A Rainy Day to Kick-Start Our Blog

Welcome fellow vegetarians, broke college students, web-surfers who like to google spanish words, and anyone who adores a cynical carnivore:

In an attempt to have a fun summer in small-town Midcoast Maine (with limited job prospects, few friends at home, and two older brothers with busy Manhattan lives) after my sophomore year of college, I thought I would take full advantage of my wonderful relationship with my mother who just happens to be an amazing writer and cook.  We both love movies, and Julie and Julia has always been a favorite.  We were both eager to start SinPollo in hopes of further exploring vegetarian cooking.  But let me take a moment to introduce you to my father, Bill.  If you inquire of his opinion on vegetarian cooking, he thinks there are too many egos in the crowd…he likes to keep food (and his life) simple.  I love the guy, but can’t he just try something green without judgement?

It has been raining all day, and as much as I love summer salads, my mom and I decided to make an Indian mushroom dish (Mushrooms with Onion, Garlic, and Ginger) from Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cooking (given to us by our friend, Carol, as pre-blog inspiration) served on rice (a brown and wild mix) with a side salad.  My mom, Eliza, is currently giving the last stirs to the mushrooms and plating the rice, while I am finishing up this first exciting post! We just about ready to watch Julie and Julia and have our very first blog meal…

Follow SinPollo to follow the three-person saga of the ups-and-downs of vegetarian cooking and blogging!  We hope everyone is gearing up for a fun summer!

Buen provecho!


3/4 pound mushrooms, cleaned with a damp cloth and halved (we used baby portobellos, sliced and cooked a little longer before covering)

1-inch cube fresh ginger (we used frozen… I store it in the freezer in a baggie and don’t bother to peel it, if I’m going to grate it with a microplane)

6 cloves garlic (we used 3)

4 TB vegetable oil (we used olive)

1 onion, finely minced (we used a shallot)

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (we nixed this, good because we didn’t have any, and it was still spicy and lovely)

1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt


(Per usual, for me all measurements are very casual.  For instance, I don’t often use measuring spoons or cups… except when baking.  But not bread.)


Combine ginger and garlic in a small cup with 3 TB water.  Heat a pan, in our case a 12-inch everyday pan, then pour in the oil and heat that over medium-high flame.  Scrape in minced onion or shallot and fry until it starts to wilt and brown a little.  Add ginger/garlic paste and stir for another 2 minutes.  If the water dries out too quickly, just add a little more.  Add the turmeric and cayenne (if you use it).  Stir a bit more, then add the mushrooms, salt and about another 1/2 cup of water.  Stir and bring to a simmer, lower heat (keep stirring for a while, uncovered, if you used bellas), then cover and simmer for ten minutes or so.


This smells SO GOOD while it is cooking.  Then tastes even better.



Brown Rice:


I measure out the rice in whatever cup’s at hand (usually a tea cup from the cupboard next to the grains), pour it into a strainer, rinse a few times and leave in the sink to drain.  Over a ow flame, heat a heavy pot that will accommodate six times the raw amount, and pour in the damp rice into the hot pot.  Add some coarse sea salt… maybe a teaspoon per cup or raw rice.  Stir until it is fragrant and dry… you’ll know.  You just want to coax more flavor from the rice, lightly toast it but not brown it.  (It’s already brown!)  Measure out two cupfuls (same cup) of water (or vegetable stock), pour these onto the rice (it will sizzle) and then bring it to a boil over a higher flame.  Then cover, lower the flame all the way, and use a heat-diffuser (if you have and need one with your particular burner… we do, with gas) or not, and let the rice cook very slowly for about 50 minutes.  You can check it whenever you want… it won’t matter much if a little steam escapes, it’s not as fussy as white rice can be.  Be sure to taste some to make sure it’s cooked enough.  If not, and the pot is dry, just add more water and cook a little more.  Brown rice is resilient, sturdy and delicious.  Don’t believe the hype.


Jasmine Rice:


I’ve tried many different methods over the years, with varying and unpredictable degrees of success.  Bill has way better luck.  As he was on a business trip for this meal, I used the instructions in June 2012’s Bon Appetit, which worked very nicely for Jasmine, but were written for unconverted, long-grain white rice:


1.  Combine 1 cup rice, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/14 cups water in a 2-3 qt heavy saucepan.  Swirl pan to combine, but don’t stir (but i forgot and stirred… so I think it’s not the end of the rice world to do so, or maybe you get a few byes).  2.  Bring rice-and-water to boil.  Cover pot with tight-fitting lid and reduce heat to low, aiming for the barest simmer.  Cook, without uncovering the pot, for 18 minutes.  (I forgot to set the timer!  Once again, this seemed okay.  Often, though, this is calamity for rice.  Bill always remembers to set the timer.  This could reflect the difference in our success rates.)  3.  Remove pan from heat.  Uncover, place a folded kitchen towel over pan, replace lid.  Let rice stand as such for 10-15 minutes, to firm up.  4.  Remove lid and towel and fluff with a fork, then serve immediately.  This method produces rice that works well for rice salad… also Jasmine rice in particular is supposed to be a great salad-rice variety, as its grains tend to remain soft when chilled.  So it’s also good for rice puddings.


Wild Rice:


I searched the web for wild-rice-making methods.  I tried one from cooks.com.  The proportions were 2/3 cups wild rice to 21/2 cups water.  Maybe it’s just a matter of cooking with tons of water and draining off what you don’t need.  So, here’s another recipe but maybe wild rice is so sturdy you can just wing it.



Next time I will try this one, from www.mnwildrice.com, as it uses more water than the one above, and if the wild rice people can’t cook wild rice, who can?

Cooking Wild Rice Using the Stovetop Method

Wash 1 cup uncooked wild rice thoroughly. Add to 3 cups boiling water, salted to taste, in a heavy saucepan. Return water to boil and stir. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 50-60 minutes or just until kernals puff open. Uncover and fluff with table fork. Simmer five additional minutes. Drain any excess liquid. For chewier texture cook less time. Yield: 3-4 cups of cooked wild rice. (For additional flavor, try cooking in beef or chicken broth.)




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