When I was around 15 years old, my parents decided to separate. Their marriage had gone from stable to hostile, and I longed for peace in the house. But with one foot still in childhood and the other on shaky ground, I had a hard time figuring out which way was forward.
Amidst all the confusion, I can remember taking long walks with my mother, often in total silence, around the nearby park. As we both tried to fathom our futures, our walks became a comforting ritual. Sometimes we would end up at our favorite restaurant, treating ourselves to warm apple pie á la mode for dinner. On other occasions, we would only travel a block or two before turning back, lacking a plan or inspiration.
But we could count on those walks. Putting one foot in front of the other always led us back home. And for me, walking became the gateway to greater athletic pursuits later in life — jogging, trail running, hiking mountains.
My flashback came to me as I was stir-frying vegetables for this weeknight staple. I thought about how when my kids were little, I would chop up a few carrots and scallions into minute bits and hide them in the rice, hoping to innoculate their taste buds with increasing proportions of vegetables each time.
On this particular day, I was dicing some farmers market finds — garlic scapes, pattypan squash and purple carrots — to put into the rice. Thankfully, the kids were no longer afraid of finding alien vegetal matter in their food. This dish had led them to welcome vegetables into their lives, the way my walks with mom had led me to embrace new adventures. How far we had all come.
Life doesn’t always give you directions. But its rituals can point you home. Whether a walk or a wholesome bowl of fried rice, one small step at a time will usually lead to where you want to be.
Makes approximately 6 cups, or 6 servings
2 large organic eggs
3 tablespoons organic tamari or organic soy sauce, divided
2-1/2 tablespoons grapeseed or peanut oil, divided
4 whole scallions (green and white parts), sliced thinly (about 1/2 cup)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh gingerroot
1-2 cups assorted summer vegetables (large ones finely diced) such as green beans, baby carrots, zucchini, summer squash, snow peas (slice in half on the bias), fresh peas, pea shoots, fresh corn kernels, etc.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 cups cooked brown jasmine or basmati rice (preferably cold) * see NOTE
Toasted sesame seed oil, optional, to garnish
1. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of the tamari sauce until frothy; set aside.
2. In a wok or large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat a half tablespoon of oil, swirling to coat the bottom. Add the beaten eggs, allow them to set briefly, then begin stirring gently, moving the uncooked egg to the bottom of the pan to cook. When soft-scrambled, transfer the eggs to a plate and set aside. Have the rest of your ingredients ready to go, as the cooking will go quickly.
3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the wok and swirl to coat the surface. Add the scallions, garlic, and ginger; stir-fry until wilted and fragrant.
4. Add the vegetables and stir-fry for a few minutes, seasoning with a little salt and pepper, until brightly colored and tender.
5. Add the cooked brown rice, tamari sauce, and cooked egg, and continue to stir-fry, breaking up the egg, until well-distributed. Taste and add more tamari sauce if needed. If the rice is too salty, you can correct it by adding more cooked rice.
6. Transfer to rice bowls or serving plates, drizzle each with a little sesame oil, and serve.
* NOTE: So that you always have whole grains on hand, cook large quantities of brown rice, quinoa, couscous, etc. in a rice steamer (it takes all of about 2 minutes to pour in the grains, water, and salt and press the button). Once cool, transfer to freezer bags, patting down flat to remove the air, and store in the freezer. When you need cooked grains, just break off the amount you want, transfer to a glass bowl, and microwave for a couple minutes to defrost.
Photo credit: My Recipes.com