Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Workplace with a Side of Veggies and Noodles

One of the great things about being on call is the variety.  I never know where I'll end up when the phone rings. This is where I've been working recently.  The building is almost 100 years old and is right across the road from the ocean.  It currently houses two other establishments. The lower left portion of the building belongs to my workplace.

If you look closely you can see my fan in the lower right window.

It's a lovely place to work.  I'm on my own there, but that's fine.  It's not the busiest branch. There's enough to keep me occupied, but I'm not run off my feet.  

I leave the door and windows open while I work.  The ocean breeze is particularly appreciated in our current heatwave.  The views are beautiful with water in front of me and gardens next door and around back.  It even smells nice there. The scent of the ocean flows in the door, and the perfume of sun-warmed roses drifts through the windows.  From time to time I hear eagles singing, and yes, eagles sing.  I was stunned when I found out too.

View from my desk.

Roses below one window...

...and the other.

View from the front porch.

Lunchtime walkies.  Looking north.

Looking south.

Of course, the building is nearly 100 years old, so there are a few inconveniences.  There's no air conditioning.  It can be a bit warm in the afternoon, though given the location I'd rather be warm with the windows open than cool and cooped up.  Fortunately the windows are quite large and open easily.

There's no running water in my portion of the building.  If I need to wash my hands, fill my water bottle or pee I have to use the facilities in the other office on my floor.  They don't seem to mind sharing, but I still feel like a bit of an interloper.  And when they lock up for lunch I have no access.  Nothing like knowing you can't go to make you have to go.  Needless to say my water bottle doesn't get filled very often when I'm there for more than one reason.  (I bet you thought I was going to say something else about filling my water bottle.  Cheeky monkey!)

Next door neighbours.  Formerly the gaolhouse, now a museum. Though the garden makes incarceration seem appealing, this building is also without facilities.  Wouldn't that count as cruel and unusual punishment?

Space in the building is limited.  The current businesses adapt to the historic building rather than the other way around.  I like that; it adds to the charm.  The drawback is that there is no room for a fridge.  That normally doesn't matter, but given the current heat and the lack of air conditioning my icepack was defrosting well before my lunch break.  I was a bit stumped about what to pack for yesterday's lunch.  I certainly didn't want to expose myself to any foodborne illnesses given the washroom arrangements.  

After consulting my recipe collection and the contents of my fridge I came up with the recipe below.  I made it Monday morning before it got too hot to cook.  It served both of us for dinner Monday night with enough left over for two light lunches.  It can be served hot, cold or at room temperature.  Yesterday's lunch was somewhere between cold and room temperature, and as Goldilocks would say it was just right.

Asian Veggies and Soba Noodles

Adapted from this Vegetarian Times recipe.  The original recipe is "noodles with veggies", but I used half the amount of noodles, cause that's all I had in the house, so I think of this as veggies with a few noodles thrown in.  

The Vegetarian Times recipe is also one of those one-pot meals where you cook the noodles until partly done then add other ingredients for the rest of the cooking time.  I did things a bit differently.  I've had various timing issues with this recipe, and on other occasions I've had overcooked noodles and undercooked carrots.  My new method doesn't take any longer, and it completely sidesteps that problem.


4 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

- Whisk the above ingredients together in a large serving bowl.

Veggies and Noodles

1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame
2 largish carrots peeled and sliced on the diagonal
2-3 cups broccoli florets cut into approx edamame sized pieces
3 green onions sliced
4 oz soba noodles

- Put water on to boil while you gather ingredients and prepare the dressing.
- When water is boiling add edamame and cook while chopping carrots. (2-3 minutes)
- Remove edamame with slotted spoon.  Rinse under cold water.  Add to bowl with dressing.
- Add carrots to boiling water and cook while chopping broccoli. (4-6 minutes)
- Remove carrots with slotted spoon.  Rinse under cold water.  Add to bowl with dressing and edamame.
- Add broccoli to boiling water and cook while chopping onions. (Lost track of time here - about 3 minutes.  You know when broccoli is cooked, don't you?)
- Remove broccoli with slotted spoon.  Rinse under cold water.  Add to bowl with dressing, edamame and carrots.
- Add about a cup of water to the pot on the stove.  Bring to boil.  At this point the water is going to look like strong urine.  Be brave.  Add your soba noodles and cook according to package directions.
- Drain noodles. Rinse under cold water. Add to bowl with dressing, edamame, carrots and broccoli. Toss gently.  
- Pick up broccoli from the floor.  Re-think gently.  Curse when the veggies and noodles refuse to combine. Give up.
- Top with green onion and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Top individual servings with a few cashews and serve.  
- Don't tell anyone about the broccoli on the floor.

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