Victoria's Vegetarian Victuals

My mother began a new job last week. She likes it very much, but, as usual, that woman is a workaholic and comes home tired. She tells me that exhaustion is a common condition of all mothers, and if I want to do something really nice -- not just for her -- but for many mothers, I should put together a fistful of easy recipes that require next to no time and very little effort.

The stuff should also taste good, and around here -- of course -- it has to be vegetarian.

Before I get to the recipes, however, I want to say a word about the medicinal and therapeutic value of rice.

Any of you good folks who spend long hours bent over a computer keyboard have to try this. For that occupational pain in the neck, pour about a quart of uncooked rice into a clean tube sock, tie it shut, and give it 40 seconds in the microwave, set on high. Wrap it around the back of your neck until it cools down. You can re-heat and re-use it. Don’t eat the rice from the sock. Use fresh rice to make these quick and easy dishes for Mother’s Day.

California Pilaf

  • 1 cup brown rice, uncooked
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon margarine
  • 1 (14 oz) can vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • salt and pepper to taste

In 3-quart saucepan, combine first 5 ingredients. Bring to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in almonds and salt and pepper to taste.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Sweet-Potato Rice Pilaf

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch scallions (white part only)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup long-grain rice, uncooked
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ cups diced, peeled sweet potato
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat and sauté scallions and garlic for one minute. Add rice, and cook for 2 minutes, or until grains are golden. Add water and sweet potato and bring to boiling. Cover and simmer over low heat 15 minutes, or until liquid is almost absorbed. Add remaining ingredients, and simmer, covered, 5 minutes longer or until apple is tender.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Chick Peas and Rice

  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 2/3 cup brown rice, uncooked
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chick peas, drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Bring 1 ½ cups water to boiling in a small saucepan an add rice. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 40 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat. In a large skillet, heat oil, and saute onion and garlic until soft, but not brown. Add rice, remaining water, and chick peas, parsley and seasonings. Cover skillet, and simmer mixture over a low heat 15 minutes, or until ingredients are well-flavored.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 ½ hours

Spinach Rice Pilaf

  • 1 tablespoon margarine
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup long grain rice, uncooked
  • 1 (14 oz.) can vegetable broth
  • 1 (10 oz.) package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Melt margarine in a large, non-stick skillet and saute carrot and onion until soft. Add rice and continue cooking until golden brown. Add broth, cover and simmer until rice is tender – about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, squeeze excess liquid from spinach. Add to cooked rice, along with seasoning.

    Yields: 4 servings Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Fool-Proof Scrambled Eggs

  • 8 egg substitutes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup melted margarine

In a large bowl, with mixer on low, beat egg substitutes for I minute. Add milk and salt and continue to beat. With motor still running, add melted margarine a little at a time. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of a double boiler with margarine, and place over barely boiling water. Pour in egg substitute mixture. Cover and cook at low temperature for ten minutes. Turn the congealed portion of the egg substitute mix from the sides to the middle. Cover and continue cooking for 5 minutes longer, or until firm. They can be kept warm over hot water for up to 20 minutes.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Baked Stuffed Potatoes

  • 4 large baking potatoes
  • 1 cup shredded provolone cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1 green pepper finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup melted margarine
  • Sour cream, optional

The day before serving, bake potatoes in a 450-degree oven until tender. When cool enough to handle, split in half and gently scoop out flesh. In a medium bowl, coarsely mash potatoes and combine with the next 4 ingredients. Brush insides of potato shells with melted margarine and divide filling evenly among the 8 shells. Cover and refrigerate overnight. About 10 minutes before serving, re-heat in a 350-degree oven or in microwave until cheeses melt. Serve with sour cream.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes, plus overnight