Monday, April 18, 2011

From the Pantry:: Grains and the Rice Cooker

This is one of our tasty lunches. Quinoa with leftover chicken and fresh wilted spinach.

I'm starting a new section I'm calling From the Pantry. I am endlessly interested in what other people keep 'on hand' to add to their meals. If you want to join me, I'd love to see what's in your pantry (refrigerator, cellar, garden... too!).


Truman and I picked out a rice cooker for Eric for Christmas and it's been use 3-4 times a week since then. At first I only made white and brown rice. But now I'm cooking all kinds of grains and wheat based cereals. This is just the smallest model (read cheapest) that they sold at Walmart (eww. I know.) — no bells and whistles. The only dials and buttons? Just a switch to flip.

In trying to deepen our intake of fiber, I've quietly introduced new grains into our diet over the last few weeks. Preparing them in a dish the kids already are fond of like rice with veggies or oatmeal. I was floored that they ate real 'wild rice' this week with black rice and brown rice mixed together, shredded carrots, chicken stock, garlic and stirred in broccoli at the end. Last year my chicken wild rice soup got turned up noses and yucky sounds.

AND on Saturday I mixed cooked bulgur wheat with soy into their oatmeal. I used Rachel's idea and infused vanilla (though I really wanted to use tea-- one thing at a time!) into the oatmeal and the bulgur wheat during cooking. I made the oatmeal on the stove and the bulgur wheat in the rice maker so they could cook simultaneously.  A little milk, pat of butter, pinch of salt and some brown sugar made it so warm and filling.

Here's a peek into the grain shelf of my pantry:
Arborio Rice--We use it to make risotto

Yellow Rice -- I found this at our local dollar store. It's flavored saffron white rice and it is really versatile.

Brown and Black Rice mix— with grated carrots, garlic and chicken stock to make wild rice.

Whole Wheat Couscous-- the quick cooking kind is so fast and tasty. My kids love it.

Israeli Couscous-- like balls of pasta. It really takes on the flavor of chicken stock or veggie stock.

Quinoa-- this is a grain but the light colored has the texture of couscous. The best I've ever made has been in the rice cooker.

Pearled Barley-- Barley in soup is so good, but it takes a long time to get soft. We now make it in the rice cooker then add it to the soup. Simmer a bit after adding it to the soup so it soaks up the broths flavor.

Basmati Rice-- A different length of rice for something different.

Bulgur Wheat-- Add to oatmeal. And according to the box, use it in muffins. O the possiblities.

Up next-- Heidi's Millet Muffins. O MY. The deserve a post of their own...

Do you have any grain staples you use that I could try?

Happy Cooking!

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