When we can, we eat dinner together as a family. The number varies with the addition of guests stopping by a supper time and the subtraction of our son away at college, but the plates and napkins, flatware and fruit bowl centerpiece are a constant – except for the exceptions. On those nights when everyone is a little distracted and the schedule is off and it’s just us – we have computer dinner.
Computer dinner requires something fast and easy to prepare and clean up. If there’s going to be an informal dinner it should also be a break for the cook. Tonight I chose our vegetarian version of Spanish Rice. Brace yourself, this is a narrative recipe:
To serve about 3
Make about 2 C of white rice. I use a rice cooker. I find that brown rice turns an unfortunate color when you add the tomatoes, but maybe that’s just me.
Add 2 Tbs olive oil to a large frying pan and saute 1/2 a large onion, 1/2 C celery and, if your household considers bacon to be a vegetable, about 1/4 C chopped bacon slices. Um, we’re Baconarians? Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is browned. Stir in 1/2 tsp cumin (optional). Add 1/4 C white wine and deglace. Add the rice and mash around with the back of a wooden spoon until it incorporates the olive oil and veggies, then add a can of Ro*Tel, and a small can of kidney beans. Lower heat and cook for a few minutes until every thing is heated through. Add salt if you didn’t use bacon. We like to grate a little cheddar cheese over the top, and serve with green salad and corn tortilla strips. I have been known to squeeze a lime wedge over the whole mess, when I had one handy.
This is a dependable, easy meal that won’t spill all over anyone’s keyboard. For maximum effect, make sure you’re all in the same room so you can share random tidbits of information (hello, Joshua Slocum’s entry on Wikipedia) or listen to your son strategize with four of his closest long-distance best friends.
These are the best of times.