Nope we did not buy a new piece of furniture or electronic gadget. Instead we had dinner. It was really good, by the way, and we enjoyed it immensely. Some assembly was required, but really it was the preparations that were the real adventure!!
Hubby decided to make lettuce wraps for us. He likes Asian cooking and has experimented in the past with Pad Thai (which he can never get how he wants it), Asian dumplings (which were actually better the second day, in my opinion), and we often do stir fry or egg drop soup or other simpler things. Recently he decided he wanted to try Lettuce Wraps. I even found the recipe online for the Lettuce Wraps at P.F. Chang's, but he decided to use a recipe from one of our Asian cookbooks.
So, he got home from work and started preparing everything. Chopping up the veggies and meat, making the sauce, etc. I thought he had everything under control and I had other things to do tonight, so I wasn't paying a lot of attention at first. Then I noticed that everything had kind of stopped. Well, there were three major things that had to happen to pull this off and two of them required the cook's undivided attention, in other words you couldn't work on both at the same time.
Okay, no problem. I started helping with the lettuce, which wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. Ever try to pull apart a head of iceberg lettuce without breaking the leaves? It's not easy, and it gets harder as you proceed.
As I was working on pulling lettuce leaves apart and getting them washed, hubby had decided to work on getting the bean threads fried before cooking up the filling. Bean threads create quite a mess!! I didn't even realize what they were at first. We had this tightly knit pile of very tough, wire-like "threads" in a ball that had to be pulled apart. So little bits of them were flying everywhere as we tried to do that. Even using scissors didn't help the mess. I'm sure we'll be finding little bits of those things for a while!!
Once the oil was nice and hot hubby started putting small batches of this wire-like stuff in the oil. As soon as they touched the oil they puffed up into those stringy, styrofoam-looking things that you see served at Asian restaurants! It was so cool!! They literally didn't have to be in there for more than a few seconds. It happened so fast. I was enjoying watching it.
But of course they still created a mess. Hot oil jumping out of the pan, in addition to all the little bits of un-cooked bean thread getting all over the counter and floor. Yep, we'll be finding those things for days.
Obviously we couldn't work on the bean threads and stir fry the filling at the same time. So once the bean threads were done and on a plate, we turned our attention to cooking the last part. Hubby goes outside and finds that it has started raining.
Why outside?? I guess I should explain that.
I gave hubby a nice wok for his birthday one year, I think the first year we were married. It's the only birthday gift I've ever given him that has gotten this much use!! A worthy purchase indeed! Anyway, whenever he uses it, he does so on a small burner he has from when he fried a turkey years ago (before I knew him, thank goodness!). He hooks up the burner to the gas tank on the grill and then does his stir frying on that. When it rains, there is a problem. Unlike the grill, there is no cover and rain water getting into the wok actually makes it difficult to stir fry. You need the wok really hot and everything happens pretty quickly, so rain slows down the process and then it just doesn't work.
So, back to the story ... Hubby discovers it is raining just as he needs to cook the filling for our lettuce wraps. I suggest he move the gas tank, burner, and wok to the covered front porch (which he has done before) but he decides he's going to try staying where he is. So then I suggest an umbrella. I really need to stop with the suggestions!! I found myself standing in the backdoor holding an umbrella over the wok while he cooked. Smoke from the oil is filling up our living room, my arms are getting tired, and the heat of the burner is really hot when you're standing right over it. Just as we started, the rain seemed to subside, then it picked up again. Then just as we were finishing up it started up again REALLY hard!!
I have no doubt that we looked a bit strange with me holding an umbrella over the burner and hubby as he knelt on the ground trying to stir fry our dinner in his wok while it rained around us. Thank goodness we have a privacy fence!!
Once we were done, dinner was on the table and we sat down to eat, the rain stopped and the sun came out!! Isn't that always the way?
A little assembly was required as we ate, but nothing like the assembly of putting the meal itself together. Made for an interesting evening!!