beta carotene cravings

So while I was in Vegas I ate pretty decent food. The problem is that there weren’t a lot of actual vegetables.  I said something to one of my fellow conference attendees and they said, “but today we had a salad for lunch.” Huh?! It was romaine lettuce with steak, cheese and croutons… I guess that technically romaine lettuce is a vegetable but I don’t really count it.

So on my first trip to the grocery store when I got back; I went on a carrot binge. I bought a huge bag of whole carrots and a liter of carrot juice…also a butternut squash, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, a bunch of spinach and broccoli rabe.

The next day I started with breakfast. I know…you can’t see the carrot juice but it is in there. Also the zest and juice of an orange and some wheat germ.  I ate them with Amish table syrup (corn syrup basically) and Greek yogurt.  They were also really good warmed up in the oven and spread with homemade apple butter the next day.

carrotwaffles

Barley Porridge and Fig Compote

I did not have cream and whole milk. I used skim milk and creme fraiche because that is what I had. It tasted fine but I should have put the creme fresh in at the end maybe, because it curdled a bit over the 1 hour of simmering.

It is ugly again but how can butter, milk, creme fresh and pearled barley be bad.

and I love figs… but with the caramel? It is not a combo that works for me here. I lose something because that wonderful almost metallic flavor of a fresh fig is killed by the caramel.

1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pot, with flame at medium add the 3/4 cup of pearled barley and 1/4 tsp of kosher salt. Toast for 5 minutes until the the barley is about 2 shades darker. This step is important, don’t skip it.

2. Add 1 1/2 cup of water, cover, reduce to medium low and cook at rapid boil for 15 minutes. Barley should be al dente.

3. Add milk and creme fraiche to equal 3 cups. (original recipe calls for 2 3/4 cup of whole milk and 1/4 cup of heavy cream). reduce to low and simmer for  55 to 65 minutes. Yes, this is not instant oatmeal. You will need to plan ahead a little and be a little patient.

I already had the fig compote which I made earlier in the week. I just warmed it up.

Fig Compote

1. Put 3 tablespoons of butter (unsalted), 3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar and 3 tablespoons of honey in a cast iron pan, cook on high heat for 1 minute to create a syrup, add about 1/2 lb or fresh figs (cut into quarters) and coat with syrup.

2. Place the pan under the broiler and caramelize the figs, swirl occasionally and remove after about 5 minutes.

rhubarb-sorrell tart

rhubarb tart

This is the cover recipe for Good to the Grain.  If you like to bake (and I actually don’t), you need this book. I swear. Probably my best cookbook investment ever.

Of course it is a blogger favorite so if you just search Good to the Grain and rhubarb tart you will find many versions of this recipe. I basically followed both the cornmeal crust recipe and made the compote with the dried hibiscus flowers from the book, no substitutions.  The dried hibiscus, called jamaica on the package, came from my local grocery found with the other packets of Mexican spices, dried chilies, etc.  I have extra, so I will make some hibiscus tea, also called jamaica or sorrell tea, popular in the Caribbean. I actually first had it in Senegal this winter…I think I may make mine with a little less sugar than most traditional recipes seem to call for  :)

These tarts are so delicious that most went into my freezer to be defrosted on another day. I refuse to share.

granolabars

So these little suckers are toasty and nutty: flax-seed meal and toasted oats in honey molasses brown sugar syrup with some sultanas (golden raisins).

They were also hard as a rock almost immediately! I think they are a bit much for me. The key might be less syrup. It is the only recipe from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain that I haven’t really liked much. It is still one of my favorite cookbooks.

quinoa cookies

quinoa cookiesI wish I had more to say about the quinoa cookies.

Making them allowed me to use my mixer again. They use both quinoa flour and something called quinoa flakes…and I do love new ingredients. I was a little skeptical after my first taste. For one, they are kind of unattractive again, perhaps a quinoa problem in general. The quinoa flakes on top looked, well, not appetizing to me. They are also pretty simple: quinoa flour/flakes, oats, brown sugar, molasses… the usual, but nothing to get your attention like chocolate or nuts.

I ate one and put the rest in the freezer. I prepared to forget about them and then throw them away when sufficiently freezer burnt. As it happens I haven’t forgotten about them and I’ve taken some out, warmed them up,  and eaten them. They seem to be growing on me. In fact one evening I ate 4.

I did rather like the picture of the cookie with red background so I used it as my new banner. It seems that even though baking is not my favorite kitchen activity, that baked goods make the best banner pictures.

aside: I am annoyed that the spell checker doesn’t recognize the word “quinoa.” I use it a lot in this post. I also use “I” alot, don’t I?

unattractive but tasty porridge

porridge with squash apple compoteI admit that this may not appear to be the most appetizing breakfast ever. I promise it was tasty. As usual thank you Kim Boyce.

She calls for steeping the milk for the porridge with spices: cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice. Then if you don’t know quinoa (keen-wa) yet, it is good stuff so try it, toothy and full of protein. I had black quinoa so that is what I used but white might be more attractive.

(aside: Wham!’s Last Christmas is playing on Pandora…cheesy xmas music magic. love it!!)

The Squash and Apple Compote is delicious but I will say that shopping choices seem to be key here. I just bought a butternut squash… easy, but for the apples I wanted to buy some that would not turn to mush “immediately” when they hit the hot pan. I went for Pink Ladies which I have not actually used before. Now, I envisioned relatively mushy apple with caramelized squash chunks. What I got was mushy squash with chunks of apple. So next time I would need to rethink the apple selection. They just never got translucent or very soft and I had to keep adding water so the sugar didn’t burn to the bottom of the pan.