[Breakfast, January 2012.]
The tide has turned a little: it rained in the night and I woke up intermittently to hear the screen rattling in the frame as the wind tried to push its way into the bedroom. I dreamed strange dreams of the ocean and a wide, flat lake and turned over and turned over and turned over again … We leave for vacation in four days and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t counting the hours, at least virtually. The rain, plus vacation soon, has semi put me back to rights this week, and I am grateful.
The weekend was spent in Sebastopol, which felt like a vacation of sorts even though I worked a bit (cooking and photographing for an article, plus an enormous pot of cauliflower-leek soup). Saturday especially: for a warm, lazy, almost-hour we drank americanos at Hardcore Espresso and listened to funky Greek (I think) music and people and dog-watched and stretched out and felt the sun good and strong on bare arms. Then a swim and lunch at Gypsy Cafe, the replacement for the old Pine Cone diner and to which I was initially resistant because I like tradition and Main Street has changed so much as it is. But I’ve come around. It’s good. My first visit there I had a plate of sauteed chard, roasted tomatoes, poached eggs and toast, and this time we each had burgers (veggie for me) and sweet potato fries and I stole illicit sips of my husband’s beer when he wasn’t paying attention. Then a cinnamon cookie from next door, and a cup of coffee I didn’t really drink. REI, futiley, for a swimsuit. Another swim on Sunday afternoon.
I am pushing through the week. A yoga class tonight, hopefully, and chocolate cake for a mid-morning snack. I brought my lunch to work, which is leftovers – polenta with stir-fried red cabbage, onion, garlic and white beans – but of course all I want it something else though that want is non-specific. Maybe a bowl of fried brown rice? With cheddar?
In Maine we talked a lot about cooking, specifically finding motivation other than appetite to cook dinners night after night (and we all like to cook). They have it worse than me because they get up so much earlier – 5 a.m. a lot of the mornings – that by 5 p.m. sleepiness has settled in for the long haul and the thought of making dinner is probably the last thing they want to deal with. Except they do, of course, as most of us must no matter what time we get up, and so we discussed ways to circumvent the boredom of repetition (me: how much quinoa can I really consume in during the course of one week?) and also not spend three hours making a meal. Things like crockpots are employed to make beans from scratch (I am tempted, and still have some post-wedding Sur la Table gift certificates to use) or soup, a big pot of rice can be used in various ways throughout the week, sometimes beans on toast is just fine.
One thing they cook a lot of it is vegetable fried rice, because if you have leftover rice you can make it into another dinner. In fact, you might specifically cook a lot of rice so as to have leftovers for future meals. I am more the brown rice risotto type but one morning I woke up and as I brewed my cup of tea I decided to try it out for breakfast, though without vegetables because it was 9 o’clock and I wasn’t quite ready for the daily influx of greens. So I heated some olive oil in a frying pan, cracked in an egg and scrambled-cooked it, then added some leftover short grain brown rice and grated sharp cheddar cheese and black pepper and cooked it until the rice was warm and the cheese was melted. It hit the spot. I am now hooked.
Next time I plan to add whatever vegetables I have around to the mix: I probably will start with a chopped red or yellow onion, maybe some garlic, peas, spinach, a red pepper? The key I think is to scramble the eggs very lightly first, or at least to start them so when you add the rice the eggs are already cooked a bit; to add egg to rice coats the rice and is gloppy and sort of gross (in my opinion). You want those eggy scrambled bits to commingle with the rice (brown for me, and not basmati I don’t think). A garnish of scallions I bet would be delicious, and using Parmesan cheese too or instead of cheddar (I do sincerely love cheddar), and if you’re feeling decadent starting off with butter instead of olive oil would be nice. And make as many eggs as you’re hungry for – dinner may call for 2 per person. Plus if you switch up the vegetables incorporated each time it makes a nearly-new dish.
Today is grey and dreary but I can’t say I mind the rain for once; it’s possible a person can get tired of sun day after day. At least, we tire of repetition. Which is to say that the addition of fried brown rice to my dinner repertoire, while indeed a slight repetition of sorts, will serve as a welcome change to the polenta, the quinoa stew, the roasted sweet potatoes with black beans, the grinding task of coming up with something nourishing + wholesome + healthy + delicious every night. Not that I don’t love to cook. But you know …
Vegetable Fried Brown Rice
not a proper recipe but suggestions
cooked short grain brown rice
olive oil or butter
cheese (I like very sharp cheddar)
chopped red onion or shallots or scallions
fresh or frozen peas
In a large frying pan heat olive oil or butter and crack in the eggs. Scramble them as you cook, then add the rice and vegetables. Add cheese and salt and pepper and cook until the cheese is melting and the rice and veggies are hot.