Pace Yourself

May 23rd, 2012 · 16 Comments · Dinner, Quick, Vegetarian

We’ve been talking a lot about the idea of pacing in our house. This is partly because it’s spring, which means it’s Presidential Physical Fitness Award time, which means that, among other things, the girls have been forced to learn how to run a mile without running out of steam.  (I’m both horrified and proud to discover that they take these fitness challenges as seriously as I did in 1981.) I’m also talking a lot about pacing because it seems that every interviewer I’ve spoken with in connection with my book, at some point comes around to this question: Is it OK to order takeout every now and then?

Well, you guys have been with me from the start, so you know how I’m going to answer this one. Obviously it’s NOT OK. Seriously, if you order in from that Chinese place again, God only knows what will become of your children who were doing so well in school and now — just because you were too lazy to make your own moo shu pork — they are on the fast track to failure. You know exactly who to blame when your kid comes up two minutes short on his mile run.

Sometimes I’m really tempted to answer it that way. I think everyone — including the interviewer — knows deep down that this whole family dinner thing is about balance. It’s not about everyone sitting down together every single night eating the exact same thing while deconstructing Kant. It’s about doing as many of these things (um, except the Kant part) as often as you can, and letting go when you can’t. As I’ve said before, to my daughters, and way back when I first started this blog, I’m pretty sure this whole dinner thing (this whole parenting thing actually) is about the marathon, not the sprint. Why wouldn’t I order Chinese if it means that’s the only way family dinner is going to happen that night?

Especially since the next day, I can take the leftover sticky rice and fry up a homemade crispy rice omelet.


Crispy Rice Omelet
Of course, this was only enjoyed by the two people at the table who don’t wrinkle their noses in disgust at the sight of eggs. That is, it was enjoyed by the grown-ups.

canola oil
2 tablespoons minced scallions or onions
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
shake of red pepper flakes (to taste)
3/4 cup leftover rice, preferably sticky Chinese takeout
3 – 4 eggs (I used 3 but wished it was more eggy)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
handful frozen peas (to taste)

Preheat broiler. Add a little oil to a cast iron or nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Add scallions, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook about 1 minute until everything is soft and fragrant. Add rice and spread out in one layer, turning up heat a bit. Don’t stir for about a minute so it gets nice and crispy. Stir again and wait another minute. Meanwhile whisk together eggs and soy sauce and add peas to egg mixture. Turn heat down to medium-low and pour egg mixture over fried rice, tipping the pan so the egg distributes itself evenly over the rice. Cook until underside is crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a broiler and bake another 3 minutes or until egg looks golden and bubbly on top. Serve with a drizzle of soy sauce and a green salad.

Then give yourself an award.

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16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Adrienne @ How to Ice a Cake // May 23, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Now I want to order Chinese takeout just so I can make this omelet. I would never have thought to put rice with eggs!

    I can’t believe they’re still doing those fitness tests. I used to hate those!!

  • 2 june // May 23, 2012 at 11:07 am

    I order Chinese food mostly so I can do something with the leftover the next day! My favorite is pork or shrimp fried rice.

  • 3 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag // May 23, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I LOVE IT! I have rice in the fridge. I have leftover peas. Guess dinner can consider itself done….

  • 4 654carroll // May 23, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    my earliest bouts of stress-induced insomnia were related to “the Presidential” (our shorthand for it). The 600 (the longest distance at the time) wasn’t my concern–it was everything else. (Do they still give out “standard” “merit” and “presidential” levels, or does everyone get a trophy/patch these days? I never even got standard! Me and the girl with the back brace who sat out gym were the only ones who failed.) i’m ordering Chinese to cheer myself up.

  • 5 eRin @ Growing Up Senge // May 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Oh, the Presidential Fitness Test. I was particularly proud of my scores on the Sit & Stretch, thanks to my extraordinary flexibility… I couldn’t run a mile without stopping until I was an adult, like last year. It is my intention that my children will not say the same!

    Growing up, my family ate dinner together every night of the week, unless there were some exceptional circumstances. But some of my favorite memories are of the whole family eating pizza at the coffee table while watching the World Series, or opening a bunch of Chinese take-out boxes like little treasures, or digging into a bucket of chicken. My mom cooked 98% of our meals, but we still ate our take-out dinners as a family and it was always a special occasion no matter how fancy the food was or wasn’t!

  • 6 Kim @Cook with 2 Chicks // May 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    I can’t wait to share your post with my kids when they come home today. We too are striving to complete the mile and stretching every night to make sure we are as flexible as we can be for the flexibility test, which may I say is pretty tough once you’ve hit 40! Your crispy rice omelet is sure to be a hit and get them off on the right start tomorrow for the final stage of the Presidential Physical Fitness Award!

  • 7 Trish@wishfit // May 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Haven’t tried the recipe, but I love this post. I’m an exercise physiologist, wellness coach, and mom of two young boys. Exercise and healthy eating are obviously important to me, and I strive to do well . . . most of the time. Of course the goal is to cook healthy, nutritious meals for the family, but when my husband is traveling for work for the third week in a row, and we’re late getting home from wherever, takeout pizza is looking pretty awesome. Love your message here, and your blog!

  • 8 MelissaM // May 23, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    I can honestly say, growing up in the desert and doing PE in 90 degree weather I never was too excited about the Physical Fitness Tests, so I pretty much failed everytime. But I crispy rice omelete sounds pretty dang good!

    Also saw your book mentioned in the June issue of Real Simple! YAY!

  • 9 Kate // May 23, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    OMG! That looks so delicious!

  • 10 Erika // May 23, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    I am with you balance is key but practice makes habit. We love to eat dinner together as a family almost every night but we do treat ourselves to a fun night out and the occasional pizza delivery for Friday night movie night!
    Love your crispy rice omelet..can’t wait to try it!

  • 11 Margaret // May 24, 2012 at 1:21 am

    Hated those tests. I always failed every one, earning sneers of contempt from every gym teacher I ever had. I remember feeling so sad and confused that President Ford had created something deliberately aimed at singling out the small and unfit for scorn and disgrace. As if we didn’t already get that every time there were teams to pick.

    The crispy rice trick also works for making imitation “stone bowl” bibimbap. Fry leftover rice until crispy and brown on the undersdie, crack a couple raw eggs on it and let warm/cook (depending on how squeamish you are about raw eggs), and top with any mixture of Asian-y veggies and meats you might have lying around.

  • 12 Elizabeth // May 24, 2012 at 1:58 am

    My memory of the Presidential Fitness Test was that absymal thing where you had to hang motionless, your chin above a bar — I was an exceptionally unathletic and scrawny little girl who is now old and grown-up with two jock sons who actually LOVE the test.

    The recipe looks divine –

  • 13 Amanda // May 24, 2012 at 8:56 am

    We always make too much rice and then wonder what to do with it! This looks delicious!

  • 14 mommylisa // May 24, 2012 at 12:13 pm


  • 15 Natalia // Oct 3, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    I used this as inspiration for tonight’s dinner… I added hot links (yeah not so healthy but it had the husband convinced), yellow onion (no green here), and oyster sauce instead of soy sauce. It was a HIT! So easy and tasty, I can’t wait to try this with tons of different combinations of ingredients. Thanks!!

  • 16 Margot // Mar 30, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    I had leftover rice with tomatoes & jalapenos and black beans. I added the eggs, plus cheese and used avocados, lime, cilantro, and sour cream for toppings. Plus, salsa.

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