Saturday, March 20, 2010

Idiot-proof Cooking and Creative Writing (Dish #1: Beef with Broccoli)

They say creative writing is like learning to ride a bike. Even when you haven't done it in a while, the skill itself is never forgotten- it's as if some of the motor and balance centers of your brain became permanently hardwired, and the moment you get a feel of the grips and levers or the pedals beneath your feet again, it all comes rushing back.

I think the last time I picked up a pen to write an article was last December. The past three months truly had been the most hectic, and try as I might to read a novel or an essay leisurely it just wasn't possible with our schedule. From January 4 to March 10, the only free days we had was on January 31 and a single day in February (I know because I counted), the rest of those days we toiled with our readings and neverending exams and requirements.

Having answered a total of about 2,000 questions (pretests alone) and 1,250 questions for post-tests and major exams in total, we barely had time to rest and breathe- hardly any room for me do some soul-searching to get my blogging mojo back.

Today is March 20. I just returned to Tacloban after a 10 day hiatus from the crazy life of a graduating student nurse. As I tried to deperately fill in the free time we suddenly had (ironic, isn't it?) I tried everything from reading a novel- The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, to inspire me to write, to trying to cook, because my partner always rants about how I never had any interest in cooking. I decided it was best to do both, by blogging about the food I learn to prepare or cook. I call this "The Idiot's Guide to Cooking", me of course being the cuisine idiot.

There are two reasons why I never really learned to cook(or had any interest in cooking): first, I'm not really that particular with food- I mean I'm a guy who can live on Instant Pancit Canton dinners for a straight month, and second, growing up we always had household help to do that job. To this N. simply pointed out that I was neither wealthy nor jaded enough to be bored with the intricacies of braising, brewing, frying, and of course, sauté, sauté, sauté. So I reluctantly picked up a butcher's knife to begin my transformation from food moron to chef-from-hell (kidding).


This is the first dish I became familiar with (well, after frying random things from chicken to hotdogs). Very easy to prepare and it takes only a few minutes to cook. Since this was my first time to prepare, I made a lot of bloopers even before cooking- like improperly sharpening the knife, cutting the beef too slowly and too carefully for fear of accidentally amputating my fingers, cutting on the wrong side of the butcher block, and many more, which had my partner's vein on his forehead throb like it was going to explode. Peace, we are just cooking Hun.

1. Beef, cut into strips. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
2. Garlic, peeled and minced.
3. Onions, cut into rings.
4. Broccoli, cut into bite size pieces.
5. Cooking oil
6. Oyster sauce.


If the beef is fresh you may go ahead an cut them into strips, if frozen allow to thaw. Season with salt and pepper- use freshly ground because it tastes better and you can really smell the aroma. Prepare the broccoli and set aside. You may actually opt to either add the broccoli to the dish or make it a side dish by microwaving it with a little butter and seasoning.

Pour oil into the frying pan. Sauté the garlic (gosh how I love using that word haha I feel like a chef already), and add the beef strips. When the beef turns brown, you may add some oyster sauce and a little water. The amount of oyster sauce is according to taste. You add the onions last, or if you prefer you add the broccoli.

Serve with plain rice. If you are feeling particularly snotty, you may have a glass of red wine made from Bordeaux grapes. Oh laban? Hahaha

Stick around for more bloopers and recipes of doom. This is Chef Thadie G signing out.

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