My parents have lived in San Francisco long enough now that it doesn’t feel like an occasion for them to join us for lunch, but not so long that I feed them totally unadulterated leftovers. Recently, though, I barely even had leftovers; I had this:
And so I turned it into this:
Any grains would do, though I happened to use rice. Any chopped vegetables are nice, and fresh herbs and/or toasted nuts would liven it up. The key was the bright, orangey dressing, which I failed to photograph as individual ingredients, but at least I do remember what I did:
Combine 1 tablespoon each
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
A tablespoon of miso would be a nice addition, too, if you have it, but this version was very much about what I had immediately at hand.
Mix well, pour over your salad, sprinkle with sesame seeds if you’ve got them, and serve.
Suddenly after a pretty mild, dry winter it has turned cold here in San Francisco and all I’ve wanted to eat are hearty salads and soups. I spotted this in Sunset, my go-to magazine for new recipes, and while I didn’t have all the ingredients (pomegranates are out of season) I had enough — and added a few more (like dried cherries, which I’m adding to everything lately) — to make a great lunch for several days.
I’ve linked to the original, and am posting the recipe here as I adapted it:
2/3 cup black rice
1 pound butternut squash
1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped, or pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
Juice of half a lemon
Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375°.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the rice, adjust heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water, then drain well again before tossing into a serving bowl.
Peel and seed the squash and cut into 1-in. cubes. Toss the squash with paprika, salt, and oil. Spread on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender, about 30 minutes. Put the squash in the bowl with the rice and use the baking pan to roast the scallions for 5-6 minutes, until nicely browned and wilted. Let cool, then chop into bite-sized pieces and add to the growing salad in your bowl. Squeeze half a lemon into the bowl and toss.
Spread the walnuts or pumpkin seeds on the baking sheet and toast until fragrant (6 to 8 minutes), stirring once, then add to the salad along with the dried cherries or cranberries. Toss and serve.
Not so long ago our microwave died a not-so-quiet death. It zapped and fritzed and we quickly decided it was time to retire it. We’d had it a long time, and we used it a lot: for reheating many things; for morning porridge; for defrosting; for popcorn. But getting rid of it freed up a large space, onto which I placed my new rice cooker.
Caroline loves her rice cooker. I was lukewarm about the model I had, which was old, American, and did a so-so job with the rice. I knew I needed a new one, but never got motivated. Then, last summer, Ella and I had her Japanese friend and her mother over for dinner before they moved back to Japan, and I made rice to go with dinner. Well, my friend took one look at my appliance, and felt very sorry for me. “I think we had one like that when I was very little. She offered to give me hers when they left, since they couldn’t take it with them. I gratefully accepted, and now I have this really lovely Tiger Model, which has sort of changed many things in our life:
It has a timer, which can permanently remember two different times, settings for white, brown, mixed rice & porridge, reheat, and keep warm settings. It has a nice little slot for the paddle, and interior markings on the inset bowl so that you can pretty much tell where the water level should be (you can totally tell if you read Japanese).
Now, I use the rice cooker all the time. I have one timer set to 5 pm, and I can dump in the white rice, mixed rice (part brown/part white, which is our favorite), brown rice, farro. (Caroline cooks quinoa, too) at noon or 1 or 2 pm and it’s done perfectly by dinner time. But here’s the added beauty: The second timer is set for 7 AM, and after dinner, I can dump in a cup of steel cut oats, 3 cups of water, and in the morning–hot porridge. No mess, no stirring for an hour. It’s genius. The kids love it. I love it. It’s made our lives–and especially our mornings–easier and some of our meals healthier. So, if you’re in the market for an appliance, or a new toy for your holiday list, get a rice cooker w/some of these features. You won’t be disappointed, even if it can’t cook popcorn.
And: Thank you, Wakana, for your friendship. And the rice cooker! We think of you every time we use this!
For instance, he just ate a fish taco for breakfast.
Also, he loves rice with a passion that makes me wonder if his conception and birth were blessed by Buddha himself. (He has, too, a kind preternatural patience and even-keeled temperament that is positively other-worldly.) If there is rice on the table he will eat it. Whereas his sister, even as an infant, sprouted an indifferent attitude toward this versatile grain, saving her starchy passion for pasta and potatoes and bread, Finn has always chosen rice above all other forms of carbohydrates.
So, I cook it more, and that means leftovers, which both kids will happily eat for lunch, pressed into cute little star/animal shapes, and sometimes rice pudding, and most often, a dish that I just call Sweet Rice because it’s not really pudding. It’s more like porridge, and I’m certainly not the first to serve it for breakfast, but it’s so easy and versatile (think breakfast, snack, dessert) that it’s worth sharing. In fact, with some minor supervision over the stove, Finn can make it himself.
Cinnamon (part of a stick or powdered)
Vanilla (highly optional)
Spoon the rice, however much you have, into a saucepan.
All of it.
Cover the rice with milk.
Add sugar to taste. We used about 1/4 cup of sugar for maybe 2 cups of rice.
Sprinkle in a dash of cinnamon, or break off a small piece of the stick and plop it in.
Stir over medium heat until much of the milk is absorbed and the porridge thickens a little. This is the part I supervise, so no picture.
It’s early enough in the season that I am still delighted by All Things Pumpkin: pancakes, salads, stews, curries and of course muffins. This year, I’m updating (and enlarging) last year’s pumpkin recipe. Swapping last year’s sugar coating for this year’s chocolate chips isn’t what makes these healthier, of course, but the reduced sugar, the whole wheat flour, and ground flaxseed do the trick and the muffins are still super moist and delicious. More