Over the weekend, my second godson was born. Welcome to the world, Baby Theo! I’ve entered the age where all my friends are having baby fever. Chris and I were planning our annual camping trip for 2019 and realized everyone has a child aged three and younger. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea for a little toddler to run around near a camp fire. I’m still wrapping my brain around the fact that my best friends have become a parent to a crying and pooping machine. While I’m not ready to have a little one of my own (fur baby is the extent of what I can handle right now), and I’m not sure I ever will be, seeing all these tiny human beings come into the world has made me think a lot about my own childhood and what my parents went through when I came into the world.
Typical Chinese parents have a hard time expressing their love to their children; they believe that tough love is the best love. When you come home with an A, they ask why it’s not an A+. My mom only told me that she was proud of me when I was in my 20s. As a Chinese kid growing up in America, I had to learn to read between the lines of my parents actions. Like in most Chinese households, it meant being shown love through food. My parents always made sure to take me where I wanted to eat every weekend. They always made sure I had the best cut of meat on my plate. I’m not saying my parents never said, “I love you,” but food was always the constant expression of love. My mom always made me a big pot of jook, or rice porridge. It was one of my most absolute favorite things to eat. Whenever I’m feeling unwell as an adult, I yearn for a bowl of jook as it just feels like it would automatically cure me. My mom still makes me jook even after I moved out on my own and after Chris and I moved in together/got married. It’s definitely one of my comfort foods.
As with most things in our diet, I’m trying to make dishes healthier where possible. Jook is one of them. I’ve substituted the white rice with brown in attempts to eat more whole grains. I’ve changed up the rice porridge slightly so that instead of cooking the meats and vegetables directly into it, I’ve turned it into it’s own dish so that I could add different toppings. This rice porridge is hearty and filling and brings me a sense of nostalgia to my mom’s rice porridge.
Brown Rice Porridge
- 2 cups brown rice
- 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 4 cups water
- Garlic Powder
- Step 1 Rinse the brown rice until water runs clear.
- Step 2 Place rice, chicken stock, and water into a dutch oven and heat over high until it boils.
- Step 3 Lower heat to medium and continue to cook for 2 hours. Stirring occasionally.
- Step 4 More water may be added depending on personal preference for rice porridge thickness.
- Step 5 Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.
- Step 6 Optional: add toppings like skirt steak, kimchi and pickles, mushrooms, green onions, and other vegetables to make the rice porridge a complete meal.
- 4 Persian cucumbers, sliced thickly
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Peppercorns (optional)
- Step 1 Place sliced cucumbers into a glass jar.
- Step 2 Add vinegar, water, and salt to the pickles (and peppercorns too if using).
- Step 3 Close glass jar and shake slightly.
- Step 4 Put in refrigerator and can be eaten within 3 hours. Pickles will last for a few weeks.