Monday, May 27, 2013

Quick Yellow Rice & Beans

This dish is one of my favorite quick standby meals. I love rice and beans because it's delicious, inexpensive, healthy and easy. It's also versitile. Sometimes I make it with chicken, sometimes with olives or peppers if I have them. The yellow can come from saffron or saffron powder, but more often I use a little tumeric, as it is cheaper and I always have it around. This meal literally takes 3 minutes to put in the rice cooker and is great on it's own or topped with a fried egg and salad. The bowl above was a batch I made for one of my kids birthday parties, when I suddenly realized that I had not planned much food for the adults, so quickly threw the ingredients into the cooker, flipped the switch and presto... a quickly meal.

Of course you can make this in a pot or frying pan, but I do love my rice cooker that I got at a tag sale about 15 years ago. Now rice cookers are sold just about everywhere, including pharmacies, like Wallgreens!

You don't really need much of a recipe for this dish. Just remember the parts: rice, liquid, seasoning, beans and fun additions like olives, peas, broccoli, spinach, peppers, curry&raisins etc....If you like your veggies bright green you can add them at the very end or cook them separately and mix them in at the end.

For this batch I used:
2 cups jasmine rice*
3 cups water
1 can beans ( I think I used half black and half kidney in this batch)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (or saffron or achiote)
1 teaspoon salt or adobo seasoning (or make your own using salt, garlic powder, salt and pepper)**
handful of pitted green olives (optional)
half a red pepper finely diced (optional)
1 cup peas (optional)

*If using brown rice, use 2 Cups rice to 4 Cups water or stock
** you can taste the liquid before cooking and adjust seasoning as needed.
Add all the ingredients into a rice cooker. Click it on to cook, wait and then enjoy!

A few weeks ago I made this version of chicken with yellow rice and beans. Season and sear skinless chicken thighs in a little oil in a deep frying pan, remove and add onion. Saute until translucent, add rice  and saute for one minute. Add beans, chicken, seasoning and water or stock. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Add a touch more water if needed.

If you feel like making this even more special and delicious, finely chop or puree lots of onion, garlic and any herbs you like (cilantro is nice). Saute this mixture in a bit of olive oil, add rice and saute until opaque, then add the liquid or the rest of your ingredients.

How do you like to make rice and beans?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Spring Gardening

Aside from my sugar snap peas, some garlic and some lettuce seeds, my garden is still waiting for seeds and plants. I made the mistake of planting some little cucumber seedlings a week or so ago (see my daughter planting them above), but the cold and hard rain hammered them to oblivion...good thing there is still time to plant more, lots more!
We grow food in six raised beds in our backyard. If you want to see how we built them, check out this detailed post. We used douglas fir for the wood, which is much cheaper than cedar, and seems to be holding up quite well. Each year we add some compost to the beds and plant more seeds and seedlings. I love that it is easier and easier to find seeds and seedlings at the grocery store, flower stands and farmers' markets, there is an ever expanding variety of food to grow. Even the big box stores are carrying organic seeds (not that I'm promoting that you by them there, but still!)

My bag of seeds from years past and a note pad to map out where I'm planting...essential!

If you are in the northeast, there is still time to build some raised beds, fill some pots, or prep some window boxes for growing food. If you are in the New Haven area this weekend, go check out the Common Ground School seedling sale. Get there early, it's usually packed and they have tons of varieties of tomatoes and cucumbers, peppers....sheep sheering, face painting and more. 

For more info:

Also, check out some of these great FREE garden events happening around town this season...thank you to the New Haven Food Policy Council's Urban Agriculture Working Group!

What are you planting in your garden?