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A while ago a friend sent me a message on Facebook asking me to post more about cooking on my blog. Specifically cheap and easy cooking. So I was like “YES, I can totally do that!” It fits in with the theme of my blog (being both practical and functional to feed yourself in a simple and frugal manner :-p), plus I love cooking. So I got all excited and started planning out things to write about.
And that’s when I realized I don’t actually know anything about cheap cooking.
Like, I don’t know thing one about it. I know meat is fairly expensive and therefore using a lot of it is the opposite of cheap. But that’s about it.
I mean, I know a fair bit about cooking, sure. I know how to make a healthy, balanced meal (no really Mom, don’t give me that look. I said I know how to, not that I actually do it with any regularity!) I know a fair bit about easy meals to make that are totally delicious. I learned from the Italian side of my family to cook large quantities of delicious food with lots of meat and pasta in it. And though that may not be the most expensive way to feed yourself (ahem *cough cough* eating out every night), it sure isn’t particularly inexpensive either, what with all the meat.
But never fear, for JonMarke knows TONS of stuff about feeding yourself inexpensively! So he’s going to teach me to feed ourselves easily and cheaply, and in turn I’ll share what I learn with you!
Starting with rice.
Cuz JM says:
[quote]You can eat rice with anything and it’s cheap as dirt. Literally, as cheap as dirt. Or maybe cheaper.[/quote]
First things first, you have to make some rice. Rice is super simple to make, thus meeting the Easy qualification as well.
[quote]This is the ultimate dumb guy recipe. It is possible to ruin rice, but not if you do it this way![/quote]
JM’s Recipe For Steamed White Rice:
- 1 C white rice
- 2 C water
This recipe makes enough rice to feed two people. If you are feeding more than that just double or triple the amount of rice and water; all the steps stay the same.
JM says that Calrose rice is the best, so that’s what we use. But any white, long grain rice will work for this.
Put the dry rice into the bottom of a 3qt or 4qt pan. Pour the water in on top of it. Salt the water like you would salt water for boiling noodles (about 1/2 t of salt, the precise measurement isn’t too important). You don’t need to stir it or anything, just dump it all in a pan.
Turn the heat on medium and put a lid on it. The lid is important. Leave it on.
JM just left the kitchen at this point and went to sit at his computer. When I asked him “What do we do next? How long do we cook the rice for? How do we know when it’s boiling?”, he said this:
[quote]When it boils over I’ll go turn it down. I can hear it boil over from here, it’ll be fine.[/quote]
My husband, the master chef! Anyway, at this point, once the water boils you want to turn it down to a simmer, then simmer it for about ten minutes. If, like me, you’re not so sure about the wait-til-it-boils-over method, you can just check in every few minutes and turn it down to a simmer once it starts.
When I asked “How long do we cook it for?” he said:
[quote]Until all the water is gone. Then it’s done.[/quote]
Helpful. He’s so helpful. Given that there will be a thick layer of rice in the bottom of your pan (if you’ve done it right), I’m not sure you can actually tell just by looking when all the water is gone. I timed it and it was exactly ten minutes between when he turned it down to a simmer and when he deemed it “done”, so somewhere in there.
JM swears that it’s really hard to overcook rice. If it goes even 5 minutes too long it’s still going to be just fine. It only gets bad when it burns and sticks to the bottom of the pan, but you’ve gotta cook it like twice as long as you should in order to make that happen. And even then (your pot will be super sad, but) it’s just one layer of rice. Scoop the rest out, soak the pan in some nice hot water, and you’re good to go!
Basically you want there to be no obvious pools of water in the pot, but you want the rice to be thick and sticky looking. Kinda like this…
It’s hard to take good pictures of rice, but I promise it’s done, cooked, and delicious! There’s way too much white in there for the camera to be happy.
In JM’s own words:
[quote]In basically every culture in the entire world, there is a cheap starchy plant that serves as the backbone of that culture’s diet. (In the US, that would be corn. In the UK, it’s potatoes.)
The less extra money you have, the more your diet will consist of that plant. As far as I am aware, the cheapest food you can live on FOREVER is red beans and rice. If you ate only red beans and rice for the rest of your life, starting now, you would die of boredom instead of malnutrition.
I don’t particularly like red beans, but rice is delicious. It goes with everything. You can eat it for breakfast. You can make delicious, delicious pudding out of it. The number of dishes that I cook with rice is ridiculous. Every vegetable or meat I can think of is more delicious on a bed of rice (except maybe carrots). If you want to feed yourself for basically no money, rice will be your best friend.[/quote]
I dunno about you, but I think I’d gain a ton of weight too if I only ate red beans and rice, as well as being bored. 🙂
So there you go, the first in the Cheap And Easy Cooking series!
Now, it is important to note here, that this is the cheap and easy cooking series. Not the Healthy, Nutritious, and Balanced cooking series. Or the Eat This Every Day Because You’ll Save Tons Of Money cooking series. I’m sure you’re all aware, but I really don’t condone eating just rice all day every day. That would be bad. We’re just putting this out there because there is definitely something to be said for learning to feed yourself cheaply and easily. As long as you are also careful to be balanced and healthy as well. 🙂
You could always toss some broccoli in with your rice, then it counts as a vegetable!
If you want to see the rest of the Cheap And Easy Cooking posts, you can check them out here!
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