Black quinoa-chickpea kofta in creamy cashew-lettuce sauce

Black quinoa kofta

Isaac loves to draw. When he sees something that interests him – in a book, or a movie, or museum exhibit – he needs to get to a pencil and paper as soon as possible to draw his own version of it. He can draw happily for long periods of time. Completely rapt, tongue out like Charlie Brown, bent over the paper, making sound effects to accompany his drawing. His style is full of movement and energy. He’s a very confident artist. When he sets out to draw something, he doesn’t worry that it won’t come out the way he pictures it in his head. He doesn’t cripple himself with unrealistic expectations. He wants to draw something, he draws it, and he’s always happy with it. It’s a lesson for us all! And it can be found in chapter 4 of my upcoming series of soon-to-be-bestelling self-help books called, Life Lessons from Isaac: Learning to Live Like a 6-year-old. Chapter 3 suggests that if you don’t get what you want, you like on the floor, complaining in an indignant, incomprehensible, ascending stream of words, until the pitch gets so high that everyone around you fears that their head will explode and gives you whatever you ask for to make you stop. Try it at work!! Malcolm loves to draw, too, but he’s more self-doubting. He gets frustrated and impatient if it doesn’t look like he imagines it, or if it takes too long. He’s got a few drawings he’s happy with, and they’ve become his trademark drawings. His graffiti tags. One of my favorites is this owl.

The other day, Isaac went to the fleamarket with his aunts and his grandmother. He found five thimbles.

The incredibly talented Aunt Christy took this picture

He brought them home and invented “thimble man.”


I love this drawing! It’s so expressive. And thimbleman’s thimbles have magical powers, like lazers, water, super-punch, and I can’t remember the others, even though Isaac patiently explained it all to me twice.

And that night for dinner, Isaac ate quinoa kofta!! The kid doesn’t like much, but he likes Indian food. And olives. And other very strong-tasting items. Won’t touch a banana, but he’ll stuff himself silly on punjabi mix. He likes creamy curried sauces, which the boys call “yellow stuff.” I made this sauce out of cashews, tomatoes, and red leaf lettuce. The lettuce gives it a nice little sweet-bitter bite. The sauce is very smooth and creamy, but there’s no cream in it. And the quinoa kofta, made from leftover black quinoa, are lovely and crunchy – from being roasted in olive oil, and from the naturally crunchy crunch of black quinoa!! I served them in their sauce over basmati rice.

Isaac says this is his favorite song. It’s K’naan’s 15 Minutes Away.
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Black quinoa w/garlic scapes and lettuce/hazelnut/sage pesto

Black quinoa & lettuce pesto

The mulberries are ripening, and all the mulberry trees along the canal are dropping their fat purple berries. I find this oddly inspiring! It makes me want to write stories and draw pictures. I can’t quite explain the connection – maybe it’s just fruitful and springlike. One year, under the spell of mulberry-inspiration, I wrote a story called Meet the Mulberry Ducks. It was about young ducks that live along the towpath and eat mulberries. They laze around in the cool water, or on the warm dusty towpath, and wait for the berries to fall. They have purple poop. One day, two crows come along and laugh at them for waiting for the berries to fall. They show them a way they can shake the berries off the tree. The ducks follow their advice, and they eat so many berries they get stomachaches. Then they resolve, in future, to wait for the berries to fall. That’s it!! That’s the whole story. I was thinking about it the other day, as I rode over some plump mulberries on my bike, and it’s really a fable that encourages underachievement. And I felt a little bad about that – but not too bad. And I thought about how Malcolm asked me the other day what “ambitious” meant. I told him it meant trying really hard to be good at something, and to succeed doing it. But a big part of my brain was thinking about how it has negative connotations. I was thinking about Macbeth and Iago and their O’erweening ambition. I didn’t tell Malcolm that, though. I want him to be passionate about things, and try really hard to be good at something, and to succeed. But not to eat so many berries that he gets a bellyache!!

He’s more likely to eat too much quinoa, however. He loved this!! He said the quinoa tasted like Guisseppe’s pizza (that’s the place on the corner). He took seconds, and piled a big mound on his plate, with lettuce pesto on top of it, and scooped it up with bread. That’s my boy!! I cooked the quinoa for much longer than it needed to be cooked. For over an hour, probably, all told. I let it absorb all the broth, and then I liked how it got a creamy, pudding-like consistency, so I stirred in some butter and honey. It was still a little crunchy, though, cause it’s black quinoa, and that’s how it is. David just pointed out that our oven has a convection roast option, and I was eager to try it, so I cut up some potatoes and mushrooms in big chunks, tossed them with olive oil, tossed the potatoes with rosemary and the mushrooms with sage, and roasted them up. Very nice! Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. So we had them with lovely lettuce/sage/hazelnut mozzarella pesto. I used the spicy-sweet red leaf lettuce from the farm, and the mozzarella made everything get a little melty when it met the hot potatoes and mushrooms. A simple meal, but a good one!!

Here’s Take Back Your Duck by The Inspirations, one of my all time favorite songs. This duck is too skinny. Obviously, she should have been eating more mulberries!
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