Cooking with Quinoa

There has been a lot of talk about Quinoa. It first appeared as a food that would put those who ate it in the “Health Nut” camp but has recently become more of a mainstream curiosity.

Quinoa (pronounced ‘Keen-wah’) is a funny little food – at first glance people are tempted to call it a “grain” when indeed it is a “seed”. A very small seed and prominent member of the Goosefoot species of plants. I’m sure most of you have fought valiant battles against quinoa relatives who love to pop up in the fertile soil of your garden year after year. Back home we called them ‘ironweeds’ or ‘pigweeds’ or even ‘lambs’ quarters’ and when young they actually make a tasty and nutritious substitute for spinach at the dinner table – but that’s beside the point.

Quinoa is an ancient food from Peru and surrounding areas. The Incas considered it to be a sacred crop which caused their new Spanish neighbors to hold quinoa in distain. It was even outlawed for a time and the natives were forced to grow the more European wheat. What the Spanish didn’t know and what we are now finding out is that the Incas had good reason to hold their quinoa dear. Though it be tiny and a relative of plaguing weeds, quinoa has an impressive resume. Full of fiber, magnesium, iron, calcium, as well as being a complete protein in its own right, quinoa is gluten free and easy to digest. It’s also a smart plant, having a built-in defense system which causes it to be distasteful and even gastrically upsetting when eaten before the outer coating has been removed. The crop is easier to protect from critters that would sneak in and steal it before harvest. Most quinoa sold in the grocery stores has already been processed to remove the coating so when you purchase it (which I sincerely hope you do!!) it’s ready to be cooked and enjoyed.

How do we enjoy it, you ask? I have read that it can be considered ‘an acceptable substitute for rice’, but other than giving you a good idea of the broad range uses, I don’t think it does quinoa justice. I have found it to be so much more than ‘acceptable’ and so much more than a ‘substitute’!

My mom taught me to cook quinoa with a basic ratio of two parts liquid to one part quinoa and I have never had that fail me. Adding one cup of quinoa to two cups of slightly salted boiling water or stock, letting it cook until the water has boiled down to the level of the quinoa (8-10 minutes) and then putting the heat to low and covering it to ‘steam’ for 10 or so minutes more will give you a delightful, 2 cups (roughly) of cooked quinoa to serve plain as a side dish or to use in another recipe. The portions I just described will serve about 4 people.

Cooked quinoa is tender but still has a nice texture to it. It isn’t lumpy or soupy or mushy but can be ‘fluffed’ with a fork and the seeds will be separate. Another way you can tell is that the slim white ‘tail’ on each seed becomes loose, giving them an artsy look, as if they are wearing hats adorned with long feathers.

Once you have the basic recipe down and are ready to have some fun with it, there is certainly fun to be had! My latest quinoa craving has been satisfied by adding sautéed onions and chopped raw kale to the quinoa as it is cooking. So easy, so healthy, so very delicious. Another favorite method in my house is to start out by sautéing fat slices of sweet leeks in a bit of olive oil before adding chicken stock and then the quinoa. Oh. My. Word.

Add quinoa to soups instead of noodles or rice, use plain cooked quinoa in casseroles and and quiches. You can even cool it and sprinkle the seeds on salads. Your possibilities boarder on being endless and you will certainly not be doing any harm to incorporate this amazing food into your diet!  So go forth and enjoy…

 

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A return, A revelation, A response; Tuesday’s Ten

Alright, alright – I fell off the blog bandwagon there for a bit and now I’m back.

I think.

Let’s just take each day as it comes, shall we? With tea and happy thoughts and much lower expectations on my end.

You see, I’m absolutely, totally, utterly and incredibly Pregnant.

Yuppers.

That’s me. Oh, so preg-O.

I’m going to have a baby. There’s a tiny person inside me *right now*, growing away and making their mum long for naps and salty carbs.

Did you hear the shouts at about 7:45 AM last Monday (eastern standard time) when Alex and I found out that we are the delighted parents of a poppy seed-sized baby *someone*? Obviously, we’re not sure what the little boot is, though we keep inadvertently referring to him as, well, ‘him’, but just knowing that someone is really *there* is enough for now.

How do you describe it? I will attempt to do so with this Tuesday’s Ten Things…

1) Shocked; it worked! I know they *said* it would – but it did. Really. We did it. We made a baby. Um, ta-da! Is it weird to feel really accomplished?

2) Thankful; God worked! Sure we happened to be in all the right spots at all the right times, but do you have any idea what a miracle this is? How can there possibly be pregnant atheists?! This is so obviously the work of the Lord, it’s overwhelming because it’s happening IN ME. Someone exists now that didn’t before. There is a tiny soul inside me, placed there by God Himself. Incredible, absolutely incredible.

3) Full; I feel full. Full of love for my husband and our child. Full of purpose and intentions and hopes and dreams and worries and cravings and wonderings and supposings and plans and questions and deeper than usual thoughts. I feel full of life – which seems slightly contradictory seeing how my life now consists of barely more than eating, sleeping and trudging to the bathroom.

4) Happy; I’m a mama! I am so happy – purely, surely happy with all the gloss and shininess that goes along with it. Even when I get to feeling a little strained, just remembering *why* puts a smile on my face – I’ve got a baby.

5) Reverent. Life looks so different to me after seeing those two shadowy blue lines cross on that test – it really *means* something. Suddenly, I’m not thinking about ‘will this food make me fat’, but, ‘is this good for the baby?’. It’s amazing and surprisingly hard to describe, there is a deep part of me that feels very solemn and silent before the life that is  being woven together inside me. It’s so serious and fierce and strong.

6) Tired. Knock-down, drag out exhausted. So tired.

7) Hot. As in, literally on fire… I wasn’t aware that there would be hot flashes.

8) Preoccupied – Because I am not thinking about what you are saying, I am thinking about something else all together, probably baby-related. Sorry.

9) Honored. I am so honored to be the mother of Alex’s child, I can hardly say. He is the best of men and will be the very best of fathers and when I get to thinking about it I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed, I say.

10) Out Of Control. In a way, at least, I feel as much a passenger as this little one. This being my first time around the block, I have very little idea of what to expect. I’ve read enough books to have some knowledge about it, but that’s not enough. Even if the knowledge is there, the *feeling* is still totally NEW. It’s so weird. It’s not just me anymore.

 

So there you have it, 10 Things from me about being pregnant. I’m quite sure this isn’t going to turn into some Mommy Blog, but I’m sure the kiddo will make an appearance now and again. We’ll have to come up with a cute nickname so we don’t have to call it “It” the whole time.

Any suggestions?

The Working Ten

We all have a lot of jobs that we must do in life, from teething to raising kids to putting away the dishes after dinner – there is always something to be done, some sort of work. It’s a good thing, it keep life moving in the right direction.

Here are Ten Jobs – all of which I have done at some point in my life.

1) Don’t let this pig through

2) Clean up that vomit

3) Milk these cows

4) Bring them fries

5) Sort these bolts – all of them

6) Lance her abscess

7) Pick the dead flowers off these 7,000 geraniums

8) Carry this knife

9) Walk to the end, turn and walk back. Smile.

10) Don’t overfill those donuts

Maybe you’ve been working on the railroad all the livelong day and want to talk about it… go ahead, it’s your turn to share some of the jobs you’ve had to do in life…

This is the way we scrub the tub

Seems like my natural cleaning idea got some cogs turning, so I thought I would write a little and share my first homemade cleaning product adventure.

Aren’t you excited?

Better get some popcorn, I’ll wait.

So – I thought that we’d just slowly transition as we ran out of cleaning products, and then anything still left clinging to the side of the cupboard at the turn of the year will be ousted and replaced.

What was the first cleaning buddy to finish the race? Scouring Powder, because I love it so and use it on everything. Everything. AND – I am a die-hard brand nazi on this one, Comet is the *only* way to go. I’ve tried the all-natural stuff, Bar Keeper’s Friend, and several other brands and never found one I was as satisfied with as Comet. Unfortunately, it’s not that good for you. Not good at all. I can’t deny that it does a kick-butt job cleaning, though. The only problem I’ve ever had is that it seems to NEVER wash off. I don’t care how many times I rinse, there remains a light, bleachy, powdery film – yum – don’t you just want that left all over your baking pans and tub?

I didn’t think so. Well, neither do I. The Comet ran out this morning and I turned to the first homemade replacement in my recipe file (I’ve been collecting homemade cleaning product recipes – like a geek).

Baking Soda; it’s the other white scouring powder. You can buy it for a ridiculously little amount of money and it’s not going to kill you, always a bonus when considering something you clean with.

I filled a quart jar with baking soda that I bought at the co-op (for about a dollar) and then added a few drops of various essential oils; peppermint, basil and lavender. Then I shook the daylights out of it to mix the oils into the powder. Already the stuff smelled a whole lot better then Comet (although, who isn’t secretly attracted to the scent of bleach??)

Viola – we’re ready to scrub-a-dub-dub!

To be super cool, and nifty-like, I cut the top off of an empty salt container and used that for the lid of the jar, screwing the band around it so it stayed on. It now has a handy pouring spout. Thank you, Pinterest, for making me look so clever.

Time to clean the bathroom. I usually use Comet to scrub the sink, inside of the toilet bowl and shower stall/tub. Today I just shook my scenty baking powder all over and then doused it with some white vinegar (in a squirt bottle, the same vinegar I use for my hair). It makes a satisfying volcano of cleaning power and all I can think is that it’s like those cleaning bubble guys you see on T.V. – on steroids. I then proceeded to clean as I usually do, scrubbing and singing and rinsing and everything came out spotless – with no creepy, bleachy residue. The tub squeaked with cleanliness and the sink faucet shone. It didn’t take me any longer to clean this way, in fact I think I had to rinse everything a whole lot less which made it quicker.

Sorry, Comet – you done been shown up, big time.

…the dynamic cleaning duo…

My cleaning basket and its residents. Comet has given its spot to baking soda. The remaining items are; Windex, Murphy’s Floor cleaner, and Simple Green all purpose cleaner.

Ten Things on Tuesday

10 Things

That Make My Husband Smile

*as suggested by Correna*

 

1) Being tickled (he’s rather ticklish, but denies it vehemently)

2) Dinner time!

3) Kisses

4) Dancing

5) Getting home from work

6) When I make faces at him across the table, or…

7) When I try to look angry when I’m not really

8) The antics of little kids

9) Having his truck all clean

10) Watching YouTube videos of baby animals. Yup. We totally do this for entertainment on our mornings off. Our favorites involve baby goats or Harry, the infant pygmy hippo. So Cute.

So, after you go and watch the adorable hippo Harry, come back and tell me what makes your true love smile – –

10 Things on Tuesday

…no, this isn’t me…

Firstly, I would like to thank you all for coming to this week’s smashing edition of 10 Things Tuesdays. We (El’Blog and I) appreciate your continued support and ardent admiration.

*cue polite applause*

10 Goals

1) To continue on with my meal planning efforts until I am actually able to do it.

As I have often heard Mr. Darcy himself say, “I WILL conquer this.”

2) Make all of our own cleaning products and be using them by the new year. And I mean ALL, people. Laundry detergent to hand wash – I wanna make it ALL. Have any good recipes to share?

3) Join the yoga class in town. Yeah, it’s not like I’ve been trying to do this for the past three months or anything…

4) Actually sell things on Etsy.

5) Learn how to put in a zipper. Oooooooooo.

6) Be less of a hermit and work on developing relationships with the people in my actual geographical location; fellow townsmen, church folk, store clerks, random citizens – face to face contacts – like a real human being.

7) Enter the Holiday Season with a PLAN. As shocking as this will be to *most* of the people who know me, I am actually planning out Christmas *now* because I don’t want to be caught unawares. I’m making lists and checking them twice, researching prices and developing a strategy. I feel so corporate. Everybody gets a card. Everybody.

8) Cut out caffeine and fried foods. ACK – the horror, THE HORROR!

9) Read more. Because I am becoming shamefully illiterate. Ugh.

10) Dance more with my husband. Because I get so fiercely involved with all my goaling that I sometimes forget to Dance. And that’s a real shame.

So there you are, speak to me.
Tell me of all your hopes and dreams and goals and how you clean an oven without that god-awful toxic spray they sell at Wal*Mart…

10 things I do

I think that we, the people, should write a song about Tuesday… any ideas?

 

10 Stupid Things I Do

 

1) Stand up too quick, even though I know what happens there after – I usually temporarily pass out due to my low blood pressure. It isn’t life-threatening or dangerous, just stupid and annoying and I do it All The Time.

2) Count the telephone poles as we drive past them. Yup. I also count to the beat of the windshield wipers if it’s raining. No, that’s not weird at all.

3) Use the purple potholder – even though I know it has little holes in it and I WILL burn my hand. Do I remove it from the pile? Nope. Just keep using it –

just keep on using it.

4) Hit the little HOME button on the bottom of my iPod when I mean to hit the BACK button and I accidentally exit from whatever it was I was doing. Annoying.

5) Mix up dates. Always. Just last week I found myself sitting outside next to the road with my overnight bag, waiting for 50 minutes for the ride that wasn’t going to come because the wedding was NEXT week. NEXT week. Take your bags and go back inside, Ann. Now. Just go.

6) Take that first sip of boiling hot coffee from those stupid take-out cup covers that funnel the burning liquid onto your lips. Ouch. It hurts every time, for a long time.

7) Overestimate the time it takes for me to ride my bike to work. On a bike, it takes exactly 1 minute to get to my work. 1 minute. 60 seconds. Then why do I usually leave a good 20 minutes early? In case I hit traffic on the sidewalk going down? In case I develop a cramp and have to walk the last 10 feet? It makes no sense.

8) Go to bed late. Get up early. Drink coffee. Don’t nap. Just keep going.

9) Obsess about my weight. It’s a dumb thing, and I do it all too often, like – almost every time I eat or get dressed in the morning. I need to just get over it, right? It’s that evil comfort zone in my mind whenever I’m stressing or upset about anything else, I take it out on my weight. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

10) After 9 Stupid things, aren’t you ready for something a little less demoralizing?

What’s something Not Stupid that I do?

I write this blog for a bunch of pretty cool people that have come from all corners of the Internet Void and decided to share a bit of translucent, web-like life with one such as I, even though I do Dumb things.

It’s your turn.

Ever done anything Dumb?