There are a lot of places in the world I haven’t traveled to; like, most of them. Being terrified of flying doesn’t help matters. My earliest memory is of running along the beach in Hawaii when I was three; I’ve been around the states a bit, including, unfortunately, Texas; Jay and I roadtripped up to British Columbia last fall; I spent a year living in Bologna, Italy, during my junior year at UCSC, which had been preceeded by the obligatory, drunken, post-high-school romp through western Europe. But that’s about it.
That doesn’t mean I don’t want to travel; au contraire, there are oodles of places I’m dying to visit. I’m just waiting for the right drugs (and the right sugar daddy.) Most of the places I would like to see fascinate me with either their politics (Sweden), music (Brazil), language (Japan), or food (Thailand).
At the risk of sounding like a bigoted ignoramus, China holds none of those interests for me (please wisen me up, china-lovers!) The language sounds akin to a keening animal (sorry, keening animals), the politics scare me (what little I know of them), the music doesn’t do it for me, and most of the ‘Chinese food’ I’ve had seemed cheap and greasy.
Enter Eliza’s, the best Chinese restaurant I’d ever been to, located a 10-minute walk away from our Potrero Hill apartment. In a disturbing trend here on the hill (and many other places as well, I reckon) the owners of the building jacked up the rent so high they forced this excellent restaurant, which had been an extremely successful staple here on the hill for 16 years, to close. Thankfully, their Pacific Heights location is still open, but we have yet to make the trek. (It’s certainly closer than going to China, however.)
Mine and Jay’s ritual, when returning from any trip, was to head straight to Eliza’s for bowls of heavenly hot and sour soup, an order of Buddha’s Delight, and heaps of brown rice. A lunch special would set you back no more than $6, and included a steaming bowl of soup, a plate piled high with the dish of your choice, and two gargantuan mounds of rice.Eliza’s food was always fresh and vibrant tasting, packed with colorful vegetables coated in a light nap of translucent sauce. The owner, Jan, would come to Farley’s Coffee everyday when I worked there as a barista. We treated her like a celebrity, comping her drinks, and in exchange she would often sit down with us at our table and force-feed us beers and sake shots until we could barely stagger home.
Certainly. One day Jay was pestering me to use up all the extra rice we had brought home from our most recent Eliza’s excursion. I considered making rice pudding, but the rice had a bit of savory-ness from canoodling with the erstwhile Kung Pao Veggie Tofu. So I looked up ‘rice’ in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and found ‘rice and eggs.’ She described what an easy and honest breakfast it made, but when I saw the outrageous amount of butter and cheese the recipe called for, I was truly convinced.
All of this is to say that making rice and eggs is a brilliant way to reconstitute leftover rice. It makes a comforting, nutritious breakfast and disguises eggs, which can seem unpalatable first thing in the morning (or afternoon, in my case) in a muddle of starchy, cheesy, buttery loveliness (which somehow always seems palatable).
Top with any seasonal vegetables, salsa, pesto, or condiments; my favorite being cilantro pesto, chunks of ripe avocado, extra cheese and some sauerkraut (which Jay makes; we put it on almost everything.) Cherry tomatoes make an excellent addition when in season.
Use any rice you like: short, medium or long-grain, brown, white, black, red, or even a wild rice blend. Brown, red and black rices may take more water, and the cooking time will be roughly double.
Makes 3-4 servings
1 cup uncooked rice, rinsed
2 cups water
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon butter, in small pieces
1 cup shredded melty cheese, such as jack, cheddar and/or goat gouda
toppings of your choice (see below)
Place the rice, water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer, cover and steam until the rice is tender and all the water has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Let stand off the heat 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
Break the eggs into a bowl and beat with 1/4 teaspoon salt until well combined. Pour the eggs over the rice and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. The eggs may cook from residual heat; if they are not done to your liking, turn the heat on low and continue to stir gently until they are set. Stir in the butter, then the cheese.