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a yummy substitute for maccas: aromatic rice with bacon

EasyTomatoRiceSoup
‘[There is] a recent trend towards high quality meals that don’t even need a frying pan, but simply require heating.’– John Newton, 1999

‘Cooking … is a process – a source of pleasure, a means of exercising skill – not simply a collection of ingredients or “tastes” ’– Jean Duruz, 2000

In my first year of university, my sociology professor taught me about the perception of time as a commodity. Time was a thing to be used economically – to take less time than necessary to perform a task was perceived as efficient and good thing to do. Time became a social construct, as evidenced in many conversations with fellow undergraduates: ‘Sweet mother of God, I barely have time to study, let alone sleep’. Time was not limitless. It was, in fact, very limited, and there was never enough of it to do anything properly or at a pace that wasn’t completely frantic.

This perception is not unique to university students. Most people view their lives as needing to be compartmentalised with specific units of time. Certain activities are allotted more time. Furthermore, other activities never seem to be given enough (no matter how much time I devoted to study it never felt like it was enough). Hence the appeal to people of all lifestyles of cookbooks with titles such as “No Time to Cook” (Donna Hay, 2008).

Personally, I think this is all very sad. First, because learning to cook for oneself is immensely rewarding. The first time I cooked for myself successfully invoked a, ‘I’m really becoming an adult’ moment. I was no longer reliant on my mother to provide me basic nourishment; in fact, I could provide it for her on occasion.

Second, sitting down to a delicious meal is not necessarily a means to an end but a means in itself. The whole process involves procuring (or even growing) the optimal ingredients, preparing them in clever and resourceful ways, and throwing oneself into the sensory delights of smelling, tasting and touching. I’m not saying I don’t order takeaway, I most definitely do, but I would never want my culinary skills to diminish due to constantly ordering in. No matter how busy I become with conflicting deadlines, multiple jobs, studies, I will always make time for cooking.

The following recipe for Aromatic Rice with Bacon is an excellent one for those who are “time poor”. It’s simple, delicious and requires a long time to sit and simmer therefore freeing the cook up for time to go study or have a glass of wine. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Olive oil
4 rashers of bacon, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 brown onion, diced
3 stalks of celery, chopped
3 little red chillies, chopped
2 cups brown rice
1 litre chicken stock
1 tin tomatoes, diced (extra pulpy ones are good)
2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 tsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

Method:

1. Heat a splash of olive oil in large fry-pan and add the onion. Cook for 10 minutes until coloured. Add the bacon and cook for a further five minutes. Add the garlic and celery and cook for a further two minutes.

2. Add the rice to the pan and stir until rice is well mixed for two minutes. Add the tomatoes and chillies and stir well. Add the stock and fresh herbs and bring to the boil.

3. Cover and let simmer for 50 minutes (brown rice takes a little longer than white rice to cook and may still taste undercooked if one is not used to its crunchy texture).

Serve with a leafy green salad.

Serves 4 with leftovers

This recipe was inspired by Robyn Donald’s recipe for Spanish Rice, Sizzle, Seduce and Simmer, Marion Lennox, 2007

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