Saturday, May 19, 2007

Sure Signs of Summer

'Round here, there are a few clear indicators that summer has arrived. One, the local airport hosts a "fly-in" for small crafts - so for about a week, the skies are filled with interesting and unusual planes circling around low. The other day, I saw four bi-wings in the tightest formation I've ever seen hovering over the local furniture mart. Maybe they wanted more comfy seats?

And, the return of the roadside food vendors. I've said it before, and I'll say it over and over again - largely because it's one of the only original things I've ever said - the beauty of the south is that you can live off the foods that can be purchased on the side of the road.

Pretty much everyday one can find fruit, veggies, and boiled peanuts. Today, I bought several pounds of locally grown crawdaddies. I luvs me some crawdaddies. MudBugs. Southern Lobsters.

To go with the 'daddies, I made a pan of dirty rice. It was particularly tasty, so I thought I'd share the recipe with you. It's my variation on the recipe that can be found in the most excellent cook book "My Mother's Southern Kitchen" by James Villas.

Dirty Rice:

chop up 1 green pepper, 1 med or 1/2 a large sweet onion, 2 stalks of celery, 2 cloves of garlic.

Saute the veggies (known by those in the know as "the trinity") in 2 tbls veg or olive oil and 1/2 a stick of butter. Start on med/high heat and turn down to med. Add in 1/2 - 1 tsp salt, several grinds of black pepper, and about 1/2 tsp each of dried oregano and thyme. You will want everything to lose it's VERY BRIGHT green color and become soft and translucent. Pour the sauteed trinity into a bowl. Brown up one 12 oz tube of sage sausage (although you could use hot if you like it here too -- just avoid the sweet stuff like the maple flavored) -- when the sausage is done, drain it if there is quite a lot of fat in the pan --- and add the sausage and the trinity back into the pan - stir well --

Stir in 1 cup long grain rice -- saute it for a few minutes - stirring a lot. Then after a couple of minutes, add in 2 1/2 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil, stir, cover and drop the heat to med./low. Cook for 20 -30 minutes until the liquid is pretty much absorbed, turn off the heat, and let stand, covered, for 10-15 minutes before serving.

After you make it a time or two - you won't even need the recipe - it's a good "one dish" meal if you're in a hurry - and you can add in a few more veggies to bring up the nutrition level. I use a 12 inch fry pan ( deep - like you'd use for frying chicken) -- I like the large surface area - I think rice dishes with meat and veg in them cook better if there is a large surface area for the heat to work.

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