A few years ago at work, some of my coworkers were walking out the door (probably to get a bit of fresh air and a fountain drink from the local Maverik) when one of them, Garth, suddenly collapsed. He was taken immediately to the hospital. By the end of the next business day, we were all informed that he had a brain tumor and was undergoing surgery. Bam. That fast.
And that’s the thing about cancer. In most cases, it has all the advantage. It gets to plot and quietly move in, gaining ground while its victim is sitting at the movies, working late on the job, exercising, picking the kids up from school, or reading the newspaper. By the time he or she is notified, the score is usually Person: Zero, and Cancer: You might want to sit down for this.
Yesterday I was invited to lunch with a bunch of those same coworkers, including Garth. In fact, we were gathering for Garth, who arrived in a wheelchair and looking very little like the guy I used to see everyday at work. Time is running short for him.
So, we had lunch together, as we had a number of times in the conference room at work, swapping stories and begging for his baked beans recipe. He laughed some. He complained about his adorable nieces who lovingly pester him all day. He seemed to enjoy his food. He especially loved the corned beef and cabbage. So many things don’t change, which was really nice to enjoy for an hour or two. But, when the waiter brought the bill and everyone reluctanctly checked the time, it was clear that everything has changed. The rest of us were going back to our work and he was going back to his brother’s house to be taken care of.
One by one, everybody took a moment to sit by him, take a picture, and talk for a bit. When I got in the car, I cried all the way home. I wish that life didn’t include these sad stories. I really, really, really do.
But, I don’t want to leave you on a downer, because I don’t think Garth would like that. So, in honor of him, and in celebration of his life, I’m giving you the recipe to the absolute greatest Sweet & Sour Chicken in the entire world. And Garth created it! Write it down or print it out and make it for someone you love–it’s phenomenal and somehow it seems like good way to honor him.
Garth’s Sweet & Sour Chicken
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. vinegar
1/2 c. water
1/2 chicken boullion cube
3 T. ketchup
1 T. soy sauce
1 t. garlic salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 dash of salt
Note: Adhere strictly to the sauce ingredients, any variation will cause a taste difference. Combine all of the above ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Boil for 3 minutes or until all ingredients are dissolved. Set aside.
1-2 lbs. chicken breast or thighs cut into 1 inch cubes
(You can also use pork or beef.)
1 box corn starch
5 eggs, beaten
Using a frying pan, electric skillet, or wok, heat 2-3 inches of oil or Crisco to 400 degrees.
Dip nuggets into cornstarch first, then into the egg. (This step is the secret to the recipe!)
Cook until golden brown, approximately 4-5 minutes, turning occasionally.
Place on paper towels to drain.
Combine nuggets and sauce in a clean frying pan, skillet, or wok.
Heat to 400 degrees, stirring constantly and gently.
The sauce will cook into the batter and thicken. Each piece will appear to have a heavy glaze. (This takes approximately 5-7 minutes.)
Remove and serve hot. (This can also be refrigerated and reheated by microwave.)
Let me know how you like it, and maybe I can tell Garth. It would mean a lot to him.