29 September 2007

Hey you guys

We are going on VACATION. Over this vacation I plan to:
- sit in a hot tub
- hike in the rain
- watch my brother get married
- knit many times
- cook and eat lots of delicious things
- turn thirty

I do not necessarily plan to:
- have anything approaching reliable internet service.

So we'll see what happens, but yeah. Damn you, remote cabin in the Canadian wilderness! I mean, wait, no.

Expect some serious birthday week extravaganza when I come back.

26 September 2007

Dinnertime really is 8:58 at our house.

The night before last I had a major food disaster. you wouldn't think I could screw up something as easy as refried beans, but I did, largely because I had soaked the beans three days before and didn't notice that they hadn't stood up to the interim. I did the entire cooking process and served things out before we noticed that hey, they smelled funny and had a weird aftertaste and goddamnit!

So I ended up eating rice with yogurt and salsa for dinner. Rice with yogurt and salsa is actually pretty good, but it isn't enough food to keep you from dying of no energy the next day.

End effect: by last night I was starving to death. Dinner had to be serious. It also had to involve using up the stuff we already had, since we're going on vacation next week. I devised a plan.

Serious stuffed delicata squash with serious quinoa.

delicata squash
butter/olive oil
quinoa/other grain
green beans
salt, pepper
optional gouda/other cheese

First, tackle the squash. It's easy but takes a while. Get a big knife and whack a squash (or two; this amount of quinoa will fill two) in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and either discard them or roast them like pumpkin seeds. You can do that with all squashy seeds, can't you? They're in the same family so I think the answer is yes. Anyway, get your squash into a baking pan filled with half an inch of water. Put a little butter or olive oil in each squash half and bake until tender and browning a little, about 45 minutes at 350F. I left mine in about an hour because I was just not paying attention, and it turned out fine.

When the squash is maybe halfway through baking time, it's time for the filling.

For quinoa: measure out a cup and rinse it well in your finest strainer. I put the actual pot underneath so I have some hope of catching any stray bits. Rinse for three or four minutes, mixing to get every bit, then drain and put in a pot. Add two cups of water put the lid on the pan, and bring the pot to a boil. Then turn down the heat and simmer for about twenty minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, it's time for vegetables. Chop up a big handful of walnuts to whatever texture you like. I like really fine bits so they act more like a flour. Varied texture is fine. Then put a pan over low-medium heat, add the nuts, and toast for about five minutes. Stir and watch to make sure they don't burn. Then take them out and set them aside.

Chop up a shallot and sauté it in olive oil until it softens; chop a bunch of green beans into little half-inch chunks and add them in. Stir it up and cook together for five minutes or until the green beans are a good texture for you. In the meantime, if you want cheese you can be cubing or shredding it up. I had an end of double cream gouda and oh my god I wish we'd had more because it was the best possible choice in these circumstances.

When everything is done, it's time to combine.

Add the quinoa, walnuts, and cubed cheese to the beans and shallot. Mix it all up, seasoning with salt and pepper. Fill each squash half with big scoops of quinoa mix. If you feel the need, you can scatter some extra cheese over the top and set the pan of squash under the broiler. I did not feel the need and was besides out of cheese; this worked fine.

Eat it. Pack the leftover squash and quinoa for lunch. Eat it some more tomorrow.

Delicata squash is quite a lot sweeter than the quinoa mix, which was fine with me. I can think of some good ways to make the quinoa sweeter, though. I would probably leave out the green beans and add some dried cranberries or cherries instead for really sweet fall comfort food. Or you could scoop out the cooked squash flesh and mix that with the quinoa, so it was just a big plate of grain as opposed to a stuffed vegetable.

Tang tanga tang tang

In college, we used to have a sunday night dinner party series. My group of friends included quite a few second-generation immigrants who were all really knowledgeable about heritagenous foods. So one week we had a full Polish festival with homemade pierogies and nalesniki, one week we had a vast pot of Hungarian goulash, one week we had pans of soda bread and pots of Irish stew, and every week we had gigantic bottles of cheap college Gallo Bros wine.

My favorite was the Polish dinner, which is fortunate considering the huge dishes of multiple kielbasas and pickled herring in sour cream at John's family holidays. The best part was the pierogies. I of course have big problems making decent pierogies. Maybe I should email Ursula and get her to tell me her secrets. I can recreate the salatka, though: a salad consisting of cottage cheese mixed with sour cream and chopped radish, served on hot rye toast. Oh my god, you should go try it right now.

So this morning I had a serious craving for this stuff, but had almost zero of the requirements. I did have some drained plain yogurt, though: almost sour cream and almost cheese at the same time. I had bread, even if it wasn't rye. I had radishes. I had the green onions that Michelle always put on her salatka: inauthentic, but clearly delicious. I also had about five minutes.

Not salatka breakfast:

decent bread
yogurt cheese
green onion

Take a slice or two of decent bread and spread it with yogurt cheese. Slice up a couple radishes and a green onion and scatter them over the top. Add some pepper and eat. Drink tea. Yay breakfast!

Now go to work.

24 September 2007

Bad idea

Figs are not always the correct answer.

In this case we take figs and combine them with unsalted red cabbage. The unsalted was a mistake here, I think, because if you were to apply salt to the cabbage and macerate it as in the self-dressing salad, then said cabbage would get slightly limp and chewy as opposed to crisp. This would work much better with the other main ingredient: figs. On the other hand it doesn't seem like salt and figs are friends. There was just something off about the whole thing. I'm going to have to experiment.

Anyway, here's what I did. It wasn't really terrible, but it wasn't a success.

red cabbage
black fig
orange zest and juice

I chopped up the cabbage and the fig, then tossed them with fine bits of orange zest. Actually it was tangerine zest, since that's what we had. The tangerines incidentally are the best tangerines I've ever had. They're apparently called murcotts. They're also unfortunately an import, but are so good I keep buying them anyway. Well, it won't be much longer until the actual california citrus season. Anyway. So I added zest and squeezed some orange juice over the whole business as well. then I peppered. Ordinarily the pepper works really well with figs, but in this combination it just was not the correct idea.

Then I ate it, and was fine but nonplussed. I mean, everything was individually good. They just didn't play well together.

- salt the cabbage
- take out the pepper
- lemon juice instead of the orange
- freaking nut and seed element
- maybe actually wilting the cabbage in a pan?

That's interesting. Making this warm might definitely have some good effects. Then I could do things like make a honey-lemon dressing in the pan, and get the cabbage and fig to absorb it there. It would make the texture of the whole business way more collapsedy as well. The whole cabbage braised in red wine thing would be interesting to try as well.

There's also always the "take out the damn cabbage" idea. It might be better to do something with wilted spinach or another sweeter green instead. One of the big problems with my version was that you could taste the cabbage backbite, and it clashed with the fig, so using another green would probably help a lot. It would just end up being a really different result.

21 September 2007

It's still fall; the right way to eat meat

I went to the store and there was kale! It was thick juicy substantial ironmongering dinosaur kale. Plant breeders really need to start naming their new strains things like "ironmonger". The kale must come home with me! Even though there is no more room in my bag, I MUST HAVE KALE.

I bet you start out all your conversations this way!

No, but it's fall! It even still feels like fall after three days of nice weather. It's windy and cool and there are actually a bunch of big fluffy white clouds in the sky, as opposed to morning haze that gets burnt off by ten to reveal an excruciating blue sky. Real clouds!

I bought the kale and brought it home and made these.

Mashed potatoes sesame and kale!

redskin/other smallish boiling potatoes
half bunch of kale
some garlic
butter/olive oil/vegan alts
milk if you have/want it
sesame seeds
salt and pepper

First you make mashed potatoes. Put a pot of water on to boil. Chop up some potatoes so they'll cook faster. Don't peel them; the peels are great. I used about four or five potatoes for two people. When the water is boiling, add the chopped potatoes. Bring it back to a boil, then simmer with lid on until the potatoes are tender and starting to fall apart. Probably twenty minutes to a half hour should do it for small chunks. Drain and mash roughly with butter/etc, salt, and pepper.

While the potatoes are simmering, cook the kale. Start by chopping up several cloves of garlic. Warm a frying pan and sauté the garlic in olive oil and/or butter. While it's softening, wash, de-spine, and chop the kale. Cutting out the central leaf spines is really necessary if you don't want big chunks of tough, watery stalk in your finished product. You can chop the leaves into whatever size pieces you want; I made mine pretty small so they'd blend well with the potatoes. When the garlic is golden, add the kale and stir it all up. Salt and pepper a little, then cook until the kale is bright green, tender, and wilted. This should only take about five minutes.

Now it is time to mix! Dump the potatoes into the kale and stir it all up.

You can clearly stop and eat things here. Toasted sesame, however, makes things awesome and takes maybe a minute total.

Put a handful of sesame seeds in a little frying pan. Toast over medium-low for a couple minutes, tossing occasionally. When the seeds start to look the tiniest bit browned, take them off the heat and throw them into the kale and potatoes. Mix again, smoothing out potato lumps if you want.

Eat it! It is fall!

What will you eat it with?

I ate mine with the tiniest bit of veal ever: .07 of a pound. This is the way to eat meat: a big plate of vegetables with one tiny sliver of meat. I just heated my sesame seed pan up, threw in the meat, salted and peppered it, then flipped it over. Everything got barely, perfectly browned, mostly because I wasn't trying to do things like "wash dishes" in between sides. When it was done, I flipped it onto my plate of kale and potatoes, deglazed the pan with dry vermouth, and poured it over the whole business. So I had meat flavor and a little texture without actually eating very much meat at all. Yay! Delicious!

I also was like "THIS MEAL DEMANDS AN APERITIF," and poured myself a slug from the bottle of Campari. We've gotten so acclimatized to Campari that I could take a big pre-meal gulp with no effect at all besides general deliciousness. I am really glad my taste buds continue to adult-ize. Adulterate. Something.

However, having an aperitif (and calling it that, jeez!) was not really necessary. The meat also was not necessary. What else could you have with kale and potatoes for tasty fall dinner?

- squash soup, probably acorn or butternut with some sage
- some thick, dense bread such as walnut, with butter or hard cheese
- more figs ha ha
- a raw chopped salad such as the cabbage and apple one from the other day
- or say homemade apple or pear sauce
- or just apples and pears and walnuts, all mixed up.

19 September 2007

eating more breakfastses

Make an omelet!

Get an egg, butter, salt, pepper, and some delicious things to put in the omelet.

Unless your things to put in said omelet are best nearly raw, or are only cheese, cook them first. My delicious things (besides cheese) were onions, mushrooms, and orange pepper. So I stuck some butter into the littlest nonstick frying pan (bigger for a multi-egg omelet) and sautéed some chopped onion in it. When it was soft, I added mushrooms; when they were soft, I added chopped pepper. When They were soft, I salted and peppered a little, then scraped everything out of the pan to wait. I also chopped up some mozzarella and parsley.

To make egg part of omelet: beat the egg with a fork, melt some new butter in the pan, and pour the egg in. Start jerking the pan back and forth right away. Run a spatula around the edge of the egg as it hardens, so as to loosen things up. Ultimately you want to shake the entire quickly-setting omelet loose, so work the spatula gradually farther and farther under the egg, so as to avoid tearing it. When the egg is set, or even a little before if you like loose eggs, the omelet is done.

Quickly dump your fillings onto the omelet. Don't use too much or the inside won't be warm enough. Fold it over, maybe leave it in the pan for a minute so cheese melts, and tip it into a plate. Eat it as instantly as possible.

Things to have with omelet:
- green frisée salad
- dark greens salad
- toast; some more toast
- lots of hot tea
- cold white wine (omelet a la Neil Gaiman/Eliz David)
- actual orange juice from an orange
- savory baked bread things such as scones

Have these things ready beforehand, though, because you seriously need to eat this as soon as it comes out of the pan. I always leave it a little too long, so the egg starts to get tough. I kind of prefer this to the runny alternative, though.

14 September 2007

It's fall fig explosion!

Figs figs figs figs figs figs figs;
figs are the one thing I appreciate about living in California, hey let's have figs!

I cannot stop eating figs.

For one thing, I have a new place to pick figs. One tree is black mission and the other is a kind of fig I'd never seen before. They're rounder, are ripe when green on top and purple on bottom, and have honey-colored flesh and more delicate flavor. My brain is telling me to call them honey figs. Maybe they even are honey figs. I made a cursory attempt at research and came up with gigantic botanical monographs.

Then there was the pint or two of figs I got at the store the other day. It is all figs! I even ignored the big boxes of miniature kiwi, and you know that takes some concentration on something else.

Mostly I've been eating them raw, but the other day I decided to branch out. I've had Clotilde's fig and mozzarella sandwich recipe lying around in my binder for ages; this was clearly the time to try it.

Ok, you have to make one of these, you guys.

They are so good that it is hard not to immediately make another once you've finished one.

We don't generally have much basil or pesto around, so I rubbed some olive oil into the bread and subbed a bunch of flatleaf parsley. Then I added the mozzarella (plain) and figs, salted and heavily peppered, and stuck the business in the toaster oven.

Excellent planning!

I had one for dinner with champagne and salad. The salad was pretty awesome too, although it did not include figs. It instead included the first real fall produce of the season! Apple! Cabbage! Thank GOD, PEOPLE. I love fall! So the salad was all perfect and crunchy and fresh, and the sandwich was oozy and crisp and sweet, and the champagne was champagne. Ok, actually it was california blanc de noirs, but who cares.

Delicious it's fall salad!

red cabbage (or green!)
good apple (or pear!)
lemon zest (or orange!)
sesame seeds (or walnuts!)

Chop up roughly equal amounts of cabbage and apple. Do this as finely as possible. The whole key to this salad is knife skills. Ok, knife skills plus good produce. You want to end up with little matchstickies. Put them in a bowl with some salt; mix.

Scrape some lemon zest off a lemon. I just used a paring knife and then cut the zest into little strips, but if you happen to have a decent grater you can use that. Stick the zesty bits into the bowl. You should be able to smell tons of delicious lemon oil at this point. Stir the salad so the lemon oil gets everywhere and the apple doesn't brown. You can use some lemon juice too, but it has to be actually from the inside of lemon as opposed to a bottle of juice. Otherwise it will be gross.

Now take a big handful of sesame seeds and toast them in a little frying pan. Just put the pan over low heat and flip them around for a few minutes. As soon as they start to brown even slightly, they are done. Flip them out of the pan and into your salad bowl. They will hiss.

Now mix it up and eat it!! Yes! You definitely win salad.

Stay tuned for our next episode, in which Eileen uses cabbage AND figs at the same time! Somehow! YES PRODUCE!

Happy time stirfry factory

The other day I was feeling terrible, so John made me dinner. I am well satisfied with my lot in life.

half block nigari tofu
garlic and onion
sesame oil (or olive, it's fine)
sesame seeds
ginger, salt, whatever other spice you like

First, put on a pot of rice.

Put a handful of sesame seeds in a little frying pan and toast. This should only take a few minutes. When they've barely started to brown, get them out of the pan to cool.

Sear the tofu. Cut it into strips and brown it in a non-stick pan. This should take somewhere around five minutes per side. John made little thin rectangles, so he only had to brown two sides.

While your tofu is browning, chop up some garlic and onion. Also wash, destem, and chop up some spinach. Use lots of spinach; it is delicious. I think we used about 2/3 of a bunch just for me.

When tofu is done, take it out of the pan and instead add some sesame oil and minced fresh ginger. Powdered ginger will work too; it doesn't matter that much. Throw in the onion and garlic and let them soften. You can do this either really slowly, to get things sweet and caramelized, or quickly, to get things bright and sharp. Whichever way you like is fine.

When onion and garlic are nearly done, add tofu and let it warm back up. Then add your spinach. Stir a few times quickly. When the spinach has wilted, take the pan off the heat. Add a handful of sesame seeds and a little salt, stir it up, and serve it with rice.

12 September 2007

tired stirfry

I am about at that point where I want to make a big batch of refried beans and a pot of rice and just eat tacos and quesadillas for a week. Maybe I'll buy what's left of the decent tomatoes and a handful of jalapeƱos and make some jars of salsa to go with them. That sounds like a good plan.

In the meantime, I had this for dinner:

Eggplant and tofu stirfry

nigari tofu
green beans
dry vermouth for deglaze
pot of rice

soy sauce, olive oil, vinegar, mirin, ginger

Cube your eggplant and tofu and marinate it for at least a half hour. I don't even come close to measuring amounts for my marinade; I just pour in roughly equal amounts of soy and olive oil, with a little less vinegar and mirin, and add copious powdered ginger. Fresh ginger would work even better, but in this case I was lazy. Mix it all up and soak things in it, stirring and turning occasionally so as to marinade all sides.

When you're ready to fry, put on a pot of rice or other grain of choice. Heat up a big sauté pan, maybe add a little swirl of oil, and toss in your eggplant-tofu mixture. Arrange it all into one layer and let it brown for a few minutes. Stir and repeat to get all sides browned and tasty, adding marinade if necessary to keep things from sticking. Well, it's sticky marinade, so maybe we should say something more like, "to make things more delicious".

When the tofu and eggplant are just about done, chop up some garlic and green beans, and add them to the mix. If you have any marinade left over, add that too. Stir it up and cook until garlic and beans are done.

Throw stirfry over rice and deglaze the pan with dry vermouth. You could also use broth or water. Throw the results over your plate of stirfry.

Eat with cup of tea.

10 September 2007

I got Super Natural Cooking

My first impression was: what a strange way to organize a cookbook! My second was: I have a lot of these grains already in my pantry. My third was: which thing should I make first? Do I have the full ingredient list for any of these right now? What should I get when I go to the store tomorrow?

Then we started cooking.

1. Otsu
2. Scrambled curried tofu
3. Fig and sesame jam


I was happily surprised by these, at least at first. I generally do not like sesame noodles, and am kind of ambivalent about many Asian noodle dishes, come to think of it. Not if they're hand-pulled, though! I need to learn how to do that sometime. Anyway. John mixed up the sauce, with slight substitutions in type of vinegar, and it smelled great. Great! Saucing is hard; if this sauce is good, the rest of the dish should be good as well.

We probably should have actually tasted the sauce, though, because when the full dish was done and dressed it became apparent that the lemon in said sauce did not work as planned. I still liked it pretty well; John pushed his plate away in disgust. This was pretty astonishing, since our reactions are generally reversed in a sesame noodle circumstance. We sat around and speculated about using lemongrass on our next attempt.

The real success here was the tofu. First, we actually got nigari tofu, as opposed to the usual wildwood stuff. It's clearly the best possible texture tofu to use in any hard-press circumstance, as became even more apparent in #2. Plus, the whole easy searing technique? Why didn't we know this before? It's just "cut tofu; throw in frying pan; brown on one side; brown on other side" but it worked so perfectly we could not believe it. We've already applied it to other food.


These dudes, in contrast, were a total success. For some reason we wanted real egg with the tofu, so we hardboiled and chopped them for exceedingly large garnish.


It was kind of surprising that we made anything from the last section of the book at all, since that section is titled "Use Natural Sweeteners" and contains almost nothing but desserty things. We don't even have a sugar bowl, and are still only halfway through a bag of demerara that my friends gave us two YEARS ago when they moved away. I don't know how we're going to get through the more recent moving donation sugars. The only sweetener that I use at all is honey, and that's pretty infrequent.

We did have figs lying around, though, and a bag of sesame seeds in the refrigerator, and a pepper mill. So I chopped up the three remaining figs and made the tiniest, most estimation-based batch ever. I used barely any honey, but lots of pepper. Then I ate it all right away.

06 September 2007

starveling dinner

It's pretty bad if you're headed home after work so tired as to be thinking "wow, I really shouldn't be on the road", especially if you're riding your BIKE home. In this case, instant sustenance is necessary. Go to the store.

One of my people at work has had this package of rye crispbread sitting on the kitchen counter, looking exponentially better than any of the junk I can get at the drugstore up the street. I decided to have crispbread for dinner.

What can go on crispbread? Ans: anything at all.

I had it for dinner with sliced cucumber, orange pepper, parsley, and tomato. I had it again for breakfast, this time with orange pepper and mushroom.

In both cases I based the collection on cream cheese. This was an excellent plan, and made better by the particular type of cream cheese: cultured. Yay acidophilus; yay bifida! It gave the whole business a yogurty tang that worked exceptionally well. In the future I might make a batch of yogurt cheese for this exact application.

Other things that could happen with cream cheese/soy cream:
- lots of chopped herbs
- smoked salmon and dill
- cold roasted or marinated vegetables
- chopped olives

Black pepper is also a good idea.

This was a perfect dinner, largely because I had no energy to do anything at all once I got home. It was far better to sit back, watch half a trashy movie, and continually spread bits and pieces onto more and more slices of crispbread. I had a glass of iced tea and felt much better nearly instantaneously.

05 September 2007

Yam fries and coffee for breakfast

We occasionally try to recreate good restaurant food at our house. The best example is probably eggplant business, since it's the most directly drawn from a specific dish, but there have also been a number of pasta experiments and at least one disastrous attempt at sesame tofu. That makes this one of our most successful attempts.

When we lived in Ann Arbor, we used to go to a vegetarian restaurant called Seva. It was a fine place for dinner, and an especially fine place for one particular appetizer: yam fries. Seva clearly dunked their fries quickly in oil, salted them, and rushed them out to the table in a basket lined with paper. Let's just say that we have a serious relationship with these yam fries and all their accoutrements, especially considering we no longer live in Ann Arbor and so can't just go get them. We had to make them.

We don't exactly have a deep fryer, or even enough oil to recreate one in a pan. We do have an oven, though.

Yam fries
where "yam" = "sweet potato" and vice versa
although I know this is not the actual case in scientific life

sweet potatoes
olive oil
salt, pepper, maybe some cayenne

Get a big, serious knife and chop your sweet potato into good thick fries. Toss them in olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and cayenne, and toss them in the oven to bake. I generally go about 350F, but these are very flexible. Go check on them and flip them after about ten or fifteen minutes. Then continue to cook another five or ten minutes, or until everything is beautiful and golden-brown and crispy.

Eat with

This sauce sounds horrible but is in fact one of the few viable/stomachable uses for mayonnaise ever. I found it out really coincidentally while watching the food channel at my grandparents' house. So there was one of those profiles of regional cuisines/products, this one of a little hot sauce company called Clancy's Fancy. I was not paying much attention until they decided to let us in on one of the main outlets for the sauce--Seva makes their yam fry dipping sauce by mixing it with mayonnaise. It had been totally infuriating not to know what was in that sauce. Now we knew the secret! Ha ha! The stuff was so good that we decided we didn't care if it was 90% mayo, and now continue to make it anyway.

big spoonful of mayo/soy mayo
hot sauce of choice

Mix. Use lots of hot sauce, so your mayo turns a brilliant salmon color. Dip in yam fries and eat.

You can also clearly use other things for dipping; this is the just the classic interpretation.
- hot mustard
- ketchup
- a real aioli
- malt vinegar

Seriously, though, try the sauce. It's clearly all the better if you can stand making your own mayonnaise. If you are like me, and get up at eleven o'clock on sunday to make these with a big pot of coffee for breakfast, homemade mayo may be less tenable. Don't worry. It will be fine.

03 September 2007

ok quinoa

I like grains. I even like grains when I go to get them at the bulk bin, discover that my bag has a hole in it, and find half my quinoa sticking to my bunch of spinach while the other half lodges successfully in my shoe. Moral: there's a reason that bag is sitting there crumpled up. Not to say that you shouldn't use the bulk bins, since you definitely should--I got my quinoa for $1.99 a pound instead of $4 a 1 lb box--but there is a much larger scope for disaster there.

I emptied my bag into a new bag and went home to make salad.

Big crazy quinoa salad

Grain business:


Quinoa is cooked just about like rice, or any grain, with a 1:2 ratio of grain to water. One main difference: you absolutely have to rinse your quinoa before you cook it. This is because it's coated with a natural chemical called saponin, which it evolved to stop birds and etc from eating it. You need to rinse it off or your quinoa will be bitter. Find the finest-grained strainer you can for this, or there will be quinoa all over your kitchen floor as well as in your shoes.

Basic technique: rinse quinoa. Bring salted water to a boil, add grain, cover, lower heat, and simmer for about twenty minutes. Take the pan off the heat, let it sit and steam for five more minutes, then uncover and fluff. The quinoa should have turned into hundreds of little semitranslucent bits with short curly strands mixed in. Taste it and make sure your salady ingredients will work with it.

Salad business:

This is where I failed. I was too excited, had too many delicious things around, and so added too many of them. It resulted in a muddy mix of flavor, where nothing was predominant and everything just tasted tolerably ok. It was definitely suffering from too much stuff syndrome.

I took some minced garlic and sautéed it in olive oil. Then I added chopped baby zucchini, red pepper, and green beans. I should have stopped at the red pepper and saved the beans for another incarnation. When things were cooked, I added them to the quinoa with a bunch of chopped parsley and some vinaigrette dressing, which was another dose of too much. It would have been far better to just use garlic, red pepper, and zucchini, with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper as dressing.

It definitely looks great, though, doesn't it?

With mud syndrome in mind, here are some vegetable combinations you could add:

- Green bean in olive oil with lemon zest
- Pea and shallot in olive oil and vinegar, maybe with grated parmesan
- Roasted red pepper and sweet onion in olive oil
- Finely chopped spinach in butter with some cream or nutmeg
- Just plain good vinaigrette with lots of chopped parsley
- Chopped dried apricot and almond with some cinnamon and a tasteless oil

Cook quinoa (or really any grain you want in a salad like this); cook vegetables; mix together and taste for spicing.

Or you can always, you know, have your quinoa plain with a little butter and salt, and have some chopped cucumbers in yogurt or something on the side. It's a complete protein, after all; you don't really need to add anything to it if you don't want to.