Archive for October, 2007

How to eat rice for a week without getting ill

I am lucky enough to live in a place and have means such that I can make a statement like this title. I am very thankful for that.

I must admit that my life of privilege–despite my limited grad school income–has spoiled me, and I hate eating the same thing every day. One of my good friends can have the exact same thing every day for lunch and never tire of her turkey and cheese sandwiches. I envy the simplicity of packing such lunches.

Despite disliking repetitive meals, this is a busy time of year (when isn’t really), so I’ve been making large meals I can eat through the course of the week. This week, I made a big pot of rice on Monday, and I’ve been eating it different ways each day. Here’s what I’ve managed so far:

Monday: Rice and black beans with cheese. I like to make beans from scratch, but it was canned this time. What’s worse, I have class on Monday nights, so I packed a resealable, microwavable container with a layer of rice, a layer of rinsed beans and some salsa. I took shredded cheddar cheese with me in a separate container and added it after heating the rice and beans.

Tuesday: Sauted some julienned carrots in a touch of oil, then seasoned with garlic powder, ground ginger and pepper. I removed the carrots from the skillet, trying to leave most of the oil behind. Then I made some veggie potstickers in the skillet (frozen ones). While those were cooking, I heated up a bowl of rice. Then I mixed the carrots into the rice. Voila: rudimentary fried rice and potstickers. Tasty.

Wednesday: Farmer’s Market! Wednesday is my one break during the work week, so I did some real cooking tonight. I got some beet greens for free at the market today, and I had some leftover arugula that I wanted to use, so I created the recipe below. It’s different (black beans in Asian food…), but pretty good I think.

Thursday: Stuffed Bell Peppers. Recipe will follow soon.

Friday: Yet to be determined. Possibly rice and cheese quesadillas. Suggestions?

Asian Bitter Greens and Beans over Rice

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Servings: One very large serving

Ingredients:

  • About 3 or 4 cups beet greens
  • 1-2 cups arugula
  • 1/3 cup carrots (when chopped)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed
  • 1 small to medium garlic clove
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • small amount Asian chili sauce (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • dash ginger
  • dash ground pepper
  • one serving of rice
  1. Thoroughly wash the greens and shake out most of the excess water (I used a salad spinner). Tear any large pieces into smaller ones. (Be careful with the stems of the beet greens–they’ll turn your fingers pink just like the beets.) Mince the garlic. Julienne the carrots (tip: use baby carrots and chop lengthwise into 4-8 pieces depending on width of carrot). In a small bowl, mix together apple cider vinegar through pepper.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic and carrots together for about two minutes, or when the carrots begin to get tender. Add beans and saute another minute or two. Meanwhile, reheat the rice if necessary. Add the beet greens and saute about two minutes before adding the arugula. Saute about two minutes more, or until all the greens are bright and wilted.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir the sauce again quickly, then pour over greens. Toss well. Serve over rice.

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Spiced Butternut Squash Bisque

Last weekend, I attended my cousin’s wedding in Ithaca, NY. It was a beautiful wedding, and it was wonderful to see my family. To top it all off, the food at the wedding was fantastic. I was particularly impressed by the Butternut Squash Bisque. It was so wonderful, I could have eaten just that! (But of course, I didn’t.) I decided I had to try my hand at replicating it. If I could have another bowlful, I could get the spices a little closer, but the recipe I came up with is delicious as is. The main difference is that mine isn’t as rich because I used milk instead of cream, mostly because that’s what I have in the house. Either will work well. This is a thick, stick to your ribs, warm you from the inside kind of soup. Perfect for a chilly fall day.

As my grandmother would say, “Enjoy.”

Servings: 6ish (not sure yet as I’ve only had one bowl)

Cooking time: about 2 1/2 hours–1 hour for chopping, about an hour for cooking and another twenty minutes or so for blending and reheating. An immersion blender will significantly reduce the last chunk of time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 med-lg butternut squash (it should make about 3 cups of chopped squash)
  • 1 green, cooking apple
  • 1 qt vegetable broth
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 large carrot, ends removed
  • 1 large celery stalk, ends removed
  • 1 med. garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (if you don’t like spicy things, use an 1/8 tsp, but by all means, use some!)
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 4 dashes ground nutmeg
  • 2 dashes ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp rubbed sage
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar (key!)
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream (I used 1% milk, and it was delicious, just not quite as rich as the original)
  • dash salt
  1. Wash the veggies. Peel and chop the carrot into about 1/2 inch pieces. Core, peel and chop the apple into 1/2 inch pieces. Chop the celery and onion into similar sized pieces. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Peel the squash, being careful to remove the white layer beneath the skin (it’s bitter). Scoop out the seeds and pulp. Chop into 1 inch pieces. Mince the garlic.
  2. In a large pot (at least 6 quarts), melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic and stir. Add herbs and spices except bay leaf (cinnamon through sage). Stir. Add squash and saute for about a minute. Add apple, carrot and celery. Stir well. Add veggie broth and bay leaf. Increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a slow boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Add brown sugar and stir well. Simmer until squash is very tender, about 25-30 minutes (a fork should glide through it). Remove the bay leaf.
  4. Working in small batches (I did four), transfer some of soup into a blender, being sure to get a full ladle of liquid into each batch. Be very careful doing this because a build up of heat in the blender can cause the blender to explode, making a big mess at the least. Don’t fill your blender more than half full at a time. I did mine one third full because I’m paranoid. Blend each batch until smooth, then transfer to a heat-proof bowl. When the last batch is blended, return it to the pot. Pour in soup in the bowl.
  5. Heat over low heat. Gradually stir in the milk at little at a time to make sure it incorporates well. Add a little salt to taste (the broth has salt, so you won’t need much).

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