January 18, 2011 at 6:00 am
This is how my days sometimes go:
At 5:30, the time of day when my children seem to need me most of all, I look at our meal-plan for the week and realize that I should have started making rice a half-hour ago.
So I pull out the bin of basmati and say a little thank-you that white rice has a third of the cooking time of brown.
On the other hand, though, brown rice is more nutritious. And according to this article, it is better for the environment too.
So I have been trying to make the switch to using brown rice whenever possible. I am not a fan of short grain brown rice except in a few recipes, but my friend recently got me excited about brown basmati, which always seems to cook up light and fluffy. I really like the flavor too.
But I am still a forgetful person, and dinner is always a busy time here, so I don’t like comitting to an hour in the kitchen, even if that hour does mean:
- Put water on to boil
- Read a book on the ktichen floor
- Add rice. Realize I forgot to rinse it. Aren’t you supposed to rinse it? Seems I read that somewhere…
- Put two children in a bath tub
- Answer phone calls from everyone I have ever met; explain I am nowhere near an aquarium and those are not dolphins
- Clean up small flood
- Chase naked 3-year-old
- Realize there’s no broccoli. Didn’t I buy broccoli? I swear I bought a TON of broccoli
- What’s that burny smell?
I recently thought of my bean situation last year and how I never felt I had the time to cook beans from scratch until I started using my slow cooker.
So the past few Mondays, I’ve been trying to make some grains in bulk on the stovetop for use throughout the week.
I’ve started with a batch of brown rice and a batch of quinoa — a grain we were forced to stop ignoring and eventually started to like while we were gluten-free for a while — or millet, which we also discovered while gluten-free. I’m thinking barley would work here too!
I love making a grain-based salad with vegetables, beans, olive oil and lemon juice to snack on during the week. It is also great to have cooked grains on hand to add to soups or to eat with a quick curry or stir-fry.
Having whole grains available makes for really filling snacks (Ellery loves brown rice with tamari) and lunch can come together in a few minutes instead of close to an hour. We can also take it with us when we need to pack lunches.
Because we buy a lot of our grains in bulk, my system is to keep enough grains to fill one jar in the pantry. I write directions on it for easy preparation, like the water to grain ratio and the cooking time.
I store the rest of our bulk grains in the fridge, which I suspect is slowly driving my husband crazy. I have a smart friend, though, who keeps her 50-pound bag of oats in a large storage bin and only keeps a small amount on her pantry shelves.
I usually make 6 cups of rice for the week (with 6 cups of water and 3 cups of rice, a splash of olive oil and a little salt). I make 3 cups of quinoa or millet (with 1 1/2 cups of grain to 3 cups of water).
So far, this seems like a good amount for a family of four.
I have read about making grains (especially oatmeal) in the slow cooker too, and I’m wondering if you’ve tried it?