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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rice, that's nice!

   I love rice. My husband? Not so much. The boys? Yeah, they love rice, too. So I do get to make it often, but just like most foods I do not serve it in consecutive meals. That's the trick with hubby-dearest, just mix it it up among noodles, or pasta, and potatoes, and I can slip it in. And he has to have some kind of sauce or gravy to drown it in. Seems his mother put him on a diet some years ago, along with herself, and they ate nothing but plain white rice, morning, noon and night. Well, that would turn anybody off. And naturally, as in all fad diets, they both regained the weight they had lost, and then some, and now my husband has an aversion to rice. Ya think?
   So, in order to serve rice, it has to be either fried, you know, Chinese style, or Spanish, which I am not a fan of, or loaded with gravy--I am in for that, for sure!
   The perfect rice is not converted, which is partially precooked, or (heaven forbid) instant, and not those boiling bags that are also partially precooked. NO, NO, NO! Real rice is (at least for this lesson) long grain white rice. We'll do brown rice and maybe risotto, or even wild rice another time, but today, its just good old plain long grain white rice. Of course, I am aware that brown rice is the whole grain, white rice has had the bran removed, and with it many nutrients, but this is not a nutrition lesson, here. Okay, it is also true that some parboiled rices have been "treated" to return some of the lost nutrients back into the rice, but the "treatments", you know, man messing with nature, often leads to other problems, so for this blog we are sticking with plain long grain, although inferior to brown, white rice.
   There is one trick to making perfect rice: do not peak! Measure the water into a deep saucepan 1 cup water for every 1/2 cup rice.. The end product is measured by the amount of water you use; in other words, to make 2 cups of cooked rice you need 2 cups of water and 1 cup of raw rice. You may add salt to the water, 1/2 teaspoon per cup of water, but that is totally optional, and if you plan on making rice pudding, I suggest you omit the salt. I also usually throw a tablespoon of butter in it, as well. Don't know why, just have always done it and 99% of the time I don't have a problem with my rice. Yes, I must admit, once a while my rice goes awry! And yes I get the pun!
   Okay, so you measure your water into the saucepan, add the butter, and the rice. Add the salt when the water begins to boil. Give it a good stir, tightly cover the pan, lower the heat to the lowest setting so it will simmer, and set your timer for 15 minutes. When the timer rings shut off the heat, if you have an electric stove, remove the pan from the burner. DO NOT LIFT THAT LID UNTIL AT LEAST 5 MINUTES PAST THE END OF THE COOKING TIME--Trust me! I also have the luxury of having glass tops for my pots, so I can watch the little grains get their steam bath. If, however, during the cooking time, especially toward the end, you smell burning rice, please remove the pan from the heat, trying to scrape burnt rice from the bottom of a pan is not any fun--ask my husband. Many times burning rice is due to an ill-fitting lid which allows too much steam to escape too quickly, so please be sure you use the right lid for the pan, and do not use your power burner, if you have one, but use the low BTU burner, or simmer burner.

   Yes, I know, I can go on and on, can't I? After the 5 minutes of sitting off the heat, open the lid. You should see a level blob of rice with "pock" holes across the flat top. So far, so good.  Here's what it should look like:

Now insert a fork anywhere in the rice and fluff by lifting the rice from the bottom of the pot with a slight wrist twist. Continue fluffing until all the rice is loose.

 Finally, here's what the pot should look like when you hand it to the dishwasher:

   For more information on rice please visit the USA Rice Federation. Under the consumer tab they have recipes galore!.
   Please share your rice experiences. I love hearing from all of you!

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