My Orange Chicken Recipe

I make ridiculously good orange chicken. Here’s how:

Equipment Needed

  • Deep fryer or deep pot and lots of good frying oil
  • I use coconut oil
  • A big pan or wok to coat the chicken in sauce

Ingredients

Dipping mixture

  • Corn starch (1.5 cups)
  • Unbleached white flour (1.5 cups)
  • Salt (.5 tsp)
  • Pepper (.5 tsp)

Chicken etc

  • Chicken breast, thawed and diced into 1-2 inch cubes (2-3 lbs)
  • Eggs (2)
  • Orange juice (1 orange)
  • Orange zest (.5-1 orange)
  • Salt (.5 tsp)
  • Pepper (.5 tsp)

Orange sauce

  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 6 Tbsp rice vinegar (any flavor/style is fine)
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3-4 Tbsp water
  • Orange juice (fresh from 1.5 oranges)
  • Orange zest (from 1 orange)

In pan

  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 Tbsp minced garlic
  • .5 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion

Last stuff

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch
  • Spicy sesame oil

Steps

  1. Get your oil heating to 375 F minimum. Be sure you have a slotted spoon or a basket to help with gathering the cooked chicken. (I cook outside in our deep fryer– much oil smoke and steam is produced.)
  2. Prepare chicken- thaw and dice- and put in a large bowl.
  3. Add all ‘Chicken etc.’ stuff to the diced chicken. Stir until it’s well combined.
  4. Prepare your dipping mixture in a deepish, wide pan. Combine well.
  5. Place your bowl of chicken mixture and dipping mixture near the hot oil. Also get a large plate or a cake pan and line it with a couple layers of paper towel.
  6. Prepare a large pan– a wide sauce pan is best– by putting it on the stove– no heat yet!– and adding the oil, garlic, and ginger.
  7. Combine the orange sauce ingredients in an appropriate sized bowl. Keep this bowl near to the pan.
  8. Now, in small-medium batches, toss the goopy chicken in the flour mixture, coating evenly, then immediately cooking. It will cook in 4 minutes. DON’T OVERCOOK. Remove from the oil and put it in the cake pan lined with paper towel. Cook all the chicken in this manner. Your hand will get goopy. It’s okay.
  9. The moment you put the last batch of chicken in the oil to cook, go turn the heat on under the pan with oil, ginger, and garlic. Keep the heat on low-medium.
  10. When all the chicken is cooked, set it next to the heating pan of oil, ginger, and garlic. Put the chopped green onions in the oil, ginger, garlic mixture as soon as it is fragrant. Turn the heat to med-high and saute the green onions until they’re slightly cooked.
  11. Time to rock and roll!
  12. Give the orange sauce mixture one last mix to dissolve all sugar. Now pour it in your hot pan of oil, ginger, garlic, and green onions. Bring it to a quick boil.
  13. Turn the heat back down to low.
  14. Put the cooked chicken in the pan, gently coating it with the dark orange sauce.
  15. When the chicken is coated, decide if you want the sauce to be thicker. If so, decide how much. Also, turn off the heat. (YOUR JOB HERE IS TO NOT ACTUALLY COOK THE CHICKEN ANYMORE WHILE STILL COATING IT.)
  16. If only a little thicker, use half the water and corn starch as listed above.
  17. Either way, mix the corn starch in the cold water- leave no lumps.
  18. Drizzle this over the hot pan of chicken and stir well. The sauce will thicken immediately.
  19. When the chicken is fully coated and the sauce is nicely thickened, serve immediately.

We like to have this with rice, Asian slaw, and roasted sweet potatoes.

Yum

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All For The Good

My friends, I thought it would be nice if I wrapped up the journey my beloved and I have been on this year.

You can get the whole story and details up until now in two parts. Part one here. And Part two here.

It started with us being led to do something that required faith: get pregnant. We didn’t understand why, but our hearts grew more willing as we talked, prayed, and talked more. When we got pregnant right away, we felt sure that we were on the right path– and we got excited.

Then the signs of possible trouble, but the belief that the baby would be okay. We spent six hours at the ER as they did test after test on my dear one. The ultrasound technician’s body language was telling me something– I knew something was happening– but I had no clue what we were in for.

Then the ER doctor, Taylor Kallas, came in after we’d waited for so long and leading off by saying, “We have to talk.” He described the mass on her kidney. Said the pregnancy tests were inconclusive. Pointed out that treatment of the mass/cancer was dicey, given the pregnancy. A bolt of lightning hit me the moment he told us what the ultrasound had turned up.

I knew. I knew EXACTLY why Father in Heaven had told us to get pregnant. It was to save her life. We just had to have the faith that would lead us through incomplete understanding to obedience.

Dr. Kallas indicated that we might want to hope for a miscarriage. We didn’t want to do that. We wanted this baby.

Then at the urologist later that week. He said that 90%+ of the time when a mass like this was found incidentally, it was renal cell carcinoma. He said that needle biopsies would be inconclusive, given the size of the tumor: 10cm x 8cm x 8cm. He agreed that a miscarriage would make things clearer and easier.

We still didn’t want that. We didn’t want to have make a choice about it either, because that would have been indescribably harder.

Ten, long painful days of waiting, waiting, waiting. And then we found out conclusively that she was having a miscarriage. That was a tough night. Every tear from my beloved showed me her broken heart– broken in a way I’d never seen before. Different. Really deep. And it hurt me to see it, but that was pain I welcomed, because she needed me there and I wanted to be there and my own grief had to wait for a while.

Underneath and above all of it was the incredible, undeniable miracle of God’s voice and our choice to follow His voice- in actual fact- saving her life from a large renal cell carcinoma.

I still marvel at that. I still marvel, and probably always will, at the moments where we put ourselves at His feet and said, “Thy will be done,” even though we didn’t understand. Who was that? I recognized my wife, her faith and strength and meekness and courage. I don’t recognize myself there– but I want to get know that version of me more.

We arose from our sorrow and got busy with having her kidney removed. The few seconds where I watched her let the grief finish its first run through her and she pulled her frayed self together and went back to our evening of kids and dinner and bedtimes– I kid you not; those are some of the most humbling seconds I’ve lived. My wife is mighty.

She’s also a goofball and a great kisser.

And the surgery happened. Pretty quickly, I would add. And I didn’t know how tight I was inside until I got word that she’d come out of surgery, the cancer looked totally contained, and she was fine. That’s the only time in all of this that I’ve.. I don’t know. Let it go? Mainly because I couldn’t have stopped that release. I was glad to be just parking my car in the hospital parking lot. I needed that privacy.

Now she’s pretty much recovered from the radical nephrectomy. She has a CT scan in May. Then another several months later. Then one every year for five years. All to make sure that there is no cancer anymore.

I went back to the hospital a few days after she got out. I waited in the ER for the ultrasound tech for a couple of hours. After two hours of waiting, I wrote him a note on the back of an envelope which held a tiny token of my thanks for him. As I was about to leave the note with the ER receptionist, the tech walked in. Trevor Whitney is his name.

He recognized me. I hugged him. I told him all the details, mostly that his excellent work found the tumor and saved my wife’s life. He was a little emotional and told me that he was glad to hear how things had turned out. He said he would share my note and our story with other technicians.

We parted ways.

A couple weeks ago, one of my wife’s friends was in the radiology department at this hospital, prepping for a scan of her gall bladder. Since this friend knew the story, she asked if the technician wouldn’t mind checking her kidneys too. She explained the context.

The technician had heard the story. It wasn’t our technician, Trevor, but someone else.

Word has spread. Kidneys are being scanned better as part of their procedure.

People might be saved. Like my wife. Because we listened and had faith and then I followed what I thought was maybe an indulgent whim but it was important to me– and I talked to Trevor.

This has been miracle after miracle, good after good– and it was cancer, major surgery, a miscarriage, a long recovery, and a lot of tears and strained patience and worry.

I can’t find anything bad in this experience we’ve had. Somehow, through grace and faith and love, the hardest thing we’ve ever experienced as a couple has been all for the good.

I’m not going to ask you to share this, because that would feel weird. But we don’t mind if you do and I feel that others can benefit, so go ahead if you want.

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Be A Man

Will the so-called ‘gender wars’ never cease? What do we have to do to get people to treat each other fairly and with tolerance, love, and respect?

Well, I (along with history) can tell you that making a law ain’t going to get it done. Making a bunch of laws won’t either. Legislation doesn’t change opinions, and honestly, it very rarely changes practice on an individual basis.

Legislation provides a pretense of control and assurance. It makes organizations toe a line when obedience to that legislation fits their interest, but more often, it forces those organizations to be more creative and agile in the way they continue to pursue their interests– often leading them to find loopholes in said legislation.

So you can be sure that legislation isn’t going to make today’s kids responsible adults who abide by laws and treat others with respect, love, and tolerance. I hope this doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but it’s a fact.

Let me reiterate: Laws don’t make good citizens and/or good human beings. Laws, by their nature, are designed to preempt behavior that infringes on the rights of another by providing a threat of punishment for the breaking of that law.

But fear of punishment for breaking a law is not what fashions young people into law-abiding citizens. If that were the case, nobody would murder or steal or speed. Fear of punishment is not enough. It’s something else that makes good citizens.

It’s parents. Mostly.

Sure, some apples fall far from the tree, often because the apple in question makes a personal decision to fall far from the tree and start down a different path.

But generally, it’s parents. Parents and the culture they inculcate in their home are what shape a kid, for the most part. There’s certainly something to be said for individual biology and psychology– but it’s really hard to quantify the environmental and biological influences on kids.

I say this because I wish we could stop freaking out so much, particularly about gender. For crying out loud, the latest cause du jour is this odd, deeply misplaced push to #BanBossy.

You’ve gotta be kidding me.

What with crappy, bloated school administrations letting boys and girls (boys more than girls) slip through the school cracks, massive problems with human sex trafficking (girls more than boys and this breaks my heart), terrible abuse and crime in countless inner cities, indescribably damaging to the self-image pictures in myriad popular magazines, our nation’s ugly addiction to pop culture, the scourge of pornography and terrifyingly asinine idea that it’s a victimless thing, and the astonishingly abominable way that our justice system and society treat rape victims– the movement is to ‘ban bossy?’

That’s like putting a band-aid on a tiny scrape that happened at the same time that an axe was buried in a person’s chest.

Saying we should #BanBossy is as effective as saying #BanStupid.

‘Ban Bossy’ brings us nowhere nearer to where we want to be as a society– to a place where people are respected, where this society has a general expectation of people that they are individually responsible for themselves and their actions.

I tell my boys, five of them, to be a man when I want them to move closer to that expectation. By telling them to be a man, I’m not telling them that women are bad. They know that I’m not saying anything about women– I’m saying something about what I expect from them– my lads. I’m telling my mini-men to adhere to a pretty expansive set of expectations which we’ve been over many times. Would you like to know what a man is, in my family? A man to be aspired to, at least?

  1. A man is absolutely and totally respectful of women. Words such as ‘slut,’ or anything else are never uttered, under any circumstances. Any kind of demeaning language toward women is uncomfortable in the mouth of an actual, real man.
  2. A man does not wait for anyone else to do the right thing. He doesn’t wait when society or friends or fear tell him to hold back. He unhesitatingly serves anyone in need that he encounters. He instantly defends the victim in any situation, and withholds judgment, but makes sure all involved are at least in a place of safety.
  3. A man knows, and lives by the knowledge, that he is responsible for never making another person uncomfortable. He doesn’t buy into a victim mentality; but instead he lives by the individual responsibility mentality: interpretation of behavior and perspectival impressions don’t matter a whit. What matters is whether sufficient consideration went into any given interaction and if any assumption was unkind or inconsiderate– he takes the responsibility unswervingly and makes it right inasmuch as possible.
  4. A man is meek. This is strength. True meekness comes from inner peace and confidence. It comes from a strength of conviction that comes from a person knowing and living by the knowledge that he is never fully aware of the entire situation and the entire set of details about a given situation or issue. Which means that he has something to learn. Always. This means that a man doesn’t win arguments. A man discusses and listens and doesn’t allow pride to push him to ‘make a point.’ A man listens and makes sure others feel valued and appreciated. His meekness is strength because the only thing motivating him in a given situation is love and concern for others. His pride is swallowed in this.
  5. A man has unassailable integrity. There is no attempt to deceive, either for his own benefit or for the detriment of others. None.
  6. A man works. A man does what is needed before what is wanted. A man does what he has to do before he does what he wants to do. Work brings power. Not power over others, but power over one’s self. Power over the things that need to be controlled and put in order. Increased power over one’s situation. A man works hard out of duty, out of love, out of a need to make the world a better place.
  7. A man makes the world a better place. He never makes another person’s day, or life, harder in any way. He doesn’t multiply work for others. He reaches out to those in need. He anticipates need. He doesn’t let fear stop him from visible or invisible service to others. This means he doesn’t make a mess for others to clean up; he sees a person who needs car help and stops to help immediately; he finds ways to brighten a day every day.
  8. A man weeps. A man feels and allows himself to express emotions in positive expressions. He weeps when moved. He laughs when moved. He does NOT shout when moved. He understands that emotional expression is a choice that he is responsible for, so he allows himself to express emotion positively and in a way that increases love, connection, and trust. So a man weeps with his loved ones. He recognizes when he needs comfort and when others will be strengthened through comforting him.
  9. A man is positive. A man knows that the world is full of opportunities to be sad and morose, but chooses instead to be positive, to have fun, to say kind things and find ways to make things enjoyable.
  10. A man is vulnerable. A man knows he cannot hold the weight of the world, knows he needs help often, and knows to ask for that help. A man knows he has needs in a relationship and communicates those needs in a productive, frank way.
  11. A man is silly, imperfect, doesn’t take himself seriously, and knows that life is about finding joy, not wallowing in sadness or depression. A man also knows when he needs help, again, and if he is sick, he seeks that help. And he brings fun, happiness, self-deprecation, and appropriate irreverence to the world around him inasmuch as he can.
  12. A man loves. A man shows love through word, touch, service, goodness, and expression. This also means that a man is peace-loving and doesn’t allow forceful coercion to be how he does things. Loving persuasion is the way to bring people to your side and a man knows this and lives this.
  13. A man appreciates beauty. Yes, womanly beauty as well as natural beauty. He perceives the beauty– or at least does his best to– in all women. He senses the beauty of Creation and all nature- the complexity of systems and life and the planet. And this appreciation means he is respectful of all things– which brings us back to number 1.

Ultimately, life is beautiful in so many ways, even when life is hard and trying. Often, choosing to find the beauty is the only way we can bring comfort and control into our lives.

I know this is a pretty big list, but it’s all stuff that is crucial. Governments can’t make good citizens, but parents can. When I think of how my boys can be as men, I think of these things. I want to be these things. I know I can make the world a better, kinder, happier, more peaceful, and safer place if I live these principles. And I know that living and teaching these principles to my five sons will make them better people and the world a better place far more effectively than laws ever will.

Laws have their place, but I don’t depend on them. Neither should you.

So stop encouraging the ‘ban bossy’ inanity and start taking control of yourself and the way you treat others. Be a man. And honestly, be a woman– because a lot of these probably apply to women. I’m not a woman, so I can’t really say, though. What I can say is that my boys are being taught to respect women enough that at no point in their adult life will they speak demeaningly or disrespectfully to a woman or girl– if what we are trying in our home works.

Which I think it will.

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Coolest Science Experiment With an Egg

Our firstborn, lovingly nicknamed T-Rock, suggested the other day that we do an experiment with an egg and vinegar.

So I grabbed one of our fresh eggs, only recently produced from the butt of one of our chickens, and he grabbed a pint mason jar. We put the egg in carefully, with a spoon, so as to not crack it. Then we poured apple cider vinegar.

T-Rock said that he’d heard the egg shell might dissolve. I got curious so I watched it closely.

After 24 hours, things had gotten pretty interesting, so I took a couple of pictures. This one’s a side view. The egg started dark brown. The froth started forming only a few minutes after immersing the egg. The brown stuff is the skin of the eggshell. It has softened, mostly dissolved, and there is a little bit of it gathered on top.

chemical reactions afoot

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now here’s a top view:

egg skin coming off

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that’s looking suitably nasty.

We let it go for another 48 hours. The skin completely dissolved and it.. well, pictures and video ought to get this done.

Here’s the egg pictured next to an egg that is exactly the same size that our test egg was. So you have a test and a control egg. Test egg is on the right.

the incredible growing egg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes. The test egg expanded. Also, it’s not, um, hard anymore.

squishy egg

 

 

 

 

 

 

The shell has completely dissolved, leaving only what appears to be a slightly tougher membrane. And it’s definitely larger than it was prior to the experiment’s start.

Now for two videos.

We fiddle with the nifty test egg here:


And here, the egg meets its doom:


So, as you saw, the egg burst easily when punctured, and the white was really runny. The membrane was all that remained.

SCIENCE! (With an egg.)

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Agency and Dodging a Tumor-Shaped Bullet

It’s incredible to me as I sit here looking back on what began on January 11th. My beloved pregnant, bleeding slightly. Our expectation that the ER would simply say, “Take it easy.”

We had been told by Father in Heaven that we ought to get pregnant. Both of us had felt this. Both of us had resisted, but I admire so much my beloved’s courage and faith in the way she asked and listened and acted on the guidance given.

I didn’t want us to get pregnant.

Reflecting on that resistance, I can’t get to my knees fast enough to thank God for my faithful wife and for the favor of humility that I was granted so that I would come around.

In case you haven’t quite picked up on it, this is true love, my friends. My wife and I are deeply, thoroughly, madly in love with each other. Have been for 16+ years. It’s a love story. Mainly, Jesus built it (if you get this reference, let me know in the comments).

Okay. Here’s a summary of events:

Seven months or so ago, we both felt guided to talk about getting pregnant and having another child (we already have six awesome kids). We chatted, came to a consensus that we really would rather not get pregnant again and start again with the whole baby thing, but agreed that something was going on.

Before long, my beloved revealed that she’d had a clear impression that we were to get pregnant. I revealed that I’d been feeling the same thing and had been resisting it. After prayer, lots of discussion, and lather, rinse, and repeat, we decided that this was something Father in Heaven wanted us to do for a reason He knew about and that we would have to take on faith.

We took it on faith. She got pregnant in December. By the end of 2013, we were pretty excited and were talking strollers, car seats, and a crib. On January 10, she started to bleed very lightly. January 11th, Saturday, we went to the ER because the bleeding had worsened somewhat. An ultrasound was inconclusive regarding the viability of the pregnancy. The ultrasound turned up a large tumor on her right kidney. An MRI that night confirmed that this tumor was large and dense– very worrisome.

Within the week, a urologist confirmed again that this thing was concerning. He also said that needle biopsies would be totally inconclusive, given the size of the tumor (turned out to be 10 cm on one dimension!). He said the only good path was to do a radical nephrectomy, which meant removing the kidney and the tumor together. He said it was surprising that my wife didn’t have any symptoms. He said this kind of thing was only found early enough to do anything about it when it was found incidentally. When symptoms show up, he said, it’s pretty much too late.

Within the next week, we confirmed that we had lost our baby. For the strange, mixed feelings about this, see my previous post: God’s Hand, Free Agency, and a Mass.

So it was time to schedule the nephrectomy. Yes, my wife would be down a kidney. Much research was done and to sum it all up is a sentence that she found in one write-up: “This is a fairly major surgery, but no further treatment should be required.”

Having a kidney removed is serious business.

That happened a little over a week ago on a Monday morning. My mother-in-law had flown into town from Anchorage and we waited in the surgery waiting area for word on how the surgery went. It took over an hour and a half to do the surgery. I was hurrying back to the hospital after running an errand when my mother-in-law called. The physician had just stopped by and said that the operation had gone pretty near perfectly.

He was confident that the nephrectomy got all of the tumor. Its appearance indicated it had not grown or spread. Its appearance also indicated that this would have been a MUCH different story only six months down the road.

I was grateful that I was in my car when I got this news. The news that she had come out of surgery okay, that the tumor was out of her, and that things looked good going forward.

I had not worried, because I have known from the start of this that God had revealed to us what we should do FOR THE EXACT PURPOSE of finding this tumor and dealing with it. But not worrying does not mean not being in an emotional wringer, on a tightwire of barely contained emotional tempest.

It exploded out in my car as I parked. Shakes hit me and I said over and over, head bowed over the steering wheel, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” Several minutes passed as I let the torrent run its course. Then I went in and we waited a LONG time before she came out of post-surgery holding. Her blood pressure had been concerningly low. Turns out that my beloved’s body reacts poorly to certain pain medications.

She was hospital-wall pale when she, lying on her high-tech bed, appeared in the hallway on her way to the room she would spend much of the next six days in. I leaped from my chair and ran to her. She loopily said, “Hey you,” before fading. This was real. Her kidney and the terrifying-but-not tumor were gone.

She was beautiful. And very loopy.

The next few days were challenging as her body fought nausea, anesthesia, pain, and lethargy. I balanced time between making sure kids were in the places they needed to be, keeping my work under control, and being with her. Long, busy, exhausting days. But she made progress.

She was due to come home the Friday after her Monday surgery, but that day she was hammered by unrelenting nausea. She came home on Saturday instead. By the time we left the hospital, the pathology results of the tumor still hadn’t come back.

We went in on Monday to the physician’s office. I thanked him profusely. His PA removed the 20 staples from my beloved’s abdomen. Pathology indicated that the tumor was indeed renal cell carcinoma.

How bad was the bullet we had just dodged?

Bad. Dangerous. Six months away from being very bad. Very bad.

Typing anything more specific than that is a bit of a challenge for me. So I’ll just mention an alternate universe where we didn’t listen, didn’t make the choice to trust God and follow inspiration, and she starts to decline in health inexplicably and she is diagnosed with kidney cancer that has gone too far to do anything about and I don’t have her anymore.

Eighty percent of people who go through what Annemarie has gone through spend the rest of their normal-length lives free of any cancer or problem. She will do regular screenings for the rest of this year, then once every year for the rest of her life.

Cancer.

We felt we were being asked to do something by God. We didn’t want to, but we decided to trust Him. We even soon found joy in that trust. As a DIRECT result of our CHOICE to follow and trust in INSPIRATION, her life was saved and cancer was beaten.

Has this been hard? Sure. Lots of things in life are hard. Has it been scary? Yeah, when the imagination gets going, this has been terrifying. But in the moments of closeness that we’ve had together, both leading up to the surgery and now after, we both get very quiet as the extraordinary beauty of this miraculous series of events unfolds in our minds. And we start talking about love and gratitude and God and revelation and truth.

And then we think about what is meant when our faith says God is active in our lives and now we really understand much more about that.

He didn’t reach in and yank this tumor. He didn’t stop it from forming. He didn’t make it form.

He gave us the opportunity to listen, trust, turn over our agency to Him through faith, and then have miracles come after the exercise of faith. He knows our hearts.

And now WE know our hearts better, and our hearts are changed for the better too.

I’m not sharing this for attention, guys. I’m sharing this because it’s life-changing for us and it has fundamentally altered our understanding of how God interacts with us. I think this might be able to help others enhance their understanding and faith.

My kids know that my motto is “Make the world a better place every day.” When I talked last night with the ultrasound technician who found the tumor, he said something that struck me. I told him that I couldn’t thank him enough for checking her kidneys as part of the ultrasound that was really meant to determine the viability of a pregnancy. He said it was protocol, but that a lot of people didn’t really do it.

He then said he would share this story and his part of it with everyone on the radiology staff to help them see how important it was to follow protocol. How protocol just saved the life of a mother of six and a best friend to me.

So the whim I had to go talk to him and thank him might have done good in the world.

There’s value in telling this story. I hope you found some value in reading it.

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