Saturday, October 2, 2010

The San Francisco Treat

It’s a little difficult to admit, but I like Rice-a-Roni.  I try not to use pre-package processed foods.  Homemade is so much better and generally not much more difficult to prepare, if you have what you need on hand.  At a price of $1 a box, Rice-a-Roni’s not particularly expensive.  But what if you could make the same thing yourself for just a few cents?   I like the idea because I know exactly what’s going into the food I am eating.

Rice-a-Roni has an interesting history, though.  The idea to package the side dish was born of Italian immigrants in by inspired the recipe of their Armenian landlady.

Charlie DeDomenico emigrated the United States from Italy in the 1890’s, making his way from New York City to San Francisco where he opened a small market which he eventually built up to three different stores.   From there he sent for and married his young Italian bride, Maria.  Together they set up residence in the apartment of an elderly Armenian woman.  Maria learned to cook from her landlady who taught her a recipe that was a combination of pasta and rice that became a household favorite the young family eventually moved into their own home.

In 1958, the rice and pasta was mixed with a dry chicken soup mix and the San Francisco treat, Rice-A-Roni was born.   The unique preparation of the dish, and its wonderful flavor and convenience, made the dish one of America's favorite products. The Rice-A-Roni jingle, The San Francisco Treat® slogan, "Saute and Simmer" and scenic San Francisco became familiar to every household in America in the 60's as the product was introduced through television advertising.

You can make your own “Rice-a-Roni” mixes in volume to store for future use and cost savings!

How to Make Your Own Rice Mixes

1 lb sticky type rice (like Arborio)
1 lb Carolina long-grain rice
1 lb Vermicelli or thin spaghetti, broken into little pieces.
1 lb orzo
Bouillon, chicken, vegetable or beef
Spices to taste
Dried veggies or dried meats (optional)

Combine the rices and pastas into a large bowl.  Mix 5 tablespoons of bouillon (1 Tbsp per cup of rice) in with the rice and pasta - if you are using bouillon cubes you will need to crush them before adding to the bowl. 

Add your spices such as: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt, dried celery leaves, white pepper, tarragon or parsley. If you have dried vegetables like carrot and celery add that to the mix, as well, for a heartier dish.

Mix until well blended.  Store in an airtight jar.

You now have several meals worth of homemade “Rice-a-Roni”  ready to go.  Saving time and money . . . it’s all good!

Directions to prepare your homemade rice mix:

1 1\3 cup of rice mix
2 1\4 cup of water
1 Tbsp of butter

Melt the butter and add the rice mix.  Saute for a few minutes then add the water to the pan.  Bring to a boil, reduce, simmer covered 15-30 minutes until all water is absorbed and rice is soft, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

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