Beanz n Rice

Spring is clearly not even here. The sun pokes his head out for a few hours in the morning, just enough to coax me out of bed with the promise of warm breezes and something that might (possibly, eventually, one day) begin to resemble a tan, then buggers off before I've even finished drinking my coffee - the bastard. 

Anyhoo, when its cold and rainy make hot beans and rice with chilli and curse the clouds and rain and the low pressure systems that made them!

This is a laaaazy meal. But that's kind of nice really. 

Alright. So chop up a brown onion, fry it in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil. Once it's nice and brown, add a can of red kidney beans. Chuck in some crushed garlic (~3 cloves), and then add a tin of tomatoes. Stir it all up, add some salt and pepper and let it simmer for a while. For flavour, add whatever you like from this list:

Bay leaves, fresh thyme, fresh chilli, lemon juice, fresh marjoram (I added them all...because they were in my garden and I didn't want to appear overly exclusive)

While you're doing all that, have your rice on to cook. I only learned how to make rice about 6 months ago, and think I only mastered it properly about... 1 month ago. Now I have a Rice-Feeling, which is a bit like a bubble-bath-feeling (when you know how to run it so it's just the right temperature and almost overflowing with bubbles). I like my Rice-Feeling, it makes me feel masterful! You can acquire it too, follow this handy guide about 15-20 times, and then lo and behold you'll get The Feeling! I think people get cake-feelings where they just know how much flour and sugar to put into cakes and they can make amazing made-up cakes by hand. I might start trying to acquire a cake feeling. Anyway, here's the rice cheat sheet to use until your Rice-Feeling emerges:

  • Use ~1/2 cup of rice for 1-2 people. 
  • Once you've got it in the sauce pan (with a pinch of salt), fill it with water to cover the rice. Put your index finger on the top of the rice. You want the water level to rise about 1 finger-segment above the rice (you know what I mean by finger-segment?!). Obviously this measure is rough and varies depending on how much rice you're cooking, but once you've got The Feeling you'll be able to deviate from it and it should be ok!
  • Now, put the pan on high heat until the water boils. 
  • As soon as the water's boiling (like, proper bubbles boiling), stick a lid on the pot and turn it down to a simmer for 7 MINUTES. Don't stir it or touch it or anything, just watch it.. avidly. It should have little potholes in the surface from where the steam has bubbled up.
  • Once the 7 minutes are up, turn the heat off, and let the pot sit (still covered) for another 7 minutes. 
  • Voila! If all's gone to plan the rice should've absorbed all the water and should be not too soft or sticky, not too dry or chewy.
  • If it's soft and sticky, I'm sorry, your Rice-Feeling is still a little way off (but you could probably use it for some yummy sushi!).
  • If there's still water in the bottom of the pot and the rice is cooked, you can quickly cook off the water by stirring the pot on the stove with the lid off. 
  • If it's dry and chewy just add a little water and tinker! 

Also, If you want you can soup-up the rice by cooking it with a few cardamom pods, some roughly crushed garlic cloves or some saffron and butter. 

Now you've got your rice and your beans, chuck them in a bowl and eat them under a blanket while playing Mungo Jerry and waiting for the sun to come back!

Casey Lister