What To Do With the Wild Rice

Last week I was thinking about the warmer days ahead as I took a jar of wild rice from the cabinet. While pondering how to cook it, I looked at the pattern the grains made against the glass. Indecisive about the dinner plan my mind began to wander. I imagined myself in northern Wisconsin.

I was paddling down a calm blue ribbon of water on my way to the flooded fields of Manoomin. Clouds were rolling across the sky and the water beside the boat. Birds were singing from the eves of the trees along the shore.

Leaving the channel, I glided into the tall blades of green under the warm sun. I harvested their bounty of wild rice as I drifted through the marsh and listened to the birds singing, the wind whispering back its harmony, and the rustling of the stalk as I laid them down across the boat with the wooden paddles.

When the bottom of the hull was heavy with grain and the sun touched the tops of the trees, I headed back down the blue ribbon. Back to the old wooden dock and the kitchen in the white clapboard house at its far end.

Out of that came wild rice infused with the subtle flavors of bay leave and homemade chicken stock. Perfect for the oven roasted salmon with fresh herbs and lemon. Since I cooked the entire jar, I was left with more then we could eat. Chefing is about flavors and textures but it is also about economizing. I had to make another meal from what remained.

Studying the square containers of leftovers in the stark light of the refrigerator, I took out the vegetable side and the tomato/basil collie sitting next to it. It could use a little protein from one of the brown eggs on the door beside me.

The rice got the egg mixed into it and cooked like an omelet. I heated the carrots, onions and red bell peppers in a saute and mounded it on the rice cake. A few big table spoons of tomatoes topped off the vegetables.

Good enough for a quick Tuesday night dinner with a glass of dry Chardonnay.

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