“One Ingredient” Bok Choy Stir Fry with Garlic

Two months ago as I was throwing away yet another bag of stuff, I was seriously re-evaluating how I spend (or rather…tend to waste) my money. This week, I have found myself thinking about how I squander another precious resource – TIME.

Time is what we want most but what we use worst. ~William Penn

I often find myself looking at the clock at the end of the day and thinking – What have I been doing all day?? Where has the time gone? It is even scarier when I see freshman starting and graduating from college, and I am still sitting at the same desk clicking away at the same screen.

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My Twenties are Nearly Over

Time has also been on my mind as I approach the final year of my twenties. In November, I will turn 29. I cannot help thinking that next year, I will turn 30 and another decade of my life will be over…

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Birthday. Circa 2009. (Photo Credit: LeClair Family Member.)

 A moving reminder that time is short.

This week’s show – “One Last Thing Before I Go” – from the podcast This American Life also reminded me that time is short and so fragile.

The show features an account from Japan. A man in a region of Japan devastated by the 2011 tsunami built a phone booth in his yard. The booth has attracted thousands of people who lost loved ones in the disaster. People visit to talk to their loved ones on a phone… that is not connected to anything at all.

It is cliche but the story made me feel – Time can be cut short so suddenly. What do I want to do… What do I want to say to the people I love while I still have the time?

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Where is all the time going??

One challenge is that my time feels harder to track than my money. I can look at my bank account and see where I am wasting my money. Last summer, I realized that for the price of one cup of Earl Grey at Starbucks, I could buy an entire supply of (equally delicious) Earl Grey tea bags at Trader Joe’s. That is the day I stopped going to Starbucks every morning on the way to work.

But time slips away without any monthly statement of its passing.

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Japanese cherry blossoms are an annual symbol of the fragile brevity of life.

Trying hard to use my time better

Recently my mother sent me a goal setting workbook. The workbook promises to help  you develop strategies for reaching your long term goals. To be honest, I have not written a single word in the workbook. BUT I did read the entire workbook. And just reading the workbook has inspired me to re-organize my time.

I am still a long way from having a clear picture of my long term goals broken into short term action items (as the workbook recommends). But this week I did manage to start making some simple changes. I focused on cutting back on email, especially before doing other bigger tasks.  Just one tiny step but I feel like I am heading in a good direction.

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(If you are interested to try the workbook, you can download it here.)

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Meal Prepping to Save Time

Prepping my meals on the weekend is another way that I try to use my time effectively. The Make Now & Eat Later meal prep approach saves me (and Kosuke) a lot of time. We only have to plan and shop for food once a week. We only have to do “serious” dishes (read: pots and pans) once per week. For me, the best part is that I only have to make decisions about what to eat once per week. After that, I just eat whatever I cooked and stored in the fridge. Easy! And delicious.

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A meal prepped picnic.

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Bok Choy Stir Fry with Garlic and Sesame

This week is a super simple recipe! It is a “one-ingredient” recipe. There is just one fresh ingredient to buy. The other ingredients are things I commonly keep in the kitchen. This fresh, flavorful salad whips up in a flash. It keeps for 5 days and tastes best on day 3. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

Boy choy, 3

Garlic, 1-2 cloves

Dried red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon

Salt, 2/3 teaspoon

Pepper, generous dash

Sesame oil, 1 tablespoon

  1. Roughly chop the bok choy into pieces about 2 inches wide. Thinly slice the garlic.

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  1. In a large pot, add the bok choy and on top, sprinkle the garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Drizzle the sesame oil over everything. Cover and cook on medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring once or twice for even cooking.

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Adapted from “チンケンサイのオイル蒸し” from “作り置きサラダ”.

Want to learn more about simple, Japanese-inspired weekly meal prep? Read “What is Make Now & Eat Later”… 

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Come back on Monday! New recipes and musings on Japan (and life) posted here every week.

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