“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.”--Albert Einstein
Whenever I need to jumpstart my recipe repertoire, I turn to the library. Sure there are some hundreds, even thousands of cooking blogs and websites, many of which I turn to daily. However, nothing quite compares to thumbing through a great cookbook.
My cookbook collection grows exponentially every time I visit the library. My shelves overflow with great cooking titles, yet I can never get enough. I love visiting the ‘new arrivals’ section, bring several home, and without fail fall in love. There are some I find I couldn’t live without and purchase a few from time to time, finding room on my crowded shelves. The Seductions of Rice by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid is a top-ten in my collection, and I first discovered it at the library.
My cooking education began at my mother’s knee and continues today with every book I read. I’ve been accused of reading cookbooks like novels and it’s absolutely true. I can’t get enough. I’m currently entrenched in Mark Kurlansky’s new book International Night, soaking up the flavors of cultures from across the globe. Fascinating facts and trivia mingle with recipes in this hefty tome penned by Kurlansky and his 14-year old daughter Talia. My kind of book!
The Kurlanskys present a culinary world tour to us hungry readers, marching us along from Andalusia ‘where two continents meet’ to Japan ‘a very crowded island nation with the world’s longest life expectancy,’ stopping along the way to sip, sample, and stir in every corner of civilization.
I’m swept away and suddenly realize it’s time to cook dinner.
I turn to The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet by Laura Fuentes and find a perfectly delicious no-fuss Fried Rice recipe. The headnotes are right up my alley--‘no measurements to follow and just some simple rules: use leftover rice.’ I just happen to have cold rice from last night’s dinner and only a few minutes before everyone’s starving. Then I can quickly get back to my awaiting stack of books.
Better-Than-Takeout Fried Rice
tweak according to your whim and what you have on hand
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups mixed chopped vegetables (I’m going with carrot, green onion, and frozen peas)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3/4 cup cooked diced chicken or tofu , or a handful of cashews
- 3 cups leftover cold cooked rice
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add the egg and let sit until it bubbles and just the center remains uncooked. Carefully turn the ‘egg pancake’ and cook another minute until done.Transfer to a plate and cut into small squares. Set aside.
Add the vegetables to the skillet and stir to coat with the residual oil. Reduce the heat to medium, drizzle with the soy sauce and cover. Cook 1 minute to quick-steam the vegetables. (Depending on type and size of vegetables, time may vary). Add the chicken or tofu and toss to combine.
Add the rice and stir gently to combine. Cook, covered, for 3 minutes to heat the rice through. Then uncover and cook a few extra minutes, if desired, to sear rice.Gently fold in the cooked egg and serve with chopsticks.