Spicy Mint Noodles

Shopping for dinner ingredients last night, I was attracted to the wide selection of fresh herbs at Whole Foods and grabbed on impulse some mint leaves, cilantro, and Thai basil. Inspired by Fortinbras’ favorite dish at Lotus Vegan, I came up with these Spicy Mint Noodles.

Spicy Mint Noodles

Once again, Gomez is in this picture.

12 oz wide rice noodles
8 oz firm tofu, chopped
8 oz spinach
2 cups bean sprouts
several sprigs each: mint, cilantro, and Thai basil, torn or roughly chopped
1 cup veggie broth or vegan “chicken” broth
sriracha or garlic-chili sauce, to taste (I used several tablespoons of homemade sriracha)
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp tamarind paste
1 Tbsp grated galangal or ginger
2 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp cold water

Soak the rice noodles in cold water, then bring to a boil, then turn the heat off. When the noodles are almost completely soft, drain and set aside.

Chop the tofu. Whisk together the broth, sriracha or garlic-chili sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, tamarind, and galangal or ginger. Heat some oil in a wok over medium-high heat, then add the tofu and stir fry until golden. Add the spinach and let it cook down a bit, then add the rice noodles and stir fry (gently) for a minute or two. Pour in the liquid mixture and stir. When it boils, stir the cornstarch mixture. Toss in the bean sprouts and all the herbs and let it cook for a minute or so until the sauce thickens up.

I know I promised raccoons, but I think I’m going to give them their very own post, either tomorrow night or Friday – I promise!

In the meantime, here’s my buddy the cardinal. We have several cardinals but as I rarely see more than one male at a time, I tend to think of them all as one male and one female, whereas there are probably several couples. Cardinals mate for life, which I find sweet. My cardinals are always happy to have their picture taken…if I’m inside. They hide in high trees if I’m outside with the camera and swoop down to eat the second I go inside. I made Mark take the screen out of the window closest to their feeder so I could take better pictures. Conveniently for the cats, this window is right in front of one of their cat trees so they have a better view of Bird TV all day long.

One of the first things I do when I wake up in the morning is go into the sunroom and look for signs of who was in the yard the night before (we have raccoons, skunks, opossums, and foxes) and to see who is in the yard at the moment. This morning I sleepily rubbed my eyes and saw:

Usually the blue jay senses me moving to get my camera and flits away. I guess he was more hungry than cautious this morning because he stuck around for quite a while and let me admire him.

The next pictures are for my mom. As I was watching the blue jay, out of the corner of my eye I sensed movement across the yard, then I saw a tiny animal which I at first thought was a baby squirrel. It suddenly raced towards the house and noticing it was more brown than gray, I realized it was the chipmunk. I was surprised to look down and suddenly see him at the base of the bird feeder; I’ve never seen him linger around there. Did you know that chipmunks can apparently make a standing jump of heights 12 times their size? I didn’t until this morning when I watched this chipmunk jump from the ground to the top of a 2-foot high planter. He missed the first time and slid down the side, poor guy…but it was hilarious. He made it the second time, then leaped over to the bird seed.

He’s becoming a more regular visitor. He was on the back patio the other morning when it was raining:

I have no idea why my yard is wildlife central – we live in the suburbs – but I love it!


  1. Josiane Said,

    April 25, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

    Oh, a new recipe! It sounds fantastic! Thanks for taking the time to share it, Renae. I have a feeling it will soon enter our repertoire and will quickly become a favorite…

  2. Mom Said,

    April 26, 2012 @ 7:15 am

    The closeups of the Chipmunk are great. He is so cute in the bird seed with his fat little Chipmunk cheeks. Our Blue Jays are very noisy. They like to announce their arrival at the bird feeder to everyone.

  3. Jes Said,

    April 26, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

    I never remember to use mint in…well, anything besides mojitos it seems. Throwing some in a stir-fry makes so much sense–definitely trying it soon.

    And why oh why are chipmunks so darn cute?!

    Awesome that you work at the EPA–water quality for the win! After graduating with two “worthless” degrees and trying to find a career (I have a great job–it’s just a job, which is the problem, not a career), I’m super frustrated at myself for not going down the ecology road. But there’s always time 🙂

  4. renae Said,

    April 26, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

    Jes, I’m a contractor and my work is database and programming-related – I never go out in the field (though I would love to go on a field trip to see how the data I manage is collected). My degrees are in English and Info Technology, but ironically it’s the one I always thought was worthless that got me my job: the hiring manager was sick of reading emails from programmers who from their writing appeared to be illiterate and pounced on my resume because of my English degree.

    I didn’t find my career until I was after 30, so yeah, you have plenty of time! In general I love my job, but I periodically get so frustrated with working for the government I consider looking for a new career. Sometimes after my 4th hour of meetings in a single day I’ll ask, “How has anything I’ve done today actually helped protect our waters?”. I often think I’d much prefer to be more hands-on.

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