Dorm Cooking 101: Rice on the side

I always have rice and lentils or beans in my kitchen cupboards. Both are versatile and last for a long time. I keep a little tupperware box of beans soaking in water in the fridge. That is how I came up with this recipe. A big box of soaked beans, a can of tomato paste that needed to be used up and rice that I didn’t want to carry from my summer residence to my regular residence. This rice dish is great for a meal on its own, like a light lunch, or as a side to grilled chicken, fish or even eggs. I sometimes eat it for breakfast, topped with a fried or boiled egg. It’s flavourful, wholesome and delicious.

The best part is, you can make a giant pot of it and eat it over a week, or you can scoop little personal portions into ziplock bags and freeze it. Dump it into a bowl, microwave, and ta-da!


  • A cup & a half of rice (Brown, basmati or long grain, but brown is healthiest.)
  • A cup of mixed lentils & beans (or just one kind, whatever you have. Or none, works too.)
  • Vegetables (Anything works, some vegetables I’ve used before are carrots, broccoli, green onions, butternut squash, zucchini, eggplant, green peppers, mushrooms.)
  • Half an onion
  • A teaspoon of minced garlic
  • Some tomato paste (This is optional)
  • Chicken/vegetable stock cubes or powder
  • Dried thyme (Rosemary and basil works too, although basil tastes best fresh)
  • Salt & pepper
  • A little olive oil

The night before you want to make the rice, soak the beans in water and leave them in the fridge over night. If you forget to do this, you can soak them an hour before and cook them in a slow cooker, boil them or steam them. What I usually do is, soak the beans and lentils in water over night and then cook them along with the rice in a rice cooker. That way, they’re soft but have a slight bite to them.

Once you’ve prepared your rice and lentils, chop up your onion and fry it along with the garlic in some olive oil. Once the onions are translucent, add bite sized vegetables. Do not over cook them (broccoli & green peppers should be a bright green, mushrooms should be gray or brown, not black or dark brown). If you are using tomato paste, add it along with some water (to dilute it, because tomato paste is concentrated) at this point. Add the stock cubes or powder, dried herbs. Toss your rice and lentils into the pot and mix it well. Salt and pepper the rice according to taste. If you are using fresh herbs, add them right at the end.

Serve it in a bowl for a light lunch or pair it with some grilled meat. Delicious!

I love how the veggies & tomato paste contrast-- beautiful!

A steaming hot bowl of this rice by the window, in the rain... perfection!


Dorm Cooking 101: Quick Dessert- Apple Crumble

I have a terrible sweet tooth. Cravings strike at any time, unannounced. This worked out wonderfully when I lived downtown and a 24-hour McDonald’s was a three minute walk away. Living on campus means everything closes around 12am (good thing too, otherwise my waistline would suffer!) and my cravings have been known to strike way beyond mid-night at times. I often resort to quick, easy to make desserts during times of need like this. My favourite quick & somewhat healthy dessert is an Apple Crumble. I always have apples in my fridge because they don’t spoil easily, they are portable and delicious! I always have oats because my mum drilled in the importance of fibre into my head before I left for university. I also always have sugar for cereal, tea and the occasional coffee. So this works out pretty well for me since you don’t need those annoying things you never buy like baking powder.

Here’s what you need (and substitutions)
One Apple (I used Golden Delicious because that is what I had but my mum makes this with Granny Smith. I’ve made it with Macintosh and they work just fine, too)
3 Tbsp Sugar (I used brown because I love the richness from the molasses but you can use white granulated sugar too, no problem)
3 TbspFlour (If you don’t have flour, put some bread crumbs in)
1 TbspGround/Chopped nuts (Optional)
3 Tbsp Oats
Cinnamon (Optional)
Half a Lemon (Optional)
1 Tbsp Butter

Since Golden Delicious apples are sweeter than Granny Smith, I like to squeeze half a lemon all over the cut up apples. This not only gives them a tang but also keeps them from going brown. Butter your baking tray and lay the apples in the tray. Make your crumble by incorporating butter, sugar, apples, cinnamon and ground nuts if you are going to use them. The consistency should be like wet sand and should be of a similar colour. Excuse my pictures, I dropped a ton of cinnamon in my mixture and it looks really dark. It tasted just fine, a little too sweet because I may have been a little liberal with brown sugar too. Top your apples with this crumbly mixture and stick it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes till the apples are soft and the topping is crisp. You can eat it with custard, ice cream or just by itself. It’s a simple, easy, quick dessert you can make with things you probably have!

Mmm, gooey gooey sticky mess 🙂