Rebecca is my daughter. She’s a very good cook. While I couldn’t get her to chop an onion when she was growing up, she’s become a cook who tries everything now—successfully. She also is the Manager of The Good Cooking Store in our little Lancaster County town of Intercourse, PA. She taught Language Arts to middle-schoolers for 7 years. Now we benefit from all of her energy and good ideas. Don’t miss what she has to say!
Both of my grandmothers were organized. They knew how to keep a tidy house, get dinner (and often breakfast and lunch) on the table every day for their families, and how to host company. They made their guests feel welcome in their homes and provided them with scrumptious food. My mom inherited these skills. As a family we ate great food each night, and she also always puts out phenomenal meals for company.
While I’d consider myself organized and would put cooking meals for guests at the top of my favorites list, I wish I could be a bit more relaxed about it.
I keep a pretty tidy house myself, and between my husband, Rob, and me we cook dinner at home every night of the week but one. So I should be able to host on a moment’s notice, right? I’ve done it a good bit, so what’s my problem? Well, if only I could relax about how clean the house needs to be and what type of food I should make for the company.
I found a bit of a solution for creating a more relaxed atmosphere the other week. Our good friend is single, doesn’t cook much for himself, and likes to call without too much notice about when he’ll be stopping by. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy his company. Really, I do. But, I’m just not good with last-minute notice from a guest.
He’s really easy to please. He’s not picky when it comes to food, and I don’t think he even notices whether or not the house is completely picked up. So the other night he stopped over, and I didn’t have much food in the house. Rob eats a fair amount, and now I had another guy to feed.
What would be quick and filling? Fried rice. I always have rice, onions and garlic on hand. Eggs are a staple at our house, too, as are frozen peas. I had seen a recipe recently for vegetarian fried rice with tomatoes. I checked the fridge and happened to have a few tomatoes. So, I whipped up this impromptu dish, and they both gobbled it up.
So I learned two lessons that day. First, just keep learning to relax about hosting. Having people over is fun, and they probably don’t care if everything is perfect. Second, keep the pantry stocked with the basics so I can whip up something simple without much notice.
The next time I have a visitor stop by unexpectedly, I think I’ll try this dish.
Mexican Rice Skillet
Fix-It and Forget-It Vegetarian Cookbook, page 147
Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 60 minutes
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 cup uncooked brown rice
½ cup chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup cold water
½ tsp. salt
1 cup boiling water
1 ½ cups chopped red bell pepper
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
4 oz. sour cream
½ cup crushed tortilla chips
1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil.
2. Add rice and stir and toast 1-2 minutes.
3. Add onions, garlic, ½ cup cold water and salt.
4. Cook, stirring constantly, until water is absorbed.
5. Add boiling water, peppers and corn to pot.
6. Cover. Simmer 40 minutes, or until rice is tender.
7. Remove from heat.
8. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and allow cheese to melt.
9. Serve immediately. Garnish individual servings with sour cream and crushed tortilla chips.
• We like to eat this recipe with green beans or salad.