Hello and welcome. Ready to take a closer look at another of Great-Aunt Helen’s recipes? How about a side dish this go-round? This was an easy one and it turned out well.There was a bit of ambiguity here, per usual. Brazilian Rice appears to be attributed to Avis Cousin (?). When asked, my mom hadn’t a clue either, so we’ll never know who to thank for this easy way to make rice a bit more exciting while still recognizable. Though mom noted that Helen often got together with girlfriends (one who might be our Avis) for University of Minnesota football games and would then go back to one of their houses for a meal. They often tried new foods at these meals, and Brazilian Rice would have been positively exotic back then.
These days, though, the ingredients are commonplace and it’s a simple dish to pull together on a weeknight.Browning the veggies in “little fat” didn’t scare me and I used a touch of olive oil for that step. Two tablespoons salt did scare me (1 for the rice, 1 for finishing); I only seasoned to taste at the end, adding maybe 1 teaspoon total. Can’t imagine how overly salty it would be with 2 tablespoons. Maybe she didn’t mean to add that second tablespoon?
It’s a pretty dish, flecked with colorful veggies and tinted just a slight red thanks to those tomatoes.It’s also tasty and has a great chew. I might bump up the bell peppers to increase the green, but that’s small stuff. This one is a keeper. Thanks, Helen!
Now for the best part: I usually run a recipe by my mom before writing it up in case she has memories to share. She recently found a folder of “Helen stuff” and handed it over to me. Including Helen’s obituary, a biographical piece written by my mom’s youngest sister, and annual Christmas letters going back to the late 1970s, it’s a treasure trove of Helen trivia!
I need more time to get through it all, but even the few bits I read as I glanced through made me smile. It had slipped my mind that Helen ran her neighborhood farmers’ market, and many of her earlier Christmas letters mentioned whether it had been a good growing season for the market or no. I had also forgotten (or possibly never known) that she had been a woodworker.
Her education and career are also detailed, which filled in parts of her life I’d been missing. Plenty more on this later, but I’ll end, appropriately enough, with a glimpse at her thoughts on cooking. In high school, she took herself out of home ec class — without telling anyone — and joined the Latin class instead, reasoning that she was “tired of making eggs goldenrod.” Classic.
I so look forward to going through these papers and sharing bits of Helen’s life with you as we continue to cook through her recipe box. I’ll make sure we have something to sip as well, so please stop by my next post when we find a cocktail we could serve with this rice. Something Brazilian, I think