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Comfort food and books for comfort

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Christina Stock Photo Fried rice in one version or another, is a favorite dish throughout the world. Pictured is Nasi Goreng, the Indonesian take on fried rice.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Fried rice — a favorite in many countries

And ‘A Race Around The World’ by Caroline Rose

One of the first encounters with fried rice is usually for kids in a Chinese restaurant, but have you ever thought where this dish comes from? Obviously, you might say China and indeed, the first recipes mentioning the humble leftover dish is from southern China, during the Zhou Dynasty which spanned 1046-256 BC. It is easy to imagine that a farmer’s wife was the inventor, her name lost to history. It is an ideal leftover dish, after a long day of hard work on the rice fields, all you needed to put together is cooked rice from the day before, any leftover vegetables, an egg and/or meat scraps, some soy sauce and a wok to fry it in. Within 20 minutes you’d have your dish.

This simple dish conquered the world and home cooks as well as restaurant chefs would put their own spin on it. For example, there is the famous Djuvec rice pan, a favorite dish served throughout the Balkan region. In Germany I encountered it as Serbian rice. The color of this dish is red because the basics contain paprika, red bell peppers and tomato paste. Then there is the famous Spanish paella. I still remember my vacation in Spain, on the island of Mallorca. My mother and I would take a boat from Puerto de Andratx where we stayed — a fisher village in the north of the island — and we would put down the anchor near a remote beach.

Here, after a day of swimming and diving, our cook would set up a large fire pit and cook the paella in a large cast iron pan. Its base is saffron, which gives the rice a unique yellow color, and he would add fish we had caught, additionally to shrimp, octopus, chicken, onions and peas. Then there is the Peruvian rice pan, it has a base of ginger, chile, garlic, milk, eggs and wild onions. The dish is called Arroz Chaufa, translated to Chinese rice, though it doesn’t resemble the Chinese fried rice we know here in the U.S. One favorite dish in West Africa is Jollof rice, it’s cooked with tomato broth, curry powder, thyme and served with fried, ripe plantains.

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One of my favorite fried rice dishes is called Nasi Goreng, which originated in Indonesia, where my godmother is from. This dish is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner and without meat, it is a great side dish. Here is the recipe:

Nasi Goreng

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp peanut oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 tsp shrimp paste (or 1 tsp Thai fish sauce)

1 tsp hot red Thai chili sauce

3 cups cold cooked white rice

2 Tbsp Kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)

Salt and pepper to taste

(1 pound boneless, skinless cooked chicken breast, cut into ½-inch pieces and/or sunny-side-up fried eggs)

If you can’t get Kecap manis, you can make your own. Mix 1/4 cup regular soy sauce with 1/4 cup brown sugar. Bring to a boil in a pot and let it simmer, while continuously stirring, until it resembles molasses. Let it cool and keep it in your refrigerator. It’ll keep for a month.

Preparation:

Break up the cold rice in a bowl with a fork, so there are no clumps. Heat a wok or a large pan and add the oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add onions and garlic and cook until softened, add the chicken at this time if you prefer to have meat in it, shrimp paste or fish oil, and chili sauce. Continue stirring. Add the cold rice, stir until everything is well-mixed and the rice starts to sizzle. Add the Kecap manis and stir for one last time gently. Taste if it needs salt or pepper. Serve right away.

You may add any vegetables on hand. I like to replace the regular onion with spring onions, add sometimes tomatoes or peas and top it with a fried egg.

Reserve some of the sweet soy sauce on the side to drizzle over.

Submitted Photo
Award-winning author Caroline Starr Rose lives and works in Albuquerque.

Books for comfort:

“A Race Around The World” by Caroline Starr Rose

Today, I want to introduce you to a unique children’s author and her newest book, “A Race Around The World,” which is based on a true story.

Caroline Starr Rose’s biography is impressive. She is an author of middle school and picture books. Her books have been listed in the American Library Association — Association for Library Service to Children Notable, Junior Library Guild, American Booksellers Association New Voices, Kids’ Indie Next, Amazon’s Best Books of the Month for Kids, and Bank Street College of Education Best Books selections. In addition, her books have been nominated for almost two dozen state award lists. Rose was named a Publisher’s Weekly Flying Start Author for her debut novel, “May B.” She spent her childhood in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and New Mexico and taught social studies and English in four different states. Rose now lives with her husband and two sons in Albuquerque and is part of the New Mexico Book Coop.

Rose’s book, “A Race Around The World,” is the true story of Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland, which was published by Albert Whitman and Co. The storyline is as follows, “In the late 1800s, the world was enchanted with speed. Steamships raced across oceans, locomotives dashed across continents, and a famous novel by Jules Verne imagined a man circling the globe in only 80 days. A fearless New York reporter called Nellie Bly thought she could be faster. She set out on a ship heading east across the Atlantic and vowed to be back in 75 days. That same night, another New York reporter found herself on a speeding train to San Francisco. Her name was Elizabeth Bisland, and she’d just been given a most astonishing assignment: To travel around the world, going west, and to beat Nellie Bly. This is the true story of two remarkable women who didn’t just race around the world — they changed it.”

“A Race Around The World” received several awards since it came out October 2019, such as Christian Science Monitor’s Best Children’s Books of 2019, A Mighty Girl’s 2019 Books of the Year list, 2020 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award finalist and is listed in Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2020. Rose is working right now on her next book, “Miraculous,” that will be out in 2022. It has been already been picked up by G.P. Putnam’s Sons who acquired world rights for its publication.

For more information, visit carolinestarrose.com.

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