The Jody Blum Culinary Institute

by Brian on September 28, 2010

in A Parent in Israel,Just For Fun

Jody Blum Kitchen Jerusalem Culinary Institute

Jody in the kitchen of her Culinary Institute

Growing up, my mother refused to let my brother and me into the kitchen. While this created a carefree cooking-neutral childhood, it hasn’t served me so well as an adult.

Whenever my wife Jody goes away – whether for an evening activity or an overseas trip – I slip into panic mode. Tackling menus terrifies me. Sure, I can follow a recipe, but it takes me at least three times as long, and I usually burn something or render it otherwise indescribably unusual.

When the issue raised its hungry head again recently after Jody was spontaneously called away at dinnertime, I realized that – after 22 years of marriage – it was time for a change. So I enrolled in Culinary School…run by none other than chef Jody.

As Jody and I began to think about the best way for me to learn to cook, we realized that I was missing even the basics. For example: how to prepare rice.

It sounds simple enough, but there are a lot of steps to ensure the rice is neither soggy nor overly crisp.

So at the Jody Blum Culinary Institute, there will be no assumptions. We’ll start with the basics – like boiling – and move on to more exotic topics such as sauces and sautéing.

We decided to open up the lessons to the rest of the family. To our astonishment, Merav – our 16-year-old cooking whiz – said she wanted to be a student too. She didn’t know how to make rice properly either. Her big brother joined in too.

Now, some people might just throw some Uncle Ben’s into a pot. Jody’s technique takes a few extra steps – but it’s worth it.

Jody uses only brown rice unless she’s following a recipe that specifically calls for white.

First, you have to measure out the rice. How many people do you want to serve? One cup is enough for our family. Two cups or more are required when you’re hosting for Shabbat. It may seem obvious to the more experienced, but it’s far from intuitive to the kitchen clueless.

The next step is to lightly fry the rice. One tablespoon of olive oil and one teaspoon of salt for every cup of rice. Heat on a low flame and stir while preparing the water – 2 cups for every cup of rice. If you’re like me and you can’t multitask, remember to measure out the water in advance. Seriously.

Pour in the water and bring it to a boil. Then you cover the rice and set the timer. 30 minutes should do it…unless it’s not enough. How do you know? Well, first of all make sure you use a pot with a glass top. That way, you can tilt the pot to see if there’s any liquid left without needing to lift off the top, which ruins the whole process. Smart cookie, that Jody.

It took a lot of hand holding but eventually the rice came out perfect. No one at lunch complained about an inadvertent “barbecue” flavor. It was just rice but I was beaming with pride.

I’ll be chronicling my ongoing adventures in cooking here, or perhaps in a separate blog. If you’re culinarily challenged like me, I invite you to follow along. Who knows, someday I might even conquer a quiche!

(P.S. Jody is leaving Thursday night for a 2-week trip to the U.S. It’s going to be rice every night, baby! Seriously, wish me luck with my new found skills.)

This post originally appeared on Israelity.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Valerie September 28, 2010 at 6:16 pm

This will be fun to learn along with your family, Brian. And it also inspires me to run a little Culinary Institute in my home! When I met Jake, the cupboard in his Chicago apartment (which would normally have held pots and pans) held only Take Out menus. And he wasn’t sure if the oven worked, he had yet to try to turn it on…

2 Michele September 28, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Better late than never. Sid’s an amazing cook and I’m pretty good, but I’ve never cooked a single pot of good rice. Thanks for the recipe.

3 Lisa Friedman October 18, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Here is my husband’s great response to your experience:
I guess I’ve hidden this for long enough. I actually learned to boil rice when I was single:
1. Put rice and water in pot.
2. Turn on stove.
3. Do something else while the rice is cooking.
4. Clean stove.
5. Buy new pot.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: