In less than ten days, the RGB will be hosting a very happy occasion; our very own wedding reception. You may recall that two summers ago, we eloped to the Bay Area so we could make our 7:30 PM dinner reservations at Chez Panisse. By the end of the evening, we had a signed cookbook by Alice Waters. And by the end of the weekend, Tyler Florence had given us a pasta recipe. (Yeah… it was a pretty good weekend.)
One by one, we confessed to friends and family what we had done. And we promised to have a proper celebration… right after we renovated our home. It may have taken a year and a half, but we’re finally done and ready to party.
Just a few of our thirty to forty newly planted flower pots.
The thing about parties is that they require a lot of work. And I don’t know about you, but for me, and for my better half, a lot of work causes a lot of anxiety. We’re in the middle of potting flowers, repairing the roof and painting the house. At some point, we’ll need to finalize the menu, shove the baby grand piano out into the garden, and decide if we’re really makin’ ourselves a cake.
In times of elevated stress, I rely on simple, basic food. No frills. No fanfare. Just something to soothe my over-stirred soul. Bonus: it cooks while I’m doing other things, like alphabetizing my bookshelf, packing egg cartons, and framing photographs. (I assure you, these are very important tasks.)
The next time you’re overworked, feeling stressed, or perhaps under the weather, try this porridge. And tell me if it made you feel better. For extra credit: pair it with a glass of ginger ale.
Four ingredients: rice, broth, ginger and scallions. Simmer together while you do other things, then return to a simple, humble bowl that fills your belly and warms your spirits.
- • ½ cup long-grain rice
- • 5 cups chicken stock
- • 2 quarter-sized slices unpeeled fresh ginger
- • 1 scallion
- Minute 1: Cut the white part of the scallion from the green part. Thinly slice the green parts and set aside.
- Minute 2: Put the rice in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Stir the rice with your hand 8 to 10 times around and then let the rice settle. Carefully pour out the milky water. Repeat this rinsing but without stirring the rice. These two rinsings remove some of the starch from the rice.
- Minute 4: Add the stock, ginger, and the white part of the scallion and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a vigorous simmer, and then cover partially. To loosen but not lose its starch, the rice should bounce in the bubbling water without the water boiling over the pan sides. Let the soup cook for 5 minutes. Stir the rice to make sure none has stuck to the bottom and lower the heat to a gentle simmer.
- Minute 15: Re-cover partially and continue cooking for 1 hour, or until the rice grains have bloomed and curled, releasing their starches to thicken the soup and turn it creamy white. There should be only a little separation between the rice and liquid. If you stir the soup, the rice should be suspended in the liquid.
- Minute 75: Discard the ginger and scallion. Taste and add salt as necessary; the amount will depend on what liquid you used to make the soup. You will now have a versatile soup base to which other flavorings may be added. This soup may be prepared a day in advance and reheated over medium heat with a bit of extra water to prevent scorching. It may thicken considerably after cooling, but you can always add water to thin it out. Avoid boiling the finished soup to prevent scorching.
Source: Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, by Andrea Nguyen. page 67 . Very slightly adapted by the RGB to adjust amount of rice used and include scallion greens.