One of the hardest things since Noah’s been home has been feeding him. He is not picky and loves every vegetable, but he misses Chinese food. You can tell he just doesn’t like a lot of the food here even though he’ll eat it. I’ve tried to make him things he’ll like, and we have Chinese grocery stores and things that help, but it’s a struggle – I’m a good cook, but I’m American and I don’t know how to make most of the things he’s used to.
One day I decided to make Noah fried rice. This is something I’ve made for a long time, and I was happy to find that it was very like the fried rice we had in China so I thought it would go over well.
I was prepping all the ingredients and he was watching me. He knew I was trying to make something Chinese-ish, so he was sure it was not going to be good. “Please, mom, please, don’t make me eat this. I no like this!” “Noah,” I said, “I watched you eat this every day for breakfast at the hotels while we were in China. I promise, you like this.” “No mom, I don’t! Please!” “Yes, Noah, you do, I promise. Wait and see.”
I put the egg in the pan and he said, “Oh, no, mom, no! No egg! Please, no egg!” and I said, “Noah, you like this, I promise.” He threw his hands in the air and wailed, “No!” (Did I mention that he’s got a little drama going on sometimes?)
I took the egg out and started cooking the onions and carrots. “Mom! Oh please! No onions! I no like onions! I don’t like this food!” “Noah,” I stated with my customary saintly patience, “I promise, you like this.” “No! I don’t!” “Yes, you do. I watched you eat it every day in China. You like this.” He held his head in despair.
Every single ingredient was met with disbelief or resigned sorrow. “I no like this food.” When I pulled out the soy sauce, he wailed, “This! Mom, I never had this! I know I no like this!” It was all I could do not to laugh. “Noah, I can promise you that after nine years in China, you have eaten soy sauce. I know you don’t believe me, but you are going to like this.”
By the time I started mixing everything together he was basically chanting, “I no like this. I no like this.” But there’s a moment when fried rice stops looking like separate ingredients and suddenly changes over and looks like fried rice. He just stared dumbfounded and then yelled, “Mom! I like this! I like this!” I died laughing – “Yes, I know.”
So why is this like our life in Christ?
How many times have we seen what is immediately before us and said, “No, God, please! Not the (metaphorical) egg! Whatever it is You are doing, I know I don’t like it!” And God answers, “I promise you, I am making something beautiful. We need this part to make it. Trust me, when it’s done, you’ll understand why this part is in your life.” And sometimes we listen and trust, but more often than not, we continue to complain or protest or moan and wonder why this particular thing has to happen. Why did this (insert anything here) have to be a part of my life?!
And yet, God has promised us that He is always working for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). He is the great Redeemer (Job 19:25, Is 48:17), He makes all things new (Rev. 21:5), and He is in the business of giving us beauty for our ashes (Is. 61:3). When we look at the circumstances of our lives and something doesn’t make sense or looks like we would never like it, can we trust the Lord and instead look to Him with anticipation, waiting to see how He will use it to make something beautiful?
I know when I look back on my life, there are many times He took things in a direction that was unexpected and often unwelcome to me. How much time did I waste complaining? How much patience did the Lord need to use with me? He knows me better than I know myself, and many of my worst times are the very things I’ve seen Him use the most to make beauty in my life.
So now, every time you make fried rice, or eat fried rice, or just look at a scrambled egg, I hope it reminds you that God is an amazing chef. He knows how He’s going to put it all together in the end, and when we get there and see what He’s done, we’ll all be saying, “God! I didn’t know this was what You were doing! I like this! I like this!”
Since I know it will be asked, here’s my recipe. But I warn you, I am an artist – we are not good at coloring within the lines. I very rarely, if ever, measure anything (much to the despair of my husband who tells me lovingly that this is the reason I can’t die). So this is just a basic how-to, more of a method as it were that you can use to invent your own recipe. 🙂 This is a great way to use up any vegetable or meat in your house, so it’s always changing at ours, but here’s my basic go-to for fried rice.
3 eggs, beaten
1 T. minced garlic if you have it, skip if you don’t, no biggie
2 big carrots diced
1 big or 2 small onions diced
some frozen peas and corn, thawed, probably 3/4 cups of each
some shredded, cooked chicken, probably 1 or 1 1/2 cups (you can also dice and cook raw chicken or any other protein)
4 ish cups cooked sticky rice
soy sauce (quite a lot)
salt and pepper
roasted sesame seeds if you have them and don’t forget to throw them in.
Heat a wok until it’s hot (you can use a flat-bottomed saute pan and should if you have an electric stove, but a wok works better and makes it fluffier if you have one), put in 1 or 2 T. of oil to coat the pan. Add eggs and stir and chop until you have lots of bits of scrambled egg – remove to a bowl and set aside. If you’re using raw meat, add a bit more oil and stir fry it now and then remove and put with the egg for later.
Add a bit more oil if needed and the garlic for just a few seconds so it doesn’t burn and then put in the carrots. Stir fry for 2ish minutes until they are al dente, then add onions and cook until they are translucent and the carrots are soft-ish. Add peas and corn and stir fry until they are hot, about 1 minute, then add in the chicken and egg and stir to combine. Put the sticky rice on top (I usually have a little more meat and veggie than rice, like a 60/40 ratio) and pour soy sauce over it until about a third of it has been touched and start chopping it apart and stirring it in – you can always taste and add more soy sauce, and you know you have the right amount when the rice mostly stops sticking together and you have good soy flavor. Stir fry, scraping the bottom often, for a couple of minutes to get yummy crispy bits of rice, adding a good bit of salt and some pepper until you like the flavor. Toss in the sesame seeds if you have them. Voila! If you are like some of my friends, you love this kind of recipe, and if you are like all the others, you are now annoyed by my complete lack of measurements or good directions. Feel free to ask questions in the comments!! And enjoy. 🙂