Monday, March 10, 2014

Rice Pilaf!

Have you ever noticed that when things are working out perfectly that the sun shines brighter, the air is more fresh, the clouds fluffier, food tastes like magic, wind is more refreshing and so forth... on the other hand when things take a slight dip towards the other way... well no matter how bright the sun is shining, something seems to be missing.

That's life for you, a bit of sweet and a bit of bitter. But without the bitter how would we know what is so sweet. If it were up to me, I'd prefer more sweet than bitter but life is funny that way, you don't get to pick but you do get to decide what you make of it. 


So sometimes life throws you a curve ball ...or two, doesn't mean you should stop playing. Of course that doesn't make it any less discouraging, especially when it happens. Picking up the pieces is hard but no one but yourself can do that. Two options: stop playing or keep going. Neither decision will change what's already happened, so what's it going to be?

I pick keep going but I definitely won't be moving very fast. There is something about this time of year that I am always hit with some type of a curve ball, right in the chest, it is definitely getting to be a bit overwhelming and cumbersome. 

I guess when you want strawberries and life hands you lemons, instead of making some sweet strawberry jam, you make lemonade instead. Its just a matter of adjusting to a result you don't quite have control over, its not the end of the world...though sometimes you wonder...


Can't say anything is constant in life anymore. As you get older, things just keep coming at you. Long gone were the simple days of cartoons, toys, and what did you bring for school lunches. One thing I know that will remain constant, at least for now, is my love for cooking. Something about it always provides comfort. I know for certain that I love food and I'm sure it loves me back (because bits and pieces of it are clinging onto some parts of me inside that no matter how much running/hiking I do, it won't let go!)  

With that bit of life ramble said, here is my experiment on a rice pilaf. I was craving this a few days back so here it is:


Rice Pilaf
adapted from Alton Brown: Rice Pilaf and Rice Pilaf with Carrots and Parsley
200 calories per serving based on 5 servings 

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup basmati rice (I used brown basmati rice from Trader Joe's)
  • 2 cups of water or stock ( I used chicken stock)
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 lb of carrots (approx 2 large), peeled and thinly sliced
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley 
  • 1/4 cup hot water (to steep saffron)
  • pinch of saffron (optional: I bought some at Trader Joe's for $6)
  • 1/2 cup of mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin (optional)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar (optional)
Procedures:
  1. Rinse rice or soak for 30 minutes to remove any starch. Drain through strainer
  2. Heat stock or water to bare simmer
  3. Steep saffron in hot (but not boiling) water, set aside
  4. Heat butter and oil in a saucepan (approx 3 quarts) over medium heat: add in carrots, onions, mushrooms, salt to taste. Cook until vegetables are soften (approx 3 mins), add in rice. Cook, while stirring, until grains of rice are separate and start to crackle (I did not experience this...). Add in hot water or stock, saffron with its water, cumin and brown sugar (I did not add cumin or brown sugar; they were added onto this recipe because I think it would enhance its flavors). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until liquid is all absorbed
  5. Uncover rice and place a wet clean towel over the top of the pan (without touching the rice). Replace with towel there and allow rice to sit for 10 minutes undisturbed. (I didn't have a clean towel handy so I skipped this step, I just let the rice simmer a bit longer in the previous step at a lower temp
  6. Add parsley and gently fluff rice. Pile pilaf onto a platter to serve.  

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