If anyone can tell me what is behind the (admittedly forced) pun in my title you win a million dollars.
Not. But, I would be kinda tickled if anyone can work it out.
Mum got me a bag of quinoa – something which I have, nerdily, been quite wild to try for some time now. I never thought I’d come across something more virtuous than lentils, but here I am. Life sure can take you on some interesting journeys. The Incans called quinoa the “mother of all grains” and are you going to argue with that recommendation? It contains forty squillion different vitamins and minerals and has more protein than any other non-meat product, and with all this you’d expect it to be kind of high maintenance, right? But no, a two year old could cook it. All you have to do is let it simmer for ten minutes, no pre-soaking or anything. As if all that weren’t thrilling enough, it actually tastes really good. Closest in texture to couscous, but much lighter, it has a somewhat nutty flavour which lends itself nicely to having chunks of roasted vegetables folded through…
Of course, adding roasted beetroot instantly turned the entire bowl of quinoa bright pink. Also in the mix was roasted carrot, walnuts, chopped spinach, and a perhaps-slightly-toooo-generous spoonful of ras-el-hanout. I thought about drizzling in some olive oil but the quinoa is so light and fluffy that I didn’t want it to be bogged down with gluggy oil.
Above: I did something very similar with some wholewheat pasta – more roasted beetroot, spinach, etc, but this time I included some mashed cloves of roasted garlic. The sweet nuttiness of the beetroot complemented the nuttiness of the pasta (I really need a new synonym to describe nuttiness huh?) and the garlic was a perfect addition. Again, as soon as I gave it a stir, the whole lot turned irrevocably, gaudily…pink.
Above: Once more – with organic burghal wheat. You probably don’t need me to point it out, but this inexplicably became tinted the pinkest of them all, which contrasted pleasingly with the snowy feta (added at the VERY last minute here for photographic purposes.) After that I kind of cooled it on the beetroot front but look, they’re really cheap and good for you, okay? And sometimes you have to take what you can get.
So it has been a bit of a wholegrain orgy in my kitchen lately. I know I’m smitten with them, but trust me, they’re more alluring than their earnest, hessian-weave image would suggest. And it’s not all roasted beetroot, for example, witness rolled oats cleverly disguised as pancakes…
I made these following an old recipe of Alison Holsts’s. It doesn’t make a lot, so is suited nicely to a cosy, lazy Sunday breakfast for two. They are surprisingly filling, but aren’t stodgy or lumpen at all.
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1 t baking powder
2 T sugar
2 T butter, melted
Pour the milk over the rolled oats in a good sized bowl, and leave to sit for 5-10 minutes, perhaps while you potter round getting the rest of the ingredients. Stir in the rest of the ingredients without overmixing, and add a little more milk to slacken if the batter looks too stiff. I did. I also melted the butter in the pan I planned on cooking the pancakes in, before tipping it into the batter (thus saving on dishes! Like a true student.) These work best as smallish cakes, about the size of one of Jennifer Lopez’ hoop earrings circa 2002 (meow!) and need flipping once bubbles appear. Don’t leave them for too long though as the bubbles aren’t as obvious with all those oats in the way. Eat however you want, with butter, with golden syrup, whatever.
All these various foods – oats, quinoa, burghal wheat, wholewheat pasta – are not only delicious they are also incredibly good for you. They are filling – when I used to have toast for breakfast I would not only be intensely hungry at lunch, I would also have that horrible empty-head-empty-stomach feeling. This is why I eat so much of them: So that I don’t end up buying chocolate bars at 10.00am, and so that I don’t feel bad about the big ol’ chocolate cake that I made this afternoon (and will blog about soon…)
In other news, I’m really enjoying all my papers so far this term. I may not feel that way when I’m wading neck-deep through assignments but so far, so enjoyable…however I am being positively haunted by advertising for Wicked in Melbourne, even long-suffering Tim pointed out a poster in excitement to me before – “oh” – realising it’s an Australian performance. Nevermind, these things all happen when they’re supposed to and it wouldn’t be so bad to see it in the West End even if I have to wait a while…Speaking of Broadway I am currently in love with the Spring Awakening soundtrack, if you don’t mind a little salty language and teenage angst the songs are utterly gorgeous.