I was at a meeting until about 5:30 today, trying to pull together the final details of a fundraiser I’m emceeing next Thursday night at the Hotel Arts. (An 8 course dinner, plus wine and oysters, prepared by some of Calgary’s best chefs, for the low low price of $150.) We’re trying to raise money for Nicole Pageau, an Edmonton woman in her 60s who when she saw the plight of the widows and orphans of the Rwandan genocide on TV and thought how awful, I wish there was something I could do, just picked up and moved to Rwanda. With $5000 in her bank account she moved from Alberta to Rwanda and when she got there, just sort of wandered around asking people if they knew where she could find the widows, and when she did, she built a village.
(That was me shamelessly trying to push tickets on anyone interested in joining me for dinner next Thursday night?)
At last years’ fundraiser she brought a few of the Rwandan volunteers with her, and one of them said something to me I won’t ever forget. He was telling me how so many people ask him why he does what he does – devote his life to the widows and orphans – and his answer is, “I’m only human.” He doesn’t understand why we North Americans use that phrase to justify our weaknesses, or wrongdoings, or to excuse bad behavior. He thinks the meaning of the phrase should be the opposite; that it should be considered “only human” to be good and honest and charitable. So he’s sticking with his explanation, hoping the new meaning will catch on.
So I got home at 5:42 without a plan, and it was dinnertime like right now. When I poked through the fridge I discover a jar of peanut sauce I had forgotten I made last week, so I put on a pot of spaghettini – thinner-than-usual spaghetti that I like to make because it cooks faster (because it’s thinner) and allows a greater sauce-to-pasta ratio (because it’s thinner).
The great thing about peanut noodles is that you can add anything to them. I had carrots, which I peeled and then kept on peeling off strips of – all the better to twirl around my fork with the noodles – and a chunk of yellow pepper, and some cilantro leftover from last night’s Indian Hamburger Helper. Peas would have been good, or asparagus, or broccoli (a handful of that bagged broccoli-slaw works great), green beans, sprouts, cucumber, mango… and any sort of leftover meat; roast chicken, pork, or tofu, or even frozen shrimp, dumped straight from the freezer bag into the boiling water with the noodles to either quickly cook or thaw. (Same thing with the peas; just dump them in the water with the noodles for the last couple minutes of cooking time.) I pulled out a bit of frozen shredded roast chicken and did the same – tossed it in the water with the noodles to thaw as they finished cooking. Then drained it all, put some in a little bowl with tomato sauce for W, then ran the rest under cool water and tossed it with the peanut sauce and veggies I had torn and chopped. Dinner was ready by 5:58.
Peanut sauce is a wonderful thing. Double the recipe (leftovers keep well) if you want extra to pour over cold noodles or dip satays, lettuce wraps, rice paper rolls, grilled chicken or shrimp. Use more or less broth to make the sauce as thick or thin as you like. If you like coconut flavor in your peanut sauce but not the saturated fat it contains, add a teaspoon of coconut extract.
2-4 Tbsp. chicken or veggie broth or coconut milk
4 Tbsp. peanut butter (preferrably the just peanuts kind, but any will work
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar or honey
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar or lime juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. sesame oil (optional)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. curry paste (optional)
Combine all the ingredients in a blender or jar and whiz or shake until smooth. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it. Makes about a cup.
Per tablespoon: 26 calories, 1 g total fat (0.2 g saturated fat, 0.5 g monounsaturated fat, 0.4 g polyunsaturated fat), 0.7 g protein, 3.9 g carbohydrate, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber. 35% calories from fat
On the downside, W was far too quiet as we were eating our noodles. He came downstairs with a funny rash all over him – a pinky red rash that was greasy and smudged easily.
I asked him if he drew all over himself with lipstick. He nodded, this over-exaggerated nod he does, and added, “and wall!”