Kitchen disaster. . .
. . . but a happy, tasty ending.
I know I’m not dreaming though it’s the middle of the night or somewhere in the wee hours of the morning–I’ve come to the kitchen (without turning on the light) to get a drink of water. . . .
Cold draft? Really, really cold draft–on my ankles.
Reality gradually seeps into consciousness: I’m standing in front of the refrigerator–which has a bottom freezer, which I have stuffed pretty full.. . .
Light on. Obviously I’ve stuffed the freezer a little too full or something has fallen out of place. The freezer door is very slightly ajar. Even in my rather sleep-befuddled state, brain clicked on. Several epithets which should not be printed. Open freezer door and palpate the front packages: kale, butternut squash, chopped onions. Soft, but not obviously completely thawed, but destined to turn into a huge clump of re-frozen vegetables.The only meat even close was a game hen which was still hard as a rock.
I closed the freezer door and checked that it shut completely, and tightly. Back to bed, knowing that I would have to do something with those veggies in the morning. (The ice cream was far enough back and in a corner that it was still hard or I guess I’d have been compelled to eat it right then and there–hmmmmm, should I go do a careful check on the ice cream?)
Morning after: I’ve got work that that to be done NOW so spending a bunch of time in the kitchen or skulking through cookbooks isn’t on my agenda. It’s time for some improvisation: take chopped onions, chopped kale and cubed butternut squash. . . .add some bratwursts that are in the fridge. Add a portion of mixed grains (brown basmati rice, red rice, barley, rye berries) and one multipurpose rice cooker.
I’m sure you’re not surprised that I’d resort to the rice cooker, given all the other things I have it to cook. Once you understand the physics of its function, it’s really easy to make it do what you want. So here we go again with the rice cooker.
Kale, butternut squash with bratwurst
Cook’s note: first this is not a recipe–it’s an improvisational happening. Secondly, it’s recommended that you deliberately thaw the vegetables in the refrigerator or on the counter instead of the method described here if you wish to have them unfrozen. You can put frozen vegetables in the rice cooker without thawing unless you have a great big blob of frozen stuff. You can adjust the proportions of kale, onions, and squash as desired.
- one standard-sized package chopped kale, thawed
- one standard-sized package chopped onions, thawed
- one standard-sized package butternut squash, cubed
- 4 fresh bratwursts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2-1/2 cups water (or amount called for in the cooking instructions of your grain)
- dash of red pepper flakes
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of oregano or herb of choice
- add olive oil to rice cooker bowl
- add thawed onions and let sauté briefly
- push the onions to the sides of the rice cooker
- lay fresh sausages in a single layer and then redistribute the onions evenly over the bottom and partly over the sausages; they will brown lightly on the side in contact with the bottom of the rice cooker bowl
- add 1 cup of grains
- add kale and distribute evenly over grain and sausages
- add red pepper flakes and herbs
- add scant 2 cups of water; your rice cooker may need more or less, adjust as needed
- close rice cooker and leave until it switches to “warm” function
- stir contents (grains should be a bit underdone)
- add remaining water
- add butternut squash on top of greens, grain, and sausages
- close rice cooker and leave until it switches to “warm” function a second time
- check doneness of grain; if needed add a bit more water and wait again
- when grains are cooked as you like them, serve!
Despite the ridiculous circumstances that gave rise to this recipe, it was very tasty, and I’m sure some version of it will be made again. The combination of kale with the butternut squash was delightful. The combination of grains gives some interesting texture and flavor to the dish.
A son goût!