When I was a young woman I wanted to be accomplished in the kitchen, I wanted to make culinary delights for myself, for friends, and hopefully, for a man who would be my lifelong soulmate.
Toward that happy outcome, I took a lot of cooking lessons, most of them were one session evening classes. At the time inexpensive basic cooking lessons were offered in the evenings at local schools, community colleges, or even church basement kitchens. I learned skills like how to bake and decorate cakes, how to debone chicken, and how to cook eggs to please the palette, for example, a nicely butter-browned soufflé baked with egg, rice, onion, cheese, and any other finely diced ingredient that might tickle your fancy. Then I took a few of the more extravagant cooking lessons which were occasionally offered to the public at fine hotels and culinary teaching schools. I learned little techniques and methods that make cooking fun and successful. I learned to discern and prepare the finer cuts of meat, for those rare occasions when I budgeted prime rib, lamb, bison, or prime cut pork. I learned how to make side dishes that were more exciting than canned corn, beans, or peas. I learned how to cleverly, thinly slice fruits and vegetables to garnish an entree. And I learned how to make desserts like crème brulee or chocolate-covered strawberries. All that is required for the latter is to be brave enough to dip perfect, ripe strawberries into melted chocolate. Voilà!
Early on in my studies of food preparation, I took an evening class on cooking rice taught in the local community college kitchen. Although I was tired after work (my guess is that my lifelong heart arrhythmia has always slowed me down), cooking classes made me feel competent in my own kitchen, so I went to this class. As I recall the course description said we would learn about the different kinds of rice, white, brown, red, and wild rice which is actually a grass but who is counting, and how to cook them. Then we would have a meal of rice at the end of the class. I was in my early twenties, still quite young and inexperienced, so when the instructor singled me out of the class to get up, go to the stove, and "stir the rice", I was reluctant to get up in front of the class. But I got up and silently stirred the rice. The instructor said to stir it more, so I stirred it more. He watched me stir the rice from across the room, which was odd, and his tone was harsh. I could tell that the class was beginning to wonder what I had done wrong to make that middle-aged teacher stop the class and speak that way to me. If I adjusted the heat under the rice it would only have been because the instructor told me to do so. Ten minutes later, the instructor checked the rice and announced that it was ruined, that I had adjusted the heat causing the rice to cook improperly (I did not understand the details of exactly what was ruined about the rice, but my guess is that the instructor forgot to put the rice on the stove in time for it to fully cook and he was looking for someone to blame it on.) The class was extremely annoyed with me when the instructor told them that we would not be able to have the rice-based meal at the end of class because I had ruined the rice. I suppose most of the class had skipped dinner in anticipation of an interesting rice meal in class. I was too introverted to make any objection to being scapegoated in that way, and I do not recall saying anything, just slinking away into the night. The instructor was a weaselly little guy and I doubt if he would have had the courage to mistreat a male student that way. An easily cowed young woman was more his size.
I often remember that deceitful instructor when I am cooking rice; and I have to shrug off a little sadness at what a weak young woman I was. Today when I made this rice dish, I did not shrug off that instructor's humiliation of me years ago, I wrote it up in this blog. I find that posting in my blog about these small but troublesome events in my life somehow makes it so that I never think of them again. :-)
Also, if people know what is happening, there is more chance of protecting young women from these petty harassments.
How To Cook Rice on the Stove—my method
Sort, then rinse the rice in cold water. Discard broken, discolored grains. (Rinse rice several times as you would anything else from the field.)
Use a covered pot that is about four times the volume of the dry rice you will be cooking.
Heat oil in the pot. (1 tablespoon oil per cup of dry rice.)
Add the rice and water to hot oil, and cook covered, at very low heat about 35 minutes.
Stir the rice once at about 10-15 minutes, and begin checking it at about 25-30 minutes.
Fluff rice with a fork onto serving dish.
Sweet Brown Rice With Fruit—my recipe
Plumb dried fruit by simmering over very low heat for 10 minutes, or let dried fruit steep in hot water for 45 minutes for fruit that is more intact. (raisons, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes...)
If you want the savoriness of onion to balance the sweetness of the fruit, sauté onion in coconut oil, and set aside.
Prepare brown rice as indicated above, but use coconut oil, and add sugar to taste, allspice, ginger, and bay leaf to cook with the rice.
If you like, season brown rice and fruit with soy sauce and/or sautéed onion just before serving.
Caption: Sweet Brown Rice & Fruit
the concept by Annmarie Throckmorton 2019
Caption: Sweet Brown Rice & Fruit
the dish by Annmarie Throckmorton 2019