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Driving to my parents’ house on a wonderfully sunny day (rare enough in Oregon, right?), I realized the temptations awaiting me in fifteen miles. Two of my brothers still live at home, and my mom always keeps the pantry (or garage in her case) stocked with enough junk to satisfy two teenage boys. Not a good idea to show up hungry. I would head straight for the frozen pizza or mac and cheese. Very sad, I know, but something about Kraft and Totinos evoke great childhood memories. My mom cooked us three meals a day, healthy and portion appropriate. Only occasionally did she pop a frozen pizza in the oven or stir powdered cheese into butter, milk and noodles. We looked forward to those days (pathetic, I know) because of their rarity. My poor mom. Slaving away daily to offer us healthy, home-cooked meals, and her ungrateful children only thanked her when packaged crap ended up as part of the meal. I know better now the standards by which to judge a meal, but I still have a hard time avoiding those chemically enhanced treats when in my parents’ house. So, I stopped by Spicer’s, a year-round produce stand on the way to see the folks. April in Oregon means limited local produce items, but at least I could buy from a local business. Piles of apples, pears and citrus greeted me as I entered the canopy-covered part of the store. I grabbed a few Opal apples, a new variety for me, and then noticed the local asparagus. So versatile, so delicious. I immediately grabbed a bunch and decided on stir fry. I supplemented my finds with a small head of broccoli, a few large button mushrooms, green onions, an all natural stir fry sauce (I felt lazy), and a bag of Bob’s Red Mill brown rice. I love Bob’s Red Mill! The best store ever. I purchased my finds and continued on my way. Fresh apple slices and a filling vegetable stir fry prevented me from even craving any of the junk within easy reach.

Vegetable Stir Fry with Brown Rice

Yields 3 to 4 servings

1 cup brown rice

2 1/2 cups water

1 tsp kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 to 55 minutes, or until rice is tender.

1 bunch asparagus

4 large button mushrooms

1 small head broccoli

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2/3 cup stir fry sauce (I used Soy Vey brand Veri Veri Teriyaki)

1/2 cup water

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp cold water

Cut the tough ends off of the asparagus bunch (about the bottom two inches), then cut the remaining tender section into 1 inch pieces. Cut the broccoli into small florets. Peel the tough outer skin from the broccoli stalk, and cut the rest into 1/4 inch pieces. Thinly slice the mushrooms. Heat a wok or large sauté pan over high heat. Add the oil and then the mushrooms. The key to golden brown mushrooms is in not moving them around much. Add them in an even layer and don’t touch for a couple of minutes. Stir when you can see the edges of the mushrooms start to brown. Add garlic, cook for 30 seconds. Add the broccoli, asparagus, stir fry sauce and water. Bring to a boil and cook briefly, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Combine the cornstarch and water until smooth and then stir into boiling stir fry mixture. Bring back to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in green onions. Serve over brown rice.

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