This weekend, still giddy over the abundance of new season vegetables and filled with the gospel according to Alice, I joyously prepared a simple spring lunch: roast chicken, lightly blanched vegetables and a pot of aioli for dipping.
Apparently, vegetables in their naked, undisguised form - whole and uncut, no less - were too confronting for my family.
After much coaxing and cajoling, which quickly gave way to threatening and demanding, the boys wouldn't touch them.
I was left with the lot, and they left the table having consumed their own weight in roast chicken.
Even Chris, I suspect, ate his greens out of a mix of fear and duty.
As discussed previously, there is an inverse ratio between the size of the vegetable and the volume my children will willing ingest.
This relationship was proven, once again, when many of the same vegetables, plus a few extra, made a reappearance in the form of Fried Rice.
Twenty minutes and two empty bowls later, I reflected:
When it comes to vegetables, size definitely matters.
2 cups cold rice
a knob of butter
2 rashers bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 zucchini, diced
1 large handful baby spinach
1 head of bok choy, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
roast chicken, shredded
1 egg, scrambled
Optional: prawns/shrimp; left-over beef, pork, or fish; sprouts; grated ginger and corriander/cilantro, for a Thai feel.
For me, Fried Rice is a kitchen sink affair. Whenever I find myself with a bit of left-over rice, it's a handy way to use up any lingering bits and pieces that, on their own, are too small to constitute a meal or side dish. For that reason, although the recipe above specifies quantities, they are really just a guideline - I tend to use whatever I've got and, with the exception of the garlic, bacon and onion - and, of course, the rice! - there are no rules. I generally aim for a 50/50 ratio of rice/veg.
Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the diced bacon and onion, cooking gently - the onion shouldn't brown. Add the diced vegetables and minced garlic, seasoning with sea salt. Cook until tender. Add the chicken and cook till warm. Meanwhile, quickly scramble one egg OR, crack an egg into a small, microwave-proof bowl, scramble with a fork and zap it for 30 seconds/till cooked through. Break up the scrambled egg and add it to the pan. Add a bit more butter, allow it melt and then add the rice and cook till warmed through, tossing frequently.
Note: The rice must be cold, or it will turn into a gluey mess. Trust me. I found this out the hard way.