In case it hasn’t been mentioned: I love my kitchen.
Not just it’s yellow walls and cluttered counter tops, but because from within it comes yummy baked donuts and steamy chicken pot pies and on occasion, ice cream.
I have been in and out of kitchens since I was a child.
I learned my way around a kitchen the old fashioned way: with my Mother yelling at me from various points in the kitchen and telling me how I was doing it all wrong, not listening and going to ruin everything.
Funnily enough, nothing much has changed between my Mother and I when it comes to us being in the same kitchen together, but at least now, I know what I am doing. (She definitely still claims I am hogging too much counter space, that I am deliberately in the way and she needs whatever is on the other side of my body, and frowns at me perplexfully when I add something to the batter that she would never add.)
I suppose it helps that I have my own kitchen now, so there’s less competition on space and resources (the Boyfriend is a sweetheart … but has two meals in his repertoire: pasta with pasta sauce, and pasta with ketchup.) so I can indulge in whatever I fancy every now and again. But I always liked to bake (cooking came much much later).
And I grew up in a mix of Southern Europeans, Filipinos and Indians – all teach their kiddies (especially the female ones) how to cook pretty young, as well as to serve heaping tablespoons of guilt, motherly advice and criticism disguised as concern along with the fried fish, empanadas and chocolate honey cake. So it was always a natural thing for me to do – help my mother with the cooking, my father for his part always did the juicing, and develop a set of culinary skills I still use today.
I still use that same juicer …
Then I went to high school. And University. And Law School.
Hard for me to process sometimes but there were tonnes of people who just didn’t know what to do in the kitchen unless it meant taking out a frozen pizza and putting it in the oven for 14 to 17 min. (BTW, I totally failed at this. The Boyfriend asked me to put in a pizza once and I didn’t realize there was a cardboard bit underneath the pizza … suffice it to say, the pizza was soggy, stuck to the cardboard and unpalatable … oh well)
I just didn’t understand why that wouldn’t be a thing you would learn somewhere along the way? And then I came to realize a couple of things: (1) Not everyone starts at the same time – so when I taught a friend of mine how to make a fluffy cake that won’t collapse, she was entering the “Let’s do this kitchen thing!” point in her life. and (2) Some people just don’t care.
And that’s all fine. For them, not for me.
I am a wee bit of a control freak I guess. I like to know what’s going into my mouth, and I am also a wee bit of my mother – I like it when people taste something I’ve made and exclaim “You made this!? This is awesome!”. But I have compiled a few reasons why I continue to grow my kitchen prowress:
(1) We live in Canada. It is cold outside for months at a time. Do you really want to go out into the snow and wind to get that Timmy’s beef lasagna? No, I didn’t think so …
(2) Cheaper Eats. You buy ingredients, you can use them in multiple things – so it ends up cheaper than buying the thing you could make anyway. Boyfriend disagrees with this and points to cheap versions of things like pizza pops that contain no nutrional value and taste like cardboard. His argument is invalid …
(3) You get to use a part of your house that’s quite substantial. Seriously – I have gone into homes (while we were looking for our current place) where the kitchen has not been touched. They have an expensive kitchen aid mixture in the bright blue colour, but there is no evidence of its use. Dude, you paid for that kitchen – get to know it!
(4) You don’t have a personal chef (and if you do, you might not always have a personal chef, so there!). Ditto to the facts that your Mom will not always be around to cook for you, or your dad, or your spouse, or your sister (Yes, I am looking at you, Blondie) etc. Unless you latch yourself onto someone like mold, you’re going to be alone at some point, and back to point (1) – you don’t really want to trek through winter to get to your pizza pie right? Also, delivery doesn’t count – it takes 30 to 50 minutes. Can you wait? Or will you start binge-snacking on the cookie dough you keep in the freezer? (Yes, this has happened before, stop judging me!)
(5) It’s another skill in the arsenal you keep that makes you a more efficient and talented person who can take care of her or his self. So why not learn how to julienne carrots or boil potatoes? It won’t ever hurt you, and you may just find you enjoy it. I do.
And now, as I get off my soapbox, here is a recipe for quick and easy stir fried chicken rice. Enjoy!
Chicken Fried Rice with Veggies
– 4 C. cooked rice (I usually add chicken broth to the water to make it more flavourful)
– 2 Chicken breasts or about 4 chicken thighs, cooked and chopped
– 1 egg (you can put another one in if this is your favourite part)
– 1/2 cup frozen veggies (pea, carrots, corn, etc)
– 1 medium onion, diced
– 1 green onion, diced
– dash of Light Soy Sauce
– a couple of drops of Oyster sauce
– Salt & Pepper, to taste
– Oil for stir-frying, as needed (I use coconut oil lately)
1. Beat egg in a little bowl until bubbles appear. Add a bit of salt or oyster sauce, then oil your wok and cook the egg over Medium heat. When cooked, cut up into strips and set aside.
2. Stir fry the veggies at High Heat and in more or less this order: onions, then anything hardier and finally green onions. Set aside.
3. Add some more oil and reduce the heat to Medium to fry the rice. Keep it moving around the wok. Add some soy sauce, pepper and oyster sauce to your liking.
4. When rice gets a little crispy, add in the chicken to heat it up a little.
5. When chicken is warm add the veggies and the egg and combine thoroughly.
6. Garnish with green onions.