Monday, June 6, 2016

Orange Chicken Recipe

I love cooking, and my family loves to eat. We have a few of our favorite meals, one of them is the Chinese orange chicken. Orange chicken consists of chopped, battered and fried chicken pieces coated in a sweet orange-flavored chili sauce, which thickens or caramelize to a glaze. From what I learned, this dish is very popular in the United States rather than in mainland China.

I've cooked orange chicken a lot, not from scratch but from a store bought in frozen section of Trader Joe's. I have tried a couple of different kind from different grocery stores, but the Mandarin Orange Chicken from Trader Joe's is by far the best one, until today.

Today I decided to cook my family's favorite dish from scratch. I have all the ingredients, I was so excited to give it a go. I found two recipes that I like and I combined each recipes to my liking.

Orange Chicken Recipe

For the chicken:

~ 5-6 pieces chicken thighs (you can also use chicken breast) cut into bite sized pieces
~ 1 egg
~ 2 Tablespoon cornstarch
~ 1/4 cup flour
~ 1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
~  1/4 cold water
~ Salt and pepper to taste
~ Canola or vegetable oil for frying

For orange sauce:

~ 1/2 cup orange juice (I used juice from fresh orange)
~ 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
~ 6 Teaspoon brown sugar
~ 1/2 cup chicken broth or water ( I used chicken broth)
~ 1/2 Teaspoon crushed rep pepper, more if you like it spicy
~ 2 Teaspoon minced ginger
~ 2 Teaspoon corn starch
~ 2 Teaspoon apple cider vinegar while vinegar or red wine vinegar 
~ Zest of 1 orange (optional)

To add to the sauce:

~ 3 clove of garlic, minced
~ 1 Tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

How to cook it:

1. In a medium bowl, mix all the orange sauce ingredients. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk egg, add flour, corn starch, salt, water and mix together until batter is smooth. Add chicken pieces to bowl, mix well and set aside.

3. Heat up a frying pan or a wok with deep-frying oil. Carefully drop in the battered chicken pieces, one by one, make sure it spreads out to prevent sticking and over crowding the pan. Deep fry until color changes to golden brown and flip over chicken pieces if need to for even browning. Dish out and rain on paper towels.

4. Heat up another frying pan or wok and add 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil. Still fry minced garlic until fragrant. Carefully pour in the orange sauce inter, still and bring to light simmer. You may adjust additional seasoning to taste. Add water if the sauce is to thick or add corn starch if the sauce is too light.

5. Toss in the deep-fried chicken, stir well until all sauce is absorb and lightly thickened up. Transfer to a serving plate or bowl. Add chopped green onions or scallions. Serve with hot steamed rice.

Why I Love School Break

It was around the same time four years ago, approaching the end of school year. I was in the elevator going to see my doctor for a regular check ups, I overheard the elevator chat between two mothers in their gym outfit.

"I can't believe it's the last week of school. I'm going crazy. What am I going to do with the kids?"

The other women responded, "I know, right? I want to enroll them into Summer Camp but they are too expensive. I can't be with them 24/7 all summer".

I glanced at them, I thought they must have been stay at home moms. I was judging them, literary (I can't hep it). Who else would be in their gym outfit at 11 AM on a week day? Oh I envy you 'Lululemon' moms.

How could I not? I had been wanting to spend Summer with my kids since my son was 2 years old, but I was not able to. In my last job that I had for almost 10 years, Summer all through the end of December each year is the no personal time off. In the industry that I worked for, summer through the end of the year is our busiest time of the year.

Imagine how I felt when I heard those women complaining about spending time with their kids on summer. I was dying to do that with my children, but I couldn't. I had to work. The weekends were the only time I had to enjoy the short two days vacations. We all know there is no national holiday from June through August.

I exited the elevator before those Lululemon moms, feeling envious, sad and depressed (poor me).

Summer of 2015 was my first time ever to spend the whole school break with my kids and I loved every minute of it. This year would be the second time and I am also looking forward to it. I am excited, I think I am more excited than my kids are.

My children are not angels, sometimes they can be a pain too. Sometimes I want a break from them, but 90% of the time I enjoy spending time with them. I really do. I don't know why but I do.

I've been looking forward to summer because summer means school break, school break means no school or anything related to school for about 2.5 months, therefore summer means:

1. No homework and no nagging and dragging about homework
2. No school projects
3. No school tests or quizzes
4. No waking up early in the morning
5. No spelling lists
6. No book reports
7. No rushing, no yelling " turn off the TV, brush your teeth, change your clothes"
8. No chaos about who needs to use the bathroom first
9. No stress about what to pack for school lunch boxes
10. No picking up the kids at school in the middle of my big sewing or writing project
11. No fund raising
12. No telling the kids "okay, it's time for bed" because on summer they can stay up late
13. No saying "It's school night, we can't go out" because each day and night are weekends on summer
 14. No resentment of seeing other parents park in front of someone's driveway or park in the school parking spots that are supposed to be for teachers and staffs only while waiting for the school gate to open during school pick ups
15. No homework. Wait, did I mention homework?

Seriously, all the above are good for my mental health, regardless my employment status. I have a list ready of things I am planning to do with my children this summer break. I will share them in a different update.

Now as I am writing this, I am thinking of those moms who don't like summer break or even those who make jokes about how their kids will drag them during school break. I am trying to reason with them, but I failed. And if you are a stay at home moms, be careful with what you said in front of other moms about how spending summer with your children will drive you crazy, because chances are, there might be a mom who felt just like me, four years ago.