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Last night and tonight there are freeze alerts posted by the Weather Service. Who exactly would believe that you needed to be concerned about a “freeze” in almost the middle of May? We are not talking frost here, we are talking freeze. The difference? A frost advisory is issued when the predicted temperature is expected to fall to 36 degrees or lower in the following 3 to 30 hours during a growing season. A freeze warning is issued when there is an 80% or greater chance that the temperatures are expected to fall to 32 degrees or lower in the ensuing 3 to 30 hours during a growing season. If the temperature is expected to fall below 28 degrees this is referred to as a hard freeze. The concern right now, is mostly for the fruit trees and bushes that are blooming. Fruit blossoms are very vulnerable to freeze damage. As a result, Temperatures below 32 just before the flower opens can injure the ovules and prevent fruit set. Pollen grains will generally not germinate at temperatures below 41, and if temperatures fall below 51, the pollen tube may not grow, and fertilization may not occur even if pollination occurred. This can be devastating for the fruit farmers because damage to blossoms now means no fruit later. Cutting through buds let farmers know if the buds have suffered freeze damage. Buds with black or brown all the way through will not produce fruit. Farmers and the Department of Agriculture are assessing to determine what, if any freeze damage will have on this year’s apple and fruit crops.
I truly think that some of the best dinners I cook are those that are literally pulled from the fridge with whatever ingredients I have on hand. The picture above is a tofu stir fry that was part of last night’s dinner. I am partial to tofu in a stir fry and the rest of the family…well not so much. Complicating this is the fact that youngest son is allergic to sesame, so addition of sesame oil (which I also happen to like) is a big no-no on anything that he is eating. Hence, we are usually a two dinner family.
The “other” dinner I made last night was a chicken stir fry with broccoli and snow peas. Simple and quite tasty. For both recipes I put the protein into cornstarch and coated it before cooking – for the tofu that enabled it to be crunchy on the outside while still soft on the inside – for the chicken it gave it a nice moist taste.
Basically I pulled whatever I had in the way of fresh veggies out and you can do the same, but here’s the recipe for these particular recipes:
TOFU STIR FRY
1 container of extra firm tofu- drained on towel and cut into one inch cubes.
3 scallions chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/2 large onion, sliced thinly
2 carrots sliced thinly on the diagonal
1/2 large red bell pepper sliced into thin strips
handful of snow peas, chopped in half
handful of broccoli florets
chicken broth 2 cups
low sodium soy sauce 3 tablespoons
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 t. sesame oil
vegetable oil for sauteing (about 2 T.)
1. Dredge cubed tofu in cornstarch (about 1/4 cup total) until all sides are covered. Heat vegetable oil in frying pan or wok and add tofu, let cook on one side for about 5 minutes (or if you’re like me until the smoke detector goes off) and then flip so all sides are browned nicely. Remove from pan.
2. Add all vegetables and stir fry for about 5 minutes until vegetables are cooked enough for your taste.
3. Add sesame oil, chicken broth mixed with remaining cornstarch and soy sauce.
4. Bring to a boil so it thickens and then serve with jasmine or brown rice.
CHICKEN STIR FRY
3 boneless chicken breasts sliced into 1/4 inch slices
2 large broccoli crowns cut into florets (bite size)
1/2 pound of snow peas sliced in thirds
2 c. chicken broth
3 T low sodium soy sauce
1/4 c. cornstarch
vegetable oil for sauteing (about 2 T)
1. Dip slices of chicken into cornstarch to coat. Put oil into frying pan and heat, add chicken – cook until browned.
2. Steam broccoli florets in microwave with 1/2 c. water covered for 2 minutes to par-cook.
3. Drain broccoli and add it to pan along with snow peas. Stir fry until vegetables are cooked to your liking, about 5-8 minutes.
4. Mix chicken broth with remaining cornstarch. Add soy sauce and mix well. Add to pan and bring to a boil to thicken.
Serve with white or jasmine rice.
Yesterday morning Tom and I took a drive over to Hanover, New Hampshire to visit our friend and neighbor, Tom French. For those of you who don’t know (and quite honestly I cannot imagine how you couldn’t know Tom) he suffered a stroke in February, four months ago this week. We had been all set to visit him while he was at Dartmouth, but the day set for our visit was the day that they decided to move him down to Salem.
I must say that I was a little apprehensive, but he is still the same old Tom. His verbal ability is limited, but that doesn’t really stop him from getting his point across. He recognized us right away and was most happy to see us. Tim made a card for him with lots of pictures and he was thrilled, it found a place on his bulletin board. He was sure to give us his guestbook for our signature and to show us the scrapbook that Laura has started for him. We went through each page and he nodded and pointed to various things.
He also has a box of cards and photos that rivals the weight of a bag of feed. It is apparently only about one month’s worth, so I am sure that there must be a few more like it in Laura’s possession. He took us on a tour of his new facility, smiling and waving and saying hi to various people along the way. It was nice to see Tom being Tom, something that I thought might be gone forever as a result of the stroke.
He also kept pointing to the calendar and counting off 4. We were puzzled, but after stewing on it over the afternoon, it occurred to me that he was trying to tell us that it would be 4 months since the stroke today. Ah, Tom – so much smarter than I am, evidently.
We happy to see him in such good spirits and to see that he recognizes and remembers so much. We brought my laptop and went over pictures of my boys, the Hill, the snow, the goats and the dogs. He even recognized our friends and my brother and voiced his amazement at how big our niece had gotten when we got to those pictures. When Tom showed him the video camera view of his house he recognized it and shrugged and sighed indicating that he knew he couldn’t go back just yet.
I’m glad that we got to visit with him and we’re looking forward to taking the boys back when the weather is a little warmer so we can go for a stroll outdoors together.