Saturday, May 28, 2005

Desperate Dinners

You know what I'm talking about. Everyone has at least one dish in their family that was the "I've got kids to feed, and nothing in the cupboards, and no cash till payday" dish. Of course, you didn't know that at the time, but that's what it was. Still have 'em, too. I just made one of them tonight, not because I'm on the verge of starvation, but because I had a Fiendish craving for some biscuits, and had no beef stew to put over them.

Mom's Old Fashioned Tuna Barf

Don't let the name put you off, or even the appearance of the finished product. It's really pretty good. Also, it's strangely comforting.

You will need:

1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 can tuna
1 small can peas (but leftovers from last night are just as fine, Frozen's best if you have 'em, but not authentic.)
1/2 soup can of milk

Empty the soup into a saucepan, mix with the 1/2 can milk. Now, if you're not resorting to desperate measures, throw in some hot sauce, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, dried mustard, and/or black pepper to make the soup "zippy" enough for you. (A few years ago, Campbells changed the formula for their cheese soup, and it's not like it was when I was a kid, but varying amounts of the aforementioned additives, specifically the R.W. vinegar, help)

When the soup's warmed up, add the tuna and peas, and heat through. If times are really desperate, serve over saltines. If you've got bread, spoon this over toast. If you're livin' high on the hog, make yourself some bisquick biscuits, split 'em, and put this over 'em.

I can't make this stuff too often, because I have the king of all carnivores (I swear, if he could have meat buns to put his hamburgers on, he'd be the happiest man alive) to cook for. Dad gets pissy if he doesn't get meat at least once a day. However, when I lived in Florida, I used to make this a lot.

Mmm. Rice.

You'll need

Chicken Broth
Rice. A short grain, like Valencia.
The amount of rice you'll use is dependent on how much chicken broth you have, and how many people you're feeding. About half as much rice as you have broth, when in doubt, err on the side of having more liquid than rice (feel free to fill in the gaps with water)
A dab of butter if you have it.

Put your rice in a saucepan with a lid, and add the chicken broth all at once. Cook until the rice is tender, but you still have a bit of soupy liquid (you may need to add more chicken broth or water to make sure it's sorta soup-ish)

If you're feeling especially sassy, you can sautee up a mess of spinach in some olive oil and garlic and put it on top of the rice. YUM.

Note: If you have a large Cuban or Caribbean population in your town, you'll have an easier time finding valencia rice. Sure, you could use Arborio, but I'm way too cheap to spend 4.50 on a jar of rice, when I can get a bag of valencia for around a dollar.

Of course, I can't FIND valencia rice here, because I'm in the land of the Amish. If you happen to have Valencia rice in your neighborhood grocery store, PLEASE email me at aurolyn AT gmail DOT com, and I will buy it from you.

Here's to not so desperate times, and eating well even when there's nothin' doin' in the cupboard.


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