FOOD! This challenge made me smile when I read it this morning. I think a lot about food and creativity; as an artist I often feel so insecure about my creative abilities, but put me in a kitchen and I am confident, comfortable and happy to experiment and fail. How do I find that confidence in the rest of my creative work?
My mum is from Malaysia, where food is a MASSIVE part of the culture. To the point where it's an accepted greeting to ask "have you eaten?" when you meet a friend in the street, where elsewhere people might ask "how are you?". So a part of why I smiled this morning reading the challenge was that I didn't know where to begin with recipes...
As it turns out, I've done a lot of cooking today, because I am visiting friends tomorrow who have a new baby, and I want to bring something to stock their freezer. I've made a chicken curry and I've also made some dal, and I shared some of the latter for dinner with some friends who needed a bed tonight. But I'm going to talk about rice, because rice is the bedrock of my food culture. I remember at one point in my childhood, my mum stored the giant sack of rice she would buy in a bin that looked like a small oil drum. We ate a lot of rice.
I make my rice in this vintage rice cooker, which was a wedding gift to my mum in 1971. She brought it to me in her hand luggage on a visit from Malaysia, because I mentioned casually that I was thinking of buying a rice cooker. It could provide hot rice for twenty, no problem. I feel like I've got a proper chinese kitchen now that I have a rice cooker.
We've been buying a nice brand of Korean rice - lovely plump short grains, that clump together pleasingly so we can eat our rice with chopsticks. I mean, there is a time and place for basmati and other long grain rice, but it is not the rice I was raised on.
Tonight I used two mugfuls, to feed three of us and still have some leftover for fried rice another day. I washed the rice in the bowl of the rice cooker, rinsing it three times until the water started to run clear. I saved the rice water and watered my houseplants with it, as my mum does. I added water to the rice for cooking at a ratio of two mugs of water to one mug of rice. I also added a knob of butter, which is not something my mum would do, but I think it helps prevent the rice sticking to the bottom of the pot.
I put the lid on the rice cooker, plug it in and press down the button. Then I open a window in the kitchen, because otherwise the room fills with steam and I let the rice cooker work its magic.