Sunday, August 20, 2017

Yellow Coconut Rice Cakes with Scallions and Black Sesame Seeds

I’m an admitted tree hugger and have been for ages. And, my interest in protecting the environment has a direct effect on my food choices. It all started on the campus of the University of Illinois during my first year. There was an Earth Day event at which I learned about how much land around the world was being used for cattle ranching for beef and how much water is used to raise cattle for beef and how negatively the environment is affected by the growing demand for beef. That was the day I made the choice to not eat red meat. Today, there are more food sourcing options. Local, pastured, grass-fed, humanely-raised animals for meat are a much better option than factory-farmed, standard, grocery store fare. Still, growing vegetables is far easier on the earth than raising animals. I continue to not eat red meat, but when I buy it to serve to others, I go with the local, pastured variety. Since I’ve been thinking this way for so long, I was delighted to see a new book about taking some simple steps to reduce our meat intake and improve our health and the planet at the same time. The Reducetarian Solution: How the Surprisingly Simple Act of Reducing the Amount of Meat in Your Diet Can Transform Your Health and the Planet, of which I received a review copy, takes a gentle approach. It doesn’t hit the reader over the head with demands for an end to meat eating. Instead, through a collection of several short essays, the idea of finding easy ways to cut back are presented. My favorite essay was by environmentalist and co-founder of, Bill McKibben, in which he writes: “reducing factory farming of animals would help a lot in the fight against global warming. The Reducetarian movement meets most people on our planet more or less at their level—they enjoy the taste of meat and yet also worry about our planet’s future.” He goes on to explain how reducing rather than eliminating meat could be very effective. Currently, about 0.5 percent of the American population is vegan. It would be very difficult to convince a significant percent of the population to convert to eating only plants. But, if a third or more Americans would cut their meat intake by a third or half, it would make an undeniable difference in the amount of meat being purchased and in many peoples’ quality of health. After reading the book, I’ve been cooking even more vegetarian meals than usual and cutting our dairy more often as well. This has been easy with books like In My Kitchen because I've already placed flags on several pages for meatless recipes to try.

One of the pages I marked was for the Yellow Coconut Rice with Scallions and Black Sesame Seeds recipe. Deborah Madison offered a couple of great suggestions for what to serve with this rice, and I couldn’t wait to try it with the braised sweet peppers. You have options with this rice. It can be served warm right from the saucepan, or it can be pressed into a pan, chilled, cut into shapes, and browned in oil. It’s also pointed out that long grain rice won’t form solid cakes after being pressed into a pan. Short or medium grain rice is needed. The rice was cooked in a mixture of coconut milk and water with saffron and turmeric. Once cooked, thinly sliced green onions were tossed with the rice. The rice was pressed into a small pan that I lined with parchment paper, and black sesame seeds were sprinkled on top. The pan was refrigerated until set. I went with the diamond shape suggested for the rice cakes and browned them in coconut oil. For the braised peppers, I had a few different varieties from local farms in addition to some hot chiles. They were cooked in coconut oil with minced onion, garlic, and ginger plus cumin and more turmeric. A little coconut milk was added after sauteeing. I topped the browned rice cakes with the braised peppers and garnished with a chiffonade of papalo leaves. 

This rice is so delicious and could be used in so many ways, I predict I’ll be making it repeatedly. Leftover rice cakes can be reheated in the oven, or they can be broken apart and heated in a skillet like fried rice. I enjoyed lunches of leftovers both ways. Choosing plants instead of meat a little more often isn’t difficult at all with great ideas this like for flavorful dishes with always changing seasonal vegetables.

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  1. They look fantastic and I love the natural golden colour and great flavour from saffron and turmeric.

  2. You are so inventive! Another magnificent dish.



  3. Great meatless recipes are aways such a wonderful find! I'll be looking in depth at this new-to-me cookbook!

  4. Love the color of this! SO pretty! And I'll bet the flavor is terrific. Thanks!

  5. i tend to dislike rice but this looks like it has a lot of flavor and texture! seems like a book worth checking out!

  6. Love the idea of reducing meat on a global scale and its benefits. I simply cannot see myself as cutting meat completely, even if I feel guilty about it. But reducing is doable.

  7. Sounds like a great recipe! My grandpa was a butcher and I was raised on meat, but about 11 years ago I gave it up and haven't missed it. I still do poultry and fish but I just felt sorry for those poor moo moos. I think now one can find more humanely raised cows and it is funny how things have changed. However I just can't go back!


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