“And as the years go by
Our friendship will never die
You're gonna see it's our destiny
You've got a friend in me” ~ Disney's Toy Story
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He called the other night, as he sometimes does. “I know it’s 1 am; did I wake you, Mom?”
(From one nocturnal soul to another, we both know the night is still young)
A long-standing oath between the two of us. If you’re down. If the world feels like it’s too much. If you’re ready to run screaming into the night, never to return
It doesn't matter what time it is. It doesn't matter what else I have going on. At that moment I’ll be for you what you need. Someone to listen (this I can do). A shoulder to cry on (I wish I could be there in person). Advice (take it with a grain of salt, I've made so many mistakes). A warm mom hug from afar
I won’t judge you; I won’t think differently of you. I won’t try to make things better. I'll simply offer a safe place for your soul to be
We talk about everything, yet nothing in particular
All the while, I wonder where he is. I can hear the rush of the night's breeze; the rumbling of a train not far off in the distance. How many times over the years have I prayed, “Wherever he is God, please keep him safe” It’s chilly tonight; is he wearing a jacket? Is he sober? Was there enough food in their refrigerator today to make a meal?
As dawn approaches, I sense the tension has lifted. Does he realize how much I understand his anxiety?
“Tell me something completely random that you thought about today.”
“Do you remember a long time ago when I was in treatment, and that guy came to do a cooking class?”
Sometimes, when you find yourself visiting a residential treatment center on a Sunday, you take a cooking class.
You saddle up to the countertop with a group of teens who've never cooked, parents making an effort to put dinner on the table every night, counselors who cook for therapy, grandparents who cook for fun
You all dig your spoons into an oversized metal wok, and alas, something is shared
Can you call fried rice exciting? You can. You may. This one most definitely is
Our instructor from the local co-op was both delightful and passionate. A wealth of knowledge when it came to meals that come together quickly; usually without much fuss, and with just a handful of ingredients. Helpful tips and tricks for when the kids would, one day, be on their own.
He offered a few commandments when it comes to fried rice
Thou Shalt Always Use Day Old Rice
Freshly cooked rice is hot, steamy, and sticky. Any of which will leave us with clumpy and soft fried rice. Day-old rice chilled in the fridge is a friend. Before cooking, do your best to separate the rice your fingers so individual grains will be more pronounced once they hit the wok
Thou Shalt Prep Your Ingredients + Crank Up the Heat
The goal is for everything to cook quickly. This way, all of the ingredients should be at the ready, and the wok (or skillet) needs to be hot
Thou Shalt Not Overcrowd
The wok won't stay hot enough if there are too many ingredients
Thou Shalt Be Flexible
As far as technique goes, there are as many ways to fry rice as there are cooks
There are a couple of schools of thought: One can cook each ingredient individually (veggies, meat, egg, and rice), returning everything back to the pan at the end for the final mix and seasoning. Or cook everything together, being careful not to overcrowd. In this scenario, cooking one or two servings at a time is best
Though Shalt Not Drown Fried Rice In Saucy Seasonings
Just a few tablespoons of sauce will go an awfully long way
Probably the most important commandment? Once everything has been cooked, press the rice mix down with your spatula and simply let it be. Which will be completely and totally at odds for those who are new to this fried rice rodeo. Trust me on this one; it will make all the difference.
After thirty seconds fight the urge to toss or stir. Let the packed rice sit for a couple of minutes (long enough that the rice in contact with the pan will start to crisp up). Then flip, pat, and repeat
The beauty of fried rice is that it isn't a science. One doesn't need exact ingredients or measurements. Just about anything goes: leftover roast chicken, fried tofu, ham, frozen veggies
The recipe’s crazy easy to double and perfect for dinner party prep because it will keep for up to an hour in the fridge
Which at our house is just enough time to find a dog bone in the toilet, take three deep breaths, and call my husband for his plumbing services before guests arrive
— — —
Sometimes I shy away from sharing recipes like this one here. Mostly because they don't feel like anything special. Or they're so simple it's a stretch to assign the word ‘recipe' to the instructions. Sometimes I simply feel awkward about showing you what I tossed in the skillet.
But on nights when I don't feel like doing much more than chopping an onion, nights when two pans is one pan too many for me to face; I make this sort of meal.
Don't feel limited to rice. Instead, swap whatever rice or grain you prefer, and whatever veggies are in season. I've used cooked quinoa or millet in the past, and we're coming up on that time of year where we'll be able to find fresh peas, asparagus, or even artichokes
~ Adapted from Dinner by Melissa Clark
Spicy Thai Fried Rice
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil (or grapeseed oil)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 scallions, white and green parts
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 - 1 ½ cups chorizo or spicy salami, diced ( 6 - 8 oz )
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
- ½ cup raisins
- 2 cups cooked rice, white or brown
- 6 cups mixed greens
- 1 cup Napa cabbage, chopped
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp Asian fish sauce
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- Juice from ½ of a lime + lime wedges for serving
- fine grain sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
- Heat a wok, or heavy 12" skillet over high heat until it's very hot
- Add the oil and swirl it around the pan
- Add the onion, scallions, and garlic, giving them a quick stir, and cook until they've softened ( ~ 1-2 minutes )
- Add the chorizo and jalapeño, sautéing until they start to caramelize ( ~ 2-3 minutes )
- Add the raisins and the rice, stirring to combine, and spread the mix out to cover as much of the surface area as possible.
- Press down with a spatula
- Cook without moving the mix until the rice has had a chance to dry out and has taken on a little color ( ~ 1-3 minutes )
- Stir it around a little and toss until it's golden in spots
- Add the greens and cabbage, and toss until they're beginning to wilt ( ~ 5 minutes )
- Sprinkle in the soy and fish sauces, coating the contents of the pan.
- Then push everything away from the center of the pan and pour the eggs into the middle.
- Cook until the eggs are custardy ( ~ 1 - 2 minutes )
- Then mix everything in the pan, breaking up the eggs as you go
- Add the lime juice and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Serve garnished with sliced scallions and a couple of lime wedges alongside