I’m staring at my laptop with absolutely no will to write. Mike put Christmas Vacation on, but I can’t seem to pay proper attention to either. (It or this.) Poor Mike has to endure the glow and clack of my laptop every time we put a movie on or when I’m too tired to sit upright and take it to bed.
Spent most of the day in Edmonton cooking cheap/healthy/simple meals to help us through fast food season (that’s now) on BT, and inexpensive party food on the CTV noon news. Everything I made utilized brown rice, one of my favourite underused ingredients. (It costs about 6 cents per serving, and W will eat it.) Honestly, at this time of year I need dinner to be fast, nourishing if at all possible to counteract the abundance of eggnog lattes, caramels and shortbread, and cheap – no need for an explanation there. One of the best ways to get a head start on meals for a week or so is to cook up a big pot of rice to use as a foundation for lunches, dinners and even breakfasts (remember yesterday’s muesli?). White is fine but brown is a whole grain with the bran left intact, making it much higher in fiber, potassium and B vitamins than plain old white rice. (The only difference when you cook it is that it takes 45-50 minutes, rather than 20.) Rice is one of those ingredients that’s almost better as leftovers – as it cools the grains separate, making it ideal for fried rice or skillet jambalaya, and if you just want to reheat it (in the microwave or with a spoonful of water on the stovetop you end up with perfectly un-clumpy rice. It freezes well too – it thaws quickly to cook with (without getting mushy), or you can throw it frozen straight into a pot of soup, or put a big spoonful of leftover rice in the bottom of the bowl before ladling lentil or black bean soup overtop (this way the rice doesn’t make your broth all starchy). Cold rice makes a great canvas for grainy salads too, which are perfect for stashing in the fridge and dipping into all week long or bringing to a potluck or to work or school for lunch – add whichever veg you’re in the mood for, and lentils, black beans or edamame to make a complete protein. Today I was tempted to make my usual brown rice salad with dried fruit and pecans, but instead made an Asian-inspired edamame and brown rice salad that actually improves after a day in the fridge, so having made it in the morning the flavours had some time to get to know each other for a few hours before the drive home. Brown rice salad with vegetables and edamame was a far better car meal (fine at room temp, can be eaten with a plastic spoon) than Wendy’s on the highway. Bad news though: my camera batteries died en route, But if you’d like a visual you can see a photo of the rice salad here.
As I may have mentioned before, I almost always cook extra rice while I’m at it, and often that excess ends up as rice pudding. In December, you can make your rice pudding with eggnog. There is no need to measure – simply pour eggnog over your rice to cover it and then some, add a handful of golden raisins if you like, simmer until the rice absorbs the liquid, add more if you want it creamier, and so on. Cold rice pudding makes lovely little tarts that I suspect will wind up on the menu tomorrow.
I admit the locovore in me sometimes protests cooking with rice, which of course mostly comes from China, but it turns out the US produces rice as well, and in fact most of the rice Canadians consume comes from next door. Canada doesn’t produce rice at all (except wild rice, which is technically not rice at all but the seed of grasses native to the Great Lakes area), so US rice is about as local as you can get.
Rice and Edamame Salad
2 cups cooked and cooled US long grain white or brown rice
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame (green soy beans), thawed
1 cup well rinsed bean sprouts
1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp wasabi paste
1 tsp minced ginger
2 tbsp canola oil
In a large bowl, toss the rice with the edamame, bean sprouts, red pepper, corn and green onion. In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce with vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil, sugar, wasabi paste and ginger, then gradually whisk in the canola oil. Toss the salad with the soy dressing.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Fat 11 g
Protein 8 g
Carbs 33 g
Fibre 3 g