Chinese Food Addiction & Foolproof Brown Rice

I have a serious Chinese food addiction.  If I am too tired to cook and there aren’t enough leftovers for two, I will almost always suggest Chinese food.  It’s almost a shame how predictable I am.  This recipe was born of simple desperation.  The first time I made it, the hubs was out doing grad school stuff.  I had already started feeding the kid before I realized I didn’t have anything already ready to eat.  The kid was really little at the time and I was too tired to pack him up to go pick up Chinese and I didn’t have any cash on me so… no delivery.  I had Japanese eggplant in the house and that’s about it.  So, I figured I’d try and make my favorite Chinese food dish. If it didn’t work… no harm, no foul. No one had to know but me. BTW: This also works with any other kind of eggplant, just cut in pieces about 1.5″ x 1.5″ and if you are so inclined, peel the eggplant.

The rice is another story. I have searched the internet for directions on how to cook brown rice. I’ve tried just about every method I’ve seen. The rice has almost always been either underdone and crunchy or overdone and mushy. As it turns out, my dad’s foolproof method for making white rice works wonders on brown rice as long as you the change the rice:water ratio to work with brown rice.

Eggplant in Garlic Sauce w/ Foolproof Brown Rice

Brown Rice:
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
2 cups brown rice
4-1/2 cups water

Heat 1-quart sauce pan over medium heat. When water droplets curl into a ball and skate over the surface of the pan, add the oil and the rice.  Toss the rice in the oil to coat.  Add the salt.  Add the water.  Let the water come to a boil. Let it keep boiling until the top of the water is about 1/8″ below the rice layer. Stir the rice once and put the cover on the pan. Turn off the heat under the rice and let it sit for at least 15 minutes.

Eggplant:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 pounds Japanese eggplant (slice in half and cut in half moons)
3 large cloves garlic, minced or grated fine
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp chinese five spice powder
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

In a medium hot skillet, add olive oil, eggplant, garlic, hoisin sauce, chinese five spice powder, soy sauce, black pepper, sweet chili sauce, and red pepper flakes. Move the eggplant around the pan until it is coated with hoisin sauce. After about 5-8 minutes or when the eggplant looks like it’s starting to wilt, cover the pan and turn the heat down to low. It will be ready when the rice is ready.

Cereal Envy

I make steel cut oats cereal for myself pretty much every morning.  I was eating my cereal this morning and realized I need to draw a line in the sand on this one.  Every couple days, I make food for the kid and package it up in 4 ounce jelly jars.  Back Story: I searched high and low for food containers for the kid and the jelly jars were FAR less expensive than the other glass baby food containers I found on the market.   At any given time, I can have up to 20 containers on rotation with food since he goes through 4-5 containers a day and I couldn’t fathom paying $10 and up for one container so I ended up with the standard jelly jars with the plastic freezer covers and when he’s done with them, I can force myself to figure out how to make jelly.  Back to the cereal envy: I make cereal as one of the kid’s 4 meals a day.  Somehow, my cereal needs serious help with dried cranberries and honey and a pinch of salt and milk to make it taste palatable.  The kid’s cereal on the other hand has two basic ingredients and still tastes better than mine.  I think I’m going to have to start making his cereal for myself.

His cereal is just any grain I have in the cupboards (I’ve done: oats, millet, barley, buckwheat, quinoa flour, amaranth  & brown rice) ground fine in the blender (I’ll go into my VitaMix obsession another time) and any mix of fresh cookable fruit (apples, bananas, nectarines, peaches, pears, mango, etc.) or frozen blueberries.  I just put 1 cup of water and about 2 cups of chopped (skinless) fruit on the stove on medium to start boiling.  Then, when it is at a boil, I whisk the fruit and water in the pan while sprinkling in the cereal so there aren’t any clumps.  I cover it, turn off the burner underneath the pan and leave it to cook through.  I usually start doing other stuff and just get back to it when I remember it, so that probably takes about 10-15 minutes.  When it looks done, I get out the potato masher and mash all the fruit so the pieces are small enough for the kid and if I need to stretch it a little, I’ll add coconut milk.  If I add too much coconut milk, I just stir it until the liquid evaporates and the whole thing tightens up a bit.  I package them up into his little jars and toss them in the fridge.  His cereal tastes amazing, so I have been known to stand at the stove cleaning out any remainder from the pot.

Why have I been adding all the stuff to mine all this time?