April 22, 2012

Anthologies and lazy day food

I recently bought the 2012 PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, mainly because the first sentence contained breakfast food in it: "In the morning, at his favorite restaurant, Erick got to order his favorite American food, sausage and eggs and hash-brown papitas fried crunchy on top." It was only later that I realized that this was the beginning of a story by Dagoberto Gilb, the author of The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuna, a book I had read and disliked in college. I guess that's the fantastic thing about short story anthologies: You might discover new writers to follow, but you might also change your opinion of a writer, based on a taste of his or her other work.

Anthologies are ideal for readers who are too lazy to do research to find out about new writers they may or may not like. It's probably one of the fastest ways to discover new writers that otherwise might never have come across your radar. Sometimes this backfires, of course. I once read a short story by Kate Walbert in a collection, and liked it, only to be disappointed by the novel inspired by that same short story, The Gardens of Kyoto

But more often than not, you get lucky and discover writers who remind you of other writers you love.
"He wanted to work, to work well, to be a good hand, long before he was capable. By the time he became more or less capable of work, he had become capable also of laziness. Because he knew about work, he knew about laziness. Though he could not always resist the temptation to be lazy, he knew that laziness was what it was, and he was embarrassed by it even as he indulged in it."
—"Nothing Living Lives Alone," by Wendell Berry
This passage made me think of a mix of Hemingway and Steinbeck. The part I especially liked was the end of the passage: "...he was embarrassed by it even as he indulged in it." 

When it comes to farming, laziness might be something to feel embarrassed about, but I think that is definitely not the case in cooking. As long as the results are delicious, the method doesn't matter. There is no A for effort, only for tastiness. When you're feeling lazy (but not quite lazy enough to order delivery), one of the best options is fried rice. All you need is a bit of leftover rice, and a smattering of random ingredients. That, plus eggs and scallions are the three key ingredients. Then you can build off that foundation and add in whatever else you want: imitation crab and lettuce happened to be in my fridge tonight. 

Tip: Make sure you don't add the rice before the eggs have solidified; I've made the horrible mistake of throwing the rice in while the eggs were still runny. You end up with rice kernels that are coated in egg, rather than delicious chunks of fluffy scrambled eggs, which is what I much prefer.



Lazy Day Fried Rice
1-2 eggs, beaten
2 scallions, sliced
3/4 cup shredded cabbage
1/4 lb imitation crab
~1 cup leftover cooked rice (break up the clumps with your fingers or a fork)
salt (or soy sauce) and pepper, to taste

Scramble the eggs in a large saucepan until almost cooked. Add in the scallions, imitation crab, and whatever other ingredients you want, and stir fry for a bit. Add in the rice and break up any remaining clumps. Smash the rice and incorporate it with seasonings over high heat for a few minutes. Serve immediately (preferably with some Sriracha sauce!).

1 comment:

a-li-ce said...

love this post <3 laziness always gets to me when eating alone. after a day of work, usually i can't wait to pour that bottle of wine and see the lush thrust of liquid coat the belly of the glass and, soon enough, that of my own. as the wine does its molecular yoga, i impatiently bury my head in the fridge and dinner most of the time ends up in some combination of carb that scoop, carry, or wrap, pastes, spreads or chewy cheese, and anything protein or veggie that goes on top or in between. just the right mix not only satisfies the palate, it's a gift to celebrate the end of the work day with some MY time for some visual/mental stimulation my brain has been thirsty for all day.