It started to rain, the kind of constant drizzle that turns the whole sky grey and saturates everything with damp. It was the kind of rain that most people would expect me to be having here in England, but really it reminded me of my childhood years when I lived in Oregon. Watching it form a constant wet sheet in front of the windows put me in a nostalgic kind of a mood. I watched the robins in my garden hide from the rain by our roofed bird feeder, and thought about the Portland area. I remembered my family: playing with my siblings when we were little, my youngest sister being born, living near my grandparents. I thought about my grandfather, who died this year (you can read what my uncle wrote about him here), and my grandmother, who just moved away because she couldn't manage the house by herself. I remembered their house. The garden was always damp from the constant rain, and we weren't supposed to mess up the gardening. Their closets all smelled of mothballs, and in my memories their house sounded like their grandfather clocks chiming.
I was feeling peaceful and thoughtful when I put Ani DiFranco's Reckoning in the cd player and started work on dinner.
Spanish style rice
Spanish style rice
Sautee chopped onion and garlic in a large frying pan in a nob of butter and splash of olive oil. When they are still only partially cooked, add the rice. Stir often and let the rice brown some. Add spices to taste (I used cumin, chilli powder, paprika, a dash of lime juice, cilantro (coriander) and dried chilis).
Add any other desired vegetables that benefit from cooking for a longer amount of time. You could add chopped celery or small carrot peices, for example. Before the rice can get too cooked or dried out, add about a cup of stock. As I'm vegetarian, I used vegetable stock, but you could use a meat based stock if you preferred.
Add the rest of the vegetables (I chopped bigger ones into bite size pieces first). I added kidney beans, mushrooms, brocolli, aubergine (eggplant), and corn. Add either chopped fresh tomatos, or a tin of chopped tomatos.
Cook on a medium heat, stirring often. When it starts to dry out, add a half cup of stock. Do not add all of the liquid at once, but just stir in a little bit as it is needed. This risotto style of cooking really gives it a nice consistency and flavour. Continue until the rice is well cooked and soft. Taste and add extra seasoning as desired.
To serve with it, I made a sweetcorn and bean salad with the rest of the corn, kidney beans, and black eyed peas with some malt vinegar and cilantro. I also made a bean dip by sauteeing shallots and garlic, and then adding kidney beans and black eyed peas. Then I pureed the mixture with a splash of vinegar, some cream cheese, and a splash of vinegar. It would be nice with some fresh cilantro chopped into it. I served the rice, salad, and dip with tortillas and cheese.