Visiting Home & Mom’s Kitchen Sink Stir-fry
Children grow up so fast!  When my niece, Charlotte, was born (just 20 months ago) I vowed to visit home as often as possible so I could watch her grow up.  
So last weekend, I was off yet again to visit my hometown in South Florida!
The best thing about my trips to visit Charlotte?  I get to stay with my parents in my childhood home!  Highlights of the accommodations include home-cooked meals around the clock, much-loved furry friends, and quality time with my family :-)
Throughout my life my parents have served as excellent role models for me, serving veggie-full meals, keeping active, and being smart with their money.
Additionally, they are also quite eco-savvy.  For years they’ve had a Rain Barrel (pictured: left) which my Dad uses for watering plants.  Additionally, for his Birthday, my Dad had asked for a new Composter (pictured: right), which we happily got for him!

My Dad is soon planning to create a garden to supplement the other crops in our yard.

In addition to an Avocado Tree and a Tangerine tree, we also have a “Fruit Cocktail” Tree.  The “Fruit Cocktail” Tree is several types of citrus, grafted onto the same trunk.  Although it’s hard to tell since they are all currently green, the “Fruit Cocktail” tree (pictured: right) has Grapefruits, Lemons, and 2 kinds of Oranges growing.


Our neighbors also have a tree overflowing with Star Fruit (Carambola) so they’ve given my parents an open invitation to take as many as they’d like.

One of the highlights of my recent visit was feeding ducklings in our back-yard.  We spotted a mother duck and 11 ducklings in the canal so we brought out some stale bread to share with them.

It turned out to be a show of nature at it’s finest.  After a couple minutes, 3 turtles showed up and chased the poor baby ducks away.  Soon after, 3 large fish appeared beneath the water’s surface, in direct competition with the turtles.

Other highlights of the trip included my Dad’s famous Oatmeal.  His Oatmeal has been a Sunday tradition in our family for as long as I can remember.  Additionally, no two batches are ever the same – he likes to mix it up!  This batch was full of tart apples and walnuts, with a splash of apple cider and pomegranate juice added to the cooking water for sweetness.
Last, but definitely not least, I also enjoyed my fill of my Mom’s Stir-Fry.  This has been a family favorite since I was a kid, and I made sure to put in a request to have it on my visit.  
It’s one of the heartiest, healthiest meals I know.  It has so many vegetables in it that she has to make it in a giant soup pot!  Her standard recipe has 14 vegetables in it, but for this batch, I suggested the addition of Kale, and the 15th vegetable was a success!
This recipe also served as my introduction to Tofu.  Growing up, my mom always made this with chicken AND tofu.  As a kid I often complained that it would be better without the tofu, but she insisted that I try it.  Now, years later, the tables have turned and I request the stir-fry without the chicken!

Mom’s Kitchen Sink Stir-Fry                              

Start cooking a pot of brown rice (we like Lundberg’s Country Wild rice), and set timer according to package directions (usually 45 minutes). Wash and prepare the stir-fry ingredients as the rice cooks.  It should all be done within the 45 minutes it takes the rice to cook! 


In a large pot with a lid, sauté ingredients in a small amount of canola oil in the order required to cook through:

  • 1 lb. firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, finely chopped (or 1/2 tsp powdered ginger)
  • 1/3 cup whole unsalted almonds
My mom likes to put both the ginger and garlic together in a mini-food processor for easier chopping. 
Cook this mixture until onions become limp. Then add:
  •  2-3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce (according to taste)
  • A tablespoon of sesame oil,optional
  • 1 package of sliced baby bell mushrooms
  • 1 can (20-oz.)  pineapple chunks with juice.  
Stir mixture well so that the tofu and mushrooms absorb the flavor of the seasonings and pineapple juice. Then, it’s time to add more to the pot!
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced diagonally
  • Several crowns of broccoli, cut into small pieces
  • 2 small zucchini or yellowsquash, sliced
  • ½ medium red or yellowbell pepper, diced 
  • 1 or 2 carrots, thinly sliced 
  • 1 can (8 oz.) sliced water chestnuts (to add crunch)
  • ½ small red cabbage, shredded 
  • a couple hand-fulls of chopped Kale, stems removed

Cover with lid and allow to cook until veggies are almost done, but still crisp and colorful.  If pot needs more liquid, add a bit of water or orange, pineapple, or apple juice.

Finally, add ½ package fresh snow peas

Cook just a few more minutes until the snow peas are crisp-tender.


Serve over the hot rice with soy sauce, hot sauce, and black pepper.  Bonus points if you have Fortune Cookies!

Not only did this yummy meal fill our bellies, it also resulted in a nice treat for Dad’s new compost bin!

** Note: I’ve linked this up at “Wellness Weekend” on the blog Diet, Dessert, & Dogs.  Check it out to see more healthy recipes from other bloggers! **

I’d love to hear from you!

What are your family’s traditional meals?

What Eco-friendly practices do you follow at home?