off to brazil? for rice?

20170412_141735Hello 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.20170412_141825There 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.20170410_120528Browning the veggies in “little fat” didn’t scare me and I used a touch of olive oil for that step.20170410_122055 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.20170410_152409It’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!


Helen Mary, 1977 or so

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 🙂

17 thoughts on “off to brazil? for rice?

  1. I don’t know why you tackling the Helen recipes moves me so. Its also kind of hilarious. Cool that Avis may be one of her football watching friends. The recipe looks simpe and delicious. It would be great with a white fish. Great find with the new Helen trove! Can’t wait to read it!

    • Thank you, Amanda. You have definitely identified with Helen 🙂 Love that you’re connecting with her. I usually just make plain rice, so it was fun to find simple additions (that my kids wouldn’t complain about) that mixed things up a bit.

  2. I love learning new things about Helen. She ran the farmer’s market? She was ahead of her time. I wonder if you have any of her woodworking handiwork. As far as rice, I’ve read that Brazilians eat it every day, so it only makes sense to put some pizzazz in it and jazz it up! I also heard Brazilians eat double starch (like rice with french fries or mashed potatoes). How do they stay so thin? Must be the dancing. P.S. I think everyone in 1977 had a photo taken of them in a turtleneck LOL. Love it.

    • Good call on the turtleneck! And if I remember correctly, she was wearing a navy blue plaid wool pant suit (!!!!) over it. Ha.

      Rice and French fries? Wow. But I bet they also eat lots of veggies, too.

      Helen was for sure ahead of her time. Can’t believe I forgot the farmers’ market part. There certainly weren’t urban farmers’ markets then as there are now. Do you have any local markets you shop at for fresh chile peppers and such?

      • We have more farmers markets than you can shake a stick out, several within a 10 mile radius. But they’re consistently WAY BEYOND our means. $6 for a carton of eggs or $4 for a sprig of basil, honey and soaps that are quadruple the normal price. Maybe if we were millionaires, we’d go bc I sure prefer fresh, local produce.

    • I sure hope not – that would hurt, haha. Hoped you be buy so you could see Helen’s picture. Thought of you tonight when my mom brought over a few table linens she was getting rid of. Cotton and they are embroidered – maybe by her mom? Seemed the kind of thing you would like. I’m happy to add a few more pretty things to my collection.

      Always meant to get a thank-you out to you for the HAG towel you sent Anna. You are such a very kind person. Thank you for still being here!

  3. Pingback: cachaça in the caipirinha | food for fun

  4. Pingback: on Christmas Chronicles and zucchini casserole | food for fun


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