Monthly Archives: March 2012

Cooking instructions: for Pink Madagascar Rice & White Jasmine Rice

From looking at how people find this blog, frequently folks have been looking for directions to cook Pink Madagascar Rice. I couldn’t find a recipe for Pink Madagascar rice when I bought it or for the White Jasmine Rice but I had Lorna Sass’ Whole Grains  book to use as a reference.

Her book has recipes for red rices and brown Jasmine rice, and we used those to give us as an approximation.

My DH was stationed in Thailand, and we used his technique to the cook rice. Bring the water to a boil, just. Add the rice. Turn the heat down to low. Put the lid on and KEEP it there for 20-30 minutes. Turn off the heat and wait 5 minutes. (If you’re using an electric stove, move the pan off the burner.) Fluff with a fork. If your stove burner is “hot” you may want to use a diffuser, I did. (You know how well your stove makes regular rice, and of course I don’t!)

Sass’ basic recipe for brown Jasmine Rice uses 1C rice, 2C water, pinch salt (I don’t cook with salt), in a 2 qt saucepan. So that’s what we did for the White Jasmine Rice. She figures her yield is 3C (Sass – Whole Grains, pg 44).

Her basic recipes for red rices vary quite a bit: 1C rice/1.25C water, 1C rice/10C water(!), 1C rice/2C water. We decided to try 1 to 2 with the Madagascar Pink Rice and it worked just fine! So that’s my recommendation.

Use 1C rice to 2C water, add salt if you do.


Saturday 60 = paperchase, 80 total today.  old 8612, New 8532 84.8%

Sunday =138  (paperchase) old 8532, New 8394 83.4%

Disasters: animal, vegetable and home making

Spring light is coming in my window. Too bad it’s still too cold to work for long outside! I need to get my lettuce and peas planted, the trellis made up for the year, more raking done, more gravel put out, more stepping stones laid . . . you get my drift, I have a whole season’s worth of garden chores to do! I wish it was just about 10 degrees warmer. (It’s 31.) Oh well.

I have to work on the bedroom. If we’re going to rearrange it etc. (on my list to do this spring/summer) it has got to be cleaned/culled well first. In the process, dehoarding wise, I need to find a place to stash the out-of-season bedclothes. I don’t have a “real” place for them now. I have ideas, but haven’t managed to actually give them a home, yet.

The cat’s got a bum leg, and so we bedded her down in the laundry room last night. That way she’s not tempted to climb on or jump off anything (she doesn’t like the machines). She has a bench where she normally suns/sleeps/eats (She’s a very old cat). I’m taking her to the vet as soon as they open.

After that, we’ll see what I get accomplished? I do need to break out the sewing machine. I have all sort of sewing projects, things that are for the new direction we plan to take the house. Things even I should be able to do: cafe curtain panels, cushion covers (easy ones), etc We’ll see!

We’ll have roasted pepper soup for lunch with biscuits and maybe for dinner too. The hash was a success, although I had to add Worcestshire to it. Roasted citrus chicken made into hash is good, but odd. The added sauce made it a bit closer to a normal hash, but the citrus really wanted to dominate. You couldn’t have served it in a restaurant, but it was tasty and we ate it. I also used some of the “glue mashed potatoes” to thicken it up in a hurry. A good use for those!

Glue mashed potatoes? Ah, that was last weeks’ cooking “adventure.” I made mashed potatoes from red potatoes. Must have done it just wrong as they were the consistency of glue when I first mashed them. Added flour, milk, butter and whipping helped, but they were still odd. We ate them but there’s a margarine tub full to use up. Thickening gravies/sauces is probably the best use for them.

I never understood why people talked about red potatoes as being “waxy” before. Boy do I now!

When I worked as a waitress at a dude ranch (years and miles ago) the relief cook one night served the most elastic potatoes I’ve ever eaten. They tasted just fine, and actually they were lighter than mine. I always wondered wtf she did to get potatoes to do that? Now I know, or I think I do. I will NEVER EVER again (if I have a choice) make mashed potatoes with red potatoes!!! It was bad enough that if DH hadn’t been in the kichen with me I probably would have either thrown them out or added instant potatoes to them. I don’t mind instant, he says he hates them. I don’t think he would have noticed, but we’ll never know!

Now that I’ve embarrassed the hell out of myself. . . I’m going to go away! I have a full day ahead of me between cat caretaking, house cleaning, writing, and purging stuff! I’ll update this with a daily total tonight, like I did yesterday.

Have a GREAT day everyone!


old 8613 85.6% (1447 things gone) got rid of one more
thing than I bought
new 8612 85.6% (1448 things gone) sigh…

What to cook? Or, the impact of a temporary/not fridge

One big problem the smaller “loaner” fridge is that  I’m just used to having more room. I’m used to having enough room that I have a leftover shelf and bin.

I tend to buy food nearly in bulk when I can to save $, and we happily eat leftovers for about 3 days,[after that even we get bored.] So the loaner fridge is STUFFED full of food and it’s more disorganized than my normal. At first I wasn’t worried about this, we’d just thrown out nearly all the fresh foods we had, even the loaner was only 1/2 full. We kept thinking that the “real” fridge would be fixed, soon, so I didn’t plan where I put anything, just stuffed it in. I don’t think it needs a major purge, I’ve been good about using up or tossing stuff as it needed it, but it’s full.

My main job today is to use up or transform what’s in the fridge.

STEP ONE: in the crock pot, butter & chopped onions ->caramelized onions

STEP TWO: Pick the chicken, chop the meat and make

chicken salad? Enchiladas? Hash! [It will also uses the roasted veggies that are with the chicken.]

I can add some of the caramelized onions and carrots and the green peppers to the hash.

After the onions are done, put the chicken carcass, some onion, celery, etc. in the crock and make broth [Do I have enough quart jars? ]

STEP 2A: Make broth in the crock pot

STEP THREE: Roast peppers

STEP FOUR: Grate the cheese and make cheese biscuits. If we’re low on bread this will get DH off my back.

Final addition: carrot/parsnip salad

Only problem with making this is that it uses the food processor, a pain to haul out/set up/clean. I expect I’ll use it for the cheese biscuits anyway, so if I use it for the salad first, the food processor will already be out and set up. Cleaning it between the salad and biscuits is less work than setting it up for just one task.

STEP 3A: Grate carrots/parsnips for salad (Cut carrot sticks for dinner.)

Okay, where am I?

Lunch LO quiche, maybe carrot/parsnip salad
Dinner chicken hash, carrot sticks

Prepped ingredients back into fridge/freezer

caramelized onions
chicken broth
roasted peppers
carrot/parsnip salad
cheese biscuits (freezer)

I need to buy less food, or use more right after I buy it or make a meal from it; this is a marathon for someone who isn’t fond of being in the kitchen for > 30 minutes!. Fortunately, most of these I’ve made often enough, except the cheese biscuits, I won’t have to resort to a cookbook.

This also sets part of tomorrow’s menu – roasted pepper soup, using the peppers & some/all of the broth, the biscuits, and some kind of custard something.

Daily tally, 25 things out, 0 in (20 paper chase, 5 pcs clothing out). 8638 -25 = 8613 85.6%


today 47, old 8692 86.4%, new 8645 85.9% 1415 things gone (includes paper chase of 40 today) J

Cookbook Parade #1

My cooking ambitions are modest. I want to be a good, simple cook. I have no pretensions of being Julia anybody. I don’t want to be a food snob. I just like to eat, and want recipes that are easy to make, taste good, waste little, and cost as little as possible. I love trying new foods, as long as I don’t have to go broke doing so!

As I’ve said before, I read cookbooks for fun, and I was a used book dealer for more than 20 years so I have a lot of older cookbooks. Here are reviews of four cookbooks I’ve been looking at lately. I’ve written a more detailed explanation of why I do or don’t like the books, and gave each a rating, up to 5 stars. [Not pretentious at all. . . excuse me while I trip over my hypocrisy.]

Klinger, Judith – The Food Inflation Fighter’s Handbook (1980 Fawcett Columbine, 320pp).

One of my favorite books to browse. I’ve been flipping through and reading this book for years, still find new things in it. Nicely organized, I wish there was an updated version!

A keeper, *****

Brooks, Patricia – Meals That Can Wait ((c)1970, Gramercy Publishing, 223pp).

This one hails from the late 60s to early 70s and has those pretensions…. ingredients lists were usually longer than 10 ingredients, lots of herbs/spices. There’s a few (5-15) recipes I’ll try from this book and probably modify quite a bit. Mostly I’ve kept this book to look for techniques, food that can be reheated a lot is food that won’t go to waste as it’s only good immediately after cooking.

A technique book with only a few recipes I’m likely to try, ***

Taylor, Mary L.R. – Economy for Epicures (1947, Oxford, 526pp).

One I use quite a bit. So much, in fact that I’m cross-indexing it. The author numbered all her recipes r. 1-r. ? and references recipes in others, back & forth, although whoever indexed the book should have been fired, they did a LOUSY job! My copy is all marked up in pencil, nearly completely indexed.

She uses left overs as part & parcel of her recipes, also drippings/fat, outer leaves of cabbage, etc. Her vegetables are almost all overcooked, but that’s what was common in the 1940s, so I just ignore it (Green beans cook in boiling water 12-15 mins.? Shudder!). The pretensions here are about making good food, and that’s fine with me! Her quirks are easily ignored. This book also has the best approach to baking recipes I’ve ever seen: charts. Clean, tidy, easy to understand and about 8-12 recipes fit on a single page.

A keeper. **** (downgraded because of the index problem)

Polvay, Marina – Energy Saver’s Cookbook (1980, Spectrum/Prentice-Hall, 309pp).

My most recent acquisition and except for a short chapter on saving energy with certain types of appliances, this book isn’t very useful. It’s simple foods, with instructions for making them using less electricity than an electric range:with crock pot, crock plate (Never heard of this?*), hibachi, wood stove, electric skillet, etc. I bought it thinking I’d use it when we had a power outage, but I probably won’t keep it long enough to use it at all. I may go through the recipes to see if there are techniques that pertain to electric skillets, hibachis, etc. (I have an hibachi but not a skillet.)

*Apparently a short-lived appliance from Rival, a sort of electric skillet. Like this:

A technique book only **

The fridge saga continues….

The fact that it still won’t keep the freezer below 70 degrees means that there’s still a leak that needs to be found. There isn’t enough tubing to attach/detach the tool that does that, so the tech we had said, “This is up to the manufacturer,” wrote it up and left last time.

The tech’s company called the end of last week to see if we’d heard from the manufacturer? No. The boss there said he’d call them and apparently did. (Best service we’ve had during this whole saga is from the repair company, not the manufacturer or the retail store where we bought the thing.)

Today DH got a call from the manufacturer’s rep. DH explained that we were disappointed to buy a machine that worked for only 2 months, we were disappointed that the parts had originally had to be back ordered, then sent to Alaska, AND we were disappointed by the manufacturer’s customer service in general, people saying they’d call us back, and not–as well as all of the other complaints (back orders, miss-shipments, etc.)

So the manufacturer’s rep said she was sorry (Of course she did!) and said she’d have someone call and set up another appt.

Well, they did. Except the poor guy that called had no idea wtf had happened previously, and the problem we’ve apparently got is something he doesn’t work on either (the sealed system). He’s going to call the manufacturer and see if he couldn’t get a more complete story.

Well, he did, and the manufacturer is calling yet another repair company. We’ll see if this works out any better I guess.

And there you have it. The circle of people who’re involved with this has now widened to include the 2nd repair company and potentially a 3rd, but we still have a $2,000 boat anchor sitting in the middle of our kitchen, and a much smaller, noisier fridge we’re using “on loan.” The 3rd company didn’t know anything about the history either and were going to call the manufacturer and maybe the 1st repair company. WTF!

Progress? Well no, I wouldn’t exactly call it that, would you?

What You Get from Old Books

Okay, I was a used book dealer for > 20 years. My mother was a book dealer. My dad was a book collector. My parents met in a bookstore. You get the idea…books are in my blood, old books fascinate me. So, given my obsession with food, it naturally follows that I am obsessed with old food books, yes?

I especially like old cookbooks, homemaking books, brochures, you name it. I’ve been reading one for cooking professionals about how to reduce costs in a restaurant kitchen.

Among the things I found SAD in this is their schedule for apples, most of which either I’ve never seen, or haven’t seen for years. (The schedule is supposed to tell you which apples are in season/cheap in a given season.) These are the apples I’ve never seen/heard of for years:

Wealthy, R. I. Greening, York Imperial, Rome Beauty, Newtown, Transparent,  & Duchess.

I’ve looked for Duchess apples. I have a cookbook (which one I do NO T remember) where the woman author says, “Get a Duchess tree, you’ll never need to buy apples again.” and so I’ve been trying to find Duchess apples to try ever since.

Except for Duchess (brought from Russia?) these all seem to be American apple varieties. You’d think we could keep our own apples in production, but no, apparently not. I love Spencer apples, a recent variety, but not easily found either. They are a beautiful apple, crunchy and lightly sweet.

I have seeds from an heirloom tree hereabouts to plant this spring too. Unknown variety, the apples were ugly, but tasty! I intend to plant them, when/if I figure out wtf I did with the seed collection from last fall. (Another hoarder moment, sigh.)

The controlling food costs book also repeats, several times, that a restaurant should only spend about 40% of their income on food. Applied to us and my desired (but rarely attained) food budget of $200/month, that means that spending $200 monthly on home-cooked meals is approximately equivalent to eating $500 a month in restaurant meals.

Why would I want to know this?

It makes me absolutely feel semi-cheated in a restaurant for one thing. Not that I begrudge restaurants a profit, I don’t! But if I could easily save .60  of every $1 I spent at a restaurant, I’d do it in a flash; wouldn’t you?

The way to do that is to eat at home. I use this as a prod to eat at home instead of away. Also, it makes me feel like cooking at home isn’t really a chore, it’s a way to save/make money, approx $3600 annually. Would I want to cook 364 meals (52*7) for $3600? Probably not. That’s approx. $5.26 a meal, but that’s $5.26 I SAVE us each and every time I cook.

The other thing in this old cost cutting/restauranteur book I think I’ll implement is the idea that you plan the menu in the morning. The first step is an inventory of what’s left from the day before. The menu is planned using those items up, or giving them to the “help.” In our case, that means we (the help) eat the dibs & dabs that aren’t used otherwise for lunch and I’ll use planned transformations for dinner. This gives me a little structure where I hadn’t one before, not a bad thing!

See? Reading old books can be dangerous,you’ll find all sorts of ideas!