Mother Earth News Fair

Mastering the Art of the Stir-Fry

I am playing catch up with my work since the MEN fair.  I promised I would post recipes from my workshop.  I’ll begin with the stir-fry I demonstrated in the workshop, “Mastering the Art of Stir-Frying.  It is a basic recipe that can be adapted to ingredients at hand.  In the demo I used tofu as the protein and vegetable broth in the sauce.  The firm vegetables were a combination of broccoli, carrots, and green beans and the oyster sauce was a vegetarian version sold as “stir-fry sauce.”


Basic Stir-Fry

Serves 4

            If I had my druthers, I’d probably make stir-fries on most nights.  It is important to have all the vegetables prepped and all the ingredients assembled before you start cooking.  And don’t forget to start cooking the rice first.  I have an electric rice cooker, purchased years ago.  It is an appliance that gets regular use and more than justified its inexpensive purchase price.


1 pound boneless skinless chicken, beef, or pork, sliced into matchsticks, or 1 pound extra-firm tofu, pressed and cubed (see Note)

5 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons oyster-flavored sauce or vegetarian stir-fry sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine or dry sherry

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 onion, halved and cut into slivers, or 1 leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced

4 cups chopped or diced firm vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, carrots, baby corn, snap beans, snow peas or snap peas), corn kernels, or shelled peas

8 cups slivered greens (cabbage, bok choy, broccoli raab, chard, escarole, kale)

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth (see pages 000 to 000)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced

Hot cooked white rice


            1.  In a medium bowl, combine the meat or tofu, 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon of the wine, sugar, sesame oil, and pepper and set aside to marinate.

            2.  To make the sauce, combine the broth, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, remaining 1 tablespoon wine, and cornstarch.   Whisk until thoroughly combined.

            3.  Heat a large wok or skillet over high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon the oil and heat until very hot.  Add the meat or tofu and marinade and stir-fry, stirring constantly, until well browned, 4 to 6 minutes. With a heat-proof rubber spatula, scrape out all the meat or tofu and sauce into a medium bowl and keep warm.  Return the wok to high heat. 

4.  Heat 1 tablespoon oil over high heat until very hot.  Add the onion and firm vegetables and stir-fry until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.  Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, cover, and let the vegetables steam until soft, 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove from the wok and add to the meat or tofu.

5.  Return the wok to high heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.  Add the leafy green vegetables and stir-fry for 1 minute.  Add the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce and continue to stir-fry until limp, about 2 minutes more.  Push the vegetables to the sides of the pan and add the ginger and garlic.  Cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds.  Stir into the vegetables.

6.  Return the meat or tofu and vegetables to the wok and toss to combine.  Whisk the sauce and pour into the wok.  Stir-fry until the sauce is thickened and evenly coats the vegetables, 1 to 2 minutes. 

7.  Serve immediately with the hot rice.


Recipe from Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman©2005, 2007.  All rights reserved.

Stop the Presses!

            “Stop the presses!” I told my editor at Storey.  Kathy Harrison, author of Just in Case and possibly one of the most generous people on the planet, shared with me an amazing technique for making pickles.  I absolutely must try it and incorporate into The Pickled Pantry.

            Indeed, everyone I spoke with was pretty amazing and interesting—from presenters to fair-goers. Jenna Wogunrich (Made from Scratch and Chick Days), was a riot, and I admire her youthful energy and determination. Carol Ekarius makes beautiful books about livestock breeds. I may have convinced Ron and Jennifer Kujawski (Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook) to plant salsify, and they convinced me to try hastening the ripening of my tomatoes with banana skins outside in the garden.

            Probably the highlight of the weekend for me was the absolute thrill of learning that the chef had made four dishes from Recipes from the Root Cellar for the Friday night buffet at the hotel: Braised Duck with Root Vegetables and Sauerkraut, Baked Beets in Bechemel, Roasted Vegetables, and Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup.  These recipes had all appeared in Mother Earth News magazine.  When I saw the dishes, I blurted out to the waitstaff, “Those are my recipes!”  Soon the executive chef, in his whites and wearing a toque, came out to meet me.  Compliments from the chef!