A bout of summery weather coincided this week with the beginning of summer vacation. [Pinch me: I now have a kindergartener and a third-grader.] It was like a doing a canon ball straight into the deep end of summertime fun: hikes, picnics, porch suppers and socializing.
All of which gets in the way of making dinner.
I learned my lesson over the school year to plan ahead. So, while I sipped my second cup of morning coffee, I put a some brown rice on the stove. This single pot of rice saved my whole day. Seriously, I would have kissed it and given it a good long back rub if I could.
How? Because it was nearly 7 p.m. by the time we got home–and still felt like the middle of the day here in the Pacific Northwest (one of the reasons, I think, I never left). And within 10 minutes, I’d made a stir-fry of Asian greens from my CSA box, leftover steak, snow peas and scallions.
You probably know my penchant for Asian food, but that pot of rice could have become so many other meals, depending on what I had on hand, like:
- Greek rice salad with cherry tomato, kalamata olives, cucumbers and feta with lemon vinaigrette
- French salad with tuna, corn kernels, tomato and avocado with red wine vinaigrette
- Spinach-rice patties with parmesan cheese bound with egg and fried in olive oil
- Fried rice with tofu, scallions, egg, shredded carrot seasoned with tamari and sesame oil
- Topped with sauteed garlicky greens and an egg over easy
It also goes without saying that my rice could be your cooked quinoa, barley, wheat berries, millet, farro… (Gee, it’s pretty clear that I could never, ever go paleo.)
Now for all of my grains, I use the free boiling method because it’s a no brainer. I don’t measure the water, but add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt for every cup of grains. It’s just like boiling pasta, only it takes longer depending on the grain. When the grain is just tender to the bite, I strain it, return it to the pot, cover and let steam until I’m ready to cook.
Sometimes I’ll use my pressure cooker, but since I live at high elevation, it’s hard to get the timing right. I should buy a rice cooker, but after my first one broke with only a few uses, I’m resistant.
No matter the method, the point is having that pre-made rice waiting, just waiting, for me. And that makes all the difference in enjoying (or not) the long summer evenings now and to come.