White River Junction

Megh and I recently celebrated our anniversary (22 years!), and we took the train to White River Junction, Vermont, for an overnight to celebrate.

Megh and Quinn
On the train to Vermont

The weather started clear and warm, and we ate dinner outside.

The town holds an annual parade for Halloween called “Gory Daze.”  It started at 9 pm and featured a few hundred young adults in costumes and small marching band.  We didn’t know about it until we saw the participants gathering in front of the local museum.  It’s a hoot!

The next morning was cold, cloudy, and (eventually) rainy.  We walked around a bit to check out the town.

Connecticut river
The Connecticut River from White River Junction

We started by heading across the river to a breakfast place in New Hampshire, then came back to do a little shopping.  About the only thing open on a Sunday morning was the local co-op grocery store.  We picked up some maple donuts and oatmeal cookies for the train ride home, and some local syrup for Meghan to give to her coworkers.

Narragansett mornings and evenings

A few photos over the last couple of days.

seascape and lighthouse
Scarborough Beach, Narragansett, with Point Judith lighthouse in the distance
seascape with fog and waves
The horizon disappeared on a foggy morning. The sunrise is (theoretically) directly ahead.

grass and white flowers

harbor seal in the ocean
A harbor seal surfaced near us at Point Judith, while we were enjoying the sunset.
meghan with Narragansett in the background
Megh, looking pensive as she gazes east across the ocean
sunset
Sunset from Rose Nulman park, Point Judith, Narragansett
twilight
Twilight from Rose Nulman Park, Point Judith, Narragansett

Bird-watching at Wildwood Cemetery

Our local library sponsored a guided bird-watching walk through the cemetery across the street.  Most people brought binoculars.  I brought my camera and a zoom lens.  Here are the highlights:

robin in the grass
This robin was bouncing between tree and grass
red-tailed hawk preening
Red-tailed hawk preening in a precarious situation
unbalanced red-tailed hawk with wings spread
A red-tailed hawk finding it’s balance in a precarious situation. A moment before, it was preening it’s feathers.

Kung Pao Chicken

This is one of the first spicy things I’ve made that my teenagers actually liked.

Kung Pao Chicken

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Servings 5 people
Calories 400 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Flat-bottomed wok or large frying pan
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs boneless, skinless, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper white or black
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar granulated
  • 1 tbsp sambal oelek
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 bell peppers diced large
  • 2 celery stalks sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, roasted
  • 2 scallions sliced thin (optional)
  • 1.5 tsp sesame oil

Instructions
 

Marinate the Chicken

  • Add tamari or soy sauce, wine or sherry, cornstarch, sesame oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved. Drizzle 2 tablespoons over chicken and mix.
  • Add the vinegar, sugar, and sambal to the remaining marinade and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
    NOTE: if you're doubling the recipe because you have a lot of chicken, don't double the sambal or you may make it too spicy.

Stir Fry the Veggies and the Chicken

  • Heat pan over medium-high heat. Add tablespoon of oil, followed by the bell peppers and celery. Season with salt and stir fry until crispy-tender and browned in spots (about 4 minutes).
    Add garlic and ginger and stir fry another 30 seconds.
  • Transfer veggies to a plate.
  • Add a couple of tablespoons of oil to the pan, followed by the chicken. Spread evenly across the pan and let cook until golden brown and a little seared on the bottom, 3-4 minutes.
    Stir fry for a couple of minutes, until cooked through.

Combine Everything

  • Add vegetables back in, and add peanuts.
    Give the sauce a quick whisk and pour in. Stir fry until sauce thickens and coats everything, about a minute.
    Sprinkle in scallions and serve over rice.

Notes

Other veggies you can try: small mushrooms, zucchini, sliced carrots, and/or chopped onions.
We've also made it with tofu instead of chicken:
  • use extra-firm tofu;
  • squeeze the water out by wrapping in towels or a couple of paper towels, then putting on a plate and leaving something heavy on top for 20-30 minutes;
  • cube the tofu into bite-sized chunks
  • toss with a little cornstarch, then fry over medium heat until all sides are golden-brown.
  • Continue with rest of recipe.
Keyword bell pepper, chicken, garlic, ginger, peanuts, sambal oelek, tofu

Originally seen on The Kitchn.

A Little Empathy

It’s good to take a refresher course in empathy, from time to time.  I may need it more often than most.

When someone appears to be having a moment, start by asking:

Do you want to be helped, heard, or hugged?

Follow their decision and go on from there.

For the source of the quote, and for a deeper discussion, see When Someone You Love Is Upset, Ask This One Question.