A couple of years ago, Jerri and I agreed that it was time to begin downsizing our household, so we select things to take to the barn at the Heritage Center where they will find a new owner. For us, downsizing means not giving each other Christmas gifts that, while they may be nice, are not really necessary. In other words, Jerri and I ask each other for gifts we would like. This year among other gifts I got some sound reduction earmuffs and Jerri found a new wristwatch under the tree.
Wanting to surprise her with something, I was on the lookout for ideas when a package of wasabi peas caught my eye at the supermarket. Jerri loves wasabi, the Japanese horseradish that looks so cool and inviting until it lands on your tongue, at which time you begin reaching for a glass of ice water. Wasabi peas are green peas that have been roasted and coated with a mixture of dried wasabi and other ingredients to ensure that there is a nice thick coating of fire on each pea.
Jerri’s favorite way of enjoying wasabi peas is crunching them along with the starchy tidbits found in Oriental Snack Mix. Until recently Jerri had been buying this treat at the food co-op in Stillwater, Minnesota, but they quit stocking it, and none of the other stores we visited carried it either. When it comes to oriental snack mix with wasabi peas, Jerri has been going cold turkey for at least six months.
Seeing that package of wasabi peas inspired me to create a unique Christmas gift, an Oriental Snack Mix Kit. I recalled my mother making something she called Chex Mix to put on the card table when friends came to play Canasta or Smear with her and Dad. Since my plan was to make an oriental version, I bought the peas along with boxes of Rice and Corn Chex as the basic ingredients and stored them in the trunk of my car.
When I got home I checked the web for guidance. The results of my search prompted me to go back to the store for sesame sticks and pretzels, but I had bought a can of mixed nuts a few days earlier, and we had everything else needed in our kitchen. I then put all the dry ingredients in a large Christmas gift shopping bag we had saved from years ago, enclosed a recipe explaining how to put the mix together and wedged some tissue paper over the contents so the gift would really be a surprise.
A gift tag cut from some recycled wrapping paper and taped around the bag handle to prevent Jerri from sneaking a peak before Christmas Eve when we open presents, and her surprise gift was finished without my even needing to wrap it. That’s my idea of a perfect gift.
Jerri actually liked it too. On Christmas Day she was busy roasting a turkey and cooking the rest of our holiday dinner, but the next day she made her first batch of Oriental Snack Mix. The recipe makes a lot. We shared some with friends and relatives, took a container of it to the cabin for our New Year’s Eve observance and still have a little left.
Here is how you can make your own Oriental Snack Mix.
2 cups Rice Chex
2 cups Corn Chex
1 1/2 cups sesame sticks, either plain or garlic-flavored
1 1/2 cups pretzels
1 cup salted nuts
4 T salted butter
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 T soy sauce
1 T Teriyaki sauce
1/2 T brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 – 1 1/2 cups wasabi peas
Preheat the oven to 250º. Coat a 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, toss together the cereals, sesame sticks, pretzels and nuts.
Combine the butter, soy and teriyaki sauces, garlic and onion powders, sugar, ginger, cayenne and cumin in a medium-size glass bowl or measuring cup. Microwave until the butter is melted. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients, and toss the mixture to coat everything evenly.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and bake at 250º for an hour, stirring every fifteen minutes.
Cool the mix in the pan on a wire rack for fifteen minutes. Stir in the wasabi peas. ENJOY!!!!
NOTES: Some recipes call for Wheat Chex, which I am sure would work fine too. Jerri really likes sesame sticks, so she added a cup of garlic-flavored ones a few days later. They worked fine in the mix.