Chinese Van Vegetable Fried Rice

Growing up in India, I loved Indian-Chinese food (especially from the Chinese food vans) and miss it sorely in the U.S. So I tried my hand and making some vegetable fried rice that matched my memories. This was pretty good. I paired it with Chilli Potatoes (recipe forthcoming), which hit the spot!

The whole thing takes about an hour to put together.

You need:

  1. 1 cup rice, preferably basmati
  2. A handful of fresh green beans, julienned (cut into very thin strips, about 1-2 inches long)
  3. The same amount of julienned carrots
  4. 4-5 spring onions, sliced finely. Separate the greens and whites.
  5. 2 tbsp julienned ginger
  6. 1 cup bean sprouts
  7. 2 tbsp soy sauce (low-sodium if you have it)
  8. A pinch of Chinese five-spice (optional)

You can also use other vegetables like bell peppers or celery, but make sure everything is cut to the same size, which will ensure even stir-frying.

How to:

  1. Cook the rice with 1 tsp oil. While it is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Do not begin to cook them until the rice is done, as they will cook quickly.
  2. Put the cooked rice into a big plate and spread out to cool.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a hot pan. Keep the pan on a medium to high heat.
  4. When it is hot, add the white of the spring onions, and stir quickly. Add the rest of the vegetables and keep stirring until they are cooked. They should still be crunchy, so keep tasting them until they are cooked and then move to the next step.
  5. Add the soy sauce and stir. If you scrape the bottom of the pan gently as you do this, it will pick up the bits stuck to the bottom and they will add good flavor. Don’t scrape too hard–you don’t want any burnt bits.
  6. Add a pinch of five-spice and mix well.
  7. Add the rice and mix well, taking it off the heat as soon as possible.
  8. If you need more salt, add salt, not more soy sauce.

Enjoy! I hope you like it. It has a very simple flavor of soy sauce, with the vegetables in the foreground. The five-spice is a very subtle taste in the background.


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Fresh Spaghetti Sauce!

Onions, peppers, and oregano from my CSA + fresh tomatoes from my garden = fresh spaghetti sauce!

I chopped up the onions and peppers, added much chopped fresh garlic, cooked it in olive oil, added fresh chopped oregano, chopped tomatoes, salt, and red chili flakes. Then I  gave it some thyme, love, and tenderness 😛

And ate it over whole wheat spaghetti. Mmmm.

The First Harvest

Here are some pictures of the tomatoes in my garden.

Purple Cherokee

That is a picture of the Purple Cherokee plant. Sadly, we lost that tomato and the next one to ripen to birds or squirrels or something. I devised a solution that has worked so far. I took them off the plant and set them down next to it. The little scavengers go for those instead, and leave the ones on the plant alone.

early girl

That is the Early Girl. That one is doing quite well now – we have got quite a few tomatoes off it, and they are rich, flavorful paste tomatoes. I don’t think I would use them in a salad, but they work very well in curries.

the crop

That is our first harvest. I’d been pulling the tomatoes off a little early, sadly, so the little thieves didn’t get to them. Since I set the decoy tomatoes down, though, I’ve been able to leave them on until they are ripe. At the top are the tomatillos, washed and ready. The red one on the side, and the orange one next to it, are Early Girls. I let the orange one ripen on the countertop and it did okay. the big one is the Purple Cherokee, which has a splendid flavor. The green ones are Green Zebras, which are tangy and lovely raw. The little yellow cherry ones are off a plant my CSA gave to us with our first share. It is a stellar producer of very tasty and sweet tomatoes. As tomatoes go.

Pretty Green Stir-fry

Our CSA this week contained more or less what I had said it would – tatsoi, little purple-green lettuce, garlic chives, spring onions, fresh oregano, and pak choi. Lots of greens. We did do a stir-fry, in the end, just because it was so tempting – all those greens! So we used all the ingredients listed above, except the lettuce. Here’s how:

You need: 1 bunch tatsoi, 2 bunches pak choi, 3-4 green onions, 1 red onion, 5-7 garlic chives, 2 tbsp soy sauce, black pepper, 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, 1 tbsp sesame oil (or not).

How to:

1. Wash all the greens (everything but the peanuts and red onion) well, and cut it into strips.

2. Cut the red onion into thin slices.

3. Heat 2-3 tbsp oil in a wok.

4. Add the red onions and bulb parts of the green onions, and stir-fry until done to your satisfaction (about 2-3 minutes usually works for me)

5. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the peanuts coarsely.

6. Add the peanuts to the onion and stir. Add the rest of the vegetables immediately.

7. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, and black pepper.

8. Stir quickly. As soon as the leaves begin to wilt, turn off the heat.

Serve hot over rice. You could also use peanut sauce in lieu of the soy sauce/sesame oil.

Spring Goodies Salad

You need: 1 bag mixed spring greens (baby spinach, lettuce, arugula, et cetera), 1 orange, 1 piece ginger root, a handful of dried or fresh cranberries, 2-3 small red radishes, anything else you fancy in your salad.

How to:

Wash the radishes well. Slice the tops and bottoms off and cut into thin slices. (If you want to keep the greens, I’m going to experiment tomorrow with cooking them).

Cut the orange in half, along the segments, not across them. That means, cut it from top to bottom, not across it’s middle. Juice one half, and peel the other. Remove the white portion from the segments, and any seeds.

Put the greens in a big salad bowl. Add the radish and orange segments. Also the cranberries, and anything else you want to add.

Grate 1 tsp ginger into the orange juice. Mix well.

Pour the orange/ginger dressing over the salad before serving.

Humane food

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I put into my body, and I’m glad I’m not a meat-eater. I see in the news that sick cows, severely maltreated, get slaughtered for food. The maltreatment is bad enough, but really, eating beef from sick animals? Doesn’t that gross you out? A reliable informant tells me that this is standard practice in many dairy farms as well – send the old or sick cows to slaughter. “Old” may be misleading. Apparently cows are only good for dairy farming for about three years, after which they are no use anymore. And they aren’t exactly put to pasture after.

Cows aren’t always treated that well in the dairies, either. So I’ve been questing for “certified humane” dairy products here in IC.  Either Iowa is not on the radar, or there are no CHRH products here. The best I’ve been able to do is Horizon yogurt, which state that they have “respectful” farming practices. However, they also say that, while they treat sick cows (not with antibiotics), once it is cured they “permanently remove” it from the milking herd. I’d like to know where it goes, after.

I know Radiance Dairy in Fairfield is supposed to be a good place to be a cow, and the milk and yogurt from there are really, really good. But we don’t have a car (aren’t we environmentally-friendly), the bus doesn’t go there, and Fairfield isn’t quite next door.

So if you know of any place where I can get CHRH dairy in Iowa City, do write in and let me know!