Item: I caved and bought a salad spinner. It's come in handy pretty much every day since I've had it, for salads and for greens. As I was spinning my de-stemmed tat soi dry this evening, I realized I haven't mentioned this yet. Even better, I bought it at the luxuriant Sur La Table; it's Oxo and terrific (see photo). There, are you happy? I have a salad spinner, and I'm not ashamed. Okay, I'm a little ashamed. But I'm working through it. [In related tat soi news, I have been scooped by Jack Bishop in A Year In A Vegetarian Kitchen, who recommends tat soi for all the reasons I'm trying it.]
UPDATE: Tat so and tofu stir-fry was perfect. Tat soi is delicious and mild, with a spiciness that complements the Asian flavors of soy sauce, garlic, and honey. I'm going to have to get more this week.
Item: Every cookbook/recipe seems to have its own method for cooking "troublesome" brown rice. I don't get it. Cooking brown rice is easy, so long as you don't cook too much at once, or try to cook it too quickly. Plus, since brown rice isn't just starch, you can stir it without fear of turning it mushy. Here's my brown rice method, which has never let me down, and which doesn't take the "at least 40 minutes" most folks claim it needs - just don't cook more than a cup (which will serve at least four people) at a time - and you'll be fine. I can't remember where I learned to saute the dry rice in oil before adding water, but it makes all the difference in the world as far as flavor and even cooking.
Foolproof brown rice:
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup brown rice
2+ cups water
salt to taste (1/4 tsp or so)
Heat oil at medium-high in straight-sided 10" saute pan (preferred) or heavy 3-quart saucepan. Add rice, stirring, until most grains are browned and rice smells nutty and delicious. Turn down heat to low and add water - be careful! The pan is still really hot, and water will steam. Add salt, stir, and cover pot. Simmer until water is nearly gone; test a few grains for doneness; if still crunchy, add a few tbsp. water and continue cooking until done, about 20-30 minutes total.