Locally Yours: Busy season calling for fresh, fast meals

By: Carol Arnold, Special to the Journal
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Hey, the sun finally came out! I know we’ll look back at this coolness in August longingly, but right now it is in fact a God send, especially for our local farmers. First it seemed sure there would be a disastrous water shortage after the canal break; we were saved by the fast repair work and unusual late rain, but due to the weather most crops are now weeks behind. Seeing blue skies and temperatures closer to normal is a relief. The sun came out too late for the Placer and other local graduations, but there are still many, many events on the calendar. Personally, we totaled up a list of seven graduations, four birthdays, two moves, and a retirement (not me, darn!). And that doesn’t even get us to the end of the month, or Father’s Day. Or that three of the big events are on successive days in San Diego, Reno, and Santa Cruz. Whew! (Happy Birthday Hudson and congrats – you made it out in four! ) It’s schedules like this that make a necessity of meals that are fast, tasty, and healthy. While cooking for an hour or so can serve as a relaxation and mental break time, sometimes you just have to knock out a meal right now. The coq-a-vin we had over the weekend was rich tasting, just right for a winter day in June, but the rather involved process advocated by our good friend Julia simply won’t work on a busy day that flows into a busy evening. That kind of day calls for this quick beef, rice, snow pea and onion stir fry. The key to something simple and healthy ending up tasting as it is difficult and delicious, is, as I might have mentioned a time or two, fresh, local, high quality ingredients. When the beef is grass fed, the snow peas crisp and sweet, the rice new and not years in a bag, and the onion right out of the ground, you are halfway to a nice meal. I tried something new, by julienning the snow peas. We all love the flavor of them, but find they can become quite a mouthful when used generously in a dish. All agreed this was an excellent way to get the snow pea taste and crunch without them overwhelming the dish. Start to finish, this is one of those 20-minute dinners that is sure to please. Carol Arnold is general manager of the Foothill Farmers Market Association. Reach her at foothill __________ Stir Fried Beef with Sugar Snap Peas 1 pound skirt steak, cut into 1/4 inch strips 2 tablespoons coffee barbecue rub 4 tablespoons Snow’s Citrus Mandarin Orange Marinade 1 tablespoon canola oil (or peanut oil) 1 small onion, sliced thinly ½ pound sugar snap peas, cut lengthwise into thirds 1 tablespoon water Cooked rice Sprinkle rub over both sides of skirt steak. Marinate in a re-sealable plastic bag for one hour or for up to eight hours. Pour Mandarin Orange Marinade into bag with meat and rub. Marinate for twenty minutes. Heat oil in frying pan or wok. Stir fry onions for 5 minutes over medium heat just until soft. Remove onions from pan and place in a bowl. Increase heat to medium high. Using a slotted spoon to lightly drain the meat, add the meat to the pan (the meat should be very wet) and stir fry for up to four minutes or until browned. Remove meat from pan and add to the onions. Pour the sugar snap peas into the pan , add one table spoon of water and stir fry for two minutes. Return the meat and onion to the pan, mix well with the snow peas. Serve with basmati or jasmine rice.