Languishing in Paradise…and Vegan Pork Fried Rice

The weather has been glorious these past several days, so James has been springing from bed every morning to get his exercises in early so he can get outside for a deck rebuilding project. He is a particularly happy man these days because he has purpose, and when he is in the midst of a building project, he has something else as well: FLOWa concept we’ve talked about before on this blog.

In essence, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discovered that “people find genuine satisfaction during a state of consciousness called Flow. In this state they are completely absorbed in an activity, especially an activity which involves their creative abilities. During this ‘optimal experience’ they feel strong, alert, in effortless control, unselfconscious, and at the peak of their abilities.”

I’ve been thinking about the idea of Flow a lot today because during my morning reading of the papers, I came across an article in The New York Times that describes something that many of us have likely been experiencing now that we’re well into year two of the pandemic: “There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing“.

Apparently, the status of our mental health can be located on a spectrum “from depression to flourishing. Flourishing is the peak of well-being: You have a strong sense of meaning, mastery and mattering to others. Depression is the valley of ill-being: You feel despondent, drained, and worthless. Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation and disrupts your ability to focus.”

This all felt very familiar to my current state of existence: I’m not lazy and unmotivated…I’m languishing!! It sounds almost romantic in a kind of Victorian way. And, as it turns out, a great balm for languishing turns out to be…FLOW. As I’ve mentioned before, the two things that get me into a state of Flow are writing and cooking, so I give you this blog post…and an adapted vegan version of Delish’s Pork Fried Rice. In order to make the dish vegan, I subbed scrambled tofu for scrambled eggs and seitan pork for pork. I also increased the hoisin and sesame oil. In order to make it a bit healthier than the original, I subbed brown basmati rice for white rice. However, there’s a bit of oil in the recipe and some vegan butter in the scrambled tofu, so it’s not oil-free.

Vegan Pork Fried Rice

4 cups cooked and cooled brown basmati rice

1 recipe of The Gentle Chef’s scrambled tofu (this tastes very similar to scrambled eggs)

light spray of vegetable oil

1/2 chopped onion 

1 carrot, peeled and chopped 

250 grams shredded seitan pork

1.5 cups thinly sliced Brussels sprouts (optional, but SO good!)

1 small can water chestnuts sliced into matchsticks

1 c. frozen peas

1 TBS grated ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 TBS soy sauce

2 TBS hoisin sauce

1 TBS sesame oil

sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 green onions, thinly sliced

My rough mise en place

Make four cups of brown basmati rice, spread it out on a cookie sheet and cool it in the fridge for a few hours. Make the scrambled tofu In a large skillet. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Scrambled Tofu

Heat the same skillet, spray with a bit of oil, and add onion and carrot. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender. Add the shredded seitan pork to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the the seitan pork is seared and is starting to caramelize. Stir in the ginger, garlic, Brussels sprouts, water chestnuts, and peas, and cook until fragrant (about one minute). Add the rice and heat/toss very well. Mix together and stir in the soy sauce, hoisin, and sesame oil. Add the green onions. Toss to combine, then fold in the scrambled tofu and serve. I added some roasted peanuts to the bowl for a bit of crunch. If I had some cilantro, I would’ve added that as well.

Vegan Pork Fried Rice in the pan!

I made this dish with white basmati rice last week and it was delicious, but it is SO much better with the brown version! And it is much more filling–neither of us could finish our bowls!

As for the song of the day, you’ll likely laugh at this one: it’s Ke$ha and Pitbull’s 2013 hit, “Timber,” which also happens to be my ringtone (to the great embarrassment of my darling daughter). I don’t know why, but I absolutely love this song:

4 thoughts on “Languishing in Paradise…and Vegan Pork Fried Rice

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