It's been a long, long week. There's really no getting around that. Our house hasn't been a happy one, and how could it be? When you find out the largest massacre by gun in the nation's history has occurred, and that it targeted people who are like you - who are your family, who share your experiences, even if they're so far away. And to have that grief compounded by the silence of non-queer family members and friends who don't understand your community bond and your grief, and to have people asking how the weekend was as if nothing at all had occurred. To have so many people ignoring the fact that this was an anti-LGBTQ attack, instead focusing their anger solely into anti-Islamic sentiments or using the attacks as an example to further their own political agenda. How could we be happy? It's not about us, we were lucky enough to not be directly impacted in any physical way by the violence that unfolded. All we can really do is be more vocal than ever - and that's what we plan to do.
During a time of tragedy and loss, I'm not one of those people who feels inspired to make a casserole. I'm the kind of person who is sick to my stomach, and has a craving for a glass of wine and a cigarette, as if those things will make me feel any better. But, in craving normalcy, or distraction, or whatever, I decided I should probably go ahead and throw something together. I thought of sticky rice. Is that odd?
The day of the attack, a friend visited and we somehow started talking about sticky rice, and her recent trip to Southeast Asia. It got me excited and made me remember when Matt and I were traveling around Asia just three years ago, trying new foods, and falling in love with each other over little banana leaf pouches filled with sticky rice. Some were filled with cut bananas, some had mango, and some had a kind of mystery meat that was both grey and delicious. I've been thinking about my own relationship, and my own life the last few days following Sunday's attack... and for whatever silly reason I keep coming back to the thought of sticky rice.
When we were in Thailand, Matt's favorite sticky rice was topped with banana, but he'd settle for mango. I promised him I'd make him little sticky rice pouches of his own when we returned home, but I forgot and he didn't beg hard enough so it didn't happen. I've been remembering the joy he got from them, and right now that's the kind of joy I want to see on his face. Just simple happiness, from the small, mundane things in life. So I made sticky rice. I made a lot of sticky rice. And while I didn't wrap it in banana leaves to steam, I'm extremely happy with how it came out. These guys get topped with peaches that have been tossed in sugar and a little cayenne pepper. It's really, really good. I hope it brings some joy into your life, too.
Spiced Peach Sticky Rice
Serves 4 - 6
- 2 cups uncooked sticky rice
- 1 can (14ish oz) full fat coconut milk
- 1 can (6 oz) coconut cream
- 1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 ripe peaches
- Mint or fresh berries for garnish
- Cook the rice according to the instructions on the packaging. If you buy it in bulk and don't have a package to refer to, here's a guide to preparing sticky rice with or without a steamer. If you're in a pinch you can always boil the rice like traditional white rice, though the texture won't be quite the same. Some sticky rice purists will probably be mad at me for even suggesting you do this, but, yolo.
- In a saucepan, bring the coconut milk, one cup of sugar, and teaspoon of salt to a simmer. Whisk to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. Set aside.
- Place the cooked rice in a large heat-proof bowl and pour about 3/4 of the coconut milk mixture over the top of it. Give it a good stir. Wrap in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and let cool to room temperature, about an hour.
- Prepare the peaches by cutting them into cubes and tossing them with the tablespoon of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Set aside.
- Return the remaining coconut milk mixture to the saucepan and add the coconut cream. Whisk in the cornstarch and let simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.
- Once the rice has cooled to room temperature, you can either refrigerate it (for up to one week in an airtight container) or serve immediately. Assemble by scooping out a portion onto your serving plate*, topping with a little bit of the coconut cream sauce, and a pile of the peaches. Add fresh mint or berries for garnish.
To get a uniform shape of sticky rice for serving, I layered plastic wrap in a small bowl and firmly pressed the cooked rice into it before inverting the bowl onto the serving plate and peeling off the plastic wrap.