I watch a lot of different YouTube channels. I have a few favorite vloggers. One particular young man is a freelance videographer. Nearly everyday for the past three years, he’s recorded his travels, his hobbies, his job, his exercise routine, his process for making homemade sauerkraut, his laundry, and his meals. I love his channel. If you loved Seinfeld, which was a show about nothing, then Robby Huang’s YouTube channel is for you.
Among the routines of his day, Robby videos meal preparation. Sometimes, the vlog is about preparing a meal. Sometimes, it about eating the meal while watching YouTube. Honestly, its fascinating to watch. Overtime, I’ve come to realize that he has an amazing food rut. Day after day, he eats the same food, cooked the same way. I’ve watched him make fried sweet potatoes for hundreds of episodes. Thanks to his storytelling skills, it never gets old. If you had asked me before I began watching his channel if we ate the same thing everyday, I would have gaffed. I would have declared (with a huff, mind you) that we had a wide and varied menu, packed with farm-fresh veggies and local meat.
I would have been wrong.
Watching him stir eggs in a drinking glass, then scramble them in a skillet using chopsticks, for months on end, I’ve gained perspective about the our diet. Like him, we’re all living in food rut.
Truth. We do eat a lot of locally grown foods, especially in the summer. But our grocery list stays constant and rarely varies. Like most Americans, we purchase and eat the same stuff all the time. Kroger recognizes it and graciously sends us loyalty coupons for our favorite brands. Occasionally they’ll toss in a couple brands or items for something similar to our usual fare, but those coupons never get used. Even the vendors at our farmer’s market know what I’m going to buy and who I’m going to buy from. The Medlocks have a well-trenched food rut that is paved with brand loyalty.
There is one meal that I love to make: chicken, broccoli, and rice. This is the meal that made realize that like my favorite vlogger, we nearly eat the same thing day after day. I make this meal as a stir-fry, a soup, a casserole, and as a stew. I’ve even tossed the leftovers onto a cheese pizza on a Friday night. The ingredients are nearly always the same (because we buy the same items!) and its always gluten-free.
Sometimes I mix things up a bit, especially when I’m lacking an ingredient or something we love is in season (like okra). Sometimes, I’ll make our favorite meal Tex-Mex style (skip the broccoli, add corn, black beans, oven-dried cherry tomatoes, and the juice from one lime). Sometimes, if I’m feeling really exotic or we’re out of broccoli, I’ll roast the veggies. There is nothing more mouth watering than a roast chicken with roasted mushrooms, Italian peppers, onions, garlic, and rosemary. Sometimes, I’ll make the dish as fried rice (more rice, less veggies). And sometimes, although rarely, I’ll make it as a meal: Chicken. Broccoli. And rice. Thanks to my cooking skills and dislike of measuring ingredients, it never tastes the same or becomes boring. No matter how many times I make it.
Our favorite meal always begins with rice. Usually, there’s leftover rice in the fridge. But if there isn’t, it only takes 20 minutes to cook. If I’m making brown rice, it takes 45 minutes, which means I can toss a load of laundry in while I’m making dinner. Win. Win.
Next, I skim my favorite cast iron skillet with olive oil. No matter what happens to the ingredients to transform them into their final form, I typically stir-fry the veggies first. My family loves the char flavor that comes from my iron skillet. Over a high heat, I start with diced carrots because they take longer to cook. Then, I add chopped onion, whole-cloves of garlic, mushrooms, and green peppers. The secret to a great stir-fry is to leave the veggies alone. Avoid over stirring. When the veggies start to char, I add two bags of frozen chopped broccoli on top. Then I walk away and let the magic steam and my favorite cast-iron skillet do their job. They never let me down.
For the chicken, I grab a bag of whatever is on hand. Leftover grilled chicken breasts get diced and added on top of the broccoli. Or I’ll grab a bag of Tyson’s Fajita Chicken, dump it into a pie plate, and thaw it in the oven. Once thawed, I dice the chicken and add on top of the broccoli. From there I generally make one of three recipes.
- If I only have a couple cups of chicken broth, I’ll thicken it with a rue. I add it slowly to the iron skillet full of veggies and chicken, then stir in a cup of rice. Let simmer for a few minutes. Bam! A delicious and easy chicken and rice stew.
- If I’m making a casserole, everything gets tossed into a baking dish with two cans of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken & Mushroom soup and a cup (or two) of rice. Cook at 350 for 20 minutes. Bam! A creamy and satisfying casserole.
- If I’m making soup, everything in the skillet gets tossed into a dutch oven that has two (or three) boxes of chicken broth. Generously add cumin seeds. We’re gluten-free, so instead of noodles, I add a cup (or two) of rice. Simmer for 15 minutes, then add a can of great northern beans. The northern beans add an awesome flavor to the soup. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Bam! Perfect soup when paired with homemade cornbread.
Multiple meals from the same (or nearly the same) recipe. Maybe I should start a YouTube channel like Robby and entertain the world with my one recipe meals? Nah, I’d have to clean my kitchen first.
What’s your go to meal?