Sunday, January 3, 2010

From the Whatever Files

I’m not what you would call a cook. I have a sister who with one day’s notice could turn out a five-star dinner for royalty and not even wrinkle her apron. But she’s a natural. As for little brother, I can cook for friends once in a while, managing half the time to elicit a couple of, “Hey, this is good,” comments. When the schedule allows and there’s no pressure, banging the pots and pans around and stirring up something on the stove is a job I don’t mind doing as long as the menu is uncomplicated. Forget about making bread and baking pies, that sort of thing. Keep it simple and I can make a few basic recipes that most of time come to the table tasting pretty good, at least.

For a couple of years I’ve been making an odd kind of pilaf, or rice stir-fry that has over time evolved to a level where I don’t mind offering it to friends, or sharing the ‘recipe,’ which is one made up by me start to finish. It probably won’t work for you if you prefer a meal with a lot of meat, but if you like rice, and you like beans, and a little bit of ground beef, then this recipe below might be a tasty change for you and your friends or family.

For lack of a name, let’s just call it the HEALTHY PILAF.


(Use your own judgement; balance amounts according to the number of people.)

Brown rice - one cup serves maybe three people

Chopped onion

Chopped green pepper - red or yellow also good (adds color)

Handful of Chinese snow peas

Handful of pistachio nuts

A little over 50 grams of ground beef (1 to 2 ounces)

Cup and a half of cooked soy beans

Half an avocado

Big handful of herb greens

Two or three olives for garnishing


I cook this in a wok, because it gives you room to stir and toss the ingredients well. First, sauté the ground beef in the wok until it is still pink but beginning to brown. Toss in the chopped onion and pepper, along with the trimmed snow peas. For now, that’s all you want in the wok. Watch it carefully as you stir, as you don’t want to overcook the vegetables. Two or three minutes should do the trick, then turn off the fire under the wok.

In a large bowl mix the cooked rice with the soy beans. Give it a good stir. Add the rice & bean mix to the wok and stir everything together well. Shell the pistachio nuts and be sure to rub off the loose husks well with your fingers. Add the nuts to the mix in the wok, stir them in a little. Cut the avocado half into four parts, peel them and then cut the avocado into bite-sized pieces and add it to the rice mixture. Stir the avocado in carefully, because you don’t want to mash it. By now the whole mixture should be cool enough to add the herb greens without them wilting with heat. Again, toss the mix well until the greens are well integrated. You don’t want the greens to wilt, so don’t overdo it.

Put the whole thing in a serving bowl (a wooden salad bowl works well) and garnish with chopped olives with pimento.

And as Julia Child used to say, “Bon Appetite!”

1 comment:

  1. Great blog and beautifully laid out pictures. Being the "sister" that loves to cook, I approve totally with your description of your recipe and the directions. Easy to follow and written so that one who loves to cook feels you have "painted a picture" with your article.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America