Let me tell you, I live for the “a-ha” moment. A moment when a light bulb comes on, and suddenly, some bit of truth that I had never seen before, is illuminated; a moment when I see something in a new way, perhaps even in a contrary way to how I’ve been seeing it, and find the value and potential for joyful change and betterment through that new way. I love when a shift in paradigm takes place and I know full well that I can no longer continue down the path in blissful ignorance, because where the ignorance once dwelled, a fresh portion of wisdom now resides. It is a moment when an awakening to a new concept takes place, and renewed enthusiasm now flourishes because of it. An “a-ha” moment is one when I see, with clarity, that a certain way of functioning is no longer of any use to my continued growth, and so I relinquish it in order to experience the surprisingly sweet relief that is found in doing so.
Let me divulge a little something to you that I hope you won’t hold against me: I tend to shy away from doing things or being placed in situations that make me uncomfortable, or require me to be fully vulnerable. Can you at all relate? It’s very easy for me to find justifications and perfectly legitimate reasons to avoid such situations and to not extend myself out of my cocoon. But recently, I had the “a-ha” that I just may be doing myself a disservice by putting on the brakes in certain instances in which there ultimately is opportunity for learning, therefore cutting my own potential short; and that perhaps, a little gentle agitation and abrasion to my vulnerable surface is exactly what I need in order to continue to develop into a finer, more refined and mature-spirited human being. After all, doesn’t a pearl first need the agitation of sand over time to become the luminously glowing and valuable jewel that it finally becomes? And mustn’t gold first go through the intense heat of the furnace in order to become purified, refined and brilliantly worth all that it is? Doesn’t delicious, crispy orange beef need to first be seared and crisped in hot oil in order for the sweet, orange glaze to glossily adhere? OK, silly analogy. But there’s something to all of this. In a nutshell, I’m finding that its actually more stressful to try to avoid discomfort than it is to just be “present” in any given moment, even if uncomfortable, and allow for an experience to unfold exactly as it is meant to unfold; that it is less burdensome to view each situation that presents itself as an opportunity to gather more life experience to have under my apron strings; and that it’s through the actual doing of something that I don’t necessarily prefer or “want” to do that I become a more disciplined person.
Lately, it seems that each day holds an “a-ha” moment for me. I’m such a work in progress that I can’t even tell you. And don’t think that I’m unaware that what I write about here from time to time is a bit heady, but I share it because perhaps you’ll recognize some of yourself in me, some of your own thoughts in mine. All that I’m really trying to do is live my life consciously, in an “awake” state. I want to get out of my own way, and allow God to lead me. I want to learn what it means to experience my life in its ideal form, and to not live in stress or fear of what is not known. Frankly, I wish that for everyone. Most of the time, it’s the food I work with in every day life that speaks to me in ways that parallel life; and sometimes, it’s life itself that wants to speak. Either way, digestion is needed. And either way, some sweet, crispy orange beef can’t hurt.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Sweet, Crispy Orange Beef with Broccoli and Brown and Wild Rice
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(Serves about 4)
1 ½ pounds very thinly sliced beef sirloin
2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup flour
¼ cup cornstarch
• Peanut or Vegetable oil for frying
6 ounces broccoli florets, steamed crisp
• Brown and Wild Rice (recipe below)
• Orange Glaze (recipe below)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, for garnish
2 tablespoons green onion, chopped, for garnish
-Begin by preparing the Brown and Wild Rice (recipe below), and keep warm until ready to serve.
-Prepare the Orange Glaze (recipe below), and set aside.
-Marinate the beef by placing it into a large bowl and adding the garlic, the soy sauce, the orange zest, the sesame oil, the salt, and the pepper; toss to coat, and marinate for about 20 minutes, if possible; next, add the flour and cornstarch to the beef, and toss well to coat to create the crust; prepare to quickly fry the beef by placing a large non-stick pan or wok over high heat, and adding enough oil to fry the beef, in batches, if necessary; once the oil is very hot, begin adding the flour/cornstarch coated beef to the oil, and allow the beef to sear and brown, quickly cooking; remove the browned beef and place onto paper towel to drain any excess oil; repeat the process with the remainder of the beef; once all beef has been fried, set it aside for a moment, keeping it warm; clean out the non-stick pan or wok, and place it back onto medium-high heat; add the beef back in, along with the steamed broccoli florets, and pour the Orange Glaze over top; toss with tongs to coat the beef and broccoli well and heat through, then turn off the heat;
-To serve, add some of the Brown and Wild Rice to a bowl or plate, and spoon over top some of the Orange Beef with Broccoli; garnish with a sprinkle of the sesame seeds and green onion, and serve with extra soy sauce, if desired.
Brown and Wild Rice ingredients:
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
1 ¼ cup brown rice (I use Jasmine, but regular is fine)
¼ cup wild rice
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups water
-In a medium non-stick pot set over medium-high heat, add the oil and the garlic; once the garlic is aromatic, add the brown and wild rice, as well as the salt, and stir together; allow the rice to toast just a little bit in the oil and garlic, for about 1-2 minutes; next, add the water and bring the rice to the boil; once the rice comes to the boil, cover with a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 40 minutes, or until rice is tender; let rice sit for about 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork and keep warm until ready to serve.
Orange Glaze ingredients: (yields roughly 1 cup)
½ cup honey
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
-In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth and glossy, and set aside until ready to use.