Cooking with love


“Noooo! I love it!!! Make it again, that weird rice with the eggs and carrots,” the children cooed as they pranced around their mawmaw’s legs while walking into the kitchen in the morning.

“Yea? Haha.. You liked that, huh?” She softly said as she smiled.

Joan pulled a frying pan from the lower cabinet and washed her hands. She pulled some eggs and carrots from the refrigerator. The rice was sitting on the counter from the night before, perfect rice for fried rice.

Americans like to call it “sticky rice” because they had grown accustomed to products like Uncle Ben’s rice which is processed so that the individual grains don’t stick to one another. This is what as known as simply “rice” in Japan, or “gohan” which happens to be also another word for meal.

Joan liked the sticky rice and was glad the children enjoyed it as well. She felt humored and somewhat worldly using it. Only but a few months prior had she opened herself up to what is known as “sushi” which she had mistaken for raw fish and had thought it disgusting. Turns out, she said, “it’s not so bad” and she could bring this up in conversation with her new daughter in law who is half Japanese, half American. Joan loved to cook and this was something they had in common and often they would watch each other cooking in the kitchen. Joan would make cajun food, and Michelle Japanese. This is when she spied her daughter in law making fried rice.

“Oooo, I always wanted to learn to make that,” she said upon seeing how much her grandchildren loved it. She lived to make her grandchildren smile. It was her heart and soul now. The quilts, the books, the trips to the aquarium, the camping trips, the games, the holding of hands, the secrets whispered in their tiny ears … all for them. She was particularly gifted in making people feel loved. And she made them feel very very loved.

The fried rice seemed to get the children to eat their veggies. You eat your veggies and you’re being healthy. She liked that. And the bonus was, there wasn’t even a struggle. They just ate it all up. The “trick” was particularly fun to her as it tapped into the elementary school teacher in her where she was always pouring honey over the english lessons and charming the children, her students, into learning and having a desire to read and study. She could be sweet like that and quite clever so when she saw this, she wanted to learn.

One morning her daughter in law walked into the kitchen and caught Joan laughing at herself standing over the stove.

“How do you do this?!” she giggled.

Michelle looked into the pan. The rice was coated with egg and the carrots were still crunchy as they do not cook as quickly as egg. The rice was starting to stick to the pan and the soy sauce was beginning to caramelize, stick and smoke. She stirred furiously and turned the fire off laughing the whole time. She didn’t burn it, so she took a taste.

“Well, it tastes ok haha,” she smiled and looked at Michelle who tasted it, smiled and agreed.

“What did you make, Mawmaw?!” Daisy asked.

“Um…. I tried to make fried rice like your mom, but it didn’t turn out so well,” she said with a grinning and giggling with humilty, “You want to try it?”

She put some of the rice mixture on plates for Daisy and the boys, her brothers, who looked up with their big eyes and chubby cheeks.

“MMMMMM it’s delicious, Mawmaw!” Daisy affirmed.

Joan never did learn to make fried rice. She just got too many requests for “Eggs and Rice” which is what they called it after that. She would remember to throw the carrots in first so they could soften a bit more and then to coat the rice and carrots with the eggs and just to add salt rather than soy and it seemed to work out just fine. Raven put a little ketchup on it without saying a word and everyone ate up their vegetables. A breakfast with love is never a bad breakfast.

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