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Food provides a perfect welcome home

June 7, 2011
Wendy Monro

Well, we drove more than 1,500 miles across the country without a hitch. The biggest problem we had was getting off of the freeway after nine and a half hours of driving only find that our hotel was missing. Travelodge failed to mention to me that they hadn't changed their sign from Ramada Inn when I made the reservation. Then, I got back on the freeway going the wrong way and onto another freeway all together. Claud was following me in a twenty six foot truck and my dad was behind him in another car. We were all tired and hungry. It was a caravan gone bad. Eventually, we figured it out and got to our hotel. Thank goodness this was the worst of all of it. I was nervous with all of the crazy weather happening all over the country. It was smooth sailing the whole way with only a few damp roads. No major rain.

The best part of the entire trip was arriving home and finding some of our closest friends at our door step, within minutes of our pulling in, to help us unpack the truck. How lucky are we? The Grothems and the Sarkars helped us bring everything in. More importantly, the Grothems brought dinner!

I hadn't even thought about what we would do for dinner. I was so tired from the drive and then moving the boxes to even begin considering what we would eat. Then, Kathy arrives with wine, wine glasses, a wine bottle opener, Omaha steaks, potatoes, butter, salt and pepper, and a delicious pasta salad with peas. I need to get that pasta salad recipe. It was so good. We took the grill out of the truck and set it up just in time to grill those steaks. I baked the potatoes and voila... dinner was ready. I was so grateful for Dan and Kathy's generosity and genius behavior in realizing we would need to eat.

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Submitted photo

Gautam’s famous Fried Rice, topped with teriyaki chicken.

The next day, Claud, my dad, and I spent hours unpacking, trying to make our house a home again. Then, at about three o'clock, my amazing friend, Gautam came to our door carrying a large pot of his famous fried rice. Well, I don't know if it is actually famous. I do know it should be. It is famous in the Monro household. I steamed some broccoli and sauted some tofu to go with it. The entire meal was absolutely delicious. We could have eaten two more large pots full of fried rice... that's how yummy it was.

Gautam has brought this over to us several times. Every time, it is so incredibly good. This may be strange; but, sometimes when I really love the taste of something someone else makes, I don't want to know how they do it. For some reason, the mystery of the dish makes it even more special to me. This is how I am with Claud's egg benedict. I never want to know how to make that. His hollandaise sauce is pure magic. I will never want to unravel that mystery. I felt the same about Gautam's fried rice recipe. So, I have never asked Gautam how he makes this rice dish. This time, however, I saw how he made it because he photographed the kids cooking it on Facebook. So, I knew the secret. It was all out in the open. I had to make it myself and show everyone else how to do it too.

I finally made the trip out to the market and bought everything I needed to make Gautam's fried rice. I loved the idea of using a cinnamon stick and ginger. I never would have thought that these ingredients were in there. Now that I know, it makes sense. You can taste it. Then, I realized that he uses a bit of teriyaki sauce in there too. No wonder his fried rice tastes so amazing. This gave me an idea.

Fact Box

Gautam's Fried Rice:

Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6

1 large onion, sliced

1 clove of garlic, chopped

3 carrots, sliced

1 tablespoon ginger, chopped fine

2 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

(you can add in an egg and fry it at this point before you add the peas and rice)

1 can of peas (or frozen peas)

6 cups cooked rice

salt and pepper

1/2 cup teriyaki sauce

Saut the onion, garlic, carrots, ginger, bay leaves and cinnamon stick for about ten minutes (until the onions are soft). Add the peas. Pour in the rice and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour in the teriyaki sauce. Mix well. Serve with chicken, tofu, or eat it on it's own. Add soy sauce if you like.

I decided that a little teriyaki chicken would be a good complement to the fried rice. This would make Claud happy since I didn't put any meat into the rice. At first, I wanted to make my own homemade teriyaki sauce. Then, I realized how tired I was from the move and the unpacking and decided to buy a bottle of teriyaki sauce instead. Gautam uses frozen vegetables in his recipe and I used fresh (except for the canned peas). I think the frozen peas were better in his rice. My peas got a little mushy. You know, I don't even like peas and I loved them in Kathy's salad and in Gautam's rice...weird. Maybe I do like peas. The entire meal took about thirty minutes to make. It was all so easy. I kept the teriyaki chicken incredibly simple by slicing up a few chicken breasts, marinating them in teryaki sauce, and sauteing them in olive oil. Then, I just placed the slices of chicken on top of the fried rice. Jack ate only the chicken and Daphne ate only the rice...of course. I didn't mind. It turned out very good; but, not quite as fantastic as when Gautam makes it.

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