Although I’m not doing Story A Day May, I’m doing four Steffie stories this month. I’m also doing Holly Jahangiri stories, but I got started late. I usually post these on Sundays, but I’ve missed a couple. There are five Sundays in May this year, so I have to catch up and do five Holly stories. Here’s the first. Also, kind of a recipe and a link to the real one.
In case you need to be brought up to speed, Living Books are natives of the planet Llannonn who memorize English-language Earth books, live in dormitories called Living Libraries, and get “checked out” and taken home for two weeks by people who want to be read to. So now you know.
Holly Cooks the Books
Holly Jahangiri, Head Librarian of the largest Living Library on the planet Llannonn, sometimes took a notion to cook. The library had a cook, of course, a member of the maritime Wandering Tribe, accustomed to feeding shiploads of what the visiting Earthers called “pirates”, but sometimes Holly just wanted to knock something out for herself on Cook’s day off, when the Living Books were out at restaurants.
She had just opened the refrigeration unit to see what looked left over and unloved, when she heard footsteps on the tile just inside the kitchen door.
She sighed. Apparently, one of the Books wasn’t out. Holly stood, closing the refrigeration unit’s door like a responsible person, and turned.
It was Cooking Like An Earther, Llannonninn Style, a Book whose popularity waxed and waned as Earth culture gained and lost fashionability. Currently less popular than at her last month’s peak, Cooking Like An Earther, Llannonninn Style (Earthfood, for short) must be home pouting instead of preening at a public restaurant.
Earthfood hugged herself and read her opening statement: “Cooking is easy! All you have to do is follow the recipe!”
Holly, having heard Earthfood recite her Introduction many times, said, “Yes, so I hear. I generally just throw a bunch of stuff together.”
“Let’s not do that! Here’s my most popular recipe. Even a child could follow it.”
“Oh, really?” said Holly, with dangerous mildness.
Oblivious, Earthfood said, “Black Pepper Lamb Cubes With Bok Choy. If lamb is unavailable, cubed pratty may be substituted.”
Holly’s favorite aunt raised pratties for their wool, and none of the Jahangiris ate pratty.
“No,” Holly said firmly.
“No pratty?” Earthfood said cheerily, “How about tofu?”
“Ah!” Holly knew for a fact that Cook kept cubed tofu in the freezer for when The Forbidden Kingdom, Movie Novelization asked for a vegetarian meal. She pulled out a packet and put it in the ThawMaster Elite.
“You’ll need cornstarch, two tablespoons of oil, a pinch of salt, and a teaspoon of cracked pepper. Pat the tofu dry and toss it in the cornstarch. This will make it crispy when you fry it in the oil.”
There was Llannonninn flufferbean powder, oil, salt, and Llannonninn pepper which, Holly had been told, was “hotter” than Earth pepper. Wimps!
“One shallot, sliced; four cloves of garlic, minced, four baby bok choy, quartered,” said Earthfood.
“Two tablespoons of dried shallot reconstituted in hot water, the good bits of a bunch of full-grown bok choy chopped into big bits, the last three Earth Portobello fugus heads sliced thin, and these pretty little sweet peppers,” said Holly.
“Mix a sauce of–”
Holly stopped listening, as she pulled out soy sauce, hot sauce, some kind of gloopy sauce with a little sweetness (it said Hoisin Sauce, but she didn’t know what hoisins were and didn’t want to know – the stuff was good) and a little transparent wine.
“Heat the oil.” Earthfood was starting to sound desperate. “Toss the lamb … I mean pratty … I mean tofu in the cornstarch … er, flufferbean powder. Add salt and pepper to the hot oil.”
Holly tossed the tofu and added salt to the hot oil. She ground in the pepper without measuring it.”
“Two tablespoons,” Earthfood suggested meekly.
“I like it peppery,” said Holly, grinding away.
“Cook the tofu until it’s brown and crispy on all sides, then remove it?” said Earthfood. “Wipe out the pan and add more oil?”
Holly removed the tofu, but didn’t wipe out the pan. “It already has oil in it, if I don’t wipe it out. Get a grip on yourself.”
“Add the shallots and bok choy? Stir until crisp-tender? Add the sauce and cook for a few minutes until hot through? Top with the tofu and serve over rice or noodles?”
Holly got out a bowl. Hand in the cupboard, she said, “You want some?”
“No thank you,” said Earthfood weakly. I think I’ll go have a bit of a lie-down.”
Holly sat at the kitchen table and tucked into the finished dish.
“Earthfood is right,” she said, “Cooking is easy. All you have to do is follow the recipe.”
Here is the dish I made, which I served over mai fun noodles:
It was BELICIOUS, but here’s a link to the real recipe at feastingathome.com.
I love tofu, me!
A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Someone refuses to follow directions.
Holly JahangiriMay 11, 2021 at 8:03am
So “me”! I might try this with lamb and a dash of Llannonnin pep–er, serrano? Cayenne? I’m visiting earth Holly! You keep the tofu. I’ma feed that to the crazy earththing out back – squirrel, earth Holly calls it? She muttered something that sounded like, “I call it ‘better than tofu, in a pinch'”…
Marian AllenMay 11, 2021 at 10:53am
LOL! I told Sara, “I’ll bet this is how the real Holly cooks.” grin Everybody harshes on tofu. It’s GREAT cooked like this. Kind of like roasted potatoes, kindasorta.
Holly JahangiriMay 11, 2021 at 12:18pm
I don’t tolerate it well. It caused everything from benign breast cysts to phantosmia. Soy sauce doesn’t seem to do that. I’ll even eat it now any then in hot and sour soup. But it’s not something I love.
Holly JahangiriMay 11, 2021 at 12:22pm
Also, yes. That’s how I cook. And you nailed it on the peppers. “Wimps!” I’m so unimpressed with most of my fellow Texans – they talk a good fight, then you realize they think a bunch of pickled jalapenos are HOT 🔥🔥🔥🥵
SHEESH. I do like to taste my food, too, so raw serrano is my happy place. Buc-cee’s Scorpion Pepper sauce is tasty, but used VERY sparingly. Ghost pepper is just an unnecessary, macho prank.
Dan AntionMay 11, 2021 at 8:05am
I’m not a fan of tofu, but I think other things could be substituted. No lambs.
Marian AllenMay 11, 2021 at 10:55am
Tofu is SO GOOD if you squeeze the liquid out and cook it until it isn’t squidgy. Beats calamari. :p
pmlabergePM LabergeMay 11, 2021 at 2:09pm
PML:” I am no fan of TOFU, but I would eat that!
HJ: Oh, Pete, you’d eat almost anything if someone else cooked it!
Besides your cooking…. Well, at least you have not killed anyone, yet.
MA: Oh, he shared some recipes with Steffie.
HJ: But NO ONE survived!
PML: I know! I was so PROUD of myself. I had to act as a high end Chef for one of her plots.
Marian AllenMay 11, 2021 at 2:47pm
There’s another Steffie story coming Thursday, and you’re in it!
pmlabergeMay 11, 2021 at 5:49pm
If not for Holly, Steffie, and me….
Whr would you write about? LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Marian AllenMay 12, 2021 at 9:20am