Cooking

Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There

I first heard that phrase applied to refraining from managing other people’s lives inappropriately, but I find it also works very well in some cooking situations.

Don’t check on the rice! To make good rice, cook confidently. The package tells you how much water per cup of uncooked rice. Put that much water (or broth) in a pot, with a little salt, and bring it to a full boil. Pour in the rice and stir it once to spread it around. Put the lid on tight, turn down the heat to the lowest temperature, and leave it alone. After the cooking time*, take the pot off the heat and still leave it alone. Leave the lid on and let it sit for ten minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Now is the time to note any changes for next time. Maybe you like a different texture, so next time cook it less for chewier rice or longer for softer. Experiment with adding seasonings at the beginning of the cooking, so it permeates the rice. To make yellow rice, start with either brown or white rice and add chopped green onion, garlic, celery salt, and turmeric. The turmeric makes it yellow. The onion, garlic, and celery give it the unique flavor. The more expensive packets of yellow rice use saffron as well as turmeric. If you have saffron that’s good, but turmeric is much less costly than saffron and can stand alone in this recipe.

 

* About 50 minutes for brown rice, about 20 minutes for white.

 

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Dislike avocado? Or just want a new idea?

Avocados are a great source of potassium, fiber, essential fatty acids, and a bunch of other great stuff. But what if you don’t like the texture, or the color? What if you’d rather eat chocolate pudding? On the other hand, what if lactose intolerance bars you from enjoying pudding?

Not to worry, there’s an alternative: avocado chocolate pudding. At first, I was skeptical. So skeptical in fact that I almost let the avocado go bad before trying it. I tried it just in time.

The recipes on the internet call for things I don’t have, like coconut milk, so I just left those out. I mixed up the good part of the avocado (must be soft), 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder, and a bunch of sugar, maybe 2-3 tablespoons. If you have less of a sweet tooth than I do, start with less, you can always add more. Smush it all together and add enough water to get a pudding texture.

It looked like pudding. Summoning my courage, I tasted a little. Tastes like sweet chocolate. The texture is exactly the texture of chocolate pudding. Yay!

Refrigerate for best effect.

It’s not the Sodium, It’s the Balance

All my life I had low-normal blood pressure, except when exposed to petrochemically-based fragrances and grooming products, then it spiked. The fairly low blood pressure was fine and dandy, until I got where it wasn’t safe for me to cook anymore. I switched to frozen dinners (mainly Marie Callender’s – they don’t taste fakey like some brands). I noticed my blood pressure started running a bit high. Not horrible like the petrochemical spikes, but too high for complacency.

Prepared foods often have higher levels of sodium than scratch cooking, and high sodium intake is often associated with high blood pressure. So I Googled around and learned, or re-learned, that part of managing sodium levels is not just reducing sodium, but balancing it with potassium.

The sites I found talked about eating potassium-rich foods like peas and bananas. There’s only so many bananas and peas I’m going to realistically eat. Eating them did lower my pressure some, but not enough, and I knew I’d eventually drift away from eating that way. So I bought some potassium tablets and added them to my weekly minder pill-keeping-track-thingy.

Well, wow. Within a few days my pressure was back to my normal 117 or so over 73 or so. I think I’ll take the potassium tablets maybe five days out of seven instead of every day, because there is such as thing as TOO MUCH potassium. If you take too much it can cause irregular heartbeat and even cardiac arrest.

Is It True? Nutritious Food is Expensive

My answer is, yes and no.

Blueberries are expensive. Bananas are not.

Steak is expensive. Eggs are not. At two eggs per serving, they put the protein in your meal for about twenty cents.

Name brand ready-made fancy granola cereal is expensive. Oatmeal is not.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are expensive. A whole chicken costs less per pound and is far more versatile.

Brown rice is filling and nutritious and inexpensive.

Lentils cook quickly compared to other beans, are high in protein, and are inexpensive.

Shelled walnuts are expensive. Sunflower kernels cost less and have similar nutritional value.

Ready-cut carrots are expensive. Whole carrots are not. Cabbage, potatoes, and onions are inexpensive and nutritious.

 

 

52 Weeks: Electricity – Cooking

A microwave oven uses much less electricity than either a stove top or oven, about a third as much. On the other hand, some foods need baking, broiling, or searing to bring out their best flavors. When I use the full size oven, I often fill it up with a pan of chicken and three pans of vegetables to roast. When I’m baking something small, like baked potatoes, I use the toaster oven. I use the micro-wave for reheating.

A pressure cooker will cook food in about 1/3 the time that conventional cooking takes. The best foods for this are foods that can be cooked with liquids, because the cooker needs steam to work. This is great for rice and for beans, and it also works for meats and vegetables.

Solar ovens use no energy at all, but there are disturbing reports of vision damage from the reflectors.

Who Knew? Granulated Sugar Isn’t Always Cane Sugar

This week I made a kind of oatmeal fudge thing I’ve been making for years. This time it came out grainy. I Googled to find out why. One of the answers was that to make fudge you have to use *pure cane sugar.* I thought I was, I mean that’s what’s in a bag of sugar, I thought.

The bag says “Granulated Sugar.” Nothing about cane sugar. So I Googled some more and learned that beet sugar is less expensive because it grows in a wider variety of climates. Cane sugar grows in hot places. So the cheaper sugar at the store is all or mostly beet sugar, unless the bag says “Pure Cane Sugar.”

For those tracking the GMO thing, beet sugar might very well be GMO, while at the moment Pure Cane Sugar is not.

 

Aunt Susie’s Unbaked Fudge Cookies

Boil together 3 minutes: stick of butter, 1 3/4 c pure cane sugar, 1/2 c cocoa (or 1 1/2 oz bar), 1/2 c milk (or water)

Remove from heat

Stir in 2 1/2 c minute oatmeal, stir one minute over heat

Stir in 1/2 c peanut butter (optional)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Stir until cool and thick. Drop on wax paper. Makes about 2 dozen.