I am fearless in the kitchen when cooking for myself.
I’ve been lucky. Everything I’ve ever made has been edible and many of my kitchen inventions have become staple meals. My original recipes are not really that original, they’re the combination of what’s on hand and my recollections of real recipes I’ve actually made or at least read. As long as the combination of ingredients seems to go together, then I can make it into a meal I’ll eat.
My free-style cooking started while going to university living with roommates. I fell into being the primary dinner cook for the three of us because I liked doing it. We all bought groceries and brought scavenged food items from our mothers’ kitchens after weekend trips home. I would make dinner each night from what I found in the fridge and cupboards. We kept our kitchen pretty well stocked with basic cooking and baking supplies and even had a modest spice rack. The meals were simple. Some of the meals were really good, some were just ok. No one went hungry. There was the zucchini summer – everyone’s mom sent us zucchini from their garden – but that’s a whole other story.
Sometimes, the simplest invention can be a home run. Long-time friends came to visit me a couple of years ago. We hadn’t seen each other in quite a few years and their kids had grown from babies to pre-teens. The kids were asking their mom about the time in university when we were roommates. My friend said “Did you know that Jacqui INVENTED your favorite dinner?” I was totally surprised and asked what that was. “Pineapple Rice” the youngest yelled out “I can’t believe you’re the ONE, WOW!” This came as a total shock! Pineapple Rice was born of necessity to figure out dinner from the only ingredients we had one particular evening. Long grain rice, a can of pineapple tidbits and a piece of leftover ham. Who knew something so simple would become a family favorite meal?
2 cups long grain rice
2 cups cubed leftover ham
1 20oz can pineapple tidbits
1 tbs butter
Drain juice from pineapple into a large measuring cup and set aside pineapple tidbits.
Add water to juice to make sufficient liquid to cook rice (I use the instructions on the rice – for 2 cups rice it will usually be 3 to 4 cups of liquid).
Cook rice according to package instructions (add ½ tsp of salt to liquid if not called for in rice instructions).
When rice is done, stir in butter until melted and then add pineapple and ham and mix together and serve.