Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cold Peanut Noodles

Yesterday at work we had the magazine drive.  Unless you're a teacher, you cannot even imagine what this is like.  Here's a hint: Picture 500 kids screaming at the tops of their little lungs in the gym because there's a magazine drive woman standing in front of them with a 15-foot long plush snake, a giant teddy bear, and blow-up shoes.  She's wearing a light-up lanyard and those damn weepulls (AKA puffballs with eyes that for some reason the kids are dying to own).  She is bribing them to sell magazines and the ultimate prize is a limousine lunch at McDonald's.  Are you starting to get an idea of how loud the magazine drive is?  Now, add in the game that the magazine drive lady plays at the end of the assembly, where 67% of the kids try to cheat, and the fact that the first prizes get delivered the very next morning if they disclose 8 addresses of loved ones that we can send catalogs to.  Yeah, you're getting a good idea of it now.  And of course, it wouldn't be complete if one of my kids didn't scream cry by the end of it.

Fast forward to today, when my kids passed in their magazine drive envelopes before they passed in their homework.  Then picture my horror when, while the kids were at specials, the magazine drive coordinators dropped off the giant teddy bear in my classroom.  In fact, he was propped up in my seat at my desks when I returned from a meeting.   We won the honor of his presence for the day for having the most magazine drive postcards filled out.  Oh joy.  My aide, Barbara, and I immediately shoved him on top of the cabinets (with a yard stick) to try to hide him from our attention-lacking students (it worked... no one pointed him out till the last class).  I just love this picture.

Anyway, the point of all the magazine drive whining is that, at this point in time, I have a love-hate relationship with magazines.  This week, I hate them all because of the magazine drive toys which I know I will be confiscating in the very near future.  But then again, I kind of miss reading my mom's magazines, which I often did when I still lived at home.  I love to flip through cooking magazines and take pictures on my phone of the recipes I want to try.  I don't get any subscriptions myself, except for my beloved Food Network Magazine, which Nick got me one year for Christmas and unbeknownst to him, it automatically renews every year and charges his credit card (shhhhh!)  

One cool aspect of the magazine is there's always a miniature magazine each month featuring 50 recipes.  Sometimes it's 50 flavored popcorns, or 50 quick breads, or 50 pasta dishes.  This summer, it was 50 picnic salads.  I actually made a couple of them; I made a caponata pasta salad, but was disappointed in it due to my inability to find fresh fennel for it.  Then I made this cold peanut noodle salad, and it was pretty awesome.  I had my mom over for dinner and the two of us loved it.  Then Mark and I happily ate it for lunch at work during the week.

The peanut sauce was the best part of this dish; it's smooth and flavorful (besides peanut butter, there's soy sauce and rice vinegar and sesame oil and fresh ginger! Mmmmm).  It's also a little spicy (the recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of Sriracha.  No thanks, I'd like to keep my tastebuds; I used maybe 1/4 teaspoon!).  Basically if you need a good go-to peanut sauce, make this one.  Then add to it the red pepper, cucumber, and cilantro?  Yes please.  Not to mention the noodles.  Except here is my confession: the recipe calls for Chinese egg noodles.  I confess to having no idea what Chinese egg noodles are.  I used the ones you'd serve with beef stroganoff, and I am highly certain that those aren't Chinese.  I scoured the Asian section trying to find a clue and finally gave up.  Anyone want to steer me in the right direction?

So.  Magazines.  This week (and until the drive ends October 29) I will hate them.  But I have to thank them for this tasty, quick and easy recipe.


cold peanut noodles
from the July 2014 Food Network Magazine

1 pound Chinese egg noodles
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Sriracha (or less!)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon grated peeled ginger
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


1) Cook pasta; drain and rinse.

2) Whisk peanut butter, soy sauce, Sriracha, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and ginger.  Toss with noodles.

3) Mix in bell pepper, cucumber and cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper.

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