Orange Chicken

“Chinese food tries to engage the mind, not just the palate. To provoke the intellect.” ~ Nicole Mones

Oh my gosh! Would you look at THAT!! I remembered to take a picture before we ate it all – (insert proud sigh of satisfaction *here*)

If you haven’t figured it out by now, and you’ve read my previous blog posts . . .I LOVE to cook. I like trying new recipes, making old favorites, sharing food with friends and playing in the kitchen. Heck! The kitchen floor and steps is where we re-pot our plants. My oils are stored in the kitchen. The kitchen is the heartbeat of our home.

But I digress.

With Sam being at his dad’s for a few weeks, Jojo and I have more lee-way with meals and happenings because we aren’t hung up on tastes and textures. I like Chinese food, Jo really LIKES Chinese food. She frequently has a hankering for Orange Chicken, so I made some.

It was easy, tasty and I had everything on hand except the noodles – a quick trip to Walmart solved that problem. I made an exception and did the preparation a little differently to see how it all worked out but I will note those changes after the recipe.

Orange Chicken

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

2 boneless chicken breasts, thawed and cut into bite size chunks

1/3 c. flour

1/3 c. cornstarch

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 c. orange juice

1 T. white vinegar, rice vinegar would be better but white will work

1 T. soy sauce

1/4 c. sugar

1/8 t. Ginger

1/8 t. garlic powder

1/4 t. red pepper flakes

1 1/2 t. cornstarch

zest from one orange

sesame seeds (garnish)

green onions (garnish)

coconut oil for frying

1 package rice noodles

Directions

Put the coconut oil in a 10-12 inch skillet and heat. While the oil is heating, place the chicken chunks in the beaten eggs and let sit. Combine the 1/3 cups of cornstarch and flour and blend. Dredge the chicken thru the flour mixture and place into the hot oil in the pan. Cook on medium heat until golden brown on both sides. While chicken is cooking, in a small saucepan, combine orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Stir on low-medium heat until sugar is dissolved. In a small bowl, combine remaining cornstarch with 1 T. water and stir until it makes a paste. When sugar in the orange glaze is dissolved, stir in cornstarch paste. Turn temperature to low to allow it to thicken. Meanwhile, remove cooked chicken to plate lined with paper towels to drain oil. Place rice noodles in hot pan used to cook chicken and cook on low breaking up noodles with spatula, you may need to add a bit more oil. When noodles have cooked (about 2 minutes) add drained chicken, and orange sauce to pan, stirring on low to blend flavors. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, orange zest and green onion.

Doesn’t sound too difficult . . . right? And it wasn’t. The changes I made are outlined below:

  1. I used coconut flour rather than white all-purpose flour because I had it and I wanted to use it. I actually debated between coconut flour and almond flour, but I went with the coconut flour for absolutely no special reason.
  2. Rather than dredging the chicken through the flour/cornstarch mixture, I combined the dry ingredients in a ziploc bag (a ‘la the old ‘Shake-n-Bake’ method). I zipped the bag and shook it to combine the ingredients, then opened it, plopped the chicken from the egg mixture into the bag, zipped it and shook it like no one was watching. (Because, in reality . . . . no one was watching! I was completely alone in the kitchen,)
  3. I used coconut oil to fry the chicken and the noodles, but you could use vegetable oil or olive oil.
  4. Ginger — I was completely out of ground ginger. (I think I took it to Missouri and forgot it there.) I used ginger oil 2-3 drops instead, and now typing this I just realized I have fresh ginger root in the fridge. *sigh*
  5. I noted in the recipe that I used white vinegar. Rice vinegar would give this a more authentic flavor, but the white vinegar worked fine.
  6. I was too hungry and too tired to garnish anything, hence the lack of sesame seeds or green onions in the photo above.

**A note on using oils in place of spices —

Because oils are concentrate of the product, you would never use the same amount of oil to replace a dried version of a spice. I regularly use oils in my cooking: Ginger, Clove, Lemon, Lime, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, and Peppermint.

Young Living has oils designated as safe for dietary consumption marked by the white “Vitality” label. If you would like more information about ordering oils or becoming a Young Living subscriber, you can click here to get to my personal website.

I hope you dance . . .

“You don’t feel bad when you’re dancing. You can’t feel unhappy; it’s impossible. It’s such a natural way to release endorphins.” ~ Caroline Flack

Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

When I was growing up, dancing was frowned upon. We could watch the Lawrence Welk show where Bobby and Cissy performed. My sister and I would imitate them, but even that was merely tolerated. Music was okay; singing acceptable. But not dancing. School dances? Out of the question. Prom? Nope.

I still can’t dance. I’d love to do ballroom dancing but I’ve heard you have to know the difference between left and right which rules me out. I’ve seen the advertisements for the country dancing classes called “Show Her Off” but without a partner to practice the steps, it would be pointless. As anti-social as I am, I can’t even begin to think of anyone I’d want to practice with. I’ll remain content to watch.

But when it comes to dancing in the kitchen and singing while I cook . . . I’m all in. I mean ALL IN! As long as no one else is around.

I’ll dance in the rain in my nightgown late at night or on the front porch – because . . . guess what? No one else is around!!! Especially during a full moon, when the light is bright on the grass, it’s a feeling as old as time.

It’s my opinion (for what it’s worth) that dancing and allowing children to dance helps with their proprioception – where their body is in relation to things around them. It helps with balance and confidence. It strengthens the core muscles and contributes to good posture. It helps develop a rhythm and opens them up to the world of music and timing.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

I hope you dance this week. Just for a moment or two.

Close your eyes. Feel the music. Let the cares of the world fade away.

And I Smile

“If you’re reading this… Congratulations, you’re alive. If that’s not something to smile about, then I don’t know what is.” ~ Chad Sugg

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Clothespins? yeah . . . clothespins. they make me smile

My home – makes me smile. Driving past it, pulling into the driveway. Walking into it. Spending time there. It’s my Oasis of Serenity, my peaceful place.

Something as simple as doing laundry and hanging it outside with those clothespins make me smile.

Now matter what shitty things happen to me, or what is said or done, I can come home and leave it on the doorstep. Heck let’s leave it on the street, don’t even let it in the driveway.

Watching my kids grow and mature and question – that really makes me smile. I do and have done what I can to raise them right, but they are free spirits with their own ideas. Hearing them question events, watching them struggle with ideas as they grow into the wonderful people they will be – fills my heart right up to the brim!

Oils – help set the stage for relaxation. A little frankincense with coconut oil rubbed into my skin smells wonderful and keeps it soft. A bit of peppermint, lemon and lavender in the diffuser helps calm and restore a sense of peace before bedtime.

Choosing color schemes and adding my personal touches to the house – takes time but in the end it will be worth it. Every room a pleasure in which to spend time. It must appeal to all the senses. Life is an ongoing sensual experience – if you’re not using them and appreciating them, you’re missing out!

Food – really makes me smile. I like to cook it and eat it! Flavors also make me smile. Combinations of taste that hit the tongue and spark a smile and usually a “Mmmmmmm . . .” or as Dave would say “a food-gasm” are the best. I like to call them flavor explosions.

Water – maybe it’s the sign of Cancer or the fact that we are made up of 78-80% water. Sinking into a warm bath as the water slides over my skin or relaxing as the spray of the shower hits my back. When I’m lucky enough to be at the other home – the massage of the hot tub jets against my muscles. Even placing my hands in warm dishwater is an experience that pulls the corners of my mouth up into a smile.

What sights or sounds, flavors or tastes, make you smile?

Thru the Garden Gate

“Image your mind like a garden and your thoughts are the seeds. You get to choose what seeds you plant in it. You can plant seeds of positivity, love and abundance. Or you can plant seeds of negativity, fear and lack. You can also spend time trying to take care of everyone else’s garden, or you can work on making yours beautiful and attract other beautiful people to your garden. ~~ Jake Woodard

We try to cultivate a feeling of peace and relaxation at home – both homes. This past week has brought frustrations and exasperation at the stupidity and ignorance of people with whom I (and now we) are forced to deal.

It couldn’t be as easy as dropping off one kid for a lengthy visitation and a shorter visitation for the other kiddo. Not even. It turned into a clusterf*ck with whining (never attractive in adults), accusations and then threats. Perhaps the aforementioned behavior is why the other visitation was shorter by that child’s choice. This is not new behavior, it is a perpetual problem that will never change. It’s an attempt to manipulate and control, and when that doesn’t work, it becomes anger spilling over and erasing any semblance of common sense. It’s an adult throwing a temper tantrum worthy of a 2 year old.

The problem is that while the one spouting and sputtering and threatening does so out of anger, he then moves on and moves forward. If he’d take a moment to look back at the effects his actions have caused, he’d see a wide swath of destruction spanning several years.

My life, and the lives of our immediate family is a garden that I am carefully cultivating to radiate peace, harmony, happiness, contentment and wonder. I have worked ardently to weed out contention, drama, upheaval, and fear. This weekend, I was angry over the drama and possible upheaval the unfounded accusations could have. To be honest, I did not like the turn my thoughts were taking, so rather than let them run out of control, I took them back under mine.

I got up the morning after I got home and had slept — I put a combination of my favorite oils in the diffuser. I had a nice warm shower with a good scrubbing of the loofah. I got dressed in an outfit that was cute and a little sexy. I called and made an appointment with a counselor to discuss what had happened.

And just like that . . . SNAP . . . I weeded the garden of my mind and my home and threw out the stinkweed that tried to creep in. It’s up to me to cultivate what characteristics I want in my life and in myself. None others need apply.

Take your stinkweed and go, and don’t let the garden gate hit ya where the Good Lord split ya!

What Will People Think

“Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make.” ~ Unknown

Photo by Lara Santos on Pexels.com

When I was growing up, before I did anything that my mother considered risky, I was warned, “What will people think?” Not that she mattered much what people thought about me. She generally worried about what people at church, or my teachers, or the neighbors, or anyone would think about something I might do and how it would reflect on her as a parent . . . not necessarily on me as a person.

I was reading another blog the other day. (Something I do on a regular basis.) The writer mentioned that she was wanting to lay outside topless and sunbathe while reading to soak up some rays after having been cooped up inside for the winter and spring months. She was at home on her own property in the country, with no nearby neighbors, but she hesitated because of the “what if’s.” What if the postman came with a special delivery? Or the Amazon Prime driver stopped by? Her decision was made after she went through the scenarios of the worst possible consequences. The worst being that the postman or Prime driver would see her bare breasts. The following question to herself was whether that was something she could live with comfortably. Being an adult . . . on her own remote property . . .and comfortable with her body . . . recognizing that every one has breasts . . . and not expecting any deliveries . . . she went outside with her book and did enjoy the sun and its heat on her body. Sans top.

It was a short read, but it got me thinking about some of the other things she wrote. Do her actions affect anyone else? Do they hurt anyone else? If not, then live life and don’t worry about it.

As we drove to the Missouri home, I had time to contemplate. In some aspects I have forged my own path, but in many others I have done what was expected of me by others because if I didn’t well . . . what would they think?!?!?!?!

Today my daughter posted the following meme:

And again, I contemplated about the many things I’ve done over the past 32 years so as not to disappoint people. It’s very free-ing to realize that I don’t have to be that person anymore. It’s okay to go against the grain, and do my thing that is me. The things that make me comfortable and confident and fill me with joy and happiness are the things that I should be doing whether anyone understands them or approves.

Stop Spinning

“If there’s not enough of you to go around it’s because your ass is carrying stuff that’s not yours to carry. Delegate, let go, walk away. Make room for the things your soul was built to handle. ~ Brooke Hampton

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

Life is too short and there are too many adventures to be had without worrying about what others do, or say, or think.

Social and political issues abound – I can only continue to be the person I am. Arguing and explaining and posting isn’t going to change another person’s mind. It simply adds to the stress.

People have personal issues – I can only continue to be the person I am. Explaining isn’t going to change another person’s mind. I am not going to stop talking about my friends or co-workers or avoid spending time with them to prevent someone else from thinking the worst. I played that game for too long.

I have personal issues – I have doubts and misgivings and odd thoughts that run thru my mind. The key point is that I don’t act on them – I can only continue to be the person I am. I don’t track people to see where they are or how long they’ve been there, I don’t ask questions. If someone wants me to know where they’ve been or what they’ve been doing, they’ll tell me. It’s not my job to investigate and quite frankly, I’m too busy to give a flying fuck what someone else has been doing when they aren’t with me.

(The above paragraph does not apply to my children under the age of 18 — 19 in Alabama.)

Opinions are truly like assholes — every one has one – I have my own. Unless I know it’s open for discussion, 92% of the time I don’t air mine. My opinion is irrelevant for the most part. If you want to know my opinion, it will come up in discussion when we speak because you ask, or you’ll check out my blog or my IG. If you don’t like my opinion, move along, don’t ask or don’t follow my blog.

Some days I need a break – I just need quiet, I don’t want to talk or engage with others. If I don’t answer a call or text – it means nothing. I am done being a slave to my phone (unless it’s my job)(or my kids — my kids get precedence). “Some days” may extend to several days or a week.

I need to stay grounded – I can only continue to be the person I am. My kids need a happy, relaxed mom. I need to be happy and relaxed and it’s on me to maintain that by doing what I need to do to relax, whether it’s time away, self care, limiting social media, limiting outside contact or hiding out in my room.

@barefootfive posts so many sentiments that resonate with me on a deep, visceral level. Click the link to check out her IG account.

Trust

“Know yourself, love yourself, trust yourself, learn to spend time in your own company and listen to your innermost self.” ~ Etta Sawyer

Photo by Louis on Pexels.com

It’s vitally important to know who you are:

  • your beliefs
  • your morals
  • your ideas
  • your integrity
  • your goals
  • your dreams

and it’s important to know WHY you hold those as yours.

I used to think that if I could just explain myself, my viewpoint, my perspective, whatever you want to call it . . . that I could reach a point of mutual understanding. There were times in relationships where I was “required” to explain myself as to “why” I did what I did. Many of those times weren’t because I had done anything wrong, it was because the other person had a narrative in their head that I was doing something hinky or hiding something. I’ve been accused of cheating, lying, spying, faking, and “having an answer for everything.” Well yeah . . . if you do something you should know why you’re doing it so then it would follow when asked that you would be able to provide a reason which could be construed as “having an answer for everything.” I wasn’t aware that knowing the reasoning behind your actions was a bad thing, but apparently for some, it is.

And perfectly round, Tupperware pressed hamburgers are grounds for divorce as well. Whodathunk it?

I don’t mind explaining something I’m doing in the present for those who are interested in my thought process or in hearing how I reached a conclusion. I will listen to contrary thoughts or evidence. I’m willing to discuss and even debate to a point.

I DO mind explaining events from my past that have no bearing on the present or my future. If I offer them up in trust, that’s one thing, but to have someone question me about events that transpired prior to my knowing them just rankles with me. I was engaged at the age of 17, married by 19 and now at the age of 52, that gives me 35 years of relationships, friendships, and partnerships – both personal and professional.

I have lived a very full, and at times chaotic life. I make no secrets about it. What you see is what you get. This past year, after moving away from toxic relationships in which I had to explain every little thing I did, I trust myself enough to know that I owe no one an explanation for my life.

Divisiveness

“The world is getting too small for both an Us and a Them. Us and Them have become codependent, intertwined, fixed to one another. We have no separate fates, but are bound together in one. And our fear of one another is the only thing capable of our undoing.” ~ Sam Killerman

Emphasis mine
Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

Several weeks ago, long before the murder of George Floyd, I wrote a blog post titled, “How Do You See People?” . . .

I spoke about looking beyond behavior, appearance, and race. I talked about facing fear based on differences. I touched on assumptions based on all of these things. I specifically talked about seeing others as “persons” not as a group, but as individuals.

George Floyd is not a martyr. He was an African-American man killed in a despicable manner by those sworn to serve and protect. He also had a criminal history. He is not the first . . . and the riots that have ensued have little to nothing to do with his death.

The protests, yes. The riots, no.

The protests, calmly supported by many races and ethnicities, around the world even, including police officers . . . these are a testament to the change that needs to occur.

Unfortunately, there are those who like to stir up divisiveness. They infiltrate the crowds of peaceful protests and stir the pot. Rioters take action that is condemned by the protestors, by the family of Mr. Floyd and others killed unjustly. Their actions are logistically designed and calculated to create fear while causing the uninformed, already fearful of protests, to place the blame for the riots, looting and destruction of property at the feet of the protestors.

It’s a vicious circle:

  • Protestors gather peacefully
  • Rioters infiltrate and start rioting
  • Police, on standby for safety reasons, wearing tactical gear for protection (not against protestors, but against rioters) are forced to act against crowds containing not only rioters but also innocent protestors.
  • The police, then, appear to be acting aggressively against the protestors.
  • Anger is increased against the police and the rioters wander off leaving a swath of destruction in their wake.

I support the protests. I long for an end to racism and discrimination. But as long as we live and breathe, there will always be groups of people, somewhere, that believe they are better. Whether it be based on religion, or ethnic persuasion, or political bent, or eye color . . . whatever platform they select.

Cain vs Abel. Egyptians vs. Isralites. The Spanish Inquisition. Colonials vs. Redcoats. Confederate vs. Union. Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Crips vs. Bloods. Democrats vs. Republicans. Doctors vs. Nurses. Nurses vs. Paramedics. Socialists vs. Capitalists.

It has gone on since the beginning of time. We can bring awareness to the injustice and we can work together to bridge the gaps. But, unfortunately, we will never end it.