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Well, I was hanging out with the Dubious Citty Katt and a dozen friends of a Sunday evening’s repast.  I made a big mess of greens – which are now plentiful and a dollar a bunch at the farmer’s market.  For $3 worth of greens, 2 cups of rice and 1 cup of dried beans, this dish is as easy as 1,2,3.

(photo courtesy Brian Foster)

Get you a deep cooking pot – I often use a cast iron Dutch Oven – with 2-3 Tbsps of olive oil, or other fat.

saute over medium heat:

1 heaping cup chopped scallions (or a medium onion)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

1 jalapeno pepper, simply slit up the middle, but still whole

After these ingredients have become transluscent, add:

1 handful of fresh basil, torn (or 2 tsp dry)

big handful cilantro chopped roughly

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp Old Bay seasoning

1 tsp dried crayfish or dried shrimp powder

1-2 tsp smoked paprika

6-8 cups torn/chopped greens:  this could be any one or more of the following –

mustard, turnip, beet, chard, collards, spinach, kale (curly, red, Tuscan, etc), wild greens (lamb’s quarters, sour grass)

1/2 cup vinegar – I used cider vinegar

1-2 cups water, broth or stock

Cover the pot loosely & cook for 15-30 minutes over a medium flame.  It is well known that many people grew up with greens that were cooked for an hour or two, but I have always found that 30 minutes or less gives you plenty of flavor, retains more nutrients & fiber.  Stir from time to time.  Remove from flame & allow to cool.  Don’t worry if you have  what seems to be an excess of cooking liquid.

Beans

1 cup dried beans, sorted and washed

3-4 cups water

Soak the beans overnight – or if you want to use the quick method- bring to the boil over high heat, remove from heat and cover.  Allow to stand for an hour.  Make sure the beans are well covered with water & return the pot to a medium high flame and bring to a boil once again – lower the flame to medium low, cover the pot & cook for 30-45 minutes until you have achieved the Five Bean Rule:  Give the beans a quick stir & select 5 random beans; give each of them a little squish between two fingers, and if all five are soft enough to squish – the whole mess of beans is done.  If one or more is still a little starchy or dinty, give the beans a little more cooking time.  And if you need more cooking water, make sure it’s hot water.  And never add salt to beans until after they are done cooking, or they will be hard and indigestible.

Rice

for 12 people I used 2 cups of white rice

Rinse the rice in a sieve or in the cooking pot until it has given up most of its exterior starch and the water runs clear.  Add a tsp salt & 3 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, cover & turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes.  Fluff with a fork

Now comes the fun part:  Mix all your greens and pot liquor, beans & pot liquor and the rice in a big vessel – this is ready to serve right away, but it only gains virtue with a day or 2 in the refrigerator.

I can’t remember when I began making fried rice, but it serves well as an emergency meal, or a nice dinner for a few people.  If you keep your cupboard stocked w rice (white or brown), tofu (or any leftover cooked meat); and if you have a handful of Asian specialty ingredients, you can make this version of fried rice – it’s the first time I’m trying to write this thing down, which changes every time I make it.  My general approach doesn’t change much however.  It’s an economical dish, and it refrigerates well, if you have any left over.

I have never used a lot of oil or salt when I make this dish – and I often avoid restaurant fried-rice, generally because it’s saturated w oil and soy sauce.  I limit my soy sauce (and a little fish sauce) to the marinade for the protein- in this case tofu.

I’ll be as faithful as possible to the measurements and proportions I use.  First of all, rinse well a cup of white rice and cook with 1-1/2 cups of water- optionally adding a scant tsp of salt or less, to your liking.   If you use brown rice, it will take  longer to cook and will require additional cooking liquid – but it also packs a lot more flavor – and it’s a whole grain.  Fluff w a fork and allow to cool, while you prepare your protein.  Alternately, you could cook your rice w an equivalent measure of vegetable-, or chicken stock, maybe w a Star Anise thrown in for good measure- this will provide an almost indefinable flavor and some richness, and I highly recommend it.

Marinade:

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp fish sauce

2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (or Umeboshi plum vinegar)

2 Tbsp rice wine

2 Tbsp water

Stir these liquid ingredients together and pour over 1/2 pound of tofu, cut into 3/4″ cubes (or a generous cup of shredded cooked chicken, leftover pork, sliced cooked beef, etc.)  Allow your protein to repose in the marinade, and as Alice B. Toklas says, acquire virtue.  This can be 10 minutes, or overnight in the refrigerator.  Meanwhile, have your vegetables ready for stir fry.

You can get prepackaged Asian-style veg in the freezer section of your grocery store.  I have often used a couple of cups of ordinary frozen mixed vegetables, and that makes a perfectly wonderful fried rice.

Today I prepped mine fresh:

1 med carrot, cut into thin matchsticks

2 med stalks celery, sliced thinly on the diagonal

2 med scallions, sliced thinly on the diagonal

1/4 of a small head of cabbage, cut into med-fine shreds

1/2 green pepper, sliced thinly

1 small jalapeno pepper, sliced thinly on the diagonal

You will also need:

1 tsp finely grated ginger (or more)

1 finely minced or grated clove of garlic (or more)

1/2 tsp dried, ground shrimp powder

Since all your ingredients are now in place, you can start really cooking, and you are now only minutes away from meal-time.  It all starts moving very quickly.

Start with an egg or two, whisked in a bowl with 2 tsp cooking oil and 1/4 tsp white pepper.  In your wok or a large skillet place a Tbsp of cooking oil (and a few drops of sesame oil) and quickly let the egg set in a relaxed thin sheet.  Remove to a plate or cutting board and slice into slender ribbons.  Set aside.

Next, transfer your tofu (or other protein) from the marinade to the hot wok or skillet surface, with 1 Tbsp of cooking oil, and a few drops of sesame oil.  Allow to gain a little color and heat through very well, tossing lightly over med/high heat for a minute or two.  Remove the cooked protein from the heat, add to your collection of cooked egg; wipe out your wok or skillet and bring it back to heat.

Add ginger, garlic and dried, ground shrimp (or a bit of shrimp paste) if you happen to have it at your elbow, to the hot oil, and  agitate vigorously, careful not to allow anything to burn and become bitter.  At once, add all of your veg and toss around, until they are cooked as crisp or limp as your heart desires.  I usually only cook mine for 2-3 minutes, which allows them to retain their color, nutrition, texture and flavor.  Eat your vegetables! 🙂

Add your cooked rice to the veg and incorporate gently, adding the protein and cooked egg at the end.

Finally, I added a 1/4 c of chopped cilantro, and a couple of Tbsp of Thai holy basil.

This basic recipe I’ve made over the years, dozens of different ways, and it always somehow comes out well.  I forgot the bean sprouts.