Saturday, June 24, 2006


Eating Pearls

In its raw state barley is a very unattractive grain. The pearly insides are shelter by three layers of skin, two of which are inedible according to humans, but horses and cows thing that they are a delicacy. The highly processed version you find on the grocery store shelf has only the inner endosperm—referred to as the pearl. It still has much protein as a glass of milk and it is very low in gluten. In the health food stores you can find barley with its third outer layer or alerurone intact. This layer contains fiber and B vitamins. Barley is the perfect grain for light summer salads.

Today’s Lunch
Jim’s Barley Salad

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and add a dash of salt. Rinse 1 cup pearl barley (or follow the directions if you bought barley with the alerurone intact) and add to boiling water. Stir with a spoon so that the barley doesn’t settle to the bottom. Once the water returns to a boil this won’t be a problem. Reduce heat after the contents come to a second boil and cook for twenty minutes uncovered. Drain and set aside and allow to cool. Once cooled add one basked of cherry tomatoes cut in half, 1 cup frozen corn (or 1 cup fresh if available), and 1 cup black-eyed peas. Squeeze directly into the bowl the juice of 1/2 a large lemon. Add 2 tbsp walnut oil, 1 tbsp cumin, 1/2 tsp cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006



I love fair food. The fair gave rise to such delights as the ice cream cone and the modern hamburger. Last weekend I visited a wool market in the mountains. While there were lots of goats, rabbits, llamas, alpaca, and sheep; there were only a few food vendors. One would think that after looking at cute fiber-bearing animals the last thing you would want to do is eat one, but the wait for Colorado grown lamb was almost fourty-five minutes. Kibbees are a special treat made from ground lamb and cracked wheat and served on a tortilla with tomatoes and yogurt sauce. Here is my best guess at the recipie.

1 lb ground lamb
1 cup cooked cracked wheat
1 chopped onion
1 tbsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingrediants and form into patties to grill

Yogurt Sauce

1 plain low fat yogurt (its runnier than full fat, but not as yummy)
1 tsp. snipped fresh chives or 1/2 tsp. dried chives
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. paprika
Dash cayenne pepper

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Down the Rabbit Hole

In 1976, my family opened a small café in a college town. We were the first restaurant to serve exotic fair such as quiche, vegetarian enchilada, and big salads. The menu changed daily with about seven entrees and two desserts. It was a wildly popular place and through the eyes of a child full of magic and wonder. My best friend and I would roller skate up in and out of the building making a general nuisances of ourselves with the staff who were--in addition to being restaurant employees--poets, musicians, PhD candidates, thespians, ballet dancers, philosophers, writers, and scientists. We also employed a number of people from a sheltered workshop for deinstitutionalized mental patients. I liked them best or maybe a truer statement is that I felt proud that liked them best. Over the fireplace in the front dining room was the Tenniel drawing of Alice’s Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland. In the winter, I would sit at the table underneath the drawing with the grownups feeling a bit like Alice and listen to ther talk of Kafka and Kesey. In the summer, my brother and I would hang out on the porch while our finest salad maker and dishwasher would use the plastic dish racks as a lute and tell us tales accompanied by bursts of song. Today’s lunch was one the most popular dishes at the Café. It sounds odd, but it’s really good.

Today’s Lunch
East Indian Vegetable Salad

Combine 2 cups of cooked rice, 1 can drained kidney beans, 1 can of drained corn, 1 chopped green pepper, 2 stalks of chopped celery, 2 chopped hard boiled eggs, 1 bunch of chopped scallions, 4 tbsp mayonnaise, 2 chopped pickles, 1 tsp. horseradish, 1 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Sometimes a Picture is Not Worth A Thousand Words

You might think that a blog featuring food would be dripping with mouthwatering photos. Photographing food is hard. It requires a great deal of skill to make a bowl of chili look appetizing in a photograph. I remember squealing in horror with colleagues over a book of soup recipes. The bowls looked like they contained dissected brains and other less savory items. Until I have further perfected my skills (and get new batteries for my camera) a thousand words will have to suffice (or in this case 333).

Today’s Lunch
Posole Salad

Soak 2 cups of corn over night. Drain and rinse the corn the next day. (You can take a shortcut and look for canned hominy in the canned vegetable isle.) In a pressure cooker add 3/4-cup broth and enough water to cover the corn. Add a pinch of dried red pepper flakes (more if you like spicy food) and 1 tsp black pepper. Bring the contents to pressure on medium-high heat and then reduce the heat to medium-low for 20 minutes. Allow the pot to cool until the pressure is released. (You can also place the same ingredients in a crock pot and let it cook on low for about 8 hours.) Wash and chop into small pieces 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, 1 red or green pepper, and desired amount of red cabbage. Once the corn is cool toss it with the vegetables and your favorite dressing. I used balsamic vinaigrette.

Notes: Posole is technically a South American stew made with dried lime-treated corn kernels, but in the U.S. the term is often used to describe the corn itself. In North America a similar preparation using wood ash called hominy was learned from Native Americans. Both preparations remove the germ from the grain and the hard outer layer.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Extra Slices

My husband takes cake very seriously. When I asked him a few years ago for his advise on baking a cake for a friend’s birthday he pondered for quite along time before declaring that I should make the kind with extra slices.

Today’s Lunch
Coconut Macaroons

Soak 1/4 cup raw almonds for at least 12 hours. Ok here is the seemingly hard part—peel the almonds. Once they are soaked it is fairly easy to peel the skins. Leaving the peel on can make the macaroons bitter. It took me ten minutes to do this. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place almonds in a food processor with the chopping blade and pulse for ten seconds. Set the nuts aside. Separate the four eggs (you won’t use the yokes). Beat the whites with 1/4 tsp cream of tarter until the whites form stiff peaks. Fold in 1/2 baking powder. In a separate bowl mix 1/2 cup rice syrup and maple syrup, 3 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut, 3-4 drops rose water and mix. Fold in egg whites. Back in a 5 x 9 lightly greased Pyrex pan. Bake for thirty minutes. Allow to cool for about fifteen minutes. Cut the dish into 2-inch slices. Roll into small balls and then allow to cook completely on a serving dish. Spray with rose oil before serving.

Notes: I adapted this recipe from The Ayurvedic Cookbook.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Cruel and Unusual Nutrition

My stepfather calls my mother’s cooking cruel and unusual nutrition, because she makes dishes like stir fried vegetables seasoned with nutmeg (really it's good). Before mom came along his idea of good eating was large bowels of chili mac made by boiling a bag of macaroni noodles and topping it with a can of chili. (And here are a few odd macaroni facts: Thomas Jefferson imported the first macaroni machine to the US after one of his many trips to France. Previously, the noodle was made famous in the US by the phrase in the tune Yankee Doodle that states he “stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni” referring to the Macaroni style made popular in Italy. Macaroni’s were individuals who were flamboyant, glutinous, and gambled to excess.) As so often happens with Monday’s lunches they end up a mish mash of the weekend cooking. Today’s lunch is somewhere in-between cruel and nutrition.

Today’s lunch
Macaroni Topped with Grilled Chicken and Beets

Boil one cup of brown rice elbow (also known as macaroni) pasta in 2 cups of water with a dash of olive oil. Cook until tender and drain. Scrub, peel, and chop 2 beets into 1-inch cubes and steam for about 12 minutes or until tender. I used the meat from two chicken drumsticks that we grilled over the weekend to add to the dish. Top with your favorite dressing. I used Drew’s Roasted Tomato salad dressing.

Friday, June 02, 2006


Bad Food

We have a compost so that we never have to feel guilty about throwing out rotting vegetables or even the few vegetables we just can’t eat, such as black radish from the farm. Marginal food though I can’t bear to let rot in garden. Every once in awhile my husband or I are lured into buying a preselected bag of apples from the store. They always turn out to be tasteless. Probably the reason they want to do the selecting for you. From lemons we make lemonade from bad apples we make applesauce.

Today’s Lunch
Stewed Apples with Sliced Ham

Wash, peel, and chop apples into 1-inch pieces. (I know many who say you stopped me at “peel apples.” Peeling fruit or chopping vegetables doesn’t have to be a chore. I had a late-night lesson from a French chef about how to peel an apple that has stayed with me all my life. The secret is a very sharp knife.) Melt 1 tbsp of coconut oil in a saucepan on medium. Add apples along with 1 tbsp cinnamon and 1 tsp cloves. Cover with a lid and cook until tender. The pectin in the apples will create a lovely thick sauce that surrounds the apples. Serve hot or cold.

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