|Down the Hill|
For the time being though, the last walk has been something to endure. The boys have started asking to ride their bikes wherever they're going. It's a very sensible suggestion, except that they need some practice before the bikes become fast than walking. Younger son and I left a bit early to pick older son up from school so the walking bike could get a workout. By the time we were on the downhill toward home he was gliding farther and faster than he ever had before and I see many more trips on that bike for him during Lent.
One of the consequences of walking is that we take longer to get home, especially when we have to stop at playgrounds on the way home, and then I'm tired and don't want to do anything elaborate for dinner. Obviously I'm a huge fan of beans and rice, but we've done some variation of tex-mex black beans an outrageous number of times in the last week. The menfolk may not get tired of it, but I do, so I force them to eat other things.
In the course of searching for a new, bigger rice cooker to replace the wonderful but will soon be too small rice cooker I discovered that you can cook soaked beans in your rice cooker. My head almost exploded. Beans! In the rice cooker! I know you can do beans in the crock pot. I do beans in the crock pot frequently. But a crock pot needs to be fairly full to achieve "slow." If I'm making enough for a crowd, or I'm making enough for leftovers, then the crock pot is perfect. But sometimes I just want enough for the family meal and maybe one lunch. My rice cooker doesn't care how much I'm cooking.
I thought I would ease into this radical concept of cooking beans in the rice cooker by cooking lentils. Lentils are small and cook quickly with no soaking at all. It's almost cheating. I put the lentils and rice in the rice cooker, set the timer and forgot about it. At dinner time I cooked an onion with some spices, mixed it in with the cooked lentils and rice and it was dinner! Two of us were pleased and two of us admitted that it was an adequate dinner. I'm calling it a win.
For reasons known only to the gods of rice cookers, a rice-cooker cup is 3/4 of a regular cooking cup. I know this is terribly confusing. The point is that you can measure the lentils the same way you measure the rice and it will all work out. If you still have the measuring cup that came with your rice cooker, use that. If you don't, just just 3/4 of a regular cup.
Rice Cooker Lentils and Rice
1 1/2 rice-cooker cups lentils, rinsed, stones and discolored lentils removed.
1 1/2 rice-cooker cups brown rice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter (or use just olive oil for a vegan dish)
1 small white onion
2 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon garam masala (I use a salt-free blend)
1 teaspoon salt
Up to several hours ahead, measure the lentils and rice into the bowl of your rice cooker. Add water up to the three mark for white rice. Place the bowl into the rice cooker and set the time for your desired dinner time. If your cooker doesn't have a timer, just turn it on and allow the cooker to keep it warm until you're ready to eat. (I'm told that in Japanese households they make a big pot of rice in the morning and keep it hot all day, so your food will be fine for a few hours.)
Fifteen minutes before you're ready to eat, place a skillet over medium heat. Dice a small white onion and finely mince two cloves of garlic. When the skillet is hot, add the oil and butter. When the butter is melted (or if using oil only, when the oil begins to shimmer) add the onion to the skillet and cook until softened, about five minutes. Add the garlic, garam masala and salt. Stir until fragrant. Remove from heat. In a medium bowl (or in the rice cooker bowl if you have room) combine the lentils and rice with the onion mixture. Makes a lovely simple supper or a hearty side.