recipes, side dishes

RICE PILAF

RICE PILAF

Dearest Michael,

We are just coming off our weekend away celebrating your great grandfather’s 100th birthday. You are lucky. I am lucky. We are lucky. You got to go and witness along with all of your cousins spending that precious time together we don’t often get to have. A 100TH birthday celebration though warrants the excuse and with it is comes the joys and stark realities that this time like the many visits before could be the last one. This trip is humbling more than any before because even though 100 is a significant milestone, what lies behind is much more than what lies ahead. This is just simple math. I as your mother sit with a watchful eye and you as my son get to go back to your young life with the appreciation of the time you have had in your twenty young years.

This trip even though this is on Grandpa Dave’s side of the family, brings notice of Grandma Ann. Grandma Ann, your grandmother, my estranged mother by her choice is the only person besides dad’s siblings and direct relatives who would know Grandpa Herbie longer than we do. Because she got married to Grandpa Dave at the age you are now, she is in the seat of knowing grandpa for a little more than me and he knew her longer than I knew her again because of simple math.

This trip and the reflection of a life well lived has caused a stir in me that made me write a letter to Grandma while I was sunning at the beach on my last day in Florida. Life is short. Grandma’s hard to repair disconnect of us has caused harm in the way we all go forward in our family. Not for you and me. Not for you and me and Dad. But her purposeful detachment has forever changed the dynamic of a grandson and grandmother interact. This is sad as I think about all of the life events that lie ahead that she doesn’t get to share with her own daughter with you as our centerpiece. These are projections. Though, anything is possible and I hope the one thing I teach you is to never cut someone off, that part of the family history on Grandma Ann’s side is prevalent and it is not helpful to your soul. I hope that the lesson I teach you by reaching back out helps you know that there is always time when there is time.

I don’t think she ever really thought the ramifications through when she asked that I not contact her again, but as Grandpa Herbie would say, “Be that as it may.” She is still my mother, and with that comes my need to focus on all that was good. All that is good. And a majority of this goodness that surrounds me is the food conversation. The three women in my life who had the most food and kitchen influence on me were Grandma Kitsie, Grandma Belle and Grandma Ann. And as a result you get their influence. You can add to this Grandma Sandy and Dad with a capital D and there was no chance you would not appreciate and love all things food. One of my favorite go to recipes of Grandma Ann (and actually this was Grandma Kitsie’s recipe) was RICE PILAF. Not the kind you buy in a box, but like everything these women made, from scratch.

I loved this recipe and I made it a lot in my young married days. I am pretty sure Dad loved it and I hope you will too. I know mushrooms are not one of your favorite, but they add a great flavor to this. You can chop them fine if it is a texture thing. I suppose you could leave them out too, but they do add a wonderful flavor.

I LOVE YOU.

RICE PILAF

1 stick of good butter

2 cans of BEEF CONSOMME (I think College Inn or Campbells)

1 Cup of Uncle Bens Long Grain Rice

1 medium onion chopped fine

1 package of mushrooms sliced or diced to whatever size works for you.

Preheat oven to 375.

Using a covered Corning Ware dish, pour the consomme into a measuring cup and add enough water so you end up with 2 ¼ cups. (I think 2 cans may be a little shy or a little over, I can’t remember as I write this, regardless just make sure that the amount of liquid is total 2 ¼ cups.

Place uncovered into the oven while it is preheating and leave it there while you are preparing the rice.

In a good size sauté skillet, the big cast iron is a good one, melt butter on medium heat and add the cup of rice sautéing it until it is lightly golden.

Add chopped onion and mushrooms sautéing together until fragrant, about five minutes or so.

Take the consomme out of the oven and turn the oven down to 350.

Add rice mixture to consomme and stir lightly. Place back in oven covered for about 35 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

Stir before serving.