Stir-Fried Chicken and…My Sanctuary

I have a sanctuary.

That’s what I call my shower recess.  It’s that one little place where you are perfectly entitled to be on your own and also, be undisturbed.

But my children were born with a huge amount of ignorance towards understanding that their mother was not just having a shower to shampoo her hair, but trying to enjoy a few minutes reprieve.

I must have said it a million times, ‘I am going to have a shower.  I will only be a few minutes.  Please do not disturb.  In the event of an emergency, please defer to your father’.

My children’s hearing is selective.  It is as if no words came from my mouth.

Stir-Fried Chicken with Honey and Ginger

I’ll have the water to just the right temperature and be at that moment where I’m about to relax when the interruptions begin.

‘Mum, have you seen my iPod charger?’, and, ‘Do you know where my library bag is?’ and, ‘Have you seen my USB?, and, ‘Can I get some money for bus fares?’, and, ‘I don’t have any socks’, and, ‘I can’t find my blazer’.

‘I can not help you, I am in the shower.’  It is as if no words came from my mouth.

When I’m in my sanctuary they pick that moment to organise their lives.  ‘Mum, have you signed the excursion permission slip?  It’s due in today’, and, ‘Can you return the DVD because it’s overdue and I can’t because I’ll be at school’, and, ‘There’s a career’s night on at school tonight.  Are you taking me or is dad?’  It is as if no words came from my mouth.

Locking and bolting the door is of no effect because they just bang on it and yell through the key-hole.  ‘Mum, I’m thinking of going to Canada at the end of the year.  I’m going skiing with some mates.  I’ll work over there, illegally of course, but how much do you think I need to save?’

‘I’m in the shower, Archie’.

‘I know, but I’m just telling you because I need to start saving.  How much is a flight to Canada?’

‘You can’t ski, Archie’.

‘I’m not going to let that stop me.  What about a world ticket so I can go to the States as well.  How much is a world ticket?’

‘I’m in the shower and I can hardly hear you.’

‘Okay’, he says yelling louder, ‘Well I’m going to Uni but I just wanted to let you know that a few of the boys and I are going to Canada in January’.

When I’m in my sanctuary there will be a medical emergency.  When Archie was eight months old he split his head open.  There was a great big gash across his forehead and blood was everywhere.  I was in the shower in that moment between the shampooing and the conditioning when the screams started.  Archie had crawled into the bathroom and thought he would take a shower with me.  He was climbing in (fully clothed) when he slipped and crashed his forehead into the tiled edge of the hob.  The time it took me to turn off the taps and be fully clothed was a new record.

And between the gash to his forehead and the pending ski trip is a period of nearly two decades.  I’m ready for a new sanctuary.

Perhaps my new sanctuary should be the kitchen.  I’m here cooking a Chinese Banquet from Kylie Kwong’s Simple Chinese Cooking.

Chicken Stir-Fry

Stir-Fried Chicken Fillets with Honey and Ginger

Serves:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5

Cost:  This is an fairly low-cost meal for a family of four.

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbspns light soy sauce
  • 2 tbspns shao hsing wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tbspns finely diced ginger
  • 1 tbspn oyster sauce
  • 2 tspns dark soy sauce
  • 2 tspns five-spice powder
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 800g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2 cm (1 in) slices
  • 2 tbspns vegetable oil
  • 1 tbspn light soy sauce

Combine chicken with marinade ingredients in a large bowl, cover, and leave in the fridge overnight.

Heat oil in a hot wok until surface seems to shimmer slightly.  Add half the marinated chicken with the marinade and stir-fry for 1 minute.  Remove from wok with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add remaining chicken and stir-fry for 1 minute.  Return reserved chicken to the wok with soy sauce and stir-fry for a further 2 mins or until chicken is just cooked through and slightly caramelised.

Arrange chicken on a platter and serve.

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  1. Sounds like you need a sign to hang on the door… something like:
    “Really? You’re seriously trying to talk to me while I’m in the shower? No! Stop it right now!”

    Or maybe just leave your wallet out with a note saying “take what you need” 😀

  2. Yes, I can really relate to that story.

  3. It’s so funny, and yet so painfully true!  I am certain that my girls have learned how to pick a lock by practicing on my bathroom door.  I have little privacy, little modesty and therefore little sanity any more.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  4. Katejashton says:

    My husband and I have a teeny tiny ensuite bathroom that can barely fit the 2 of us. We often find ourselves in there with all 3 children as well – it is the most used area of our house. The furtherest thing from a sanctuary that’s for sure.

  5. I smiled over this post, which I (or probably any mother) could have written, even though I have only one child.  But everyone needs a sanctuary, especially busy mothers who are on duty 24/7.  Love the recipe.  So quick and easy.

  6. Oh that’s too bad that the children don’t respect your sanctuary, Charlie. Have you thought about putting on music really loud and not answering them?
    That chicken looks delicious, my Mom used to make a honey garlic version very similar to this. I must remember to try this recipe next time we’re looking for something new to do with chicken.

  7. Choc Chip Uru says:

    Hmmm the kitchen is my sanctuary which is much to the dismay of mum 😛
    I think stick with the shower and pretend you cannot hear anyone, it’s hard anyway no?
    Also stunning recipe – love the look 😀


  8. I laughed out loud when I read this at 6am, and woke my family. Note to self: do not check in on Charlie’s blog before everyone is awake. 😉

  9. I don’t think there IS a sanctuary for a woman with children.  I never found one.  They always found me.  Didn’t matter if I was sitting on the throne or in the shower or deep into a book – “Mom, can you tell me about sex and don’t make any jokes?” is one I recall fondly. I was on my hands and knees trying to get something out of the bottom of a kitchen cabinet and Al was 9.  Sex was NOT on my mind.

    I love Kylie Kwong’s recipes and this looks fantastic.

  10. Oh Charlie now I feel bad for all the times I have yelled to mum through the bathroom door! I’d keep the shower as your sanctuary and do what others said… pretend you can’t hear them.
    Although the downside is they might think you’ve passed out and smash the door down. 

  11. Ah, I hear you. As you know, I’m a very new mom but I’m already experiencing the “no privacy” thing when I’m home. I take Leila with me everywhere. Not just grocery shopping and laudry trips but also to the bathroom, in the shower…etc. I see that this never stops, probably as long as you are a parent!
    Yumm.. sherry and all the spices & sauces.. I can imagine what this dish tastes like 😛

  12. Juliet Batten says:

    If they have selective hearing, why don’t you try practising selective deafness. When I go ‘out of range’ I stop hearing or responding to any intrusions at all, until I’m back  in the same room with other people. It works a treat.

  13. Maybe your new sanctuary should be outside of the house? Somewhere out of mobile phone range even (although I suppose that would back fire in case of gashes to the head). There would be advantages to the kitchen too, especially if you produce dishes like this one. Looks lovely!

  14. Nic@diningwithastud says:

    I use the kitchen as a sanctuary, although people can still contact me there. Its not ideal haha

  15. I use the shower as my sanctuary too… sorry, I can’t hear anything with the water running 🙂  Love the recipe Charlie!

  16. I’m a sucker for any savory dish that includes honey. This looks great!

  17. Lovely yummy recipe Charlie, my family will just love it!
    Just when I thought I had trained the children, the cat decided that she cannot live without me whenever I shut the bathroom door. If I ignore her she cries and scratches until I can’t stand it anymore. Her little paw stretches under the door waving frantically the way the kiddies used to stick their fingers under it as well. I guess I can’t win 🙂

  18. Ah, Kylie Kwong is the best!
    Being interupted in the shower is pretty bad, but it’s worse when people try to talk to you while you’re on the toilet – seriously!

  19. hahaha that really puts me off ever wanting to have kids because you simply wanted to have a shower and just to relax for a few minutes but somehow lol they never let you but i guess there are also the upsides and they do bring you joy 🙂 

  20. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    Charlie, I got stressed just reading that post. How do you do it? 😮

  21. Denisetyrrell1 says:

    I know just what you mean, mine even opened the door a little bit so I could hear them clearly! Now we are on to the second generation who want to get in with me so they can talk! or who sit on the toilet lid so they can talk. No rest for the wicked or something like that! Love Kylie Kwong and we had this 5 spice chicken the other night. Such good “chinese” comfort food.

  22. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book says:

    Love honey, soy and ginger together – I usually throw some garlic into the mix too although I have not tried it with the five-spice before – delicious
    🙂 Mandy

  23. I remember those days all too well. The weird part though, is that when they stop by, even after moving out, and you happen to be in the shower…they still knock and talk through the door! They just can’t help themselves. 🙂

    Your chicken stir-fry looks mouth watering!!

  24. Now conversation from your sanctuary had me laughing!

  25. ChgoJohn says:

    I don’t know, Charlie. I may have reconsidered the shower as your sanctuary the day Archie split his head open — but I think the kitchen may not be the spot. Think of all the knives, small appliances, gas outlet, etc., etc., etc. You need to build a safe room. Not for yourself. No, lock the kids in their for a half hour so that you can get some rest.  🙂

  26. I would consider a sanctuary away from home–completely out of the house! You deserve a little break in the action, Charlie! It’s sounds so trite to say this, but I will go ahead and do so. Enjoy the noise! It took me about two years to really enjoy the empty nest…and now with grandchildren and other family “ins and outs” it’s back to rarely quiet, and I’m drinking it in. This stage won’t last either. What I really want to figure out is why when it’s quiet I want activity, and when there’s too much activity I want quiet! That may be a personal problem LOL! What I do know about you is that your family makes for some wonderful stories. But I still think you need a break. What about a tree house? And then pull the ladder up with you! Debra

  27. My sanctuary is definitely the kitchen.  But, I’m worried that once I have a family that will all end.  I mean, a sanctuary with knives and boiling water and open flames isn’t really family friendly!  This recipe looks great.  Hope you manage to get some alone time this weekend!  

  28. I don’t have kids but I have heard this is a fairly typical problem … So nice to know you’re “typical” right, Charlie 🙂

  29. Gretchen says:

    I have that same sanctuary!  And yes…it’s not always perfect for me, either!

  30. That chicken looks divine.  I have been on vacation for a week, eating wonderful food, but I really want something home-cooked — like your chicken.  Trouble is, I’m too tired to cook tonight.

  31. This chicken looks great Charlie. and your story is vindication for me only having 1 child


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