Fried Rice, Grandma’s Biscotti, Board Games

Hello and welcome to Wednesday. Yesterday Andy cut Abby’s hair (he’s the “detail guy” in the house); I tested some cabbage recipes and made a style guide for my book; and I think I saw my 18-year-old for a total of five minutes. (She was holed up in her room or outside riding her bike.) For bedtime reading, I took on the New Yorker profile of Mitch McConnell and it — he — made me so furious that I barely got any sleep, which I guess isn’t that unusual these days. I’m trying to make this space as restorative and escapist as possible without sounding like I’m in total denial, but yesterday was tough for me. Living in New York, it’s become hard to go a day without hearing that someone we know has lost a loved one, and I feel like even the luckiest among us are walking around with a form of low-level nausea and dread. Exercise helps a little. So does eating dinner with my family. To that end…

Pantry: Fried Rice

It’s not so pretty to look at, but it sure tastes like comfort times a thousand. As anyone who’s been following this blog knows, we’ve been eating a lot of bowls as part of our new dial-back-the-meat initiative. Nine times out of ten, the bowl is rice-based, which means nine times out of ten, we have some leftover grains in the fridge, perfect for fried rice the next day — lunch or dinner. This recipe served 3 for lunch. You want about a cup of rice per diner, then scale up from there.

3 tablespoons olive oil (or grapeseed oil) plus more as needed
3 tablespoons onion, minced (or shallot or scallions)
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
3 cups leftover rice (or whatever you got)
1 garlic clove, minced
handful mushrooms, any kind, sliced
handful cabbage or greens, such as spinach, kale, chard
2 eggs, scrambled
handful frozen peas, thawed under running water
hefty drizzle of soy sauce (about 3 tablespoons)
hot sauce or Sriracha for serving

In a wok or a large nonstick pan set over medium heat, add onion and ginger, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Turn heat to medium-high and add rice, distributing into as thin layer as possible to allow it to crisp. Let sit without stirring, about 2 minutes. Toss and let sit again, another minute.

Move rice to the edges of pan as much as possible and add garlic and mushrooms and a little more oil as needed. Cook until mushrooms are shriveled, then and greens and cook until wilted. Move to the side of the pan with rice. Add egg to the same opening (will need more oil, probs) tossing with rice and veg mixture as it cooks. Toss in peas and soy sauce. Serve with Sriracha.

Project: Biscotti

And here’s an old DALS recipe from my mom’s mom, Mary Camino Catrino (1898-1950) who I never met. Something delicious to dunk in tomorrow’s coffee?

Cream together 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) and 1 cup sugar. Add 3 eggs, one at a time. In a separate bowl, sift (or whisk) together 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3 teaspoons baking powder.

Using an electric mixer, add flour mixture to butter/sugar/egg mixture — slowly so you don’t overload the mixer. Stir in: 1 teaspoon almond extract, 1 tablespoon anise seed, 1/2 cup chopped pecans or almonds.

Flour counter and hands. Take mixture out, place on a floured surface and knead; work into 3 loaves and shape. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake in at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes until firm and light brown. Cool and cut into strips.

Purpose: Classic Board Games

Catherine Newman wrote about playing classic board games through videoconferencing and Zoom and now all I want to do is call all the neighbors for a massive game of Pictionary.

Stay safe, stay home.

Photo up top: Lake Thun in Switzerland because it makes me feel momentarily calm.

The goal of the Project, Pantry, Purpose series to keep us sane, distracted, and connected. Please continue to comment below with suggestions for recipes, projects (for kids and adults), good deeds, donation ideas, stories, movies, games, puzzles. Or just tell me how you’re doing, what your daily routine is, and how DALS can help you or people in your community. You can also email me directly at

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So you don’t bake the biscotti a second time after slicing? I always have, which is why i rarely make it (too much bother).

(McConnell’s capitol hill townhouse is about a half mile from my house. i often run by with two birds extended!)


I love reading your daily blog posts! We have made several of the recipes and enjoy reading about the similarities of our teenage girls. It is a respite for me during this stressful time. And McConnell and the other cronies make me want to throw up, too.


You should do a whole post about woks. I find them to be a super important tool for providing fast, healthy meals for my family. I used to think it wasn’t worth bothering with a specialty pan but its really really critical to me now that I know how to use it.


I’m really sorry you’re having such a tough time. Your daily posts are such a gift and a kindness. I have an intensive care physician husband and my oldest kid has been in hospital for the past week but even so I feel incredibly lucky because we live in NZ where we have good leadership. It makes all the difference. You are good people and you deserve so much better than you are receiving. All our love from NZ to you all in the US.

Laura Schneider

Thank you for the daily posts during this time – I have enjoyed reading & cooking with you for years. The warmth,
peace and calm you provide does help!


I live very close to my two grown daughters and their families. My older daughter was describing a dish she made and had added “ Phoebe spice”, so delicious. Famous in Austin Phoebe!


Jenny. You have been my guide, consoler, and touchstone since I became a new mom in 2011. It would be impossible to count how many meals and moments have come together for us as a family thanks to your inspiration and assurance that the family dinner table is within everyone’s grasp. During this surreal time where our only break from our downtown Chicago condo is the fire escape landing, I am grateful for these daily opportunities to check in and see how you are all managing and what’s going on in that kitchen. During this past month we’ve had DALS bean burritos, chicken soup, sausage bolognese, no knead bread, and miso tofu on speed dial. Yes I have an 8 year old that loves tofu thanks to your miso tofu. And shrimp rolls because it got up to 70 one day and that seemed like the right way to celebrate. Tonight we enjoy Stromboli because it snowed today, and when it snows in April you get to have stromboli mid-week and maybe a glass of wine. It isn’t enough to just say thank you, but that’s all i’ve got ! All the best.


I read your idea of eating vegetairan on weekdays when you first announced it on the blog. While I have been trying to eat less meat for awhile, 5 days seemed hard to do. Fast forard to Feburary and my husband announced that he would like to eat less meat, so I decided we would give the weeknight thing a try! We’ve had alot of success since then and even my 3-year old hasn’t complained. Please keep the vegetarian recipes coming!! Love that they are simple but always look delicious! I look forward to your new posts each day.

Oakland mom

Thank you so much for this series. I too am not sleeping well and today in particular I was just feeling off – weighed down by it all. I turned to this site for the lemon tart recipe (making it tonight for husband’s birthday tomorrow!) and your comment about low-level nausea really resonated – that is exactly how I am feeling today. Going to get up off my chair now, wash dishes and make the lemon filling. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and recipes with us all. It is bringing a measure of sunshine and purpose.