bell pepper

Fried Rice

by Nancy on June 14, 2011

in Main Dish

I’ve heard a story that a Chinese king was traveling and stopped unexpectedly at a peasant’s house for the evening. The peasant made a dish of leftovers to serve the king, the king loved it, and thus fried rice was invented. Now this story has multiple problems if you stop to think about it but for a cooking blog the idea of fried rice using up a variety of leftovers is at least plausible. Unless you live in my house. I rarely have enough of even one leftover to add to fried rice much less 5 or 6.

Although I have a basic recipe for fried rice, I vary it according to what meat I have on hand or what vegetables are in season. In spring I might add snow peas, in summer zucchini or in winter frozen corn. I’m even more likely to vary the ingredients depending on which child is eating with us. One doesn’t like peas, another doesn’t like mushrooms, etc. I always add carrots and a green vegetable like bell pepper or celery for color appeal. And I might even add some leftovers if I have them. All ingredients should be cut into bite sized pieces. I use peanut oil to fry my fried rice although any vegetable oil can be used. Peanut oil adds some flavor of its own which isn’t bad in fried rice but I use it because you can fry foods hotter in peanut oil without the oil smoking or the food burning.

For a vegetarian dish, double or triple the mushrooms and omit the meat.

Fried Rice

  • 3 cups steamed rice
  • 2 cups shrimp, chicken or pork
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1 bell pepper or 1 cup celery
  • 1 cup corn, peas or snow peas
  • 1 cup mushrooms (optional)
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

Serves 4.

  1. Clean shrimp or cut chicken or pork into bite sized pieces.
  2. Cut onion, carrots, mushrooms, bell pepper, celery and other fresh vegetables into bite sized pieces. Mince garlic.
  3. In large skillet or wok, saute meat and garlic in oil until cooked through. If using shrimp, remove shrimp from skillet.
  4. Add onion, mushrooms, carrots, snow peas, bell pepper and celery (and other vegetables except frozen or canned) and saute.
  5. Move food away from center of skillet and pour in beaten egg. Scramble egg breaking it into bite sized pieces.
  6. Add frozen or canned corn or peas and other frozen, canned or precooked vegetables. Heat through.
  7. Add rice and soy sauce. Heat through stirring frequently. Serve.



by Nancy on May 3, 2011

in Appetizers,Soups,Vegetarian

If you have been following Kuchen Together, you probably guessed that gazpacho is not an old family recipe. Carrie and I both live in Silicon Valley which has a multiethnic population. When Carrie was in elementary school, the school of 500 had students speaking 17 different first languages. Eating with friends and acquaintances has introduced us to wonderful foods from all over the world and gazpacho is one of them. I’m posting this recipe for the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo which is celebrated here by people of all ethnicities.

There are hundreds, thousands of recipes for gazpacho. This one is the one I use. It has a nice, fresh flavor, a bit of bite and is fast and easy to prepare.


  • 1  46 oz can tomato juice
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T vinegar
  • 2 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  1. Peel and seed cucumber.
  2. Place garlic in blender with 1/2 cup tomato juice and puree.
  3. Chop cucumber, onion and bell pepper into pieces.
  4. Add cucumber, onion and bell pepper to blender and fill blender with tomato juice.
  5. Blend on slow speed just until vegetables are chopped to about 1/4 inch in size.
  6. Mix all ingredients in bowl and chill.


Mild Midwest Chili

by Nancy on December 28, 2010

in Main Dish,Soups

Winter holidays were full of family parties and at New Year’s we had two! On New Year’s Eve my parents went square dancing but us kids, my grandparents and my uncles and aunt went up the (gravel) road a whole 1/2 mile for a evening at my Great Aunt Irene’s house. We watched football, played Tripoly and card games, ate all kinds of great tasting, bad for you snacks and welcomed in the New Year watching the Times Square Ball drop on TV with Guy Lombardo singing Auld Lang Syne.

On New Year’s Day, well later the same day, we gathered at my grandparents house for more football, preferably with the Green Bay Packers playing and winning. After huge Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts (and being out late the night before) my grandmother made a couple of simple soups for our meal, chili and oyster stew. Oyster stew was a favorite of my grandfather and I think New Year’s was the only time my grandmother made it because she had to special order the oysters. Oysters were not a common food in the Midwest.

Chili on the other hand was a meal we had frequently. Both my mother and grandmother canned tomatoes in the summer and this was a dish that used them that everyone liked. They mostly canned tomato juice (passing cooked tomatoes through a colander got rid of the seeds and the skins easily) so chili was really a tomato juice based soup. Midwesterners don’t tend to like much heat in their food and the chili was mild. If I remember correctly, my mother used about 1 tsp. of Shillings chili powder mix in 3 quarts of chili. This wasn’t powdered chili, this was a mixture of spices like cinnamon, cloves, and a mild chili powder.

I only grow tomatoes for fresh use in my urban garden so I modified my mom’s recipe to use store-bought canned tomatoes. I make my chili chunkier, more like a stew, by using diced tomatoes instead of tomato juice as a base and leaving the other vegetables chunky. I vary the type of beans that I use. My mother used kidney beans but I sometimes use pinto beans or black beans instead. You could even use garbanzo beans to add a cheesy flavor.  I’ve spiced it up a bit by increasing the amount of sweet spices (cinnamon and cloves) but keep the hotness down by adding only a small amount of hot chili powder. I did grow up in the midwest after all.

Mild Midwest Chili

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3  14 ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1  14 ounce can kidney, pinto or black beans
  • 1 cup celery
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1/2 bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. whole mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. hot pepper flakes or powdered chili (optional)
  1. Brown ground beef in 4 quart pan.
  2. Add celery, onion and pepper and saute with beef.
  3. Add tomatoes and beans including liquid in cans.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 20 minutes.