Cold summer nights

Ernie summed up the frustration of many a San Franciscan on the way to school this morning: “Mama,” he asked, “why are these summer days so cold? Summer days are supposed to be hot.”

And yet they are not.

It’s dreary and cold, the middle of summer, and our cupboard is overrun with rice. Yes, that’s right: rice. I agree it is a better problem to have than being overrun with mice, but it’s ridiculous:

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And this is after I pulled out six (6!) 1-lb.bags of Minnesota wild rice because it was just embarrassing. My dashing husband asked how it could have happened. I had no clear answer. Yes, there was a rice story for Sunset. Yes, some of the above was given/sent to me by rice growers. But still. How does a person end up with three bags of “forbidden rice”? How much risotto do I think I’m going to make? Why a 5-lb. bag? I hope it was on super-sale.

So I let Ernie pick out the rice we would have for dinner and got to work. Something warming and yet summery. I didn’t hit it perfectly, but we were all surprised by how delicious everything was together.

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Some small white beans cooked in a broth of onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and peppercorns until tender, heat turned off, generous salt added, and allowed to cool in their broth until drained and sauteed in olive oil with garlic, red chile flakes, and parsley. I cooked the “wild rice” (I used some of the cultivated California stuff infecting my cupboard) with onion and celery and used the bean broth as the liquid. A handful of chopped walnuts thrown in at the end highlighted the nutty taste and texture. I will say this: California “wild rice” always seems to take about a thousand years to cook and it goes from underdone to overdone in about a second. If you’ve never had it, track down some of the real stuff. The kind that grows in rivers and marshes in Minnesota and Canada. You’ll never look back.

So now we’re warm and cozy, so we can stand a bit of summery “health salad” of chopped cucumber (garden and Armenian), red onion, and tomato. I used the red brandywines we got from the farm this week. They’re perfect for salads–firm enough to stand up to being dressed a bit. I also used some red wine vinegar I’ve been making. More on that later….

And I’m sorry for all that rhyming above. I don’t know what got into me.