Emily Cooks: Spicy Mint Beef

From Giada de Laurentiis’ Weeknights with Giada

This is really good, and fast: the only thing I would note is to do the prep work (slicing, etc.) before you start the heat! 

Variation: I omitted the basil since I didn’t have any, and used teriyaki sauce because I was (inexplicably!) out of soy. It does make it a bit saltier, but I found it to be within my range of tolerance.

I have also simplified the soy sauce: in her recipe, she calls for two types of soy sauce—sweet and black—but the kind I subbed in is her suggested substitution. 

This is a Thai inspired dish, per the intro to the recipe. Great for nights when you need something quick. (It’s like 8 minutes in the pan)

Spicy Mint Beef

3 tbsp. oil, for pan (I used EVOO)

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 Thai or serrano chiles, cored and thinly sliced (be sure to get all the seeds out to lessen the heat)

3 small shallots, thinly sliced

1 red bell paper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced

1/4 c. Thai fish sauce

1/4 c. regular soy sauce + 1/4 c. sugar (to sweeten the dish)

1 tbsp. chili paste or Sriracha sauce

1 lb. sirloin, sliced very thin

1 1/2 c. basil leaves, torn

1 c. mint leaves

1) In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chiles and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add shallots and bell pepper and cook for one minute. Add fish sauce, soy sauce, chili paste. Bring the mixture to a  low simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender, about 2 minutes. 

2) Add the steak and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes for medium doneness. Remove the skillet from the heat and add basil and mint, stirring until the herbs are wilted. Serve.


“Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind…or forgotten.”

this is such an underrated Disney movie. Love it. 

The Simple Woman’s Daybook: April 30, 2012

Feast of St. Pope Pius V, OP

Outside my window…sunny and warm—in the low 80s—with patchy clouds coming in. The weather forecast has been predicted rain all day, so we’ll see if it’s right.

I am wearing..Gap boyfriend jeans, a violet J. Jill tank top

I am readingHelen Keller in Love—I just got my advanced copy! whee!—Wish You Were Here, The Song of Achilles (both of these, again) 

Listening to…a mix CD in my car

Thanks for…confession, daily Mass, a good opening weekend of the show 

Praying for…friend taking med school boards, Margaret and her baby

Rhythm in the house…it’s weird….M-W I have free evenings, but Th-Sat. evenings I have the show. So I am cherishing the “show free” days to relax and get some stuff done around the house.

Keeping House…like the segue? 🙂 vacuuming, cleaning the kitchen. I have bouquets of flowers, which I adore, but that also means petals on the floor and stem bits from the cutting. 🙂 Oh, and I LOVE THIS

From the kitchen…if the sirloin *ever* thaws, I’m having spicy mint beef tonight, from Weeknights with Giada. Not sure about the rest of the week, although I have some ideas marinating. 

Garden notes…I want to get the seeds in the soil this week. That means—I have to buy soil. Not pots, though. The people who lived here last left me a planter, so I’m going to use that. 

Living the liturgy…Mass as often as possible during the week. LOH, rosary. Tech weeks really throw this off. 

This week…Tomorrow, lunch with dad; Th-Sun, the show. 


I have one basic goal in life: stay alive. 🙂

So, when a co-worker was asking em this week what my “goals” are, I said that.

I do have some other goals, and one of them is getting serious work this summer: writing a book proposal. (More on that later). But really, I don’t have big career goals. I work to live.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate my job, or work. There is a satisfaction that comes with it, and using my brain is a good thing. But I don’t have goals that involve big offices and six figure salaries. I want to go on vacation, write my memoir, see lots of theater and opera, do lots of theater….and these things don’t happen when a lot of people depend on you.

Plus, it’s beyond the range of my capabilities. I’m legally deaf in both ears, and even with the CI, my hearing is not always top-notch. And my insane body can, at any random moment, decide that it wants to cause trouble. I’ve sent my boss a lot of texts from the ER during my tenure.

So, I try my best to do my best work. But writing, theater, family, friends…these are the things that are important to me.  When I die, I’m not going to say, “Oh, how I wish I’d have worked more!”

Living my life sans regrets is a huge thing for me. And while I’ll work longer hours if the work requires it, I won’t do it just to do it. I like money, because it gets me books and clothes and theater tickets. But I don’t like it for its own sake.

So, yes, I do have goals. They just don’t involve corporate America.

Those “fine lines”: Thoughts on getting “wrinkled up”

“But I’m not even wrinkled up yet!” —Dennis the Menance, in the film Dennis the Menance

I’m going to preface this with a note: I’ve never been really weird about “visible signs of aging” as the ads put it. I’ve always looked much younger than I am, which runs in my mom’s family. All the women tend to look super-young. And, also, long hospital stays (where I don’t wear much, if any, make-up) where there’s a constant IV fluid drip are always good for making the skin plump up, as are stays in the ICU where you’re sleeping for, oh, two weeks. (I do NOT, by the by, recommend these as anti-aging treatments….I’m just saying there are some benefits to being me!)

I do have to take care of my skin, since I’m fair (go Irish/German ancestors), but I also don’t burn (go Italian ancestors–we’re from Calabria, at the bottom of the boot). But still, I wear a lot of sunscreen whenever I’m out, and my face lotion has SPF in it. I do use some night creams. I mean, I don’t want to look older if I can prevent it–cheaply. I’m a girl. I like to look good.

I don’t see any problem with women using creams or lotions or whatever to try to “turn back time”, if they want. A big part of beauty is self-confidence. If you think you look good, that carries over. I do, however, draw the line at things like botox or anything that involves needles, doctor’s offices, and/or surgery. You’ve earned your face. Why mess with it in such a major way–when the results could be awful?

There’s a point, I think, where you have to cut your losses and just accept what you have. Makeup artist Bobbi Brown talks about makeup as face lift, and this is absolutely true. There are makeup tricks and colors you can use to give the illusion of youth and freshness, without the needles. I’m not against looking good. And frankly, having worked with men and hearing them talk about women at the lunch table and how they look, it is (sadly) probably necessary to focus more on this than we may like. But we have to be comfortable with ourselves, our faces, and what we have, at a certain point. Sure, if you want to try some low-tech things, go for it. Dabble. But if you’ve never been happy with how you look–maybe it’s time to make peace with it?

I don’t mind the little lines that are forming around my eyes.  I mean, they don’t thrill me, and yes, I use eye cream on them, but I don’t curse their existence. I don’t think I’ll hit 60. Being really wrinkly isn’t something that will probably happen to me, so maybe I can talk about this a bit glibly.

In short: Sure, try some low-tech things to look better. But if you’re never happy with how you look, if you’re always ragging on your face and your body, that’s not healthy. Give it some love!