Monday, May 28, 2007

Now you're cooking with quinoa!

Happy Memorial Day, everybody!

So today's blog post is basically dedicated to awesome things which not everyone's been exposed to.

First there's quinoa: quinoa is a plant in the goosefoot family which is cultivated primarily for its edible seeds. It is not technically a grain, because it is not a grass, but it is easily mistaken for a grain because of the striking similarities in texture and taste between quinoa seed and other cereals.

Quinoa is a hearty plant which can survive at high altitudes, and it was first cultivated by the Incas who revered it as the "mother of grains."

Today many new-age nutritionists regard quinoa as a "superfood": it's lower in carbohydrates than other cereals, it's gluten-free and thus easy to digest, and it is high in fiber and protein and contains all 8 essential amino acids. Thus quinoa is healthier than wheat or rice.

I've been cooking with quinoa recently. It often makes a good substitute for rice, couscous or pasta, and it's easy to prepare. Like I said, it's more nutritious and it has a nice flavor. All you need to do is buy quinoa seed and rinse it; then put 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water in a pot, bring it to a boil, then cover the pot and let it simmer on medium-low heat until the quinoa has absorbed all the water (around 15 minutes) stirring occasionally. It's basically the same as cooking couscous.

I've made this dish a couple of times, which was inspired by a recipe I found online, where you sautee a bunch of asparagus with some garlic and onion (in olive oil). Then you add a can of chickpeas (perhaps some shredded carrots) and quinoa. Season it with some salt n pepa and the juice of a lemon. It's really delicious and it combines quinoa with asparagus -- which is also good for you and which I enjoy, much like Doctor Juvenal in Amor en los tiempos de la cólera, because it makes my urine fragrant.

The rest of the things I think you should all get on board with are all TV shows.

First, there's How I Met Your Mother. If you're not already familiar, this is an awesome sitcom featuring Neil Patrick Harris (better known as "Doogie Howser"), Alyson Hannigan (better known as the "band camp girl"), and that tall guy who was in the movie Slackers (aka Jason Segel). The premise (which is all but forgotten by the second season) is that in the future the voice of Bob Saget is telling his kids the story of how he met their mother, and said story revolves around him and his post-college twenty-something friends living in Manhattan. It is hilarious and original (way better than, say, Friends) and the only reason more people don't watch it is because it is on CBS which is known for broadcasting not-so-trashy-fun reality shows (Survivor, Big Brother, the Amazing Race) as well that CSI crap, the Ghost Whisperer featuring the bosomy Jennifer Love Hewitt, and a bunch of other stuff that your grandparents may watch. But, I promise you, How I Met Your Mother is a hip, funny show for young people which just happens to be on this network.

TV show number 2 I saw for the first time today, and it's called the Riches. It's on FX, and it stars Brit sh comedian Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver as the parents of a family of Irish American travellers who adopt the identities of a wealthy couple who died in a car crash. And as if that's not enough, they settle in Baton Rouge, Louisiana! Learning about the culture of the Traveller's, who are basically like gypsies, was interesting, and in the three episodes I've seen thus far the story's really sucked me in.

And speaking of alternative lifestyles... TV show number 3 is Big Love: the HBO drama about a family of polygamists living in Utah which is starting up again this month. Bill Henrikson (Bill Paxton) left the separatist-Mormon community he was raised in to live with his three wives in suburbia where he owns a successful home improvement store. The show really paints a picture of what life must be like in this part of the country, and it portrays the Church of Latter Day Saints -- whose adherents always seem friendly and wholesome regardless of how strange their theology might be and which seems like the height of normality compared with the show's polygamist sect -- in what I think is a very fair light. Chloe Sevigny is wife number two, who is the daughter of the polygamist community's prophet. I had never really been impressed with her acting abilities before I saw this show, but she rocks this part in her pilgrim outfits with her pious, aristocratic comportment and her spoiled, daddy's-little-girl outlook on life. If you have HBO, I say definitely check it out!


Quinoa photo is taken from wikipedia and is in the public domain. Photo of Chloe Sevigny as Nicolette Grant is taken from HBO's Big Love website (link above).


mennu said...

You know that Quinoa is kosher for passover?

Nicole said...

i still can't believe that it took you so long to get on board with the riches. and no shout out for the tudors? i suppose it's ok as the series is about to end anyway. although who amongst us doesn't need more henry cavill in their lives?

Meeg said...

I read that! I guess that means for white people too. Maybe next pesach...

...although maybe not because on the OU page it saya that all the commericially available quinoa is processed in plants that also handle wheat and thus they're not certified kosher for passover. Pesky chametz.