Have you ever noticed the tiny threads that tie your life together? The little things that weave into wholecloth, like when your five year-old does or says something and you just know his Grandpa did or said exactly the same thing when he was five? The constants that cut across time and space, and sometimes give you deja vu?
Well today, I am making the case that peanut butter is one of those things.
Consider: peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches. Just-picked apples spread with peanut butter. Peanut butter and cinnamon sugar toast. Reese's peanut butter cups... which, by the way, make outstanding s'mores. See how peanut butter is part of the very fabric of life? (At this point, I hope you are not allergic to peanuts!)
As the weather turns, I get more and more in the mood for comfort food, which usually means beef stew, minestrone, and good bread. But recently, the only comfort food I crave leads back to that peanut butter thread. I've been making Pad Thai, and oh! it is good.
Now, I have no idea what Pad Thai made by the Thai people would taste like, but my version has all the right tastes - noodles, veggies, eggs, soy and fish sauce, and of course, peanut butter. I'd like to share the recipe with you, because I thought that maybe you could use some comfort food in your day.
The recipe adapts easily to use what I have on hand, and if you need to change up the veggies or seasonings based on what you have on hand, then go ahead and do it. Oh, and if anybody actually knows what Pad Thai tastes like, if you would make this and then report back as to how close it actually is, I would really appreciate it.
Pad Thai for Four
Mix together the following in a small bowl:
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2-cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth, or somewhere in between. It doesn't matter.
Set the sauce aside.
Slice a large onion into thin strips, and chop the strips into 1-inch or so pieces.
Shred one large carrot.
Finely slice half a head of cabbage - our favorite is Chinese cabbage, but really any kind will do.
Whisk four eggs well.
Bring water for not-quite-one-pound of fettuccine or spaghetti to boil (or, cook the whole pound and set aside some plain noodles for non-daring children).
So now, the stage is set.
In a large pan, heat 1-2 Tbsp oil over med-high heat. When the oil ripples, add the onion and cook 5 minutes or so, until it is tender, adjusting the heat as necessary to cook the onions without burning them.
Add pasta to boiling water; cook until they're done and drain in the sink (your goal: to have the pasta finish at the same time that the veggies and eggs are finished).
Add the carrots and cabbage to the onions, and cook until the cabbage is wilted and to your liking.
Here is my favorite part of this whole recipe: when the veggies are done, push them to the sides of the pan, add the eggs into the middle, and scramble them. You'll inevitably end up with some of the veggies in the eggs, and some of the eggs in the veggies, and it's just so delicious.
If the pasta needs more time, just take the veggies off the heat. Then, when the pasta has drained, add it into the veggies, back over low heat. Pour on the sauce, and toss until everything is thoroughly mixed. Serve hot - this makes great leftovers, if you happen to have any.
Happy cooking! Think of how many threads you weave together as you make this, or whatever favorite comfort food you love. I really believe that this is how generations, families, and friends tie their lives together.