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!
Continue reading

Risotto of black barley, garlic scapes and white corn

Black barley risotto

People become vegetarians for lots of different reasons. Some people just don’t like the taste or smell of meat. I am not one of those people! I haven’t eaten meat since I was about twelve, so I don’t remember exactly what it tastes like, but sometimes…when I smell a steak being grilled or bacon being cooked, it smells good. I know assuredly that I don’t want to eat it, but I find myself trying to make things that taste like my memory of the taste of meat. When I made this risotto, I kept describing it as “meaty.” I feel like I may have used that word so many times that my family wanted to go out and buy me a thesaurus! There’s just something about this broth – it’s dark and savory and flavorful, but it has a kind of sweetness to it, as well. For some reason it just tasted…meaty.

We got some garlic scapes from our CSA. They’re the lovely, long, curly green stems of garlic bulbs, which taste like a milder, sweeter garlic. They can still be quite pungent, raw, but in this dish they’re stewed in delicious broth for some time, so they become soft and sweet. They go nicely with black barley, which has a nice, nutty flavor. You could easily use regular barley or arborio rice to make this, and it would take less time and probably be creamier. But it wouldn’t have that distinctive deep, black barley flavor and color. It did take more than an hour for all the broth to be absorbed, but you don’t have to stir it the whole time. The barley almost spoke to me, as I made this … as soon as I heard the barley sizzling in the dry pan, I knew it was time to add more broth. It told me when it was ready! As ever, the broth is quite important in a risotto. In order to make it, well, meaty, I used a little marmite, a little tamari, some tomato paste, and a handful of french lentils. You could use whatever you have on hand, though!

Garlic scapes

Good heavens!! Helen Humes! Why have I never heard of her before? She’s amazing. Smokes. Here she is singing Garlic Blues. Wow. Wiki says, “…her true young voice consorting oddly with bizarre material like “Garlic Blues.”
Consorting oddly! Gotta love the wikipedia. The other day I said I’d like to someday be introduced as “my colleague” (“My esteemed colleague, obviously, being ideal). I’ve changed my mind. I want to be introduced as “Claire Adas … and her orchestra!”

Continue reading