Rice is nice

Cat Campbell/For The Madera Tribune

Ham, bacon and chopped veggies combine for a delicious version of fried rice.

Maybe I shouldn’t admit it, but there have been times when a rice dish has been the main, and only dish I have served for dinner.

I made up a recipe for fried rice, and since it has meat and veggies, that is a meal in itself.

I love most types of rice, and my favorite to cook with is jasmine. Basmati rice is very good, too. I love fluffy Spanish or Mexican rice, but rarely can I make it come out like that. I am not sure of the reason for the inconsistency, but am guessing it depends on how tight the pot lid fits and the moisture content of the rice grains to begin with.

I am pretty spot-on with measuring the correct amount of water or broth. I usually remove the pot from the heat and let it steam a little bit with the lid still on.

Anyway, it is hit or miss for me when I attempt to make fluffy rice. I hope you are all far away from the horrible wildfires we are experiencing this summer, again. I am starting to dread summer time. Keep cool if you can and stay safe.

Mushroom rice

Omit the jalapeno if you wish.

4 cups cold, cooked white rice

10 ounces white or brown button mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons butter

1 shallot, sliced

1 jalapeno pepper, diced

1/4 cup Marsala wine

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add mushrooms and allow to brown, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.

2. Add shallot, jalapeño, salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.

3. Deglaze skillet with the wine and let mixture reduce for 2 minutes. Add soy sauce and stir, then add cooked rice. Stir to mix the rice in and add additional salt and pepper, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Cat’s fried rice

You can use a rice cooker if you wish; I sometimes do.

2 cups uncooked rice

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups water

6 slices bacon, chopped

2 cups ham, chopped fine

3 to 4 cups frozen peas, or the amount you prefer

1 bunch green onions, tops included, chopped

1 carrot, peeled and chopped fine

1 can water chestnuts, drained and chopped

Soy sauce

1 egg (if you want to include egg)

Vegetable oil

1. In a medium-large saucepan, sauté rice in 1 tablespoon oil (more, if needed), stirring until rice becomes opaque and just begins to brown along the edges. Stir in salt, then add water and place lid on saucepan. Cook until rice is tender and fluffy, about 20 minutes. Note: Can use warm or cold rice. A Chinese cook told me she prefers to use cold rice, and break it apart with wet fingers.

2. In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp; do not drain. If necessary, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet. Add rice to skillet and stir, breaking up any clumps if necessary.

3. Add ham, peas, green onion, carrot and water chestnuts; stir-fry until vegetables are tender. Add desired amount of soy sauce, generally enough to turn the rice a light brown. Transfer rice mixture into serving dish.

4. Pour beaten egg into small skillet and cook, without stirring, until done. Cut into strips and place atop the rice, if desired. You can also scramble the egg directly into the rice mixture when it is still in the pan. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Creamy garlic chicken and rice

Use a skillet that has a lid, or cover a lidless skillet with tight-fitting foil.

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cloves (or desired amount) garlic, minced

3/4 cup long-grain rice

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 cups baby spinach

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Sprinkle the chicken br