Posts tagged: grains
June 14, 2011

Quinoa with Grilled Zucchini, Chickpeas and Cumin

At first I didn’t think I was going to tell you about this recipe at all. I ate it one evening, on the couch, served alongside a veggie burger, and the whole experience was desperately underwhelming. But then the pot of leftovers sat in the fridge for a day or two, and when I finally rose from bed on Saturday where I busy with a summer read until late in the afternoon, I spooned myself a bowl. It surprised me: the cumin, smoked paprika, and lemon had somehow become both pronounced and mellow, mingling with each other like people at a high school reunion after their second round. As life gets increasingly busy in the summer, it’s nice to have recipes like this on stand-by: the ones that make a lot, and can be popped in the fridge and eaten, bowl by bowl, on warm nights. It’s nice not having to lift a finger.

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November 22, 2010

$5 Dinner: Spaghetti with Pepper and Cheese & Spicy, Lemony Broccoli

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Sometimes I’m a guest on radio shows about various lifestyle topics I feel really passionate about, like how to live a life that feels luxe without breaking the bank. Recently, I was on a show talking about saving money on groceries in November. The segment idea was based on the cost of the holiday meal itself. Many hosts are spending the equivalent of their entire monthly grocery budget on a single meal. And that means having to get by with less than usual on the rest of your meals this month.

Some people know that terrified let’s-rub-two-pennies-together-and-call-it-dinner feeling. It is an insistent, heavy stress to not know where how you’re going to get by. This weekend, when my own future looked uncertain, these old familiar feelings came rushing back, as dogged and insidiously intimate as ever. It’s as if your normal thoughts of are now overlaid with a pertinacious sense of dread. Worry trails you everywhere. On a walk in the park: The yellow leaves sure look pretty. How am I ever going to pay the rent? It’s an unrelenting downer of a companion.

But I had the feeling that the radio host I was talking to had never been in this situation. He couldn’t understand being so low on money that you choose to make your own wholesome, homemade bread with pantry ingredients instead of buying a supermarket loaf for $3.99. His version of roughing it was a grocery store rotisserie chicken. He had probably never chosen dried beans over canned; the necessity of that choice for some was lost on him.

And that’s fine, in a way. I wouldn’t wish the feeling of grocery store poverty on anyone. To worry constantly about money is to lug over your shoulder a sack of bricks that you have to carry everywhere; it immediately affects all aspects of your quality of life. But I did feel, talking to this fellow on the radio, that it is a real badge of honor, and an important life skill to know how to still make your life feel beautiful, your home cozy, and your relationships nurtured with no money. It involves a little creativity sometimes, and often a bit of extra elbow grease. But to know how to create something out of nothing is to feel armed with the sense that you can provide for yourself and the people around you no matter what. And that’s a feeling I wish on everyone.

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November 3, 2010

Gregor’s Dill Bread

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Yesterday was a take-a-glass-of-wine-and-a-chocolate-chip-cookie-into-the-bathtub kind of day. But with the soul-crushing doubt and epic lowness that led me to carry glassware into a bubble bath, came also a reassurance in the ability of the simple things to set me right again: a sweet email from a friend, a simple pasta dinner, an episode of Family Guy, and, of course, alcohol and chocolate.

There was a surprise spirit-lifter yesterday that I hadn’t anticipated, though. I hope in two weeks time I don’t regret admitting what I am about to admit, but here goes: I’m doing National Novel Writing Month this year. If you don’t know about NaNoWriMo, allow me to introduce you. In the month of November, a bunch of crazy people with a wild sense of adventure and can-do spirit decide to write a 50,000 word novel by the stroke of midnight on November 30. The goal isn’t to write the next Great Gatsby, of course, but just to get yourself writing a lot, fueled by community and a deadline.

So yesterday, when what I really wanted to do was crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head, I couldn’t. I had a word quota I had to meet (and who wants to throw in the towel on Day 2?). So I propped myself up with pillows––I could still indulge the woe-is-me feeling by writing from bed––pulled out my laptop and got to work on my story.

I have never, mind you, written a word of fiction in my life (unless you count the stories I wrote in grade school, including one I was particularly proud of with the scintillatingly original title, “A Girl and Her Horse.”) I like real stories, and spinning some kind of worthy yarn out of the everyday. But what I hadn’t anticipated was how absolutely delightful it would be to sink into my own imagination and follow wherever it leads. You can write the book you’ve always wanted to read!

It’s Day 3, and technically, you are already 5,001 words behind. But if you have even the tiniest spark of interest, I recommend jumping into NaNoWriMo with both feet. I kind of think of it like quitting smoking––even if you have to try a bunch of times before you can successfully do it, each attempt brings you closer to your goal. But maybe that’s just what I’m telling myself to make the whole thing a hell of a lot less scary.

A few words about this bread: when my friend Gregor sent me the recipe the subject line was “Make this and fall in love with the fall all over again.” He need not have said another word, especially since I have a soft spot for dill and find it underutilized in general. The magical thing about this bread, in addition to the lovely golden crust it achieves in the oven, is that it somehow manages to taste even better the next day. It’s an absolute star buttered generously and served alongside a bean soup for the best kind of humble, homey dinner, and––though this will probably come as little surprise–– equally delicious topped with an oozy poached egg for breakfast.

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October 28, 2010

Fall Vegetable Quinoa Hash with Poached Eggs

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I think there’s something really magical about the morning. In Walden, Thoreau calls it the heroic hour, and while I’m rarely accomplishing great feats, I do like the routine of setting up the coffee, powering up the laptop, and sitting down to write for a few hours, straight away.

At least, that’s the weekday routine. The weekend routine involves the heroic act of a handsome husband walking four blocks to slay a cappuccino and return with it to his sleepyhead wife. This is always my favorite part of the weekend. Sitting upright, tucked into white sheets, and talking about the future––distant or that day’s––all still so filled with possibility. Will we be East coast or West? Will we live in town or country? Will it be eggs or pancakes? Saturday morning, the world is utterly at our feet.

But it’s kinda hard to get me up and at ’em. Even after the coffee there is a certain amount of cajoling and bartering, sometimes including the bribe of a second caffeinated beverage. And poor Sebastian, who suffers through all this lazing, loves nothing more than getting up and eating breakfast, while I just want to talk, talk, talk.

So I decided to be a heroine in my own right by making a weekend breakfast that might please us both: roasted sweet potatoes and beets taste so earthy, and when paired with crisp-edged quinoa, woodsy thyme and topped with an oozy egg, the result is the kind of meal a health-minded farmer might swoon over after milking the cows and picking up a few pumpkins from the patch.

Never mind that it was at this breakfast table I learned to add quinoa to the company of salmon and bok choy on the list of “foods my husband hates.” I thought this was autumnally delish, if a little time-consuming. Roast the vegetables ahead of time to throw this together in a flash on Sunday morning.

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