Tuesday, June 03, 2008

rice is nice

It's not all grief and wallow in the kitchen, no, sometimes I cook in there, too. And, for the record, I actually really dig my kitchen. The tall cupboards (unpainted birch, sweet.), all the drawers (can you believe, a few of them are still empty!), space for the little wooden play kitchen to sit (so my boy can play cook alongside, at least that's the idea, though he really prefers being up at the counter on a stool, but, hey- there's space for that, too). Remember, I've come to terms with the lack of a dishwasher (uh, more or less). I don't mind handwashing. Rather enjoy it, to be honest, it's the splayed across the counter drying part I don't like, the always having dishes, clean or dirty, hanging around waiting and up my business all the time that irritates me. Dishwashers are handy for keeping things tucked away: I like a kitchen to have bare counters and my counters are rarely bare. It's a great kitchen, though. It is. Which is why the whole floor thing is such a problem. Because I get distracted when I'm in there by the stupid floor and then I don't enjoy whatever other thing I'm doing in there as much as I might otherwise.

But catch me in the right mood and I'll still get flipping giddy about some kitchen happenings. What's new in my kitchen? Aside from the little cuphook in the ceiling and the faint lingering smell of pureed meat babyfood? Huh? Oh, did you know? We have a tiny new kitten named Ozma. So tiny that she won't yet crunch dry food or terribly textured wet food and, on the advice of several different people who would know, we've been supplementing her diet with pureed meat in a jar. The first jarred baby food I've ever purchased! It stinks.

The kombucha experiment isn't so new, but I'm just as enthusiastic about the stuff. Why isn't the whole world brewing and sipping this magic tea?

And why did I screw up rice cooking so long?

I read recently about the boiling method for all grains and if a person can get really excited about something like boiling grains, then whoopee! It's almost revolutionary!

I had rice cookers for a few years, a long while ago. But they cluttered my counters and were a hassle to clean and who really needs a whole appliance for one thing anyway? So since then I've been cooking rice like this: put in rice, add twice as much cold water, cover, cook. And it mostly turned out okay. You know, except when it didn't. And lately, it was mushy pudding every time, overcooked and despondent. All those sad little grains smushed together in one pathetic, gooey clump.

I don't know how I managed to get it right for so long to start turning out mush all the time. I imagine it's a little like the way my pizza dough had a recent bad spell: week after week of dense, hard crusts. I was baffled. I've been making the same pizza dough every week for years. I make it on autopilot, a quick tasty reflex. Yeast, flour, oil, water, salt. What is there to even mess up? Oh, the kneading. I could mix it all up and forget to knead it. I could mix it all up and forget to knead it many times before one night I think to myself, hey, didn't this used to take longer?

It doesn't matter what I was doing wrong with the rice, because this is how to do it right: boil it. Like pasta. Set a pan of water to boil, rinse your rice, add it to the boiling water, cook until almost done (taste it, like noodles!), and then drain in a colander. I've done it several times now and what I'm getting are beautiful, distinct happy grains. You can throw the drained rice back in the pot and keep warm on the stove.

boiled rice

The night I took that picture, I whipped up something I call (when pressed, my family just eats what I put in front of them, they don't usually ask for a name) some vague kind of slip slop approximation of a chana masala. I cook up my onions and spices and add tomato sauce and coconut milk and garbanzo beans and cook it down until it's less soupy, more thick and stewy. Just before serving, I throw in roughly chopped spinach. I throw in roughly chopped spinach (or chard or kale or. . .) to just nearly almost everything.

throw some spinach in and call it dinner

And then I put the whole mess in bowls and called it dinner. Do you see that lovely unmushy rice? It was good. I'm quite fond of one-bowl meals for everyday family dinners and I'm doubly delighted with food that cooks up easily. Nearly no fail rice! Who knew?


1 comment:

Angelina said...

I'm happy that there are some good things going on in your kitchen too.

That dinner looks really good. I'm a fan of one dish meals as well.