Shopping in Istanbul was difficult, to say the least. I wandered around supermarkets looking for English cognates that I could buy and comfortably prepare. Rice, beans, and vegetables became staples. They were all very cheap and easy to prepare, and provided us a pretty well-rounded meal. I became an expert at cooking rice, but had to adjust my cooking skills for brown rice when I came home. I had assumed it was the same as white rice, which was absolutely WRONG--I did this at least twice before I figured it out. Here are just some random combinations that end up being AMAZING.
1 part white rice
2 parts boullion
a bit of onion and garlic and butter
Sautee the rice, onion, garlic, and butter for 2-3 minutes. Then, add the boullion, bring to a boil, cover, and cook for twenty minutes on low heat. DO NOT TAKE OFF THE COVER DURING COOKING.
2 part brown rice
3 parts water (or boullion)
a bit of olive oil
Bring the water and oil to a boil. Add the rice, cover, and cook on low heat for fifty minutes. Again, don't you dare remove the cover.
BEANS (from dry)
Soak overnight. Put in pan, fill with water to cover beans. Bring to a rapid boil over medium high heat and cover. Make sure you keep enough water in the pan to cover the beans during the whole cooking process. They should take about 40 minutes or so; check them regularly.
You can do ANYTHING with these ingredients. You can add veggies during the cooking process of rice (carrots, celery, or tomatoes work well). You can make a casserole--layer the beans and rice with tomato sauce, veggies, cheese, etc. You can boil the beans with tomatoes, hot sauce, and more boullion to make a bean sauce to put over rice. They are the perfect staple ingredients to build upon--healthy and mild taste! Yummy. And this is the salad I ate basically daily in Turkey:
CUCUMBER FETA TOMATO SALAD
Toss chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. So fresh tasting and delicious!!