My Night With Mrs. P – Fiesta Rice 1

I have been absent for a while and have been meaning to post this.  There’s more soon to come…

I was walking Babe and talking to Boo on my cell phone when the rain started.  I know Babe doesn’t mind the rain and normally I don’t either.  I love dancing in it, but water and cell phones don’t mix.  It took four minutes to walk back through the neighborhood, up my steep cul-de-sac, and into my garage.

How easily I under appreciate a roof over my head.  I rarely think twice about going home, except when I have forgotten something on the kitchen table, the floor beside my bed, or the bathroom counter.  I usually gripe over those extra trips, annoyed at their inconvenience.  But the other night, I couldn’t help being reminded of my blessings.

Christmas 2008

One of my mom’s good friends, Mrs. Pinski, and I cooked dinner for 30 men.  The men are part of Congregations for the Homeless.  This roving shelter is housed in 12 different Eastside churches on a rotating monthly schedule.  (The “Eastside” is the east side of Lake Washington in the greater Seattle area.)

Through a system of counseling and aid, Congregations for the Homeless helps the men get back on their feet.  The shelter gives them a place to sleep, a hot shower and three meals a day.  During each church’s month, they provide food for the men, which is where Mrs. Pinski and I came in.  We prepared a Friday night dinner.

I parked outside First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue’s community center.  Several of the men were climbing off a bus at a nearby stop.  They each carried large bags, which held their things.  On the way into the church, every man nodded to me and grabbed something from my car.  The pans were fresh from the oven and the pots had just been pulled off the stove.  They only thing they said was, “Thank you,” until we were all inside.   There was hardly an acknowledgement of my outstretched oven mitts.

That Friday night I said the grace I say with everyone I cook for, “God is good.  God is great.  God bless the food that’s on this plate.”

When I got home I said a different prayer, “Thank you for this roof and a place to forget things.”

Fiesta Rice
Serves 8

Mrs. Pinski and I brought cupcakes, salad, a main course and this rice dish.  My mom first made it about two months ago and I really like it.  The roasted corn has a nutty flavor.  Packed with black beans, it’s hearty enough to stick to you.  Acid from the limejuice gives it a bright freshness.  Not to mention it’s served warm, which is comforting.  Sharing with others was the most rewarding.

I have changed the recipe a little, such as using fresh garlic instead of powdered, but mainly I like it just how she first made it.  Most of the ingredients are from the pantry, making this a fabulous dish to fall back on when the monthly food budget is running low.

2 TBS olive oil
1 15.25 oz can of corn, drained
1½ TBS butter
1 cup chopped green onions (you can use white or yellow onions too)
1½ cups brown rice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp minced garlic
2 cups chicken broth
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with chilies, undrained
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup chipped fresh cilantro
1 TBS fresh limejuice

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add corn to pan and cook until corn starts to brown, stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes).  Remove from pan and set aside.

Use a pan with a lid and melt the butter.  Sauté onions until tender (about five minutes).  Add rice, garlic and cumin, cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).  Add chicken broth, pepper and salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover.  Allow to cook 35 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed.

Add tomatoes and allow to cook another 10 minutes until liquid has fully absorbed.

Remove from heat and stir in corn, beans, cilantro and lime juice.

Recipe in print-friendly format

About Mikaela Cowles

I’m a food-gobbling, book-reading, aspiring photog. Born and raised in Seattle, I love dancing in the rain, bouquets of fresh basil and green grass between my toes. I like how kneading butter into flour makes my fingers soft. I’m passionate about all things sweet potato. I prefer my coffee black, my scotch on the rocks and my steak bloody. I hunt, when I have time; play basketball; and hike. I’ve been known to laugh so hard I hyperventilate. And, I’m the owner of Making Language Count, a boutique freelance writing business.

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One thought on “My Night With Mrs. P – Fiesta Rice

  • Jean Pinski


    I am flattered to be included in this sweet story. I appreciated the experience of feeding these nice/down on their luck guys. I am sure I “got more” out of the evening than they did. Thank your for letting me help you serve others.

    As always, you were the sweet, charming, endearing young lady I helped raise.
    I am so proud of you!