Sunday, September 8, 2013

Dinner Went Awry and Some Thoughts About Rice

In addition to being my day of rest, Sundays are slotted for the majority of the week’s cooking.  I usually make a couple of meals that I can then portion out for a few lunches and dinners.  The thought of planning and packing up a lunch each day or cooking dinner each night after work is so very unappealing.  Instead, I grocery shop Saturday while out running errands, prep and cook Sunday afternoon, and reap the benefits of my efforts the rest of the week. 

When I made my list yesterday, there were a couple of things that I assumed I had in the kitchen so didn’t pick them up at the store. Unfortunately, when I started cooking I was actually out of garlic and out of olives.  Since it’s my day of rest, a trip back to the store is out of the question.  After some scavenging through the pantry, I made it work minus the olives, and continued my day of cooking.  I had prepared a marinade for the chicken and once it had a few hours to stew, it was ready to grill.  Once the bbq was hot, the chicken was placed on the grate and the lid was closed.  After about 10 minutes, I returned the grill and noticed the temperature had fallen back to zero degrees.  To make a long story short, my grill was out of propane.  Ugh!  I had half-grilled chicken and no more heat.  But, it’s my day of rest, so I was NOT going to get it filled.  I was able to get the oven heated up and finished cooking the chicken through.  It’s not the same as grilled chicken, but at least my lunch for the week could be salvaged. 

Luckily, I’ve never run out of propane while entertaining, but I don’t ever gage the amount of propane in the tank very accurately.  The guy at Lowes who fills them told me I should be able to tell when the tank feels lighter, but those tanks are heavy, even empty, that I can’t tell.  It takes me maybe a year to get through a tank, so I don’t think about it until I run out.

Last year’s Consumer Reports’ investigation into rice and its high levels of arsenic caused me to obsess with all things rice.  Time after time I have warned others about the danger of rice.  There are so many cereals and baby foods that contain rice, and the article warned that eating it weekly could be dangerous.  It’s scary. 

I don’t eat a lot of rice or rice products, but every so often I like it with vegetable stir fry.  After reading why Asians, who have a diet heavy with rice, aren’t proportionally more ill due to their diet, I found that they wash their rice and cook it in much more water than we do.  While we only use enough water to cook the rice, supposedly the true Asian way of cooking it is to use 2-3 times as much water as we do and drain it, removing the harmful chemicals.  I tried cooking it that way shortly after reading the article and just came up with mushy, wet rice.  So I haven’t had it in almost a year, but this weekend I’ve been craving it for some reason.  Imagine my surprise when the FDA announced, due to a recent study, that rice’s arsenic levels were not harmful.  Hooray!  I’m making stir fry this weekend. 

Well, I was making stir fry, but the FDA, being the same agency who allows genetically engineered fruits and vegetables and touts corn syrup as just as safe as sugar, their study has told us the same thing the CR study did – rice won’t kill you right after you eat it.  The concern brought up last year is really about the long term effects that arsenic from rice will have.  The FDA didn’t address that in their study.  Shoot, another meal of riceless stir fry.


  1. The trick with rice cooked the Asian way is the pre-boil having soaked for a few hours and dumped the soak water. Then, and here the twist to get it the loose way we like it. Have a kettle of boiling so when you strain the rice and get rid of the first lot of water you then pour the 3pints of boiling water from the kettle through the strainer. You'll be surprised the amount of residual starch that will whiten the strainer tailings. Then cook as you would normally. If you had a steamer you could put a jasmine tea bag on the bottom or orange blossom.
    Any hoo's, you don't end up with mushy flavourless risotto.
    The chinese don't usually wash the 2nd time. They like it semi-sticky for they usually make a small ball of the stuff but when it has finished cooking you can run a chopstick through it

    1. I never let it soak for any period of time, just rinsed and dumped a couple of times. I'll have to try it that way. I use it so rarely it wasn't worth the time/effort for it not to turn out well. I'll give it another shot.

    2. Yeah, you wash out the starch. And you can over-night the soak. But the real trick is the twice boil with the wash in the middle.

  2. Riceless meals..
    We have rice at least once a week..
    Yes, we too use more water.. if the pot is 1/4 full of rice then the water is filled more than half way up. Plus we let it soak for a bit before cooking..

  3. Mmm, hadn't heard that about rice. I love rice...I like it sticky so I will have to try the above.

  4. Ben loves rice-- I'm glad he never saw that article!

  5. We don't eat much rice or pasta anymore and I miss it.