Darling Husband and got distracted by proclaiming that I wanted to try everything in the store, and then reading him the names of the increasingly strange cuts of meats. To which he said, predictably, Ew. Gross.)

As I was walking in the cold drizzle, thinking about how I hate cold, drizzly February, I was interrupted from my internal grumbling by an intense love for the fact that the world of chiles and odd meats is only 1.5 blocks from my front door. I love the city for being a place where people are so jam packed together that we can’t help but share our various cultures, ideas and preferences all by sheer proximity. Maybe I’m not shopping for chicken feet or pork jowl, though my inner Antonio Bordain totally wants to try them, but someone is, and it’s pretty cool that I get to be their neighbor. I don’t have to travel to El Salvador to find out what a pupusa is (answer: deliciousness) or eat Bibimbap (more deliciousness), because people have brought these genius culinary ideas here.

It’s a pretty humbling thing to know that few places and the world get this kind of spectacular, overwhelming wealth of diversity, and to know that I seldom appreciate it, or appreciate the struggle of those who left their countries to come to mine. Another day, I’ll have to think deeper about how I can honor that journey, those sacrifices, but today I just have to say that the stir-fry in my stove’s future beckons, and that diverse cities make my little life richer. And that urban density meant I only had to walk 3 blocks today through the February outside. That, friends, is a blessing.

And with that, I leave you with my fake version of stir fry, my go-to meal. It’s pretty corner-store friendly, and very apartment living, grad-school-budget friendly. Almost no culinary skill required.

For a more legit version of stir fry, you’ll have to see Bethany.

Amy’s Easy Stir Fry
Rice
Frozen Veggies
Soy Sauce
Sugar
Can(s) of Beans
Oil

Note: There are no measurements. You can make one serving of this, with a little rice and a not too many frozen veggies, or enough for a week, with lots more of everything. I usually do a cup of uncooked rice, a bag of frozen veggies, and a can of black beans, and it makes about 3 servings.

Start water boiling for rice, and proceed to prepare the rice according to the package directions. About 5 min before it’s supposed to be done, move on to the veggies.

Grab the biggest skillet you can find and start heating it up (med-high heat). When it’s hot (hold your hand close to it to tell), pour a little (1 to 2 TBS) of oil into it, and heat until flicking water off your fingers into the oil makes a satisfying sizzling sound. This shouldn’t take long. Throw the frozen veggies right from the bag into the oil. Stir them around until they seem significantly less frozen (about 3-5 min). Drain the can of beans and dump them in. Stir. Pour in some soy sauce. I usually do a couple of slow turns around the pan. You want the veggies covered but not swimming. Dump in the Rice. Add sugar to taste, a spoonful at least, and let the whole thing hang out until it’s heated through, nothing is frozen, and nothing is burnt. Eat. Keeps beautifully for leftovers.

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