What to Cook When You Hate to Cook. Recipe 10: Rice Bowls

I know. Hate is a strong word. But it’s true: I HATE to cook. But sometimes you just have to. When that happens, I do my best to lessen the agony by using the least amount of ingredients to get flavor, or using the simplest techniques to reduce effort. This is the tenth recipe I’ve shared on this blog. Check them out in my recipe section.

This time around, I’ll tell you about something I’ve been doing for lunch of late. This requires more prep time than most of my recipes do, but the beauty of it is, you can get 6 lunches out of it, so in the end, it’s worth the effort.

Rice Bowls

  • 6 cups of rice, cooked.

  • Protein (Cooked leftovers or from a can.) (I recommend chicken or steak or salmon or tofu or cheese or tuna.)

  • Anything that floats your boat! (I recommend some combination of at least 4 of the following: onion, garlic, mushrooms, spinach, green onions, squash, squash blossoms, green beans, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots, but really this is limited only by your imagination or by what you find in your fridge.

  • Oil for the spinach, and butter or lard for the rest of the veggies.

  • Soy sauce or salt to be added just before eating.

To start, I throw 3 cups of uncooked rice (I like basmati, but any type is fine) into my rice cooker with the prescribed amount of water. Rice cookers are one of life’s greatest inventions, if you ask me. Miraculously, 6 cups of perfectly cooked rice will emerge.

While the rice cooker is doing its thing, I prepare the veggies and such.

First of all, if you’re using spinach, I hope it’s organic, because spinach is one of the most chemically tainted things in the grocery store. Anyway, you’ll want to wilt your spinach in a pot. Just throw a little oil over medium heat, and stir the spinach so the leaves on top get as wilty as the ones on the bottom. Divide it up into 3 microwavable bowls when it’s done.

Next, chop up all your other items that you plan to saute. Put the hard stuff (Any combination of onions, garlic, squash, carrots, green beans, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, whatever.) on to saute first. I use butter or lard.

While that stuff is being sautéed, chop up whatever ingredients you are using that take less time to saute (like mushrooms, green onions, squash blossoms and any precooked veggie leftovers.) When the hard group is looking almost done, add the soft group in and stir everything together until it looks edible to you.

Divide these sauteed ingredients into the three microwavable bowls that are already holding the spinach.

Hopefully by now, your rice is done. Now listen carefully. Put half that rice (3 cooked cups) into its own, empty bowl and refrigerate it. Then next week, when you want to do 3 more lunches, you will already have the rice to use, so every other week of doing this will be less complicated. Yay!

Now you’re left with 3 cups of cooked rice. Put one cup each into your three microwavable bowls that already have the veggies. Then toss your protein into each.

There you have it! 3 lunches. Bring ‘em to work, toss ’em into the microwave, and when it’s done, add some soy sauce or some salt, and you’ve got yourself a healthy, filling meal.

You could, of course, make 5 days worth, but I’d get bored eating the same thing every single day, so I stagger a few TV dinners in there for variety.

Share any variations on this theme that you’ve tried, and/or suggest other simple recipes below. But the main thing to do is this: Enjoy!

rice bowl cooked cu 2

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It’s Not That Complicated

I go to work. I come home. I start dinner. I sit on my back porch in my fifteen dollar red plastic Adirondack chair, and put my feet up on my brown plastic thrift shop stool.

My dog Quagmire jumps on my lap. Sometimes I ask him to tell me about his day. He’s never very forthcoming.

I enjoy the sunshine when I have it. I enjoy the rain, too. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I just sit and think about the fact that I’m not spending any money at this exact moment, and that’s a relief.

When dinner’s ready, I eat it, in my Adirondack chair, this time sans Quagmire, unless you count his baleful stare from the back stoop. (He’s been fed, but to hear him tell it, it’s never enough.)

I look at the lawn and tell myself I really ought to mow. I water my flowers. I do that much.

I go inside and put my dirty dishes on the growing pile in the sink. Maybe I take a bath. Maybe not. If I have a pimple, I pop it. Etc.

I change into a tank top and climb into bed. Maybe I watch Hulu. Maybe I check Facebook. Maybe I text a friend. Sooner or later I just spoon with Quagmire and go to sleep. As I drift off, I think about how lucky I am.

The next day, I wake up, get dressed, poach myself an egg, feed the dog and go to work. My life isn’t exciting. But it’s enough for me.

adirondack

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What to Cook When You Hate to Cook. Recipe 2: Mediterranean Bread Salad

This is the second recipe in my series for those of us who are lazy chefs. Check out recipe 1 here.

I enjoy making bread salad in the summer. It’s filling, and yet somehow still feels light and fresh to me. And preparing it does not heat up your kitchen in any way.

You’ll notice that I don’t include any quantities. That’s because, like most salads, it’s “to taste”. Feel free to modify it, of course. If your experiment works out, share it with us in the comments section!

Mediterranean Bread Salad

  • Quality bakery bread (I use French or Italian, usually.)
  • Capers
  • Feta Cheese
  • Heirloom Tomatoes (If you’ve only eaten those bland red things they call tomatoes these days, and haven’t splurged on heirlooms, you haven’t lived.)
  • Parsley
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil

Break the bread into bite-sized chunks, crust and all. Cut up the tomatoes, and add all the other ingredients in a bowl, then toss with olive oil as your dressing. Simple!

Note: Bread salad does not do well as leftovers, as the bread will get soggy, so only make the amount you will eat in one sitting. I usually get double everything (or leave half of everything), for day two. Because it’s that good.

Enjoy!

heirlooms

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What to Cook When You Hate to Cook. Recipe 1: Spinach Comfort Food

In a desperate attempt to come up with something to blog about, I asked a friend for ideas. He was watching a cooking show at the time, and said I should do recipes every once in a while. It’s trendy, and it would introduce new readers to my blog.

I allowed that this was a great idea, but there’s a slight problem. I hate to cook. I’m not bad at it, mind you. I’d just much rather be doing just about anything else. If a recipe has more than about 5 ingredients, I generally can’t be bothered. Usually, I’ll make a huge batch of something or other and then eat it for days. My crock pot is my best friend.

Surely I can’t be the only one who feels this way. So I’ve decided that every once in a while I will share one of my cooking hacks with you, my fellow lazy chefs. May it give you more time for Netflix.

This first one is one of my favorites, because it’s so freakin’ easy and delicious it’s ridiculous. It’s even pretty healthy! Imagine that!

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Spinach Comfort Food

2 Large boxes of spinach (Preferably organic, because spinach is one of the most pesticide-laden veggies in your produce aisle these days.)

1 can of stewed tomatoes.

1 can of garbanzo beans.

1 block of feta cheese.

Olive oil.

Coat the bottom of a BIG pot with olive oil, and heat it. Add as much of the spinach as you can. Stir. This takes patience, because it won’t all fit at first. As it wilts down, there will be more room. The object is to get all the spinach wilted. Sometimes I add a little more olive oil halfway through. Add the stewed tomatoes, garbanzo beans (including the liquid) and crumbled feta. Heat and stir some more until the garbanzo beans are soft.

There you have it. Simple. Filling. Tastes even better as leftovers! Enjoy!

If you have any super simple recipes you’d like to share, let me know. I’ll give you full credit.

frog chef

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Think of Horses

Here’s a quote that’s often used in the medical profession:

“When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras.” – Dr. Theodore Woodward

In other words, don’t assume some exotic medical malady first, when it is much more likely to be something quite common. A child is much more likely to have a bladder infection than maple syrup urine disease.

But I think this quote can and should be applied to a lot more areas of life than just medicine. One of the reasons that I tend to look askance at most conspiracy theories is the simple, basic fact that the vast majority of people cannot keep secrets. And trying to get a large number of people to agree, let alone march in lockstep toward one common, corrupt goal, is next to impossible. If something nefarious is going on, chances are it’s one person at the heart of it, maybe two at most. Not an entire organization.

I know a woman who thinks zebras all the time. For example, she saw a dog hair on the counter at her place of work, and rather than assuming it fell off someone’s clothing, she instantly concluded that someone was sneaking his or her dog to work on her days off. Seriously?

And when you try to do something helpful for this woman, she automatically believes you must be out to get her. It has got to be exhausting, always running with the zebras like that. And because she trusts no one, no one trusts her. That’s kind of sad.

I genuinely believe that the simple explanation is most often the right one. That’s how I choose to live my life. Yup, sometimes I’m wrong, but I’m also a lot less stressed out.

zebras
It makes me tired just watching.

Simple Things

I like logic. It’s like walking down a very well-worn path to a destination that you can visualize before you arrive. No surprises.

I also like predictability. By its very nature you can count on it. It’s dependable.

I prefer puns to elaborate jokes that require a great deal of set up. I like folk music because it makes sense to me and has a long tradition. I hate movies that are cliffhangers. I want everything to be resolved when the credits begin to roll. If not, I feel gypped.

I think plain fabrics are much more stylish than flashy prints. I prefer picnics to wild parties. I like clearly defined instructions. I love one-on-one conversations.

I guess I’m a simple person at heart. If I could justify the expense, I would buy myself this product from Think Geek. It’s called the Useless Box. It’s plain, it’s simple, but it was obviously created by someone with a dry sense of humor. I think it’s delightful. It makes me laugh. And I know it always would. You can’t say that about too many things.

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