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19 June 2008

I made you this delicious rice salad.

ruby-red jasmine rice

I had this story forming in my head, one I wanted to write so I could learn what would spin from it.

It’s a story that started with me buying myself a pair of Birkenstocks yesterday, because my belly has grown so large that I literally could not bend down and tie my own shoes yesterday. (Thank goodness for the kind-heartedness of the Chef, who came running and didn’t even make fun of me.) And so I drove slowly to MJ Feet and bought myself a pair of Birkenstocks. Not the fashionable ones, mind you, the dainty sandals I saw adorning the feet of nearly half the women in Rome when we were there. No, the clunky two-strap sandals I owned when I was in my twenties, the ones that everyone sees and secretly thinks, “Hippy.”

(And I love them. They are always the most comfortable shoes in the world. Why have I waited so long to buy another pair? I can simply slide my feet right in, without having to contend with the belly.)

I was going to share how Birkenstocks always remind me of the pseudo-hippy kids who went to my high school, the ones who clustered on the hill in front of the library at every lunch, discussing modernist poetry and surrealist art, twirling in their patchwork skirts, and smelling of the hazy cloud of smoke they left near the tennis courts at lunch. We called them Granolas. That was my image of Birkenstocks, those kids with dirty feet wearing worn-down sandals.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that I sort of have become a hippy, albeit in the “I like to bathe” way. We are growing a garden in the backyard, even though the squirrels shirred off every leaf of the bok choy last evening, in a neat, flat line. I cook almost everything from scratch. My community of friends is dedicated to local foods, worries about the environmental impact of their existence, and gathers in each other’s kitchens to talk passionately about politics. My friend Tita always puts on an old bandana around her hair before she cooks. I have deep faith in hope. And I still believe in peace, love, and understanding. Yes we can.

My life has become the vision I dreamed of when I read Laurel’s Kitchen as a teenager.

And I could have wandered and wondered through the beauties of pregnancy, only four weeks away from meeting Little Bean. How much I love this time of swimming, sitting on the couch and feeling a foot rise up to meet my hand, beneath my ribs. How I dream my days in a happy daze and accomplish more when I listen to my body and slow down. And how, the closer I am to becoming a mama, the closer I feel to the earth.

And how feeling Little Bean within me makes me want to feed myself, feed us, with the wholesome foods I’m eating that might make some people brand me a hippy. I just call it good.

But you know what? I’m tired. Last night, I taught a class on saying yes to living gluten-free, to a wonderful group of people, with whom I felt a real sense of community. But prepping for that, and standing on my feet for over three hours, left me feeling a little beat up. I’ve dragged all day, even through my walk with my dear friend Francoise. This morning, the Chef and I saw our doctor and found out the exact date of Little Bean’s birth; we have been emotionally elated and exhausted all day. And now, after preparing food, and writing a recipe, my body is aching to lie down and watch the Top Chef reunion.

And so I will.

Instead of a full story, accept this offering, in the style of Napoleon Dynamite: “I made you this delicious rice salad.”

red rice salad

Ruby-red rice salad with asparagus and goat cheese

I started eating so much rice during this pregnancy — thanks to starchy cravings and the beautiful rice cooker — that I had to find new ways to eat it besides plain and white. Recently, I’ve discovered my new favorite: ruby-red jasmine from Thailand. This company brings it into the US, with fair trade practices. It’s massively delicious, with a strong, nutty flavor. I can’t eat enough.

Because it’s such a hearty rice, ruby-red jasmine stands up well to strong flavors, and as the base of a rice salad. Cooking it with star anise, ginger, and garlic gives the rice such a punch that it almost smells meaty when it’s cooking. I could barely stand the wait until the rice cooker beeped.

And then you have to cool it. Well, I did anyway. I think this salad is best served cold.

You could mix any play of flavors in here you want. Local asparagus — so much longed for around here — is in its last weeks. I love shaving the stalks and plunging the green curlicues into the rice. Goat cheese camembert is its own delicacy. And the avocadoes are, now, green and creamy, like butter, but better.

But do what you want with this salad. You can’t go wrong. And it’s so darned healthy that you could almost call it a Birkenstock salad. (But I don’t recommend putting your shoes in it.)

1 star anise
nub of ginger, peeled
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon butter (or non-dairy substitute)
pinch of pepper and kosher salt
1 cup ruby-red jasmine rice
2 cups of water

Put the star anise, ginger, garlic cloves, butter, pepper and salt in your rice cooker (or pan). Add the rice, and then the water. Stir once, then set the cooker on high to do its magic.

When the rice has finished cooking, deeply fragrant and enticing, spread it out on a large plate. Pick out the nubs of ginger and garlic, and the star anise. Put the rice in the refrigerator to cool down.

After the rice has sufficiently cooled, toss it with your favorite vinaigrette (we like champagne vinaigrette in particular). And then top with the following:

pieces of avocado
goat cheese camembert
chive blossoms and stalks
fresh cilantro, chopped
shaved asparagus stalks.

Or, whatever feels right to you. (I’d dig some sunflower seeds here too.)

Enjoy, and know that you are feeding your body. Oh, and this tastes good too.

Feeds 4.


At 5:07 AM, Blogger Engineer Baker said...

It's amazing how much reading your posts relaxes me. Then it makes me want to go out and make whatever you talked about. So now I have to go and buy another kind of rice - my boyfriend is going to kill me :)

At 5:36 AM, Blogger Gluten free Kay said...

I've been cooking for a living for over 20 years now. It has taken a toll on my feet. I must be a real hippie, because I wear nothing but Birkenstocks these days. I have cute ones in colors like pistachio and raspberry. They make my broad German feet very happy!

At 6:32 AM, Blogger Anita said...

thank you so much for sharing these snippets of your pregnancy with us. it's amazing how I can feel such tender emotions to someone I hardly know. :)

Have Tea give you a hug for me.

At 7:10 AM, Anonymous Sho said...

The rice salad looks devine!

It's funny what you said about growing up and realizing you are a hippy. One day, I woke up and thought, "I am gluten-free, a home schooling mom, practice attachement parenting, (used to) drive the same Honda for 14 years, meet eclectic people, gone in and out of Jewish orthodoxy, used to keep a strictly kosher home, wear long skirts, and am into alternative medicine. How did this happen?

Then I started reading YOUR blog, and you have got me shopping at the farmer's market, buying polenta and creme fraiche, looking for a rice cooker, frequenting the Latin American section of the market, going to the Asian market, and buying goat cheese.

I think when your readers say that you are an ispiration, you can rest assured that they really mean it!

You mentioned Laurel's Kitchen. I used to read The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Do you remember that cookbook? I told my daughter about it when she said that her broccoli looked like a tree.

I can't wait to read your baby food posts! My kids hated jarred baby food. In fact, it gave my daughter bad diarhea. So I made homemade chicken soup and purreed it. Both of my kids loved it and learned to eat that way.

Now I have a suggestion for you. If anyone else thinks you should give a cooking class, I think you should have an assistant or a volunteer. It would be nice if you could sit there and chop, while someone brings you everything and follows your instructions.

Speaking of suggestions, did you get a breast pump yet? If you are like me, you are going to need it. Don't forget to drink Chamomile tea while you are nursing. It will soothe you and the baby.

Take care,


At 7:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you tried Lundberg's wild rice blend? That's currently my favorite rice and I usually get it mailorder in 25 lb bags. And I drag it in the house while wearing my tan Arizona Birkenstocks and thick grey wool socks (grin). P.S. someone needs to convince Birkenstock to make size 34 again!!!

I like a little spicy mango chutney on my rice which I usually cook with LOTS of chopped green onion in my rice cooker. I look forward to trying this with some of the cool greens starting to make mature leaves out in my container veggie garden! Now I need to experiment with making my own chutneys....most of the jarred chutneys I've found have way too much sodium for my taste!

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Brj said...

When I read your posts I see flashes of my blessed and happy future. In my mid-twenties, I embody all the "hippie" characteristics that make me truly happy--a garden, an affinity for plants, politics and whole foods; a genuine love for the outdoors (and Birkenstocks). Your blog makes me so happy.

Yes we can, indeed.

At 11:31 AM, Blogger Palmer Public Library said...

Oh gosh, so many memories in today's entry. :) I love birkenstocks (have several pairs); was often in "hippy mode" in my life; did a lot of living off the earth - which is not as easy in Alaska! including raising chickens, goats and pigs, as well as a huge garden. We've scaled back now that we're in our 60's! But I still use a lot of recipes from Laurel's Kitchen, and at least once a year I read the story at the beginning. :)

At 11:38 AM, Blogger Erin Elizabeth said...

Hah! I stole my mom's (unused) copy of Laurel's Kitchen when I was 15. I don't know that I've ever made of the recipes, but I still love paging through it, especially now that I can see my life, too, reflected in its' pages.

At 12:21 PM, Blogger Rosiecat said...

Shauna, I love this post. And pregnant or not, living the hippie/home-made/do-it-yourself lifestyle does wear on the feet! Some days, after cooking and washing dishes for a few hours, I just HAVE to sit down. And many times, I sit myself down right in front of my laptop on the kitchen table and write an essay on whatever's been simmering on the stove or in my mind.

At 1:37 PM, Blogger Wanderlusting said...

Sounds amazing - I've been eating only rice for almost two months now and while I am not sick of it, I am always looking for new ways to enjoy it. I've wanted to try out black rice too, maybe that will be next.

At 4:40 PM, Anonymous smallbluebird said...

As Pedro would say, "Eat this salad and all your dreams will come true."

At 4:41 PM, Blogger milhan said...

I was eyeing some Earth shoes the other day...I fondly remember wearing a pair in middle school (in the mid-70's) - they were gosh awful ugly, but really comfortable!

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Allison the Meep said...

As soon as I saw the title today, I said "Is this a Napoleon Dynamite reference?" And it was!! How great! It makes me want to build you a cake or something.

At 6:01 PM, Anonymous kaertrouz said...

Nothing terrible about keeping non-little bean sexuality alive either- I have a 13 year old 'little bean', sometimes mom jeans and birkenstocks can be a slippery slope, just remember who you are and how you have always been- nothing terrible needs to change, you needn't give up all lustful goodness for motherhood- just a thought....

At 11:18 PM, Anonymous Christie @ fig & cherry said...

Love the addition of avocado, yum! Never had goat cheese Camembert, will have to seek it out, thanks!

At 12:39 AM, Blogger velvet said...

i just want you to know that i have been following your journey for a long time, and you are so inspiring. my mom has celiac disease, and my son is gluten intolerant as well, and your blog has helped us sooo much. i love your joy for food and life! good luck in your last few weeks of pregnancy - you have much happiness to look forward to! :)

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Allison said...

The rice salad looks great! Here in Alabama we're already in the thick of summer and I've been thinking of what I can make that won't involve lots of heat. This looks like something we'll all enjoy and which my small helper can lend a hand with.

Also, regarding shoes, my favorite during pregnancy (and before and after, but they were a must when bending was not an option) were my Danskos.
They are the most comfortable and durable shoes I've ever worn. My first pair, the plain black 'Professional' lasted me ten years! I own multiple pairs in all styles and love them all.

Also, when you go in to have that baby, arrange in advance for a lactation consultant to be there from the moment you hold that baby. If there's any issue with latch or tongue-tie etc she'll get it worked out without the risk of nipple confusion etc. All babies want their mommas milk, but for ones with the possibility of a serious food sensitivity, it's essential.

Your supply will be determined in those early days, and will be dictated by how much your baby nurses, so room in and let that baby nurse when ever s/he gives the slightest hint and you'll make as much as your baby needs. (and more, initially, but that evens out in good time)

Enjoy these last days of life as a two person family!

Allison in B-ham, AL

At 12:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm due to meet my own "little bean" a week after you, and i've loved seeing my own journey reflected in your blog. so, from one almost-mama to another, thanks.


At 1:29 PM, Blogger what'sinyoursoul said...

Yum. I bought some black japonica rice in the PCC bargain cart the other day...will have to find a reinvention for it.

At 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here I am, wishing I could share with you a delicious quinoa salad I made. Your post on cherries inspired me to seek them out at our farmer's market and yesterday I found FIVE varieties of beautiful, cheery cherries: sweet deep burgundy, sweet wax yellow swirled with pink, small tangy sweet bright red, small tangy sweet black, and clear red sour. (Also found yellow, red and black raspberries, and enormous blueberries...we ate a lot of fruit yesterday!)

Working from an idea in my head, I mixed the four sweet cherries - o, the colors! - with quinoa, toasted almond slivers, jalepeno goat cheddar, green onions and mint. For dressing I stirred together lime juice, olive oil, orange juice, just a bit of tamari and toasted seseme oil.

Perhaps some would find this too crowded with flavors, but I just loved the dark nuttiness of the seseme oil contrasting with the sweet cherries. The jalepeno gave just a hint of heat, while the mint lightened it and reminded me of spring.

Quinoa just makes me happy. I think I love it best in these salads with something sweet, something crunchy, something creamy, something tangy. Yesterday it was a perfect match for those amazing cherries, and I thought of you, Shauna, and all those who comment here, as I savored each bite.

Kris from Virginia

At 10:23 PM, Anonymous SarahKate said...

Hi Shauna! I've read everything you've ever posted but never commented until now. I just wanted to say that I think that "a hippy who bathes" might just be the best thing possible (and also the name of my band when I learn to play an instrument). This was a beautiful post.

At 11:10 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

I always love your posts, but today's reference to Napoleon Dynamite made me laugh out loud! Love that movie! Thanks for the laugh and a great recipe!

Lisa :)

At 6:27 PM, Blogger I am Verg. said...

My dad's birthday was this day (June 19th). I have emailed the recipe to him as a present. I am thankful for him still being in this world, and I am thankful your blog.

At 10:48 PM, Blogger katrinka said...

Just like the comment by 'anonymous k', I am also due to have a baby a week or so after you. Amazed to read her words as I was about to write the same thing. It's been great reading about your pregnancy experiences along the way and thinking, 'Me too!'

At 3:46 AM, Anonymous linda said...

Hi. From the UK (Welsh, coeliac,coping well with gluten-free, keen cook, fresh-foodie, veg gardener, reading all your back-blogs + read your book!), WHAT IS KOSHER SALT? Do you mean sea salt/flakes/salt for a grinder/ready ground??
And, while I'm here, all the best with the baby, but please don't forget your childless fans!

At 5:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said... when are we going to get to see a photo of you pregnant? Seriously...we've seen you in your wedding dress, etc. Come on, Shauna! Debra

At 6:42 PM, Blogger Jenn said...

Thanks to you, I am also the proud owner of the beautiful Sanyo rice cooker, and I have fallen even more in love with rice, now that it is effortless and perfect everytime!

We made this salad this evening (though with wild rice), and it was light and delicious, and perfect alongside some lamb kebabs!

At 8:55 AM, Blogger savonara said...

This recipe looks beautiful. I am loving black and mahogany japonica lately, must give this a try.

just discovering your blog makes me feel better about my food future!

must go, my ten month old requests my assistance... but wanted to pass on my fave mom info site - wish I'd had it as a new mom 16 years ago, lol. Good hard info with the research to back it up, no ads, no opinions, just accurate helpful info for breastfeeding and parenting.


At 1:18 PM, Blogger Sollfire said...

Came upon your blog while searching for GF recipes for my daughter-in-law. Loving the sounds of this one; I've ordered the special red jasmine from Alter Eco, upon your recommendation. Trusting that you are well and shall return with lots of cozy hearth baby stories and recipes.


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