Rice Snowballs and Cooking with a Two-Year-Old

August 30, 2012

  The wind was up two nights ago and D wanted to take advantage of it and get in some kiteboarding.  That meant that I would have both kids on my own all evening.  Oh boy.  What to do for dinner?  It needed to be something that could be cooked quickly, and preferably with Sky's help (because she enjoys it and it keeps her out of trouble).  I decided to go with smoked sausage, cheesy broccoli, and rice snowballs.  The smoked sausage went right from the freezer to a pan of water on the stove to boil.  I set up a steamer pan on another burner and had Sky help me chop broccoli.  Don't worry, she didn't touch the knife.  Sky's job is to pick up the pieces of broccoli after I cut them and put them in a bowl.  It's a harder job for her than you would think:  she has to keep up with my cutting, focus on getting the food in the bowl, and keep her fingers away from the knife and she did really well.  I let her eat one of the florets and we decided that they tasted green and crunchy and looked like trees.  Once the broccoli was chopped, it went into the steamer pan on a back burner.
  On to making the rice snowballs.  I made these up as a way to use up leftover sushi rice from this recipe.  We had about a cup and half to use.  I had Sky help me turn two old pieces of toast (made for a breakfast and not used- we save old bread for croutons and breadcrumbs) into breadcrumbs by putting it in a plastic bag and crushing it with a rolling pin.  We mixed the breadcrumbs into the rice and added about two tablespoons of Mrs Dash's Garlic and Herb seasoning and one egg.  Sky helped to stir it all up and then we started making snowballs.  Of course, it turned out to be pretty messy, and Sky was getting hungry, so she only made one before getting sent to the sink to "wash dishes" while I made the rest. 
  During this whole time, Fire was on the floor in his bumpo chair, playing with his rag.  Sky and I would occasionally sing to him or play peek-a-boo but for the most part, he was happy just to be there.  Towards the end, about the same time Sky got tired of being a helper, he started to get fussy, so family cooking time ended and I wrapped things up.  All in all, dinner and the whole evening, which could have gone really badly, went really well.  I was able to keep Sky involved and interested and because I didn't have the option of getting mad at her (that would have sent the whole night down hill), I was able to be patient with her when I needed to.  This mothering stuff takes practice, and I'm not as good at it as I wish I was, but it feels so good when things go right.

  Okay, enough chatter.  On to the recipe for A's Rice Snowballs:

Leftover rice (use any amount but you'll probably want more than a cup to feed 3+ people)
Breadcrumbs made from two slices of toast
~2Tbsp Mrs Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning (or seasonings of your choice)
1 egg
Olive oil for frying

Heat olive oil in a frying pan while you mix the first four ingredients together in a bowl.  To make the snowballs, pick up a small hand full of rice mixture in one hand and squeeze it, then start shaping it gently into a ball.  I had to squeeze it pretty hard to get it to really stick to itself while I shaped it.  I made about six rice balls at a time and fried them in batches.  Your hands will get covered in rice- just wash and dry them between batches (be careful of water and the hot frying oil!).  Fry the rice balls on each side like you would a meatball, until they are mostly golden and crispy.  Move the finished snowballs to a paper towel on a plate to drain and start working on the next batch.  I kept the plate in the microwave to keep them warm.
  Serve snowballs with pretty much anything.  I dipped ours in soy sauce but these would be really good with gravy or barbecue sauce as well.

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