Dana Slatkin

Summer Vegetable Fried Brown Rice with Egg

Fried Brown RiceWhen 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.

* 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

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