Friday, May 6, 2011

Is Marriage Good For You?

I am loud, disorganized and live by hyperbole.  My husband is quiet, focused and logical.  We’re an unlikely match.  But I can only say that my life has changed for the better since we’ve met.  I feel incredibly blessed.

The New York Times' Pauline Chen had an interesting perspective on the issue of marriage and lifelong health.  Overall, married people have better lifelong health than those who are single, however those that have turmoil in their marriage or ultimately divorce may have more health difficulties overall.  Good communication within a relationship can even promote wound healing.1 

Nobody in this society is stranger to marriage strain and divorce; I am definitely not alien to marital demise.  There is never certainty that everything will be ok.  So I’m just going to take this whole marriage thing one day at a time and count my blessings.  I’m going to try and play my part to be a good wife and a supportive partner. For me, there’s no better way to express my love for my husband than through a pot and pan. 

This recipe is the dish that I make that my husband loves most.  Which is funny because of all the things I make, it’s just stir-fried chicken and cabbage.  The delicious factor is the home-ground five spice powder which gives a unique taste and aroma.  You can always buy pre-packaged spice for a shortcut, but it’s never quite as good as what you can whack up in a coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle.

I actually got the idea for this recipe on an airplane of all places.  I know, I know, an airplane?! But I was flying to Asia, and the five spice was just so yummy.  Even though five spice is commonly used in Chinese food, it’s not really something that is served most commonly in restaurants.  It’s almost like a punchy version of mulling spices which gives a warming taste to the food.   You gotta try it.

Five Spice Chicken and Cabbage Stir Fry

For the five spice
1 cinnamon stick
5 star anise
15 cloves
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorn
1 tsp fennel seed

Toast the spices on high heat until fragrant in a dry skillet.  Pulse in spice grinder until it’s a fine powder.

For the stir fry
1.5-2lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
½ large onion diced

½ head of Chinese or regular cabbage cut into matchsticks
1 inch ginger finely chopped
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp vinegar (rice wine or white)
1 tbsp sugar
¼ cup Chinese cooking wine or dry Sherry
2 tsp corn starch

In a measuring cup, mix soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, wine and cornstarch.  Set aside.  In wok or large sauté pan, place 2 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil over high heat.  When oil is smoking, add onion, chicken and five spice.  Cook until chicken is almost cooked through.  Add ginger and cabbage and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Add sauce mixture and allow to bring to a boil.  Serve over brown rice.

1: Gouin JP, Carter CS, Pournajafi-Nazarloo H, Glaser R, Malarkey WB, Loving TJ, Stowell J, Kiecolt-Glaser JK. Marital behavior, oxytocin, vasopressin, and wound healing. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2010 Aug;35(7):1082-90

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