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Collegeville

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This is my view this week.

Thanks to a generous grant and the support and encouragement of those who love me, I am spending a week at the Collegeville Institute learning, writing and living amongst some amazing women who also write.

Sometimes, the last three days have left my heart so full I’ve been…without words.  Which is not such a great thing to happen to a writer, but I’m sure words will come soon.

For now, let me leave you with a quote from something I read this morning, in an essay by Patricia Hampl. “I don’t write about what I know, but in order to find out what I know”

Here’s to finding out…

There’s this hirse…

Quinoa Tabbouleh

It may not be all that pronounceable, but it certainly is delicious!

Keen-Wah  Ta-Boo-Leh”

I’ve been a tabbouleh fan for years, and have used lots of different recipes.  I’ve come up with my favorite configuration of ingredients.  I’ve seen it made with as few as four ingredients, but  really like a variety of flavors and textures, so I go all out!

I am new to quinoa as an ingredient.  It’s kind of funky–its not rice, or wheat.  It can be adapted to recipes much in the same way rice or couscous can, taking on many kinds of flavor profiles.  It is high protein, high fiber, and very quick cooking.

Quinoa Tabbouleh

1 cup of dried quinoa, cooked according to package directions and cooled

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced

1 medium tomato, seeded and diced.

4 green onions,  thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

handful of mint, finely chopped

handful of flatleaf parsley, finely chopped

juice of one lemon

3 T of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together, and let the flavors “meld” in the fridge for at least an hour.  Just try to keep your mitts off it for that long!

Why Nigella Is My Foodie Girl Crush

We recently started getting the Cooking Channel.

Because really, one channel devoted to nom-nom-nom is not enough!

And I rediscovered Nigella Lawson.

Nigella has been around for a while.  Before Rachael, and Giada, even before Paula and Ina–at least their Television Careers.  There was Nigella, cooking in her London kitchen.

This gal has been around the block.  Married, widowed, married again.  Filthy rich.  Mother.  Looks like she has enjoyed her meals over the years.  Rocks a cardigan like nobody’s business.

She’s self-taught, and second career.  She cooks because she enjoys food, and according to sources, hates being referred to as a celebrity chef.  Because she’s not a chef.  She cooks, and talks, and people film it.

And beautifully filmed, it is.  Close-ups of the food, and the cookware, and the stove top.  Then of herself and whomever she is cooking for eating what she has cooked.

She tells a story about what she is cooking–gives the occasion for the meal.  Once it was hangover food after a pub crawl.  The episode I watched last night was about cooking foods her tweenage children would eat–a kitschy take on baked potatoes and chicken fingers and salad.

Plus, there is always dessert.  Even though I seldom eat dessert myself, I love watching her justify fat and calories.

Also each show ends with Nigella raiding the fridge for a midnight snack.

Another great dish she made on last night’s episode was pea soup.  Although she is filthy stinking rich and could easily make it with fancy expensive organic English peas, she made it with frozen peas from a bag.  Frozen veggies!  There is truly hope for the ordinary home cook like me.

I saw those frozen peas, and I swear, I fell in love all over again with this show.

White Trash Potatoes

I first ate this dish probably 15-20 years ago.  There are many, many variations on the recipe–this is just my go-to version.

It’s pretty midwestern (I think you will see why when you look at the ingredients).  One of the good things about that is that you can procure the ingredients even in the dead of winter.

It is not really called “White Trash Potatoes” by most people.  That name came about when I made it for a group of my new neighbors, all native Californians.  When one of them heard what was in it, he asked me in all seriousness if I was “poor white trash”.

Well, yes.  Yes I am.  What of it?

He still ate the taters.  Just sayin’.

White Trash Potatoes

1 bag frozen southern-style hash browns

1 can cream of chicken soup (I use low sodium)

1 cup sour cream (I use light)

I cup chopped onion

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (reserve about 1/2 cup or so for topping the casserole)

Salt and pepper to taste

Let the hashbrowns thaw on the counter for about a half-hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, except the reserved cheese.  Pour into a 13X9 baking dish that you have sprayed with non-stick spray.  Make sure the surface is even, sprinkle the reserved cheese.  Bake for about an hour in the 350 oven.

Enjoy! Watch how much the fancy people at the table enjoy it.  But lets don’t call them names, okay?