Real Cooking

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CHERYL JOST
t’ssss aliiivvvve!”


My daughter drew out the words just like Dr. Frankenstein did upon the discovery that his monster was stirring with life. At least, that’s how he said it in the movie that was made before I was even born.


I walked to the corner of the patio where she was standing and there, in a black plastic pot faded by the sun, was a lily plant that had somehow survived through a year’s worth of neglect. Funny thing was, it was not only still alive, it was flourishing.


Last spring-like every spring-I went to the Garden Center and purchased flowers and plants with the good intention of making my patio and deck, my borders and my gardens burst with lush vegetation. And last spring-like every spring-I bustled around for a few days, potting plants, hanging baskets and tending to a small flowerbed.


But then last spring-like every spring-I got tired of being on my knees in the dirt and other projects just started looking more appealing. Other duties needed my attention. Then it got hot outside and gardening lost its charm altogether.


And the lily never got planted.


Once in awhile, when I was out on the patio to use the grill, I would give it a drink all the while feeling guilty that I had neglected it so.


“Why are you being so lazy?” I would scold myself. “It would only take a few minutes and a minimal amount of effort to get this poor plant into its proper place in the world.”


But then I would reason that it would take too long to find the shovel-“After all, it’s probably in the back of the pickup or at the farm.”


Or that the ground was too hard-“Keith could dig that hole in a fraction of the time it would take me.”


By the end of summer, its leaves were brown and shriveled. Probably dead, I thought. I should just throw that pot out on the compost heap or toss it on to the back of the pickup the next time Keith hauls stuff to the trash.


But then I would forget, or not go to that side of the house, and the black plastic pot remained tucked into the corner of the patio. Out of sight, out of mind.


And the lily waited…and waited…and waited.


But for now the lily is green and luxuriant once again. I guess it never gave up hope-if plants can hope-that someday I would notice it was still around and as of yet, still unplanted.


Tenacity…thy name is lily. I can’t believe this little plant survived not only neglect from my hands but also drought, heat, snow and ice-riding out each storm in its little black plastic pot. Amazing.


What is this sudden materialization of new life? Mother Nature at work? The resurgence of spring? Renewal? Reawakening? Resurrection?


Resurrection-that’s the word that came to me after I got over the shock that my lily was still alive. It had been dead, I had been sure of it.


There had been no signs of life, just a dried up plant in a faded pot. After a time, I hadn’t even bothered to water it. It was too late to save, nothing could be done.


And yet, even though my actions had only hurt it, my lily is alive again. Alive and flourishing, giving me a second chance for redemption. This time, this spring, I’m willing to make the effort to do right by this little plant in the black plastic pot.


My lily-my resurrection plant-that came back to me in time for Easter.


* * *


I’m so excited that spring has finally sprung. I just hope it lasts for a time. Summer is just something I don’t do well.


I’m also excited to see that the China Buffet has their awning up and seems to be closer to opening. Can’t wait, can’t wait, can’t wait….


In the meantime, here is a recipe for what else? Spring rolls!


Miniature Spring Rolls


(24 appetizers)




Filling:


3 dried black mushrooms


2 oz. dried bean thread noodles or dried rice stick noodles


1 small carrot, shredded


1 cup thinly sliced Napa cabbage


3 green onions, thinly sliced




Marinade:


2 tbs. chicken broth


1 tbs. oyster sauce


1/2 tsp. sesame oil


2 tsp. cornstarch


1/4 tsp. Chinese five spice powder




Other ingredients:


Cooking oil


12 egg roll wrappers, cut in half diagonally


1/2 pound boneless chicken or pork




Soak mushrooms and noodles in warm water until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain and then thinly slice mushrooms. Cut noodles into four-inch strips. Combine noodles, mushroom and other filling ingredients.


Cut meat into thin slices and then cut slices into thin strips. Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and add meat. Stir and let stand for 10 minutes. In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry the meat in a tablespoons of oil over high heat until no longer pink. Remove and let cool.


To make each spring roll, place a triangular wrapper on work surface with long side facing you. Place two tablespoons of filling in a band along base of wrapper. Fold bottom over filling, and then fold in left and right sides. Brush edges with water and roll up to enclose filling.


Heat oil in a deep skillet or wok to 360 degrees. Deep-fry spring rolls, turning, until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.

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