The first summer in our new home, a little over 4 years ago, I decided to take on a project that surprised my family as much as it did me. Growing up, I was one of those few kids who hated running on freshly wet grass barefoot (still do!), who NEVER chased after snails and colourful bugs, and who somehow managed to escape being an active part of the school garden project where the entire class planted seeds in tiny colourful pots.
Truth be told, I as never a fan of touching mud and getting my hands dirty. So much so, that the only kinds of greenery that you will find inside my home are jars filled with bamboo, supported by water. Nothing else. Not a single pot with a speck of mud. But that summer of 2011, I had this sudden urge to create a veggie patch of my own in our tiny, badly maintained back yard. I had somehow convinced myself that this was what I really wanted to do, all by myself, and as soon as possible. So while the rest of my clan looked at me like I had lost it, the ever supportive Hubby Dear ran to start the car and we dashed off to a nearby nursery with Baby Dear in tow.
A couple of hours later we were back, arms loaded with stuff and heads loaded with knowledge and tips. We had decided to try our hand at container gardening, and I knew I wanted to begin with cherry tomatoes, basil and cilantro. I guess I really surprised myself and everyone else, because every summer since, we’ve been buying more planters to add to the mix. This past summer we had an abundance of 2 kinds of tomatoes, 2 kinds of chillies, 2 kinds of peppers, lettuce, cilantro, mint, Thai and Italian basil. It’s been a fun learning process and not to mention, a complete joy to have Baby Dear dash off outside with my basket to pick fresh tomatoes and herbs around dinnertime. And for those wondering, I still don’t get my hands dirty with mud – the kind lady I met the nursery on that first visit convinced me that a good pair of gardening gloves was just as important for me to embark on my project as the best kind of organic soil was. And boy was she right!
BASIL FRIED RICE
Prep time: 10 min | Cooking time: 15 min | Serves: 4
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped green beans
1 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
2 cups shredded chicken (optional)
3 cups cooked plain rice
2 tbsp light soy sauce
a big handful of fresh basil, roughly torn
salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Heat oil in a large non-stick wok and fry garlic and onions till lightly browned and fragrant.
Add in carrots, beans and cabbage, and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Add in white pepper and chilli powder, and fry for a few seconds. Mix in shredded chicken and stir-fry for another minute or two.
Add in rice and mix well. Splash soy sauce, add in roughly torn basil and stir-fry rice till everything is mixed well.
Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.