It’s Sunday morning and I am feeling happy and content about the little things in life. We are in the midst of our Sunday morning ritual, more or less a ritual I suppose, as we don’t give ourselves grief when, for some reason or other, we fail to follow it strictly. But it is, most Sundays, our ritual, our tradition. A family needs traditions, and rituals, I think. And believe me, coming from me, who hardly ever commits to a “steady table”, that is something. But there is comfort in regularity, there is strength in the reliability and stability of things lovingly repeated. I believe children need it, and grow strong and true surrounded and supported by it. Just as, I believe, they flourish around newness and adventure.
But so do we, parents, husband and wife, or any two people that have resolutely and unequivocally decided to be partners…we also need these family traditions, big and small, I think. Roots, both big and small.
And on Sunday mornings it’s all about the big and small. We “sleep in” – which means to say we get up just in time for a quick getting-ready for 10 AM mass. If we are feeling sprightlier, we may get up early and do a nice breakfast at home. But most Sundays we give each other (well, this means me and the husband mostly as the kids are already up and about) the leeway to luxuriate in bed a bit more, something we don’t get to enjoy during the week. We then pack two coffees-to-go (or swing by for them in our local coffee place – at this time the kids have already had breakfast, yes we have nannies and are very grateful for their help) and are off. On the way there we play Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” maybe 10 times because that is the kids’ current favorite (ok, favorite for the past I don’t know how long) – by this time I already love the song and (from having heard it two million times) can sing along pretty well, especially the speaking part where I try to give it some real attitude and sass. I know this may be the last song choice for parents on their way to mass — but let’s not judge ok?
(I actually love Taylor Swift as she has reliably confirmed both my pregnancies: if I start crying during a Taylor Swift song, I know I’m pregnant! Then I cry to her songs for 9 months…it’s exhilarating!)
My kids have yet to sit through a full mass without wanting to go outside and play in the garden. Right now, at five and two, I don’t twist their arms. I just tell the five-year-old to say “thank you to Papa Dios” first before going out. We try to communicate the import of mass to the two-year-old but so far we are uncertain what of this is retained. He does look suitably solemn for roughly 1.5 minutes and that’s enough for now.
After mass we either treat ourselves to a meal out or, if I’ve managed to prepare something in all my Sunday laziness, have a home cooked meal. And depending on what we decide, we will either have some activity planned for the kids, trying to get some errands done in between, or, and I make no apologies for this, all have a really nice nap.
If I do decide to cook, on one of those deliciously lazy Sundays, it’ll be something very quick and easy…like this chicken.
General Tso’s Chicken
(adapted from Rasa Malaysia)
- 400 grams of skinless chicken thigh fillet (Bee uses chicken breast but I prefer thigh fillets)
- 1/2 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- A pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- Oil for deep frying (I compromised a did a more shallow fry due to my fear of deep frying…so I just had enough oil to come up to halfway of the chicken)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons oil
- 3 slices peeled ginger, finely minced
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 4-5 dried red chilis, rinsed and deseeded (left this out for the kids!)
- 2 stalks scallion, white-part only, cut into 1-inch lengths (I used 4 slim leeks cooked with the sauce, plus 1 sliced for garnish)
- 2 1/2 – 3 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon Shaoxing Wine
- 1 scant tablespoon cornstarch
– Marinate the chicken with the Shaoxing wine and salt for 15 minutes. Mix all the ingredients for the Sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
– Coat the chicken generously with the cornstarch.
– Heat up the oil for deep (or shallow) frying. When the oil is hot, fry the chicken until they turn light brown, flip and fry the other side until likewise colored. Do not overcrowd the pan. Remove cooked chicken to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain.
– Heat up a wok with the 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, add the ginger, garlic, and dried chilies and stir-fry until you smell the garlic and, if using, the spicy aroma of the chilies.
– Pour the sauce mixture into the wok. Stir occasionally until the sauce boils and thickens.
– Once the sauce has thickened, add the chicken and toss gently to combine until everything is evenly coated in the sauce. Add the scallion and stir a few times.
– Serve immediately.
Because my kids are still, um, building up their spice tolerance, I’ve left out all the chili in this recipe. I realize this may totally negate the General Tso-ness of this dish so just leave the chili in, but know that if you have some pressing reason to leave them out (like small children) that is totally fine.
Re-reading this post I see that I have just subjected you to a criminally boring account of a pretty unglamorous Sunday morning. I apologize. But that’s real life folks. At least in these parts. And that is absolutely ok by me.
So, on Sunday mornings, you’ll find me here, at my little “steady table”, with my small group of folk, doing whatever it is that catches our fancy…or doing what we always do on a Sunday morning. What are your family rituals and traditions?