Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.


Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Invalid cookery and other culinary adventures

Hockeyman came home sniffling last night, and boom, over the barrel we go into winter cold land. He's sicker than I am. I think he's been awake two hours today, and it's almost one. But I suspect we'll both live.

I am making jook. Jook is Chinese rice porridge, also called congee. It is considered a breakfast or luncheon item by the Chinese. It's also a great thing to make when you or somebody you are fond of is under the weather.

The basic items for jook are water and rice. The idea is to allow the rice to cook for a long, long time, which releases its starches and creates a thick, comforting soup. From there you can add--or not--chicken, duck, or turkey. Scallions, ginger, and garlic are also nice (Garlic! I forgot the garlic. Excuse me a minute here...).

(Three cloves of garlic later...)

Where was I? Additions to jook. A splash of soy sauce. Lots of sesame oil, which cookbook writer Mollie Katzen says has a "deep, dark, initimable smell." (I can't find which book this quote comes from. Sorry, Mollie. Please don't sue me.) Also some chili oil, which will purge your body of congestive yucky stuff. Or at least that's what people here in California think.

Jook should cook for at least ninety minutes. On my stove, with raw chicken in the soup, I give it two to three hours on a low burner. Jook is a nice departure from chicken soup, easily digested, and nourishing.

And now, for the adventuresome part. I know you kind readers rely on me to enliven your lives with my exotic, Iron Chefesque cookery. I vow, even in the midst of my cold, not to let you down. Last night I prepared farro.

Farro is a grain. I've heard of it, even seen it in cunning little packages over in the expensive dried bean section at the market. But I never picked it up until reading Chez Panisse Vegetables, which has recipes for farro in soup and as a side dish. Alice Waters says it goes well with roasted meats, and who am I to argue with Alice? So when I saw the cunning little package at the market again last week, I bought it.

I prepared it used one cup of grain to four cups of liquid, in this case, chicken broth. I added thyme, garlic, shallot (in deference to H-man's onion aversion), a diced carrot, and a good handful of kosher salt. Initially it smelled bitter, almost burnt, and I worried that I paid more for looks than taste. But after an hour we had a pleasant side dish that tasted a lot like barley, only mellower. I will definitely add it to the starchy side dish brigade, which could use a little widening.

This concludes Tuesday's installment of BK's cooking adventures. With a sniffle and sneeze, I bid you adieu. Happy cooking.


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March 28, 2009 12:14 AM  

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