The General came to dinner.... (story)

You know how sometimes recipes are written beautifully? And then sometimes they are just written adequately (like mine)? And then, there are the moments that they are just written wrong. The recipe itself isn't wrong, but the way they wrote it throws the whole thing into a conundrum and you get it wrong.

This my friends, is my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Never mind the fact that you should always READ THROUGH a recipe before you try it.
Never mind the other fact that your brain should scream red flags and flashing signs when you think it says to add in 1/2 cup (CUPS) of thickening agent.
And we won't even mention the fact that I realized an hour before we had to leave that I hadn't started said meal yet.
No no, it was just written way wrong.

And this is how it went down. Don't judge.

Lil-kid turned 12 on January 22 and with any child's birthday, they are allowed to make a food request for dinner. And because we eat so differently then years in the past, that means extra work for me because if I don't have a recipe in my arsenal, then I have to find one and hope for the best.

Enter General Tso. He's a cheeky old Asian fellow with a little kick in his step. And wouldn't you guess it, Lil-kid wanted the General over for dinner.

Okay, self, we can do this. We will do this! Oh crap, look at the time! We have to do this quickly because they need to go to youth group tonight! Now like the obviously heathen mom I am (said tongue in cheek), I had an idea.

Me: Well, do you want to skip church to have your birthday meal?
Him: Heck no! You can do it!
Me: *panic* Mid-kid, you're my Sioux Chef, let's go!

Luckily I'd already printed the recipe for us and we were able to get to prepping. Brilliantly so. In fact, I believe we could have won some cooking show with the speed and beauty of the dish on the stove.

Fast forward to ten  minutes before the kids need to get into the car -- still my final ingredient add. To thicken the sauce so it sticks to the chicken like white to rice. Oh yeah--- DUMP.

Uh... hmm. Why did this starch turn immediately into a snot ball?

*Adds more liquid coconut aminos... chicken stock.... water....* Umm, it still looks like snot.
*Checks paper quickly, it did say 1/2 cup right? Yes, it did. (Or at least I thought it did... more than once!!).*

Tastes great... but, what the heck? Oh well, I have to serve it.

Rice goes on the plate, then the snot... err General Tso's Chicken goes on top and I serve and wait for the peanut gallery to comment.

Mid-kid, aka Sioux Chef, pressed right on through the snot texture and absolutely loved the flavors of the meal. WIN.

Big-kid, aka not picky about anything, ate a few bites and says, "Do I have to eat all this? I can't get over the texture."

SIGH, eyes switch to Lil-Kid, the birthday boy. THIS is his birthday slime!

Now, I need to pause and tell you that he is a very outspoken young man. In fact, he will tell you EVERYTHING that is wrong with ANYTHING every moment of every day. We've been working on the extending of grace thing, but usually he will tell you exactly what he thinks, feels, or might feel at the drop of a hat. Love the kid, but he has no filter sometimes.

Me: So how is it, Lil-kid? (I'm probably asking for trouble)
Him: Oh it's fine. *pushes some chicken around the plate*
Me: *Thinking--WHAT?! HOW? WHAT?!* But say: Oh good.

So I rise from the table and begin to madly rush around trying to get us out the door and we make it JUST IN TIME to church.

But something curious happened when I got home. Lil-kid loves food. I mean LOVES IT. He will probably be a chef someday if that's what he's called to do. So when I walked back into the house from dropping them off, my eyes land on his plate, still at the table. STILL FULL OF FOOD. It looked like he'd taken two bites and then pushed the rest around so it looked like he ate more.

Oh bless his heart. He didn't want to tell me it sucked. But what? HE SAID NOTHING? Oh my word, my heart just melted into a big pile of great tasting General Tso's goo.

MAN, what a kid, but now what? This recipe just single-handedly RUINED my kids birthday dinner. I mean the taste itself was fabulous, but the texture was something to never behold again. Never. Shudder.

*insert GRU's voice--- LIGHT BULB*

Quick as all, I snapped into action and to create the meal COMPLETELY all over again (Luckily I had gotten the first ingredients from Costco, so I had everything there again to do it). So I worked feverishly for the next hour (alone, since my Sioux Chef was at church) recreating this dinner so that my boy could actually enjoy his birthday.

I'll stop here to say that even my steel stomached husband who will literally eat ANYTHING could not eat this snot meal. It was seriously... seriously... snot on a plate. So gross.

So I'm tasting and watching as I go, reading everything carefully to make sure I didn't screw up again. And I decided that THIS TIME I'm going to leave out the thickener all together. Because without it, the sauce was AMAZ-ZA-ZING! Who needs it to cling? Not me... I'd had enough of that clinging for one day.

Fast forward to 8:30pm when my husband goes to pick up the boys.... and I'm waiting with a new plate of food on the table for everyone...

RELIEF comes in the form of HUGE SMILES when he walks through the door. Lil-kid looks at the table and says, "Why did you do that for? I'm not hungry anymore."

*face palm*

Needless to say, into pyrex containers the meal went and he had it for lunch the following day, to which he proclaimed, "THIS IS MY FAVORITE MEAL EVER."

Mom win.

I did have the opportunity to talk with Lil-kid about how he had extended grace to me and he recognized that he had made the choice to NOT say anything because it was the thought that counted. What a gem, that one.

So as I cleaned up the complete mess left in my kitchen from making two fancy meals, I thought maybe, just maybe I would reread that end bit of the recipe and see what it actually said. And yes, it was poorly written. And it didn't follow recipe etiquette with the right abbreviations. Now, had I not been in such a hurry, I would have realized it meant 1/2 tablespoon, not 1/2 cup, but alas, this is how we get fodder for life lessons. And this is why it's important to READ THROUGH the recipe before you start and never be in a hurry when you make something for the first time.

I will mention now that Mid-kid is requesting it for his birthday dinner, so really really, this recipe I will share with you tonight, is amazing. Gluten free. Soy free. Dairy free. Msg free. Grain free (unless you use the rice like I did). And certainly snot free.

Trust me. Snot free is a big deal. And I'm certain stories will be told tonight around the dinner table about General Snot.

So be it.


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