A few weeks ago, on practically the only in day in February when one or all of us didn’t have a horrible cold, Sorin and I played hooky and went on a day date. Dropped the kid off at preschool, went out for a late breakfast and saw a matinee.
If you haven’t gone on a date day, they’re pretty great. After you have kids, playing hooky from work and your parental duties for a few hours in the middle of the afternoon on a random Wednesday feels incredibly indulgent and downright rebellious. Unlike real night dates, you don’t have to find a babysitter or dig into your retirement account to pay the sitter $60 for the evening and you’re not so exhausted that you kind of wish you could just put on your pajamas and go to bed. I’m not saying that day dates should completely replace evening outings, but I’m all in favor of making the day date a semi-regular thing.
We ate at a sweet little restaurant I’ve wanted to go to for about a year. It’s tucked into one of the many random and rather ugly LA streets that at first glance doesn’t reveal anything special. But then you notice the little restaurant with a few small tables out front and a really stylish little home decor shop next door and another shop next to that and suddenly you realize you’ve stumbled onto a little strip of lovely amid all the ugly.
SQIRL started out as a girl making jam and eventually turned into a cafe. The place is so perfectly California that it’s a little embarrasing, but the food is so fresh and tasty you end up loving it instead of making fun of it. We all have someone in our life we could never take to this restaurant, a person who would look at a menu with choices like the “Kokuho Rose brown rice bowl with sorrel pesto, preserved Meyer lemon and lacto fermented hot sauce” or the “open face brioche toast with kale and tomatillo puree” and think, you’ve got to be kidding me.
I, on the other hand, could happily eat at SQIRL every week.
I was inspired to make my own super simple version of one of their brown rice bowls at home a few days later. Although I couldn’t eat brown rice for breakfast every day, it’s a welcome change from the usual breakfast grains and cereals. Simmered in coconut milk and topped with fresh berries and maple syrup it’s really quite delicious.
You could also make a regular batch of short grain brown rice using this perfect cooking method, and have it in the fridge all week to top with savory things like a poached egg or shaved parmigiano cheese or arugula and olive oil and prosciutto.
Coconut Brown Rice
1 cup soaked short grain brown rice (see below)
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup water (double this if you haven’t soaked your rice overnight)
A pinch of salt (less than 1/4 tsp.)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Is presoaking brown rice really necessary? I have no idea. But I can’t lose any more of my life to time spent reading about it, so I figure why not presoak it? It can’t hurt anything and it might help.
If you’d like to presoak your rice overnight, then cover it with water and add a spoonful of plain yogurt (optional). Let it sit out on the counter overnight.
Whether or not you presoak your rice, rinse it well before cooking.
Put all the ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Cook, covered, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender but don’t expect it to be soft and mushy like white rice. Brown rice has a chewy texture. The rice will absorb most of the coconut milk while it cooks.
Presoaked rice will take about 30 minutes to cook. I haven’t tried this recipe with un-soaked rice but I’d guess you might have to double the cooking time.
This rice can be made ahead of time and reheated for the next few days. I add some extra milk and warm it in the microwave, then top with berries and a little maple syrup.