Tag Archives: Brown Rice

Vegan…or Not

Brown Rice Bread Pudding
Tuscan Vegetables Stew
Sweet Potato Fries

“It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think yours is the only path.” Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

Coconut Brown Rice Pudding with Pomegranate Seeds (Vegan)
Coconut Brown Rice Pudding with Pomegranate Seeds (Vegan)

My muse has been running with vegetables…

…ever since I was planning for Jessica’s coming over to dinner last week.  

Vegan, really: no meat, no dairy, no fish, no eggs, just fruits and vegetables and nuts. No animal products.

Vegan Diet Rating

In this year’s  survey by US News and World Reports, the vegan diet ranks high for weigh-loss, diabetes, and heart-healthiness (#7, #4, and #6 respectively out of 38 diets), but not so great (#32) in the  category of Easiest Diets to Follow. Experts evaluated the diets on their eating flexibility and availability of ingredients.

No Imitations (Almost)

Tuscan Vegetables Stew (Vegan)
Tuscan Vegetables Stew (Vegan)

Generally, I’m not keen on processed food or imitation meat products (except that delicious soy chorizo, of course) .

I like to get down to the essence of the whole, fresh vegetable, not making it masquerade for anything. (I don’t mind if anyone else does — for instance, Jessica has recently found some imitation eggs that she says make great omelets.) 

My muse enjoys the challenge of finding a combination of ingredients that are genuinely themselves, within the constraints.

Sweet Potato Fries (vegan) with Pesto Eggplant (not vegan)
Sweet Potato Fries (vegan) with Pesto Eggplant (not vegan)

This week, it’s been vegan guidelines and healthier eating.

So, a dessert without eggs or dairy or simple carbs (Coconut Brown Rice Pudding).

A hearty stew without meat (Tuscan Vegetables Stew).

French fries with more fiber and less fat (Sweet Potato Fries).

Plato’s Pickles?

Years ago, when I was studying Plato, I’m sure I read that the need for political states (and warriors to protect them, guardians to direct them) arose from want of pickles… that itch to have just a little more, just a little spiciness, even one that didn’t grow in one’s own territory. I’ve been never been able to find that reference since, so maybe I dreamed it. But, there is something to it, how a little tweak can change things. 

When I came down to actually serving these perfectly vegan dishes, the muse had one more little whisper or two.

  • “How about a little dollop of Greek yoghurt on that bread pudding?”
  • “Little Italian meatballs or sausages would be great with that stew.”
  • “Those fries would be tasty dipped in a lemon-dill-yoghurt sauce.”

The pudding, the stew, and the fries recipes can be strictly vegan or, with sides and garnishes, more like the Flexitarian Diet

To me, the best “diet”, and easiest to follow, comes from Michael Pollan:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Coconut Brown Rice Pudding (Vegan)

This dessert brings a higher-fiber and a lower glycemic index than that made with white rice and refined sugar, without dairy or eggs. It has a nutty flavor from the brown rice and whole almonds, with a hint of Indian spices.

6 – 8 servings

Coconut Brown Rice Pudding with Pomegranate Seeds (Vegan)
Coconut Brown Rice Pudding with Pomegranate Seeds (Vegan)


  • 1 cup brown rice, thoroughly rinsed and drained
  • 1-14 oz can coconut cream
  • 1 1/2 cans (from the coconut cream) filtered water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup raw whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 7 dried apricots, small dice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation (Chef's hat)Preparation

1 – Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil over a medium high heat.

2 – Cover and reduce heat, but keeping a steady simmer, as indicated by the sound and a little steam escaping. Cook for 45 minutes.

3 – Turn off heat, but keep covered. Let stand for 10 minutes.

4 – Serve immediately, hot — it will still have a sauce with it. Or, let cool and refrigerate, which will let the rice absorb all the sauce so that it is firm and can be scooped into serving bowls.

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Stargazing (Chicken and Brown Rice)

Beautiful Stella: A beam in the dark. New star to steer by.

Deep black solemn eyes, Staring from infinity. Then! Starburst laughter.

Expressive fingers, Like Mama’s, like Grand Papa’s, But new, delicate.

She’s captivating: All eyes drawn to the presence We’ve long forgotten.

Moon, Jupiter, Venus over Geneva Lake
Moon, Jupiter, Venus over Geneva Lake




Six days on Geneva Lake in Wisconsin…



…with my cousins, Hope and Nancy, my sister Cynthia, her daughter Lynzi, and HER daughter, Stella. Nearly a week of reunion with family and friends in the place I lived as a child. Some I’ve not seen for more than 50 years — Gay and Sandy and Bruce. Others — Lynne and Harold — i’ve gotten to know only since living in California, yet they live 25 minutes from where I grew up.

I met Stella, not yet 2 years old, for the first time in person, although so familiar from pictures. My younger sister Cynthia is now “Nona” to her, the name we called our grandmother Marie — the middle name that strings together all three — Cynthia, Lynzi, and Stella — as well as our Mom. Lynzi, herself a girl when I last saw her, is now “Mama.”

A story week of generations and connections, laughter and recollections. Childhood stories, now told in maturity, are broader, deeper, kinder, more sympathetic, especially to our parents. Tales told of babies born and grown, neighbors now gone, and brothers who no longer speak.

I was 4 when we moved from Chicago to a little house in Indian Hills in Fontana, 12 when we moved back East. The back yard seemed a whole world then — big enough for a tree house, a swing, a campfire, a few rows of carrots and radishes and lettuce that got no bigger than my little finger before we ate them. Now the house seems tiny, the back yard tamed into lawn.

We talked and walked and drove about familiar neighborhoods, sparking more memories. We took the mail boat tour around the lake and heard more stories of those who been before, like Chief Big Foot and the Wrigley family, of houses that were built and burned down and re-built.

We cooked in sometimes (Quick Cheesy Dip, Risotto-Style Brown Rice, Sunny Mexican Chicken) and ate nostalgia other times – a burger at Gordy’s, a root beer float at the Surf Shack.

On the last night, we went to Williams Bay for a superb dinner at Cafe Calamari. Just before the short ribs were served, I looked out and saw the moon — that lady of change and regeneration who’d had been swelling all week, now high over Geneva Lake, with Venus and Jupiter dancing in the dark alongside her.

Have a beautiful and delicious day! - Barbara
Have a beautiful and delicious day! – Barbara
Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Risotto-Style Brown Rice

This is the basic recipe, based on proportions, so it is easily scaled up, varied with different vegetables. Besides, it makes it easy to cook, even if you can’t find the measuring cups or are out camping. Just use a coffee cup or small bowl for the measure. With enough vegetables, this makes a great vegan one-dish main course, not just a side dish. It takes a little time — first prep, then 50 minutes on the heat, 10 minutes to stand, but it’s easy!

Ingredients (Onion)


1 measure (for example, 1 cup) long grain (long-cooking)  brown rice

2 measures (same unit of volume as the rice, but doubled, for example, 2 cups) water or stock

1 – 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for 1 cup rice, more for larger quantities – enough to coat the bottom of the pan you are cooking in)

1 measure (same as rice volume) onion, small dice

1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste, based on overall quantity of rice and vegetables

1/2 measure carrots, small dice

1/2 measure celery or fennel, small dice

Optional: 1/2 measure other root vegetable(s), such as beets, turnips, rutabaga, etc.

Optional: 1/2 measure red or green or yellow or orange bell peppers

A few grinds of black pepper

Ingredients (Onion)Preparation

1 – Toss the brown rice into a strainer and give it a good rinse under running water. Let it drain while you get the vegetables started.

2 – Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium high heat until shimmering. You’ll need a lid later… I like using one that has a glass cover so I can see what the rice is doing later, but you can still have perfect rice if you measure accurately and follow these instructions.

3 – Add the onions and salt, sautéing and stirring a couple of minutes until translucent.

4 – Add the celery or fennel, carrots, and other root vegetables, sautéing and stirring 3 – 4 minutes until starting to be tender.

5 – Add the rice, stirring well, and sauté for 1 minute.

6 – Add the water or stock. Stir well with the vegetables, and bring to a boil for 1 minute.

7 – Cover, reduce heat to medium low or whatever setting keeps it at a gentle simmer that you can see and hear, but without a heavy boil.

8 – Simmer for 50 minutes — without removing the lid. Have a listen/look every now and then to make sure it is still simmering.

9 – Turn off heat — but don’t remove lid — and let stand for at least 10 minutes so that the rice is really soft, not crunchy.

10 – Remove lid, give the rice a fluff with a fork. If there’s still a little water left in the bottom, you can drain it off using a strainer or by serving it with a slotted spoon.

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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