Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Tale of My $2,000 Dollar CHINATOWN CHICKEN SALAD

OK, to be fair, the salad was made with half of one of those Rotisserie Chickens I love so much.  The bean sprouts were a bit of a luxury ingredient, but really not that expensive.  The oils, assorted veggies and spices in the home made dressing I either had already or were very reasonably priced...

It's the lettuce that cost me $2,000.

Let me explain... There are 5 steps to reach before you can call yourself a foodie...

  1. You can run a food category when watching Jeopardy... Check
  2. You have in your freezer more than one chicken carcasses ready to make stock... Check (right now I have three)
  3. You know the difference between a Soup and a Bisque... Check (and I have the bruised shins where my wife politely suggested I stop sharing these little tidbits with non-foodie friends) 
  4. You own a knife that cost more than your first car... Check (but it wasn't that nice of a car)
  5. You have a garden
I almost have a garden.

Starting in March, I decided I should be a gardener.  I started my seeds, waiting patiently for the weather to stabilize for optimum planting season.  Then my wife made a suggestion (remember those bruised shins... I pay attention to her suggestions).  She simply asked where I was going to do my planting.

My idea was to rip up the entire back yard, plant the hundred plus tomato, pepper, herbs, and assorted seedlings I started.

Her idea was to keep the back yard as it was and I should not dig up anything.

We agreed on a compromise...

We already had an ornamental bit of landscaping complete with seasonal colors and ...

Our garden frog.

At some point, I plan to rip out every bit of the inedible stuff my wife slaved tirelessly to cultivate over the last 5 years and have a nice little corn patch (shhhhhh, it's a secret plan I haven't told her about).  But for now, my wife suggested we add another terrace that can be my garden.  After much soul searching and a bit more bruised shins, I decided that, of course my wife was right.  It was a bad idea to dig up our little 1/8th acre back yard and a good idea to limit my garden to 4 X 12.

So we contracted with our original landscaper to have the terrace built to match our existing landscaping.  That was agreed upon in March.  Finally, today, almost 4 months later, I am getting my garden plot built.

In the mean time, my seedlings became too big to live in their tiny pots.  Knowing I was sure to have my garden in no time (insert sarcasm font here), I temporarily transplanted my little beauties into temporary containers...

So, yes indeedy, my wonderful little patio no is home to a dozen or so kitty litter containers where my little darlings are thriving nicely...



Several varieties of peppers

And even lettuce are growing in their temporary homes enough to harvest a bit...

This is the first meal I made with anything from my "garden" (kitty litter containers)

And a HUGE thank you goes out to Heather, Girlichef who posted this recipe on her blog a few days ago (click HERE to see her original version).  I only made a few minor changes.  She uses won ton wrappers.  I already splurged on the luxury ingredient of bean sprouts.  I used plain old tortillas in place of the won tons.  She advises peanuts, I already had a can of honey roasted cashews.  She likes the color of red bell peppers, I am protesting the outrages cost of red bell peppers and used a Pablano instead.  Loses the red color for presentation, but saved me over $1  (remember, I am spending $2,000 for the lettuce, saving that dollar was important).

Here's what I did...

First step, plan back in March to grow your own...


OR, shop at the store for...

Adapted from 
Heather, Girlichef who adapted this from Nigella Kitchen
feeds 2

2 Tortila
Oil for frying

for the dressing:
1 green chile, seeded & finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh ginger, chopped
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbs. soy sauce
splash sesame oil
1/4 tsp. sugar

for the salad:
½ c. honey roasted Cashews
1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded (or grow your own and pick fresh)
3 oz. bean sprouts
4 green onions, sliced thin (green and white parts
1 Pablano pepper, seeded & cut into thin strips
handful cilantro, chopped

2 Chicken Breasts (I used a store bought rotisserie Chicken)

  1. Crisp up the tortillas, generously coat with canolla oil, fry until golden brown and crisp
  2. Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a mini chopper and whirl away until well mixed
  3. Mix the salad ingredients and arrange attractively on a plate
  4. Add the chicken breasts (sliced)
  5. Add the tortillas, cut into wedges
  6. Enjoy the fruits (veggies) of your labor!
And yes, if you are following along with the irony...

My back yard, which my wife protected to keep our lawn looking nice for the neighbors to enjoy, now looks like this...

The prettiest KITTY LITTER GARDEN on the block!

And one more shout out thank you to Heather, Girlichef who not only posted this recipe on her own blog, but also contributed this to eRecipeCards.com !  Slowly, eRecipeCrads is coming together.

Come to eRecipeCards.comcreate an account and share your favorite recipe with the world!  And once you have a favorite (like this easy DELICIOUS recipe), you can add that recipe to your own personal eRecipeBox to easily find again when you think you want to recreate the dish!

eRecipeCards.com is in "Beta Test" mode.  Consider this an invitation to be a part of the adventure from day one.  There will be improvements coming this week, with the final version on line within the week.

Currently the only "serious" issue is with the photo editor.  You need to submit a square format 250X250 pixel image.  But in just a few days, you will be able to submit a larger rectangle image and be able to edit at the eRecipeCards site.

A small hastle to resize and crop yourself right now, but worth the effort to be in on the adventure from day one!

And oh yeah, if you like this recipe, you will indeed find it at eRecipeCards.com A perfect recipe to start your eRecipeBox of favorites from around the blog world!



  1. ha ha ha ha...definitely the prettiest kitty litter garden I've ever seen ;) I think I'm gonna use cashews next time I make this salad...they're my favorite, don't know why I haven't used them before. I can't wait to see your garden once it's in the ground. Thanks for the awesome shout-out and links!! (and yes, purple fingerling potatoes)

  2. I can't wait to see the finished plot. Heather's salad sounds wonderful and is perfect for this time of year. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  3. My garden is weedy, but coming along. Hubby and I were thinking of starting some herbs. I may try that this week.

  4. The garden is TOTALLY worth it! I am so jealous of all your fresh herbs and veggies!

  5. Brings back fond memories of me ripping up all the beautiful lawn at our last house to put in an herb garden... it was 35 by 15. Could have been a bit large. The vegetable garden was in a different area.
    BTW - still waiting for an answer ;-)) Or should I just start fresh?

  6. Your tomatoes look good. I have tried planting them for the first time in years but the bottoms are getting little black spots. Do you have that issue with your tomatoes? Maybe it's just Florida heat...or my non-green thumb.

  7. I wanted to make this when I saw Girlichef had made it. I'd love to have my own garden too - but I think getting one would cost even more than $2000 as I'd have to move from a flat to a house first!

  8. We are "bucket gardeners" too! At least we can move them around for sun and rain easier.