Rice is Nice


Boiled rice in the fridge is a life-saver sometimes. It re-warms and quickly gets along so well with a lot of different foods. For a fast meal, you can load it up with leftover bits of meat or shellfish, cooked or uncooked vegetables, add beans, add onions, garlic, scallions, grated ginger, top it with cheese or salsa or soy sauce.

Westerners, especially, and we Mainers, just are not as used as other cultures to the idea of rice except as a usual accompaniment to chicken or seafood, or in rice pudding, and there may be some who are still a little intimidated about cooking it. I hope by now most of us have had fried rice thanks to Chinese, Thai, or Vietnamese restaurants, and see the benefit of cooked rice for absorbing flavorful sauces from meat dishes. Then, too, there are the ever more common risotto dishes from Italian cuisine that some of us may have encountered.

If I see a busy week ahead and can get my act together sufficiently to do it, I cook a bunch of rice. I love brown rice but white is just fine, too. Then as the days go by, it becomes the base for a few meals. A sauté pan of cooked greens like spinach, kale, or shredded cabbage, with onion for flavor, becomes a substantial dish with rice added. Soup, any sort from tomato to pea, poured over warm rice in a bowl is a grand little lunch. Leftovers like cooked broccoli, peas, chicken or pork, jazzed with a little onion, garlic or hot sauce, and stirred into rice is good for supper. Raw grated carrots, chopped celery, peppers, cucumbers, cooked or blanched asparagus, cauliflower, or green beans mixed into rice with a zippy vinaigrette makes a hearty salad. Add chicken or shrimp and it can be a whole meal.

And I like rice for breakfast under a soft-boiled or poached egg. My dear old friend Anna Coit suggested that to me, which she recalled from her childhood in the 1920s. I had always eaten my soft-boileds on toast but warmed, cooked rice, topped with runny yolk and chunks of hard cooked white, buttered, salted, and peppered was a revelation. What a lovely breakfast. I recommend it.



Soft-Boiled Eggs on Rice
  • 1 egg per person
  • ½ cup, or more if desired, cooked rice per person
  • Butter or grated cheese, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring water to a boil, and gently lower the egg into it and set a timer for about four minutes for a large eggs, three for mediums.
  2. While the egg is cooking, warm the cooked rice in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove.
  3. When the timer goes off, take the egg off the heat, rinse quickly under cold water. Set aside.
  4. Scrape the hot rice into a bowl, and break the egg shell with a knife and open it over the rice. Add butter if desired, salt and pepper to taste.

Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.