Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Got a Minute?

I know Minute Rice's The Art of Budget Cooking (1976) is not exactly the kind of book most people would get excited about.

Yay. A skillet full of green peppers, onions, and instant rice. What could be classier?

I was kind of excited to see what kinds of Minute Rice recipes were popular around the time I was born though. One of the first things I learned to cook was Minute Rice. I remember we had a tiny (one-cup) saucepan. I would feel so grown-up if I filled it halfway with water, brought the water to a boil, threw in some rice and salt, let it sit for a few minutes with the teeny lid on top, and stirred in as much butter as I could without mom yelling at me. That was breakfast for the gods as far as I was concerned.

I was not surprised that this collection didn't have my first self-created recipe in it. One morning shortly after Easter, I mixed a chopped hard-cooked egg in with the rice and felt like I had created a masterpiece. I was such a culinary genius. (And yes, I'm rolling my eyes.)

I was surprised that a budget cookbook from the '70s had so many color illustrations, though. 

Some are downright whimsical:

The pineapple pick sticking out of the mound of molded rice makes me think of one of those long cigarette holders, like the rice is some kind of glamorous movie star smoking amid the rabble of peppers, canned pineapple, and mystery meat. I can't help thinking of Janet Snakehole, even if this is far too colorful for her style....

This is packed with the stereotypical retro Hawaiian ingredients of canned pineapple and green pepper, so I'm going to go ahead and assume they mean Spam by "cooked ham." They just can't say so because General Foods doesn't own Spam.

I also loved a picture showing off several rice-based pies, and the Pieathalon participants should be glad I didn't find these until after we were done.

Okay-- they're not all pies. The one in the middle is a mock quiche.

At least, I think it's supposed to be a mock quiche. The title-- Mock Rice Quiche-- suggests even the Minute Rice people are not so sure that Minute Rice counts as rice. That's why editors are so important....

What are the other two? Well, one of them is Rice-Crust Meat Pie:

I'm pretty sure this is the one on the bottom, even though the book swears this is the top pie. It's basically a really thick tomato-meat sauce cooked in a rice shell.

The other one is Rice Pizza Pie, but I like to call it Meat-Crust Rice Pie:

Again, I'm pretty sure it's the one  on the top since that one is pictured with a green pepper garnish, even if the caption insists it was on the bottom. 

My favorite picture- recipe combo might be for Molded Salmon Rice Salad. 

You know when it's full of canned salmon, mayonnaise, and finely diced odds and ends, it's going to look like cat puke. This is special, though, because it's cat puke in a mold!

If you look closely, you will realize that this recipe required two molds-- the one the food stylist actually used to make this feline ejecta look vaguely like a fish wearing an out-of-control ruffled body stocking, and the one resting uncomfortably next to that pink monstrosity and thinking, "Hey, at least I didn't have to get packed with that garbage!"

On second thought, maybe I shouldn't be too dismissive of my Minute Rice and Easter egg mashup breakfast. Even as a child, I could create a better recipe than this one....


  1. Ah yes, all those little tiny pans of minute rice we ate for breakfast on summer vacation and weekends. Now I think instant rice is kind of disgusting. Then again, I have a rice cooker to make the good stuff now.