Two meals so decidedly simple. So perfectly...perfect. Both take about half an hour, and sometimes less. Both will have you dreaming of a white Christmas, fires in the fireplace, and mugs of herbal tea and hot chocolate. And Hawaii.
Well, let me explain.
I spent my first year of college at BYU-Hawaii. It was lovely. I studied on the beach. I scuba dived. Dove. I went scuba diving. I lived with nine girls. I ruined chocolate chip cookies.
I made chicken curry with my best friend, Coby. It was a Sunday tradition.
It is easier than pie, which is actually quite difficult, is cheap, and is yummy.
Root veggies in a pot. I always start with onions and garlic in olive oil. It makes the house smell lovely. I add a couple of stalks of celery, a couple of carrots, and some potatoes.
So many good things begin this way. Pantry Stew, Curry, Clam Chowder...
Next, brown some sort of meat with the onions. Stew meat, lamb, chicken...whatever you have or makes you happy. Ree would say, "whatever makes your skirt fly up". I love Ree.
I add enough water to barely come to the top of the veggies. Simmer until the veggies are just tender. It takes about 10 or 15 minutes. Then I add a very secret ingredient.
Speaking of skirts flying up. Stir in this stuff until it melts, and simmer for 10 or 15 minutes. It will thicken up.
Serve over a bed of rice. Think of middle eastern spice markets.
Don't go away just yet. We aren't quite finished.
Remember that part in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory...the new one...where they are eating cabbage soup and are sad about it? Yah, they're idiots.
I have a good friend...a book, to be precise. I eyed my mom's, which was losing it's cover and looked like it was three hundred and fifty years old. Knowing me well enough to know that I am not above stealing from my own mother, she got me my own.
She is a smart woman. This cookbook is from the 40's. It includes recipes for rabbit, squirrel, and other small game. It never calls for "a can of..." or "a package of...". It assumes that you have to make what you eat...it is unfamiliar with the center isles of the grocery store. It harks back to a simpler time. I love its naivete.
As you can see, it starts with two tablespoons of butter, melted in a saucepan. Add 1/4 cup of chopped onions (I usually just add half of a medium onion) and saute until tender. Add 1/4 cup of raw rice, 1 quart of water, four bullion cubes (or four cups of chicken broth), and 1/2 tsp of salt. Simmer it all together for 15 minutes, covered.
Add and 2 and 1/2 cups of finely sliced cabbage.
It came right out of my garden. Full of vitamin C and mellow goodness.
Simmer another five minutes. Now get ready for the best part.
We use nothing but the finest in this house. Dish up the soup. Sprinkle it with shredded cheddar, and top with a bit of paprika. Sometimes I add a bit more rice (if you do this, add more water proportionally) and a bit more cabbage than the recipe calls for, but it is heavenly right out of the book. Talk about comfort food.
Now excuse me while I go turn up the heat.