getting it right…. General Tzo Chicken (from scratch)

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there is not a day that goes by
that I do not wonder….
What kind of a human my Tunie B is going to turn out to be?
will she be emotionally ok….despite her father’s actions?
or…
no matter how much I try to compensate…
will there always be this void…that she will feel the need to fill?

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the rawness of my own parents divorce when I was 14
still lingers…
it’s residual threads tangled still in the web of my everyday relationships
will it be a curse or a blessing that she only has 2.5 years of memories?
only time will tell…
the kicker of it all…there is no real way to know if I am getting it right…

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the other day a prime example of me trying to make life “normal”
(& epically failing)
my own personal feelings of inadequacy…my struggle to
give Tunie B. everything her cousins, friends, & other kids get to have with a “daddy” at home..
had me taking her out to fancy new Chinese restaurant…
getting us out of the hum drum of our kitchen table, & having a mini dinner vacation of sorts.
even as I write this…it sounds kinda lame & truthfully…stupid
What would an expensive dinner accomplish?
but that night…I just wanted to feel like I used to…
While sitting at the table being served…
every dollar not overly calculated before spending..
no awkward feelings of being a party of 1.5 when making reservations…
feeling like …yes we too, can enjoy a family dinner out!
lame…lame…lame…

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my eyes always bigger than my stomach
but my budget limited…I decided to order a few appetizers & sides
Instead of one main, to share
I like variety.
but as I saw my fellow patrons being served these delectable huge bowls
of various enticing Chinese delights..
I looked down at my own table with its paltry plate of sushi, dumplings & plain lo mien
I realized …I was getting nothing right.
for the same money…
Tunie & I could have enjoyed one perfect tempting plate of savory sweet awesomeness…

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instead in my need to give her & me “everything”…
I ended up getting nothing ….really great.
& all I could think when I got the $50 bill was…
I blew 2 days worth of camp money…for 45 minutes of “normal”
& it didn’t really work… at all.

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feeling so defeated…& internally mortified at my irresponsibility & utter lameness
I decided that minute I needed to salvage the situation…for myself.
& drove directly to the beach…
this summer, the jersey shore has been a life line
the sandy beaches, with its sometimes turbulent but always breath taking waters…my sanctuary
from all the chaos that is my crazy life as a single (always struggling it seems) mom.
It is the one place…where calm…just reins supreme.

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Tunie B. & me…
we had a blast…dancing in the sand in our clothes …taking silly pictures
enjoying the sunset & the Bon fires from the party at the hotel next door..
It was magical…it was our normal…
& I have to work hard to remember that…her life…my life…is never going to be like it was suppose to be….
but
for the first time that night I was doing something with her…& I knew in my bones…
I was getting it right.

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General Tzo Chicken

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The next night I was having my weekly Thursday night dinner with the Leibermans & I was obsessed with recreating the one Chinese dish that I sorely regretted missing out on the night before.

Never really trying my hand at it before, I started to gather intell…looking up various recipes that were on the web and in the one Chinese (non-kosher) cookbook that I had on my shelf. Realizing that the recipe concept for General Tzo was fairly simple I took a crack at it.

All I can say….is for the price of $12 total – I had just made a Chinese Meal that was NOTHING like I had ever had in any fancy restaurant. My General Tzo was was fresh, incredibly light & crispy, and chock full of amazing flavor that even took me by surprise. My friend Dr. David…well he took out his phone to take a pic and send to his father … It was that good. ;)

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Ingredients:
1 lb dark chicken cutlets, cut into bite size pieces
Garlic powder
Kosher salt
Black pepper

For the batter:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1/4 cup sweet teriyaki sauce (I use Mr. Yoshida sweet & savory sauce – from Costco)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ginger powder

For the Sweet & Spicy Sauce:
1.5 cup sweet teriyaki sauce
2 tbsp. corn starch (you might need to add a bit more depending on desired consistency)
1/2 cup apricot jam
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ginger powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional for heat)
Pinch of black pepper

Directions:
In a large frying pan, on medium low heat, bring the teriyaki sauce for the sweet & spicy sauce to a simmer. Add the cornstarch, and whisk till it dissolves and thickens the teriyaki sauce. Add the jam, and spices and whisk till you have a smooth sauce. Set aside and keep warm.

In another large frying pan, Bring about 1cup of vegetable oil to frying temperature.
Pay your chicken dry with a paper towel.
Sprinkle & season your chicken with some garlic powder, salt & black pepper.
Mix all your batter ingredients together in a bowl with a whisk. ( **note you might need to add more corn starch or more water depending on how your batter is behaving – it should be a slightly watery pancake batter consistency)
Dredge your seasoned chicken pieces in the batter and then DEEP fry them in your heated oil pan.
Cook them till they have turned a golden brown on all sides. Remove them with a slotted spoon into a large tin.

Pour the sweet and spicy sauce over the fried battered chicken, toss and coat entirely.

Plate & serve with some rice and sautéed veggies.