When the Hayward School District was consolidated, I was exposed to cafeteria food served in the high school gymnasium. Compared to the home-cooked meals Winifred Larson used to make for us in the basement of Blair School, the offerings scooped onto our plates in Hayward were not even second rate.
For the most part I have suppressed the memories of those lunches. I do recall an embarrassing episode involving a banana. Instead of jello or fruit cocktail, one warm spring day we had bananas for dessert. I liked bananas but wanted to get outside for a softball game, so I put the banana in my pocket.
It was not a wise move as I discovered when I slid on my front trying to stop a ground ball. I emptied my pocket and washed most of the mess out of my pants, but the girls giggled when I came into the classroom with a very noticeable wet spot on my jeans. Since then I don’t put even a stick of gum in a pants pocket.
Another lasting memory is the Spanish rice that was served every week. It was made with bacon and some vegetables and was even worse than the greasy “hamburger hot dish” which was also served weekly. My memory may be faulty. It’s possible that these dishes were served less frequently, but once a year would have been more than enough.
This recipe for Mexican rice has no meat or vegetables except for a little onion and tomato sauce. It goes well with Cheese & Bean Burritos or enchiladas. We think that toasting the rice in the oil and heating the garlic and cumin with it results in a delicious flavor. The rice ends up light and fluffy and not at all gummy.
3 T vegetable oil
1 cup long grain white rice
1 tsp. garlic salt or 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth
Peel and chop the onion medium fine. Have ready the tomato sauce and broth.
Heat the oil in a 1 1/2 or 2 quart saucepan over moderate heat. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with oil. After the rice has been cooking in the oil for two or three minutes, stir in the cumin and garlic salt (or salt and garlic powder). Stir continuously until the rice grains turn golden brown. This will take five or six minutes.
When the rice has browned, stir in the onion and cook for a minute or two until the onion is translucent. Stir in the broth and tomato sauce, cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until the broth has been absorbed by the rice. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.