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Asian Broccoli and Eggplant with Tempeh

Asian Broccoli and Eggplant with Tempeh

As I relayed in my last post, I made a big move last weekend.

In reality I guess it could’ve been bigger. Me, and all my stuff, simply switched neighborhoods in my current city of Philadelphia. But, it was a big upgrade from my last residence — especially in terms of the kitchen.

Without many tears, I said goodbye to slanted linoleum floors. A goodbye to minimal counter space. And a huge audios to my old ’70s-styled kitchen.

Ah. That felt good.

Eggplant and broccoli

I will miss being steps away from the cheap, bustling, food-filled Italian Market of my former ‘hood. I will miss the park on my old corner. I will miss the 2-block walking distance of my favorite restaurant. I will miss a lot of things.

However, I am happy to report this recent life change feels better than expected. I’m realizing I lived in an entirely too small apartment for two years too many. No regrets though, right? It just means more things to look forward to, and more appreciation for this next change in life.

Asian Broccoli and Eggplant with Tempeh

Anyway, to celebrate the move, I christened my new kitchen not more than a day after putting all the plates I brought with me into its cabinets. It happened to be a Sunday, and in my book, a Sunday not spent adventuring in a new place is then automatically destined to be spent with wooden spoon in hand. After the whole moving process, no trips were in store. So instead, a Sunday afternoon of cooking was planned. I was more than ready to put that new counter space to use.

Broccoli and Eggplant

The first culinary creation of my new house? This one, of course, filled with summer eggplant and a simple pairing of Asian flavors. A little salty – thanks to some soy sauce. Mildly sweet – thank you Hoisin. And of course, needed hints of freshness with the help of my friend, cilantro.

All of these favorite characteristics pair well with eggplant that gets cooked till its creamy, and broccoli that throws back a bit of crispness to this dish. Add some tempeh for a little nutty protein, and place it all over rice, and you’ve got one heck of a meal.

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Baby Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry

Baby Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry

My friend runs a farm just on the edge of the city, and its first harvestable produce is beginning to take flight — into my hands. And my kitchen. And my bowl. And on my blog. Spring is here — as if I hadn’t told you a million times already — and this makes me happy. My kitchen too.

Now please excuse me while I take this next moment to praise the earth for baby bok choy.

Praise earth. Baby bok choy. Coming to a farmer’s market near you soon (or so I hope).

Baby Bok Choy

Its leafy greens are my first taste of the ground this year. (And I mean that quite literally – make sure to wash your bok choy extra well if you don’t want to swallow some dirt.) As tender as ever, early young greens are the best.

Baby Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry

This past week, I took a trip out to the farm after work to help toil some soil and sow a few seeds/starters into the ground. Radicchio was farm-boy’s starter of choice for the night, so into the ground we put plant after plant after radicchio plant.

Each one was so small sometimes I began feeling like a nervous mom, wondering how they’d all survive a night without me. I’ve planted my fare share of infants though, so fortunately I walked away with confidence knowing they’d take root. And that has nothing to do with my gardening skills – plants are tough little guys! I’m excited to watch the baby radicchio leaves, with their ever so faint pink streaks, grow into the mighty magenta that makes spring salads shine.

Toasted sesame seeds

It always feels good to get my hands and jeans dirty, even if for just a couple of hours. City living or not, I’ll always be a farm girl at heart.

Perhaps with that comes an endless excitement for new harvests and crisp produce. I took this bok choy home with me from the farm and whipped it up the very same night. Simple dishes like these can be ever so satisfying when your produce is fresh. As any gardner, farmer, or farmer’s market enthusiast knows, spring is the golden season of all good things to come. The freshness just keeps trickling in until you have a steady stream of items to swap in and out of your diet. Just wait. Once strawberries arrive, I’ll be taking more than a small moment at the front of my blog to praise the earth for its fruit. I’m smiling just thinking about it.

Baby Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry

Be on the lookout for baby greens. If you can’t find bok choy, opt for something else that’s on the slightly bitter side, which will pair nicely with the Hoisin sauce in this recipe. This will serve 4 as a light meal, but to pump it up, feel free to crack an egg on top.

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