I’ve spent the last few posts talking about the pasture, a 6-acre field north of my childhood home. It had been my great grandparents’ horse pasture but by my time it had been unused for decades. The pasture itself was a rolling field with a single apple tree off in the corner and a marshy spot kind of east of center. Its tufted grasses made this no football or baseball field but we still found plenty of distractions out there.
I can remember a mild, sunny spring afternoon when my brother Andy was feeling the itch to hit some golf balls. He recruited me to shag for him in the pasture. Being eight years older than me and he was generally wrapped up in his high school days so any attention he sent my way was cheerfully jumped on. I ran out to the second rise in the pasture while he set up in our backyard maybe 100 yards away. This game lasted one shot. Andy later said that, having nothing else to aim at, he had decided to aim for me. Well, he hit his first shot and thought it looked pretty good – then too good. He wanted to yell at me to move but wasn’t sure which way. In the end the ball landed directly between my feet. His legs were shaking when called me back. Even as I ran back it hadn’t occurred to me that I might have been hurt. I’m pretty sure I even grabbed the ball.
Most forays into the pasture were longer than a single 9 iron. There were long days in the lush green grass and later in the summer and fall when the brittle stubble tested your calloused bare feet. It was one of the major hubs of our activities.
All this open land with few large trees around made it a great spot for one of our annual week or two’s distraction. On some blustery, beautiful spring morning one of us (there were 8-10 kids around my age in the neighborhood) would feel that breeze in his or her face and we’d all race off to Gamble’s 5 and 10. We’d plop down our quarters and run home to get the fun started. My house was closest to the pasture so we generally hustled back to my garage and assembled our brightly colored kites while we bragged about how much better ours was. For 25 cents you got a Hi Flyer ® kite and 3 balls of string. We spent the rest of the morning adding enough tail to balance our kites and sending them out 500 feet or more. At lunch we dragged them all back in and tore home for a quick refueling and then back to the pasture. It was great fun sending playing cards up the string, trying not to cross lines, and staying away from the few trees along the edge of the pasture. By mid afternoon we usually decided to see how high we could get one kite so we hauled in all the others and pooled our string. In the end as supper approached we had to take turns pulling in the 1500 + feet of string while the rest rolled it onto sticks for tomorrow.
As I said, in the end it was a brief distraction, lasting one or maybe two weekends. There was so much more to do. The older kids went off to see friends around town and we younger siblings let our imaginations run wild. School was almost over and you could smell summer in the air.
Shrimp is always a favorite around here. This week it was on sale. A 2 pound bag will make 3 meals for us so when the price is good I jump. I still had a meal’s worth in the freezer so that solved another dinner.
Citrus Shrimp Stir Fry for 4
1 ½ lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 c bok choy, green leaves chopped, stems sliced
1 c fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 c snow peas, trimmed and tough stringy edges removed
½ c onion, chopped
1 c red pepper, cut in bite sized pieces
1 ½ c rice (I use jasmine)
1 tsp sesame oil
1 c orange juice
1 Tbs lemon juice
¼ c dry sherry wine
¼ c soy sauce
2 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp ginger, grated or chopped fine
1 tsp garlic, grated or chopped fine
½ tsp Chinese 5 spice
1 Tbs corn starch
1 tsp brown sugar
- Prepare the rice.
Reflection #1: I like to make shrimp broth with the shells. It only takes 30 minutes or so and brings a bit more flavor to the meal. I put the shells and some celery tops (optional) in some water to cover. Bring to a simmer. After 30 minutes strain and add more water as needed for the rice.
- Combine all of the sauce ingredients and stir thoroughly.
- When the rice begins to show above the water, heat a wok or heavy skillet on high and add 1-2 Tbs peanut oil.
- Add the onion and stir for a minute. Add the red pepper and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the bok choy stems and snow peas and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the shrimp and keep stirring for 3 minutes.
- Thoroughly remix the sauce and add it along with the bok choy tops.
- Continue stirring until the shrimp are just cooked through and sauce thickens. If it gets too thick add some water.
- Stir in the sesame oil and serve over rice.
Reflection #2: I didn’t use nearly enough citrus when I made it so I upped it quite a bit here. I like shrimp with citrus but was too timid.
Reflection #3: Many stir fry recipes will have you cook each item or similar items and set aside. This is probably the best way but I’m too lazy. I typically toss all the veggies except leafy parts at once. Consequently, I get some things done just right and the rest no so much so. Here I’ve tried timing things out so everything is done at about the same time.