I have two treasures to share with you today. Three, if you count Penny. And four, if you count the recipe. But we'll focus on the two big'uns. Their names are Betty and Kate.
I rescued this ancient lady from a thrift store over the weekend. Published in 1954 and written (with Ms. Kiene's help) by Betty Furness, this sunny relic of kitchens past is "dedicated to you, a busy homemaker who gladly prepares three meals a day for your family, and who delights in doing it." Hoo boy.
As an unmarried, childless young professional (if you can call what I do "professional," xoxo), I don't believe Betty was speaking to me - but her book does. I hoarde vintage cookbooks, despite their love of overcooking, under- and over-seasoning, vegetable shortening, and MSG. There are real gems in those pages, amid the recipes for "Vegetable Scrapple" (calling for one onion, one carrot, corn mush, peanut butter, and two teaspoons of salt) and this interesting take on gnocchi:
1/2 cup quick-cooking rice cereal
3 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup margarine
1 egg, beaten
Cook cereal in salted water for 5 minutes; add egg and margarine. Pour into greased pan and allow to chill thoroughly. Cut into squares, cover with cheese sauce (optional), and broil for 5 minutes or until browned.
I poke fun, but in honesty, I do treasure these old recipes - not least of all for their insight into the evolution of the home cook. To all of the critics of the American food culture, I say, go get you one of these heirloom books and read up; we've come a long way, baby. We have a long way to go, but thanks are due to gals like Betty for inspiring us to continue down the road.
And hey, speaking of inspiration - have you given Yinzpiration a read yet? You've gotta go meet my friend Kate. You'll love her, as well as all of the new friends she's making over there.
This is Kate (with our friend Penny - special thanks to Daffodil Vintage for the photo!). We've known each other for a few years, but only peripherally. Scott and I recently had Kate and her husband over for a night of Asian food and Californian wine, and let me tell you - she's a hoot. She also makes a wonderful dinner guest, and if she at all minded that one of my dogs was being a rude little ass, she graciously pretended not to mind.
Kate's 'blog is the written account of her adventures in meeting and sharing a cup of coffee with 100 different Pittsburgh locals, at the rate of about one a week. They're all just regular ol' Pittsburghlars, but each of them is uniquely intriguing. I recommend that you have a bowl of the rice below and enjoy it while catching up on Kate's interviews; there are ten, at the time of this posting. You might meet someone fun over there - hell, you might even see a familiar face, and learn something fresh about them. Kudos today to Kate and Betty, for reminding me to see the new in the old.
Bacon & Egg Fried Rice
After that (I'm so sorry, Betty) truly terrifying rice-based gnocchi recipe I just shared with you, rice-redemption seems in order. This is an original recipe of mine, for one of the dishes that I made for Kate and Nik when they came to dinner last week. This makes a lot, which is great; the leftovers are fantastic.
5 cups uncooked jasmine rice
6 slices thick-cut peppered bacon (about 1/2 pound, unsliced), chopped
2 tablespoons freshly minced ginger (now being locally grown by Pittsburgh farmers - amazing!)
2 large eggs (local! local! local!)
1 large bunch scallions (what is that, like a 1/4 pound? I'm a hack), sliced (green parts only)
1 tablespoon sriracha hot pepper sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons ponzu sauce
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon key lime juice
Prepare the rice according to directions, or your most tried-and-trusted method. I use a rice cooker, because it does a better job than I do. For this particular preparation, it is important to rinse the rice before cooking to get rid of excess starch - this keeps the rice from sticking too much later, and makes tossing and stir-frying much easier. Set cooked rice aside and keep warm.
Drizzle a small bit of oil or butter into a omelet pan set over medium heat. Add beaten eggs and scramble gently, taking care not to overcook. Remove from pan once cooked through, and set aside.
In a large wok (and I mean large - this makes a lot of rice; I use a big pot most of the time, actually), begin to fry the chopped raw bacon over medium heat. Stir occasionally, rendering as much fat as possible from the bacon without burning it. Once bacon bits are crisped and a good amount of fat has cooked out (8-10 minutes), lower the heat and add the minced ginger. Saute until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add sriracha, soy, and ponzu sauces, as well as lime juice and sesame oil, and stir to combine. Raise heat to high, and add rice. Stir-fry quickly, taking care not to burn your rice and not to make a gigantic mess of your stovetop. Once the rice has been thoroughly combined with the oil, remove from heat.
Toss in scrambled egg and scallions, ensuring that every delicious bite has some bacon, egg, and onion.
Enjoy with chopsticks, if you've got the skill.