Casa Mia

Casa Mia

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jessica's favorite: "Piwaf" (aka Rice Pilaf)

My grandson has arrived!

On January 11, 2010, at 9:26AM Ryan Patrick made his debut into the world at Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut after quite an ordeal. It’s funny about pregnancy and birth – well, not haha funny but somewhat ironic – although it happens every minute of every day all around the world and the drill is basically the same, there’s always something ever so slightly different with each delivery. My daughter’s case is one: all perfect 9 months aside, we all anticipated labor and delivery to be quite ordinary but just about the time Jessica passed the 24 hour mark, things got hairy and baby Ryan presented posterior (or sunny side up as the labor nurses so affectionately refer). Neither pushing nor vacuum nor doctor’s hands would get Ryan out until C-Section prevailed. Adding insult to injury, the anxiety and stress of it all seemed to have lent itself to my daughter contracting postpartum hypertension, with blood pressure readings close to 200/100 and fear of seizures. Instead of feeling joy and excitement, we were all just plain worried.

Jessica is home now, after having convinced the doctors that an extended hospital stay would only worsen her condition, and my maternal instincts have kicked in in full force. I can feed, change and cuddle Ryan in true grandmother (aka “Gigi”) fashion and tend to Jessica the way I did when she was just a baby herself. After 28 years, the memories of that time are flooding back - a blessing because I stupidly did not write them down back then and now have an opportunity to flash back and get my memories documented once and for all. I too had C-sections with both my girls and Jessica was a breech baby so although I was in labor, I didn’t have to push so hard and perhaps my trauma was slightly less. I do recall having palpitations when I came home from the hospital and it was my mother’s sage advice, nightly glasses of red wine to help me sleep and comforting, soothing, enriching meals that got me through.

With that in mind, the Jessica who is still my baby, and remembrances of my own postpartum twinges, I prepared a welcome home meal for my daughter. To strengthen her blood, roast beef; to give her much needed iron, spinach; to give her comfort and love, rice pilaf, or “piwaf” as she called it, her childhood favorite. Now I know we Italians don’t know from pilaf, but my college roommate’s aunt was Armenian and my mother took this recipe from Harriet’s family 34 years ago at my recommendation and then I adopted it when I had my own family. After all, who would dislike rice and lots of butter? Over the years, dietary concerns have restricted me from serving this tasty side dish but I threw all caution to the wind for Jessica yesterday.

Rice Pilaf
2 cups of raw rice, preferably Carolina
4 cups of water
2 double Knorr chicken bouillon cubes
1 stick of butter
½ bag Pennsylvania Dutch fine egg noodles

Boil the water with the bouillon cubes in a 6 quart pot. Add the rice and stir; lower the heat and cover. When all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is soft, turn off the heat and let sit.

In a large skillet, melt the butter until foamy. Add the noodles and stir with a wooden fork or paddle. Pay close attention at this stage as the noodles can burn easily. When they are golden browned on both sides, turn the heat to low and add the rice, stirring evenly into the noodles. Try to serve while noodles are crisp but if that’s not possible, as is usually the case, rice pilaf tastes just as good with soggy noodles.

This is a very simple side that’s great with chicken or steak, or Jessica’s favorite, roast beef.


  1. Nothing like good food and company to ease all sorts of pain! Thank you for sharing all this, Val.

  2. Mrs. Vanadia! Great post! I am so proud of Jessica and happy for all of you! We think about you all the time...and talking about it - yes, especially when mom prepares your special buffalo wings. :-)

  3. Val....what great reading. Witty, informative and yummy! Can't wait for more. Thanks for sharing!!