Rice. Many people only know it as gooey lumps scooped out at cafeterias, the instant kind, with sauce or pasta or sometimes dry with Chinese food, often getting a bad opinion. Rice is known the world over and there are many varieties. I can in no way of claim to be an expert. What I do know is that I love rice.
When an aunt died, my sister inherited everything. My aunt was a woman who never net a gadget she didn’t like or buy at least one of anything. Among the cookery collection was a rice cooker….just one. I never would have bought one myself but I took it to try it and then I fell in love. Don’t think they are a good idea? I heard that nearly every household in Japan has one…enough said. At this time, they can be found for about $10.00 and up. Be forewarned, however, you get what you pay for. My current inexpensive one is nowhere near the quality of the one my aunt paid for,(she always bought the best; I wore hers out!), but mine is acceptable. Depending on the quality, size and density of your rice ,you may have to experiment .The standard 2-1 ratio of water to rice probably will not work in your rice cooker.( I did not have the instruction booklet to my aunt’s and using that ratio, I ended up with a pot of paste). Until you know your rice maker and your favorite rice texture, better to underestimate the amount of water, as you can add a very small amount after it is cooked,(all rice cookers automatically set to ‘Warm’), fold the water in gently and let it steam a short time before serving. Unless you want to add the rice to soups , stews, side dishes , to use in desserts,(rice pudding or custard rice),or as a breakfast cereal, as they do in the South, served with milk,(cow, almond, rice or soy), and sweetened,( with sugar, honey or syrups), then leave it slightly undercooked.
Always use long-grain rice in a rice cooker, unless you really want to play around testing various sizes and textures.
Brown rice has additional nutrients, so many that most people who know their nutrition won’t touch white, but some of us have reactions to brown rice, so we get by with white. Brown rice will always be firmer with a nuttier flavor.
I strongly suggest adding salt to your water to cook into the rice.
Stovetop standard rice cooking amounts are two parts water to one part rice. Rinse the rice. I have found that it works best to put the rice in cold water and bring to a boil; simmer until nearly all the water is absorbed, then cover and remove from heat. Brown rice should be added to boiling water, then allowed to soak for 20 minutes before cooking as white rice.
An even better way I found is to bake rice. Use the same ratio and technique, place the water and rice in a covered glass or ceramic cooking vessel with a lid, (a casserole dish or bean pot is good), and bake at 350F for about 40 minutes. In using this method, you can use vegetable , beef or chicken broth as all or part of your liquid.
Wild rice is not actually a rice, but resembles and acts much like rice. It is native to the United States. It is very firm and nut-like, and is also much more expensive. I like to add it to rice in the cooker or oven in the ratio of approximately 1 part wild rice to 4 parts regular rice.
I have not been very adventuresome but am looking forward to experimenting with various types of rice available at international markets, along with some less common grains and beans…none of which are in my town, and may not be readily available to you. I will add observations when I discover new flavors and uses, but I absolutely have no intention of giving impractical advice or recipes. That would be contrary to every intention of this blog, which is to help people and make life easier, not to stress them out .
Lentils are legumes, related to the pea family. Today I share the recipe most enjoyed by people new to legumes or who need a quick vegan or celiac dish. It is always a huge hit and if you find an easier homemade recipe, I’d like to know:
Substitute Green Lentils or Split Peas of any color if you prefer. It is a matter of personal taste.( Split peas can come in original green but also in types of red and yellow).Experiment. I prefer Brown Lentils to any other. Always choose any legume by the depth of their color.
1 pound brown lentils
2 teaspoons salt(of your choice)
2 Tablespoons minced onion
2 Tablespoons minced (or very thinly sliced) celery
Soak lentils overnight, [in boiling water taken off the heat at high altitudes], and drain. Replace with 2 quarts of fresh cold water and add the salt, onion, celery and oil, (if using)…OR combine all ingredients at one time with 1 1/2 quarts of water in a slow-cooker. Cook 2-3 hours on stovetop until lentils are tender or 6-8 hours by slow-cooker. You want the lentils to be quite soft and the soup thick.
Some people add thinly sliced or chopped carrots to this soup. I prefer the subtleties of the lentil flavor, but I do when using split peas. You can also add precooked, frozen or canned corn.
Serve with cooked rice, barley, pasta or any grain you prefer; it’s good, fun and the kids love it with a handful of popcorn tossed on top.
More on lentils with vegetables next time.
As I go on experimenting, I will add what I find in future posts. I am anxious to get back into my Autumnal /Winter cooking mode. It has been a very hot summer here, as in most of the US.
I hope this finds your part of the world finding relief.