DO IT YOURSELF: Rice & Veggie Stir-Fry

Looking pretty legit for a slapdash affair.

As I stated in the aforementioned post (which I literally wrote, like, 5 seconds ago), I’m dealing with the annoying realization that most of the Lean Cuisines I would normally bring to work are currently verboten, as they contain dairy. (And I’m not really PROUD of bringing Lean Cuisines, but I got into a too-lazy-to-cook rut.)

I’m sick of buying expensive commissary lunches and I needed to get back in the cooking groove anyway, so I decided to cook something veggie-full that I could kind of improvise for dinner/tomorrow’s lunch (of course, that involves willpower… can’t eat it all at dinner).

I was reading some gluten-free website about what you can cook for dinner, and there was a lot of talk of whipping up rice-based dishes. Now, I’m not trying to be gluten-free right now because A) I never got my Celiac test results, so they’re probably negative (?) and B) If I cut out gluten and dairy all at once… too many variables. But my mind kept going to a veggie & rice stir-fry… I remember at least one of my former roommates making similar dishes, and it seemed doable.

Since I MIGHT still find out that I AM gluten-sensitive, and since I should probably cut back a bit on the gluten just for kicks, I am trying not to stock up on anything too wheat-y. Another reason for going with rice and veggies, since they will still be viable no matter how my tests come in. (PS– I tried gluten-free corn/quinoa pasta– it’s pretty good!)

So I went to Trader Joe’s and grabbed some good-looking veggies… I wanted to get a pre-cut veggie mix meant for stir-frying, but I couldn’t find one. But a few of the elements were still pre-cut, namely some sort of garlic/onion/shallot mixture.

Quick milk story– while I was putting my groceries away, I emptied my ice cream-making milk cartons (expired anyway) and went to put them in my recycles bag– only to find a big spider. So I THREW an empty milk carton on top of the spider, because that’s how I kill spiders. And I still haven’t moved the carton, because I’m scared of living AND dead spiders. (And not 100% sure I killed it?)

So… there’s a good use for milk, even if you can’t drink it. (And… is anybody interested in coming over and putting a probably-dead spider in the trash?)

Blurry veggie mugshot.

Ingredients: The aforementioned onion/garlic/shallot/leek (?) mix, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms, green beans, Soyaki (contains wheat… but that’s okay!), frozen brown rice, egg white. I bought potatoes, but then I realized that with the rice it would be a starch overload (maybe). So… potatoes some other time.

I got the veggies going in the pan with a little olive oil, in basically the order I just listed. After the carrots and before the mushrooms, I added some Soyaki and then added a cup or so of water, realizing that the veggies needed a while to cook without burning. So I chopped the rest of the veggies and threw them in while the water evaporated out. (I never covered it because I don’t have a cover… sigh.)

Come on in, the water's fine.

I have to say, I felt pretty cool because I was mostly improvising and going on my cooking instincts. Which– suddenly I have cooking instincts?

After the water was mostly gone, I added the rice to the pan. At first the frozen brown rice looked like sizzling rice from a Chinese restaurant, but as it cooked it looked much more brown rice-like. (I also bought jasmine rice, for future experiments.) I added another dash of Soyaki, unsure of how strong it would taste… I figured I could add soy sauce if it was weak.

Enter the rice.

Once the rice was hot enough (I literally ascertained this by TOUCHING it– hey, I’m the only one eating it), I cracked two eggs (not at the same time) and dribbled the egg whites over the pan. I always like finding egg in my fried rice, and I figured it was a nice bit of protein (but I wasn’t too concerned– I had chicken at lunch).

This came out really well– the broccoli and cauliflower were cooked to softness, the peas still had some snap, and the Soyaki wasn’t too overbearing. I daresay I’ll be continuing to expand my stir-frying vocabulary in the coming months… and for the rest of my life! (I mean, why limit the timeframe?)

And the best part– I have enough left over for lunch tomorrow!

See the egg?

That’s a new IKEA bowl… it has a pretty little design on the outside that you can’t see. (Sucka!) I recently realized that all my plastic Target bowls that I’ve been microwaving for YEARS aren’t microwave safe. WHOOPS. (And I wonder why I don’t feel well.) So… I’m team ceramic now. If I break the bowls… they were cheap.

Later (after dessert…) when I thought of it, I made myself a salad of simple romaine lettuce with lemon squeezed over it, followed by generous dashes of salt and pepper. A wonderful, healthy dressing– so easy, and so delicious. Makes me feel like a badass to whip it up.

Speaking of deliciousness, tonight I discovered the Sunday Suppers blog… the pictures are divine. Look at these tea sandwiches! I was just starting to lament that I don’t live a fancy life of stylish suppers and gourmet cooking with friends when I realized that the gatherings are CLASSES. If you live in Brooklyn… I’m jealous. Go to a Sunday Supper (unless they’re, like, crazy expensive).

Hmm… maybe I should just try to establish a stylish cooking klatch amongst my own friends. I love klatches. (Though I’m not sure I’m spelling that right… I think there are multiple ways to tackle it.) But I don’t know if mine would be QUITE as fancy or well-lit. (They’d be… un-fancy, let’s be real.)

Tonight I’ll just have to settle for living in the Brooklyn of LA (or is it?) and being able to whip up a pretty tasty improvised dinner for one. Baby steps.


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