Saturday, May 10, 2008

For Toni

Toni was my companion for three months in my second area, Caotun (aka Nantou aka Zhong Xing Xin Chun... for the sister missionaries it was really three areas in one). She was my first, and really only, trainee. She is also the only companion I have stayed friends with post-mission. I had other companions I thought I would stay in touch with, and for a little while I did. But over time we've lost track of each other.

My most memorable moments in Taiwan with Toni, unfortunately, involved numerous bike accidents I was involved in, most of which were my own fault. Toni managed our three months together with nary a scratch, but I somehow found myself in 5 scrape-ups involving my bike. While we were companions I managed to ride (full-speed ahead) into a parked car, into an Elder (who was on his bike at the time, so its not like I ran him down), and (this one at least, not my fault) got taken down by a woman riding a scooter whose billowy jacket got a little too close to my handlebars. As most of my friends can attest, any one of these bike accidents makes a great story, but when Toni does the retelling, the stories get even more entertaining ("Surely Sister Stowell is going to move around that parked car in her path any moment now...")

Since our missions I have introduced Toni to Boston and taken her to my favorite haunts in LA. In turn, she introduced me to the wonders of the Lone Star state, to include horseback riding, an entertaining sound and light show involving a Texas-sized painting of the Day of Pentecost, a rodeo (my first), and even real, live Texas long-horn cattle (very cool in the flesh).

For all of these reasons and more, I feel more than a little guilty that it has taken me, oh, almost 10 years to finally give Toni the below recipe. This is truly authentic Taiwanese home cooking, as attested by the below handwritten recipe, lovingly supplied, per Toni's request, by one of our favorite people in Taiwan, Fan Tai Tai. I ended up with the recipe, I think, because I was supposed to translate it for Toni. I began the translation, as evidenced by my handwritten notes, but I honestly don't think I ever actually gave a translated version to Toni (sorry Toni). So 10 years later, here we are... I have translated and tested the recipe, and am now ready to (finally) share it with Toni, and by extension, all of you. Enjoy.

青椒牛肉 (Beef with Green Peppers)

3 green peppers - cut into thin strips
1 lb. beef - I like using sirloin steak for my stir-fried, but really, you can use whatever sounds good to you
1/2 t. pepper
3 t. corn starch
2 T. wine - I used Chinese cooking rice wine. You can use white wine, or even white wine vinegar if you have that on hand.
Salt - to taste
1-2 T. canola oil

Put the meat in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes. Then take it out and cut it into 1/4" x 1/4" strips. Mix the beef with the pepper, corn starch, and wine.

Add oil to saute pan or wok and heat over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the meat and brown for about one minute. Then add the peppers and salt and reduce heat just a bit. Continue cooking until the meat is cooked through and the peppers are slightly soft, approximately 7-10 minutes.

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