Growing up, there was hardly a meal that did not include rice. No other food was served consistently in my life like white rice. We ate fluffed white rice, sometimes with just a pat of butter, salt, and pepper. Other times, we covered it with gravy or whatever meat broth was served with the meal. . Once, my dad put chit’lin juice over my rice. That did not go over well. I even remember coming home sick from school, and my grandmother served me a bowl of chicken and rice soup. Of course there was also rice and sweet peas. Rice and peas, I would later find out, is a different dish entirely.
Back then; I didn’t understand the significance that rice played in the lives of South Carolinians. Growing up in Upstate South Carolina, I knew about peaches and pecans. My sister and I still maintain that South Carolina is the real peach state. By the time I left for college, I wanted nothing else to do with white rice. I eventually fell in love with rice again. Brown rice.
Here’s an ode to South Carolina, rice, and my childhood.
Mushrooms and Gravy
• 1 small-medium onion
• 1 clove garlic
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 8 oz. package of baby Portobello mushrooms
• 2 tbsp. soy sauce
• 2 cups vegetable stock
• 2 tbsp. cornstarch
• 2 tbsp. water
Pour the vegetable stock in the pan and bring to a boil. In a separate container, I used a measuring cup; mix the cornstarch and water until you have a thin white liquid. Pour the mixture into the boiling vegetable stock.
Reduce the heat on the stock and mixture and continue to whisk the mixture until it’s thick and smooth. There should not be any lumps in the gravy.
Add the mushroom-onion mixture back to the pan and simmer, so that the flavors marinate.
• I cup jasmine brown rice
• 1 tsp. cumin powder
• 1 tsp. sazon
• 1 pinch of salt
• 2 cups of water
Bring two cups of water and spices to a boil. Add the rice, reduce the heat, and cover. Let cook 30-40 minutes.