Today our state declared a shelter-in-place order for the next 2 weeks. This adds to the current two-week social distancing and will take us past Easter. School is still closed, and we are expecting to go to online education or be told the year is over within the next week. But, in the meantime we are stocked up on all the essentials, with more deliveries coming each week of the most-used items. When this is all over, I’m going to have to do something super nice for our delivery people and mail carriers, as should we all.
So, with a cold, dark, rainy day as the morning’s forecast, we’ve been forced to stay indoors for the day. I’m using the time (when I’m not writing) to reorganize my kitchen and clean out my refrigerator. I have some fresh items that are going to go south on me if I don’t use them in the next day or two, so I need to come up with some solutions and quickly!
After making the morning coffee and working on my journal, I jumped into deciding on dinner for the evening. Knowing I had some produce about to go south, I decided to use up what I had the most of in the pantry - rice!
We eat rice with almost every meal. Brown, white, green, forbidden…it’s all good and always the easiest thing to store in a pantry. I keep our rice in locking containers that keep the grains from ending up all over the floor and also keep them nice and dry. Rice is one of those ingredients that everyone takes for granted and generally see as “boring” or a “side”. But rice can be the superstar of a dish, the main attraction.
Tonight, I’m making barbeque chicken in the oven with rice and steamed carrots. This is one of our go-to meals during the summer, and after a dark, dreary day of non-stop rain, I need a reminder of sunshine and lazy afternoons spent on the patio.
The recipes below feature rice in very different, but equally front-row ways. The first is a tabbouleh made from jade rice, there is an easy fried rice and a rice pudding that is always a staple in our refrigerator.
Tabbouleh with Jade Rice
This tabbouleh is a nice, refreshing dish to make with any greens and veggies that need to be used up. I have used carrots in place of the cucumber, and canned diced tomatoes when I was out of fresh. The flavors will be a bit different, but in a good way. Jade rice is also sold as bamboo rice and can be found in most large grocery stores.
- 1.5 cups of jade rice, cooked and cooled
- 1 cup chopped parsley (can use any green you have on hand)
- 1 tbsp fresh mint (can used dried - just allow to chill longer)
- 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup diced cucumber
- 1 tbsp finely - minced garlic (can use garlic powder - reduce to 1/2 tbsp)
- Juice from 1/2 a lemon (can use bottled)
- 1- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large non-reactive bowl, add all the ingredients. Stir. Refrigerate for an hour or more (overnight allows the flavors to meld and develop). Serve chilled.
This fried rice is super simple and uses ingredients from the pantry and freezer. You can add a protein of your choice or add some vegetables you need to use up from the refrigerator instead.
- 2 cups cooked rice (any rice will work)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (or any vegetables you have on hand), cooked and drained
- 1/2 large onion, sliced
- 1 tbsp minced garlic (can use garlic powder)
- 1 tbsp light oil
- 4 tbsp soy sauce (or to taste)
- 1 tsp of fish sauce (optional)
- Cooked protein of your choice (optional)
- Pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a large sauce pot or wok on medium-high heat. You want the pan really hot, but don’t let the oil smoke.
- Add onion and garlic, fry quickly, stirring constantly, until onion is softened slightly.
- Add in vegetables slowly, stirring to keep the veggies from burning. Make sure your veggies are as free of liquid as possible to avoid the oil splattering.
- Lower heat to medium. Add in rice, soy sauce, fish sauce (if using) and pepper. Stir to keep everything from burning. Taste the rice at this point. You can add more soy sauce to taste.
- If adding protein, add cooked protein to pan.
- Push contents of pan to edges, in center, pour egg and stir constantly, making scrambled eggs in the center of the pan. Once the egg is cooked solid, stir the rest of the mixture together.
- Serve in bowls or heap it on a platter and allow everyone to serve themselves.
If you’ve never tried it, or aren’t a fan of the variety found in the grocery store, give this one a try. I use coconut milk and nutmeg, but you can use whatever spices you like and have on hand. This recipe is gluten free and absolutely delicious for breakfast, garnished with some fresh fruit or jam. It can be made vegan by substituting maple syrup for the honey.
- 1.5 cups cooked white rice (unsalted)
- 2 tbsp of honey
- 1 can coconut milk (can use full fat or light)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- In a large saucepot on medium-low heat, bring milk and honey to a simmer.
- Reduce heat to low. Add nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir.
- Add vanilla extract and stir.
- Add in rice and stir to combine.
- Cook on low for 7-10 minutes until pudding becomes nice and creamy.
- Cover and cool in refrigerator. Pudding with thicken as it cools.
- Serve with fruit, jam or whatever you’d like.
Dana Gnad is a freelance writer and photographer with over 20 years of experience in technology. She has spent most of her life living on various homesteads — off-grid, urban, and everywhere in between. Currently camped out on 30 acres in the suburbs, affectionately known as The Lazy Dog Farm, she is working on her first book and dreaming of a life on the sea. Connect with Dana on Facebook and Instagram, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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