Mad Scientist’s Kitchen: Vegetable Stir-Bake

I love a good stir fry.  No, not some mushy plate of frozen vegetables with teriyaki sauce haphazardly tossed on, but a true stir fry, where the vegetables are a bit charred on the outside, tender on the inside, and full of flavor.  Now, if you are somebody who knows how to make a good stir fry, you know that the number one rule is not to crowd the pan.  This means that in an average-sized wok or frying pan, you can really only make enough for one or two at a time.  I don’t know how many times I’ve made a stir fry at my parents’ house where I’d hear:

Them: “What are you making?”
Me: “A stir fry.”
Them: “Can you make me some?”
Another Them: “Me too!”

This limit of one to two servings also makes things difficult for someone like myself.  I like to cook four to five servings of a meal at once, so I can pack them up in my mason jars and eat them throughout the week. Last week, I roasted some sweet potatoes in the oven, and they came out just the way vegetables should in a perfect stir fry: 1. a bit charred on the outside, 2.tender on the inside, and 3. full of flavor.  So then, if the sweet potatoes came out just like that, why couldn’t I just bake the vegetables to be “stir-fried”?  Thus, I began an experiment.

Question: How can I make more than one batch of a stir fry without a commercial-sized wok?

Our Mad Scientist/Chef

Our Mad Scientist/Chef

Hypothesis: If I bake the vegetables, they will taste just as delicious as stir fried vegetables and without all of the extra cooking oil. Here is what I did: I planned to make a stir fry with broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, and bok choy.  Now, my original plan was to bake the bell peppers too, but because I was making so much food, I did not have room for them on my tiny baking sheets.  The bok choy would get too crispy in the oven, so I stir fried the bok choy with the bell peppers using the traditional method.

The Finished Product

The Finished Product

I chopped the broccoli and carrots into evenly-sized pieces.  This is important because they will cook more evenly this way.  Otherwise, you will get some broccoli pieces that are raw and some that are over-cooked.  I put all of the vegetables into a big bowl, tossed them in just enough grape seed oil to coat them evenly, seasoned with Mrs. Dash (Original Flavor), and placed them in a single layer on a baking sheet.  This detail is important too.  You can not have any pieces of vegetable overlapping.  Otherwise, you will run into the same problem as a crowded pan and that is the problem that we are trying to avoid in the first place.  I baked my vegetables in a 400 degree oven for fifteen minutes.  And that was it!  I tossed them in a little bit of a store-bought teriyaki sauce and mixed them all together.

The result: The vegetables came out perfect!  They tasted just the way they would as if stir fried in a huge wok full of oil.  Then, I made some brown rice, and placed a cup of rice in each jar with a huge portion of vegetables.  Now I have some delicious stir fried veggies to get me through the week.


The Ironies of Job Hunting

I went on a marathon streak of applying for jobs today.  Ideally, I want a job in film/theatre/television, but those are not always available, so I apply for other creative industries, such as design firms and music companies.  One such creative company that I applied for was a clothing distributor in the Garment District.  Later in the day, I got a call from a New York City phone number, so I knew it had to be about a job.

“Hello, this is Jaymie,” I answered cheerfully.

A man with a high pitched, foreign accent responded, “Yes, you responded to my job posting on Craigslist.”  I always hate when they start with that.

“Ah, yes, could you please remind me which one?” I asked.

He hesitates, “What?”

I spoke slower and enunciated, “Could you please remind me which company it is.”

“Yes, I’m hiring for an office assistant,” he responded.  Definitely not the specificity I was looking for.  He continued, “It looks like you are working in theatre.”

“I work mostly in theatre, film, and television, yes,” I replied.

“Oh, you see, this is a different industry,” he stated.  Here we go…

“What kind of industry is it?”

“I run an embroidery company, but you probably wouldn’t be interested.”

And here is the problem I have–if I applied to work for your company, why wouldn’t I be interested?  I saw on your Craigslist ad what kind of company it is.  Had it been a law office or a financial firm, I might have been less comfortable applying.  I’ve never understood why employers would think that I’m not interested in a job that I applied for.

What I did say was this, “Of course I am still interested.  While my experience is mostly in the arts, I am always open to broadening my horizons and trying new things.”

What I wanted to say was this, “Did you like my resume, anyway?  Did you see that I have a ton of experience as an office assistant?  Don’t all of those skills and experiences apply to any kind of office?”

The way he left it was that he was going to send me an e-mail with more information.  I still have not received that e-mail, though.  No worries, I do have a lead on a theatre-related job that I am very interested in, and I am going in for a second interview on Monday.  Now I just need to find a nice tie to wear.  I didn’t bring as many with me when I moved.


On The Bumpy Road

Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t written in almost two weeks!  There is a reason for that, unfortunately.  You see, about two weeks ago on one of my days off, a glass of water spilled all over my laptop.  I was enjoying a lunch that I had just made and was listening to Sara Bareilles’ new album while I was about to respond to an e-mail.  I went to pick up my heaping glass of water and unfortunately, my wrist knocked it over.  It was one of those moments where everything went into slow motion.  I swear, I saw my whole life flash before my eyes.  After all, for a poor 20something, a laptop with water damage is death.

My brain sort of shut down for a second.  I had no idea what to do.  I immediately texted a tech-savvy friend for advice.  He suggested that I shut down the computer, dry as much as I can on the outside, and then remove the battery.  Now, on the old Macbook models, the battery was easily accessible.  On the Macbook Pro, which I own, the battery is guarded by ten microscopic screws.  I searched my entire apartment to see if perhaps my room mate owned a very small screwdriver.  No luck.

The first place I could think of to find a screwdriver was CVS.  After all, there are two CVS stores, right across the street from each other, on my street.  The CVS employee was very helpful but alas, no screwdrivers.  She pointed me in the direction of a hardware store and told me that some of the dollar stores along the way might have them.  I dashed over to that hardware store to find a sign that said, “Closed today.  Death in the family.” Of course.

I turned around and decided to stop into every dollar store I saw on the way.  Now, they all had screw drivers, that is for sure.  The troublesome part about this was that I need a size #00 Phillips screw driver.  00 means that it is one whole size smaller than a size 0.  Very tiny.  Of course, none of these dollar stores had what I needed!

I finally found a hardware store, and they had this great little four-in-one screw driver with the size that I needed.  I bought it and went back home to open up my laptop.  I got through about six screws when it suddenly ceased to work.  I thought I might have stripped the screw, but it wouldn’t work on any of the other screws.  I decided that I needed another screw driver.  I didn’t want to walk all the way back to the other hardware store, so I had to find something else.  In a panic, I went to the RadioShack right under my apartment.  It was just my luck that they had what I needed, but it was included in a big set of screwdrivers. I bought it, of course, and went right back to unscrewing the back of my laptop.

I should add here a “Don’t try this at home” warning.  Apple does NOT want you to open up your computer.  It actually voids the warranty, I later learned.

Lo and behold–I open up the back of the computer and I can see it plain as day–little bits of water residue on the motherboard.  A Google search advised me that I should let the laptop dry out for at least twenty four hours but that I should let it dry for as long as possible.

For me, as long as possible ended up being about another week, since I was so busy with job interviews and working at my PA job.  Fortunately, I had applied for dozens of jobs the weekend before my laptop got fried, so I had a few interviews lined up.  It was tough not being able to apply for more over the following two weeks.  I think that fact is hurting me right now.

Back to the laptop… Long story short, I turned it on, and it turned on just fine.  Unfortunately, the screen did not light up.  I knew then and there that I had to take it to the Apple Store.  I got a “Genius” with a very “tough luck, kid!” attitude.  You see, Apple can’t fix just the pieces that are damaged.  They have to replace the entire “logic board,” mainly as a safety precaution in case there is any damage that can not be seen by the human eye.  The price tag for such a repair costs as much as a month of rent for my apartment.

I decided to get a second opinion at this place called Tekserve, which is basically an independent Apple store.  The employee at Tekserve suggested that even though they could fix it for about $100 less, getting it repaired by Apple would restore my warranty, of which I had about a year and a half left.  So, I decided to cough up the money to Apple so that they could repair it.  At this point, it was going to take almost a week to fix, and I just wanted my computer back.

And now it’s back.  Money is extremely tight right now, unfortunately.  I am still in the mix for a really big corporate job, and even though I feel like it would kill my soul, I really need the money.  I have one more interview lined up for Monday and hopefully there will be a few more in the week.

In other news, I stopped biting my nails on April 1st.  Nope, not an April Fools joke!  I have good feelings about this week.  Time to keep my head up and get back to work!