Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mai Fun in March

Try something new this spring! It may be too early to plant, but it's never to early to plan. I saved the seeds from a little Sprite Melon last year. I love the small size and pear/honeydew flavor. It's time to get the seeds started inside. I'm going to plant some in peat pots, and later I'll try some seeds directly into the warm ground. We'll see which works best. Look for the Sprite Melon at your farmer's market in a couple of months. It's a fairly new melon being grown predominantly in North Carolina.

How about a new hobby that would make you a provider of locally grown food? When I drove by the feed and seed store last week and saw their sign, I began thinking about an old dream to have honeybees—bees that would produce wonderful honey made from the surrounding field flowers. This idea has been in the back of my mind for a long time.

There are clubs for beekeepers dedicated to raising and protecting the honeybee in Southwest Virginia. Since the honeybee is essential to pollinate many crops, there are even grants for more serious entrepreneurs. Call the Virginia Cooperative Extension for more information, or stop by your farm supply store.

Meanwhile, here's something new and a little different to make at home. Mai Fun doesn't have to come in a box. I'm not a big fan of 'almost homemade' because it usually leads to an 'almost good' result, but for this recipe I did use some packaged products.

House Fried Mai Fun with Chicken and Vegetables

1 lb. Skinless chicken thighs

Asian Orange Ginger Stir Fry Sauce (I use La Choy) or other similar sauce of choice

1 quart Chicken Broth

2 cups small broccoli florets

1 cup small carrot sticks

6 oz. Mai Fun (thin rice noodles)

2 T vegetable oil

3 spring onions, including greens, chopped

1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained

2 eggs

1 (¾ ounce) package Fried Rice Seasoning Mix or other similar seasoning mix (I use Sun-Bird)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spray casserole dish with Pam.

Coat chicken thighs with Orange Ginger Sauce, place in casserole and bake until meat is tender, and coming away from bone, about 45 minutes. Remove from dish, and when cool enough to handle, remove meat from the bones and shred it. Return shredded meat to drippings left in casserole.

Add broth to sauce pan, bring it to a simmer, add broccoli and carrots and blanch, cooking for only a few minutes. Drain, setting vegetables aside, and save hot broth.

Soften noodles by covering them with the very hot broth. Allow them to stand for ten minutes. Drain noodles, saving one-fourth cup broth.

In large nonstick skillet add oil over medium-high heat. Add drained noodles and onions and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Next, add seasoning mix and reserved one-fourth cup broth and stir to combine. Push noodles to the side and add eggs, cooking just until scrambled, then stir them into noodles.

Finally, add blanched vegetables, chicken and water chestnuts to noodles. Stir to combine and heat through.

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