Savor The Earth

eat tastier, eat greener, eat cheaper

Quinoa is the New Black November 19, 2009

I recently brought home a box of Alter Eco‘s organic black quinoa to play around with (work perk!).  The folks at AE work with small scale farmers and producers to maintain artisanal methods and ecological balance.  Alter Eco’s Mission Statement proclaims:

We believe that Fair Trade is a viable and successful alternative to conventional commerce. This business model will gradually close the gap between rich and poor, so-called developing countries and industrialized countries.

Sounds good and green.

My family eats quinoa regularly and I usually keep a cooked pot of this “super grain” in the fridge for quick nourishment (see Queen Quinoa).  Reheated with cheese (or not), and plenty of fresh cracked black pepper (or not—as for the minors), quinoa makes a fast, tasty and nutritious light meal.  The black variety, with its exotic color, piqued my palate so I gave it a whirl.  Plus the Quechuas of Bolivia believe black quinoa supports kidney health.

I found that this quinoa cooked up more quickly—a fast 15 minutes—and absorbed less water (less than 2 cups as opposed to a little more than 2 cups) than my usual brands of regular quinoa.  The family wasn’t pleased with the texture, however.  The black bran seems much thicker and heartier than the pale seed coat of standard quinoa.  Too chewy!  Fanciers of substantial grains, however, might like a simple breakfast pilaf of black quinoa with quality butter, good maple syrup and perhaps a splash of cream.

At my house, the black quinoa was relegated to more of a supporting role in which it could show off its striking color against contrasting backgrounds, lighter in taste as well as color.  We enjoyed this quinoa’s black speckles in both an easy, light bread machine bread and an otherwise standard pot o’ jasmine rice.

P B J & Q

Dalmatian Bread (Black Quinoa Bread)

  • ½ cup local milk plus enough water to equal 1 generous cup.  I use either Swede Farm Dairy or Wateroak Farm goat milk.
  • 1 local  egg
  • 130 grams (1 cup) cooked organic black quinoa
  • ¾ teaspoon salt.  I use Real Salt
  • 1 teaspoon local honey.  I buy Good Flow in bulk at Central Market.  Bring your own container and ask an employee to tare the weight for you.
  • 1 Tablespoon organic butter.  Organic Valley‘s my choice here.  Look for the $1 OFF coupon in Whole Foods Whole Deal newsletter, available at their stores.  Or click here.
  • 200 grams organic all-purpose flour.  WF’s 365 brand 5# bag is usually the best buy.
  • 163 grams organic white whole wheat flour.  WF generally has the lowest price per pound on King Arthur’s 5# bag.
  • 1 teaspoon bread machine yeast (rapid rise or instant)

Place the ingredients into your bread machine in the order indicated by your instruction manual.  In my machine, that would be the order listed.  Program the machine on the regular cycle (not whole wheat).  If you’re not heading out to work on bread day, you can use just your machine’s dough cycle, then form a loaf (use a 9″ X 5″ pan), give it a second rise and bake it off at 350º in your oven.  The weather’s perfect for crankin’ it up!

Speckled!

Appaloosa Rice (Black Quinoa Rice)

  • 1 cup minus 1 Tablespoon Lowell Farms organic jasmine rice
  • 1 Tablespoon organic black quinoa, well rinsed
  • 1 2/3 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt–Real Salt.  See above.
  • dab of butter. Organic Valley, see above.
  • 1 fresh bay leaf if you’re growin’ or knowin’ somebody who is.

Place all ingredients in a saucepan, place a lid on it and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to LOW and continue to cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

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Eggplant Chickpea Pilaf July 21, 2009

Filed under: Indian,rice,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 2:11 pm
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Down at the Sunset Valley Farmers Market, my usual foraging turf, I find a number of local gems.  Ringger Family Farm, located in Bastrop County, makes soap with milk from their own herd of sustainably raised goats and grows beautiful jewel-like little eggplants.  I can’t get enough of their lavender and white striated, friendly-flavored finger-length delights.  And the cute, round, green and white-striped Thai orbs are a crunchy sweet treat when quickly stir-fried.  These folks also grow “tame” jalapenos for those of us whose capsaicin tolerance has been weakened by the proscriptions of our brood.

I could probably eat diced eggplant fried in olive oil almost every day in season.  Thankfully they are not available locally year round—although I anxiously await the first harvest at the beginning of every summer.  Before frying, I toss eggplant cubes with a little salt and some turmeric and let them sit for a few minutes.  After cooking, I refrigerate the used oil for sauteing veggies or brushing onto tortillas for quesadillas.

Here’s a vegetarian meal in a skillet that takes advantage of our local bounty of eggplants:

EGGPLANT CHICKPEA PILAF

  • 1 cup basmati rice–I like the Indian and Pakistani brands in the large fabric bags.

Rinse the rice well in three changes of water, then drain and soak in about 1 1/2 cups fresh water for 10 minutes.  Drain in a sieve, reserving soaking water and adding enough to measure 1 3/4 cups water.

  • 8 small, slim, gorgeously young and fresh eggplants, beheaded and and quartered lengthwise.

Toss the eggplant pieces with about 1 teaspoon turmeric and a generous pinch of kosher salt

  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, preferably organic (Whole Foods and Central Market offer their own brands at good prices), drained.  Don’t bother to rinse the beans.  Jacques Pépin doesn’t.
  • 3 or 4 Tablespoons oil or ghee.  I like organic coconut oil, of course.
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2″ piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 black cardamom pods (or 4 green), slightly crushed with the handle of your kitchen knife
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 0r 2 whole dried red chiles
  • 1/4 teaspoon kalonji (nigella), optional
  • 1/2 teasoon asafetida, optional
  • 1 medium-sized white onion, sliced thin
  • 1 whole green jalapeno, optional
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled or ground in a mortar with a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander (seeds)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt

Heat oil and whole spices (through kalonji) in a 12″ skillet on medium-high heat.  Fry spices until browning and fragrant, then add asafetida and quickly dump in the onions.  Cook the onions, stirring and adjusting the heat as necessary, until browning agreeably.  Add the eggplant pieces and the whole jalapeno and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant is browned.  Add the drained rice and garlic.  Continue cooking and stirring until the rice grains separate and lose their translucency.  Add the drained beans and the remaining ingredients plus the reserved water and turn the heat to high to quickly bring the mixture to a boil.  Give it a final stir, turn the heat to low, and cover with a tight fitting lid.  Cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes before fluffing and serving.  Don’t eat the whole spices.  Remove them from the pan if you have the opportunity–otherwise just warn your diners.

 

fastest kid’s lunch May 12, 2009

Filed under: easy,fast,kid,thrift — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 5:41 pm
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I can make this one with the baby latched on.  Seriously.  Grab a flour tortilla, we like Central Market multi grain, top it with a little shredded cheese (cheddar from Full Quiver Farm at SVFM is just right) and pop it into the toaster oven.  (If you don’t own a toaster oven here in Austin I don’t know how you manage.  It doesn’t heat up the kitchen like your full size model and uses less energy.  Ours can bake a single layer cake or six muffins.  Of course it came inexpensively from the thrift store and it’s a good one.)  I  set my oven to “toast 1” which melts the cheese and softens the tortilla but doesn’t puff it up.  Puffing it up is fun and tasty but isn’t right for this “recipe”.  Meanwhile, mash up some Whole Foods 365 organic seasoned beans (spicy chili beans, spicy black beans, or ranchero beans.  They’re all great and cheap.) with a fork.  Put your warm and gooey tortilla on the cooling rack, load it with some beans or beans and rice combo (we always have a pot of cooked  Lowell Farms organic jasmine rice–grown in Texas!–in the fridge) and roll it up taco style.  When the baby falls off you’ll be ready to take your kid to school.