Family members having different food preferences can challenge any cook. There is a food blogger whose husband was diagnosed with gluten intolerance and, suddenly, her blog became about gluten-free cooking. I am not sure if the transformation was total, if from that point, she cooked nothing but gluten-free food for her entire family.
I’ve often wondered what I’d do if I were in her shoes. Would I oblige the rest of the family to adapt to the strict diet of the one suffering from an allergy? I’m sure that the support would be there. But, on the other hand, there is that feeling that everyone else is getting short-changed. Why should everyone else have to suffer the consequences of another’s special needs? Families who can afford to hire a full-time dietician and cook will find an easy solution. One set of meal for the allergy sufferer and another set of meal for the rest of the brood. But in average families where there is only one cook? It’s tricky.
I found myself in a similar situation when Sam turned vegetarian. From day one, we promised her she would have our full support. But that didn’t mean vegetarian meals for everyone. It meant that I made the adjustments. I have developed a cooking routine to produce for every meal a vegetarian dish for Sam, an omnivorous dish for those who don’t fancy vegetarian and a dish that both the vegetarian and the omnivores can enjoy. No, it isn’t hard. No, it doesn’t necessarily mean spending more time in the kitchen. It just takes getting used to. It means choosing a set of dishes where only one or two requires constant attention and the rest can be left to cook on their own.
The day that I cooked chili relleno spring rolls for Sam, the rest of us had pork ribs adobo, squash soup and fried rice. The adobo simmered without fuss. The broth (I freeze homemade bone broth) was thawed and heated, I just added vegetables to it. Only the spring rolls and the fried rice needed work.
The soup and the fried rice were both meatless. For the fried rice, instead of the usual chopped Chinese roast pork, I added tiny cubes of eggplants. Even Alex who is no eggplant fan enjoyed the fried rice very much.
- 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 2 to 3 eggs lightly beaten with a little salt and pepper
- 1 large eggplant the Asian variety, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 finger chili finely chopped
- 4 to 5 cups cooked rice
- 2 to 3 tablespoons fried shallots
- 3 tablespoons finely sliced scallions
Heat 1 tbsp. of cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. Pour in the beaten eggs and cook just until set. Roll up and transfer to a chopping board. Slice thinly.
Pour the remaining oil into the pan and heat. Add the eggplant cubes and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened. Add the garlic and chili. Cook until the eggplant cubes are cooked through and the mixture is aromatic.
Add the cooked rice and fried onions. Sprinkle in more salt and pepper. Stir fry until the rice is heated through.
Add the sliced eggs and scallions. Stir a few more times. Serve hot.