Adventures in Seattle Produce, plus How to Make Fried Rice

All this sunshine lately is making me think it might actually be spring around here!! And with spring comes peas. In honor of Throwback Thursday, here’s my favorite pea story….

So there’s a chance that I might be an official Seattleite. It hit me 4 miles in, as I was running down the street with 2 fistfuls of snow peas. Pull up a chair, this is a good one.

I’ve been on the waiting list for a P-Patch garden since moving here, and finally snagged a plot this spring. Seattle has an amazing network of neighborhood gardens, and for about $25 a year, you can have a 10′ x 20′ patch of dirt to call your very own. I’m sure you can understand how I have an aching in my bones to do this.

In my over-zealousness, I planted all sorts of stuff way back in February, after a few warm sunny days that fooled us all into thinking it would be a mild winter. Consequently, the fruits of my labor have been mixed at best. I seem to do an excellent job raising… weeds. Or the unidentifiable plants the garden’s previous owner had planted. Oh well, I chalk the experience up to entertainment and a hefty dose of nature therapy. Any actual food that comes out of the ordeal is strictly gravy.

After tending to my practically barren garden for months, things are starting to percolate a bit. On my run tonight I decided to swing by the garden and check things out. Imagine my surprise to find actual PEAS, ready to harvest, shining in the evening sun. Oh, I was about as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. Only these gifts were heavy with the toils of my sweat, blood, and tears. Sort of. Hopped up on excitement and without really thinking the whole thing through, I started picking them frantically.

I have two varieties – one a snow pea, and the other a sugar snap pea. Note: I know from experience better than to grow peas that you have to shell. The work to potential nutritional value/yield ratio is entirely too lopsided – in the wrong direction. In any event, in no time I had more peas than my sweaty little hands could hold.

And then it hit me. I had no eco-chic reusable shopping bag or obnoxiously cute farmer’s market basket to hold my bounty. Oh, and I was still about two miles from home. So I did what any self-respecting Seattleite would have done. I ran home with the peas in my hands. What choice did I have?? A panhandler did ask me while I was waiting to cross at a red light if the peas were a snack instead of one of those “energy bars.” Nope, just silly me, picking my garden and then running home. But let’s just pause for a brief second to picture that one in our heads – crazed red head, running down the street, noshing on handfuls of snow peas for mid-workout sustenance… That actually might work.

Anyway, let me tell you, these peas were well worth any self-inflicted absurdity. They taste like – get this – peas! It’s sort of sad how we don’t even notice how bland much of our produce is. Not surprising considering that it’s taken days – or even weeks – to arrive at the market. These peas were mere minutes old!

As soon as I got home I whipped up quite a dinner with them. But I’m not even going to bother giving you the recipe since it will be 100% un-replicable. It was a hodgepodge of leftovers, freezer fodder, and peas. If you must know, it was a very lose interpretation of fried rice, and that basic recipe is listed below. I used left over wild rice that I cooked in chicken broth and then tossed with roasted grape tomatoes and ate for dinner last night. As for veggies, I threw in diced onion, leftover roasted red peppers, frozen corn, and of course – my prize-worthy peas. (Believe me, it took real restraint to leave out the Tupperware filled with roasted brussles sprouts. That would not have been delicious.) I had a few lonely shrimps in the freezer and tossed them into the mix along with a scrambled egg. Like I said, random. But tasty! Just goes to show that fried rice is a jack-of-all-trades champ to have up your sleeve when you need to clean out the fridge.

Even though this fried rice isn’t authentically Seattle, apparently I am: passive-aggressively running through the rain, fistfuls of politically correct, all organic, hippie-approved produce in hand. Enjoy!

Basic Fried Rice

Click here to print this recipe.
Time to prepare: 30 minutes, 20 if you are a quick chopper
Serves: 4

1 cup chopped protein – chicken, shrimp, pork, beef, tofu (optional)
1/3 cup onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
vegetable oil
soy sauce
fresh ground black pepper
2 eggs, scrambled
3 cups fresh veggies, chopped in ½” pieces – bell peppers, broccoli, zucchini, squash, beans, sugar snap peas, carrots, beans all work very well, but use whatever you have.
1 cup frozen veggies – corn, sweet peas, edamame (optional)
2 cups cooked rice, preferably day-old

Over very high heat, heat a tablespoon+ of oil in a large skillet or wok, preferably non-stick. Add the onion, garlic and protein and cook, stirring frequently until the protein is about half way cooked through.

Push the protein to the sides of the pan. Add the eggs and cook until they resemble scrambled eggs, stirring frequently. Season with pepper.

Add the veggies and cook until cooked but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons soy sauce, stir.

Push the contents to the side of the pan and add the rice. Smooth out so that as much of the rice as possible is in contact with the pan. Let the rice cook for a minute or two, slightly burning to the pan. This is essential to avoid soggy rice and to get that great crispy texture.

Stir the contents together, allowing the rice to sit for 45 seconds or so at a time to burn a little. Add more oil if necessary. Add another 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, or to taste.

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Comments: 11

  1. Tes June 9, 2010 at 3:25 am Reply

    The fried rice looks good. It sounds really yummy.

    • Seattle Palate June 10, 2010 at 8:12 am Reply

      Thanks Tes! Hope the recipe makes it into your kitchen.

  2. Krista June 9, 2010 at 9:32 am Reply

    I love this story! Hilarious. :-) SO glad you saw some bounty at last. :-)

    • Seattle Palate June 10, 2010 at 8:13 am Reply

      Thanks Krista! Glad to make a fool of myself in the name of fresh produce :)

  3. Alex June 9, 2010 at 9:37 am Reply

    Ha! I can totally picture this. Hilarious.

  4. SUE June 17, 2010 at 7:33 am Reply

    Oh Amy – The peas sound delish! Save some for our visit next week! I will even help you pick them and carry them back to your house, but I won’t be running with you!! Mom
    PS Do you remember the summer that Dad planted 3 POUNDS of pea seeds?? There seemed to be an acre of pea plants with an abundance of peas growing! You, Jeff and I picked peas for a week then shelled, blanched and froze them in one precious little 1 gallon freezer bag!! Dad, who had been busy driving tractors and milking cows and absent from the pea picking, was thrilled with our harvest and asked, “Now, how much would THAT cost in the grocery store?” I told him about a buck fifty and that was the LAST time we planted peas!!!

    • Seattle Palate June 17, 2010 at 8:14 am Reply

      And THAT’s why I will never plant english peas 😉

  5. lynn July 16, 2010 at 2:16 pm Reply

    You are too much. I can just see you now, running along with an armful of peas. I miss you so much!!
    We are going to Steinhatchee scalloping this weekend. It is sorta like the pea story. $2,000 for $25.00 worth of scallops.
    Love Aunt Lynn

    • Seattle Palate July 17, 2010 at 8:10 am Reply

      HA! That’s the Florida equivalent of my story for sure :)

  6. Leah Weiner May 21, 2013 at 10:00 pm Reply

    Love your website!!!!! I think you should review a restaurant in Greenwood so I can eat there when I come up again! You make me want to cook…and eat the food you are cooking!!

    • Seattle Palate May 23, 2013 at 2:22 pm Reply

      Thanks Leah! I need to go out in Greenwood more, I live so close yet never seem to get over there.

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