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a welcome back salad

March 2nd, 2013 | 5 Comments »

Hi everybody! Welcome to my new home! Do you like what we’ve done with the place?

The remodeling didn’t go as I had expected, but what remodeling project is smooth from start to finish? The first plan fell stupendously flat, the second plan required hiring an illustrator to design, and that landed amidst major car issues and had to be placed on the back burner. For now, this simpler design will suffice. I’m working on making it feel comfortable, inviting and a bit nostalgic when you come by for a visit; I want you to feel like you’ve opened the pages of a favorite book, kicking off shoes to stay a while, sip a warm cup of tea, share a simple meal and maybe pet the cats. They love having friends stop by; they gladly share their fur with anyone.

Come in to my kitchen…

Not exactly salad weather

January 27th, 2009 | 3 Comments »

And how I got from hot steaming soup to a cool salad I have no idea, but  I can’t throw off the desire to recreate something I see on a website, even if the weather outside is more comfort food appropriate than salad worthy.

I wish I could remember where I originally saw the photo of this Orzo salad with yellow pepper, kalamata olives and feta cheese because it would be nice to give due credit. Regardless, with a party to attend it was the perfect excuse to give it a whirl even if the temperatures outside plummeted to sub-zero once again.

I’m really glad I did.


The original recipe called for orzo and israeli couscous- double pasta whammy- and although it probably would have tasted fine, it was too much in the carb department. As I browsed the grocer’s aisle in search of some type of substitute and appearing about as aimless as possible to all those frantic cart pushers around me, I finally spied, way on a top shelf and really obscure, a package of Kashi Original 7-Grain Rice Pilaf.

I am, admittedly, always willing to buy just about anything from Kashi, even without scrutinizing the label, the ingredients or even the expiration date like I tend to do. It’s one of the few items in a grocery store that I know is good quality. What I liked about this ‘pilaf’ if you can even go so far as to call it that, was that it was nothing more than a simple vacuum packed assortment of cooked whole grains. That’s it. No sodium laden, preservative choked flavor packet to add, no un-pronounceable ingredients, nothing but cooked grains. A quick turn in the microwave and they were ready to eat, or to be tossed into any preparation, mixed to your own liking. I love the idea of whole grain pilafs; the mix of nutty and healthy grains can compliment any dish, but since most of them require widely fluctuating cook times, it’s hard to think of putting them together myself without a whole lot of work. I do imagine though, that the work and effort would be totally worth it.


I did add some extra wheatberries to this dish. I love their chewy goodness and the added nutritional aspect of them. They are really simple to keep on hand to add to any number of preparations, especially pilafs.  Eating Well magazine has the goods on cooking wheatberries. This is how I do it. Then I package them in one cup increments and freeze them. They break apart very easily once frozen and have a long shelf life. I add them to pasta dishes, pilafs, soups, oatmeal, breads…..the list is endless.

This is one of those dishes that tastes better once the flavors have a chance to get to know each other really well. I mixed it on a Saturday for a Sunday party and the sampling while I prepped didn’t impress me at all. By the time it was served the next day it was a lot better.

And I’m certain it will taste much more appropriate in July. It’s kind of  nice to get ahead of myself on summer foods!

Orzo and 7-Grain Salad

1/2# cooked orzo pasta
1 pkg Kashi original 7-Grain rice pilaf
1/2 c. cooked wheatberries
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 4-oz can artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 c. kalamata olives, chopped
1 3-oz pkg feta cheese
italian style vinaigrette
Salt and pepper

Prepare pilaf according to package directions. Stir all ingredients together in bowl and add about 1/3 c. dressing to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover and refrigerate overnight or for several hours. Before serving, stir thoroughly and taste for seasoning. Add more dressing, salt and pepper if needed.


I ran out of kalamata olives and to add more of that tangy flavor, I stirred some olive tapenade into the dish. This could easily sub for the olives. Go the extra mile and make your own vinaigrette, or use a good quality bottled option. The possibilities for extra additions to this are endless.

Millet Salad with Corn and Pepper

May 27th, 2008 | 7 Comments »

African Millet Salad with Corn and Peppers
from The New Whole Grains Cookbook by Robin Asbell

3 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, julienned
2 T. chopped garlic
2 T. minced ginger
1 T. paprika
1 t. black pepper
1/8 t. ground allspice
1/8 t. cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 c. millet
1 t. salt
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 T. brown sugar
1 8-oz can extra crunchy corn
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 roma tomato, chopped
1/4 c. parsley, chopped
1/4 c. roasted peanuts, chopped

In a 2-qt saucepan with a tight fitting lid, heat 1 T. of oil and saute onion until golden. Add garlic and ginger and cook for one minutes, then add paprika, black pepper, allspice, and cayenne and cook for one minute more. Wash millet quickly and drain; add to pan and stir, coating grains and cooking until hot to the touch. Add water and salt and bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low for 20 minutes before checking for doneness**. When all liquid is absorbed and grain is tender, cover and remove from heat, allowing to steam for 10 minutes. Scrape millet into bowl and cover, then let cool. Whisk remaining oil with lemon juice and brown sugar in a small bowl. Stir corn, bell pepper, tomato and parsley in with the millet, then drizzle dressing over and stir to coat. Serve topped with peanuts.
I used cilantro in place of parsley as I had it on hand; a red bell pepper instead of a green (don’t care for green) and frozen corn instead of canned.

**Despite following the cooking instructions faithfully, the grain, I felt, came out to be a little chewier than I expected and being unfamiliar with it, I contacted the cookbook author to ask her opinion on the texture. Her response was that millet can often be confounding in that way, and the amount of water listed in the recipe can sometimes be less than needed and other times it’s just enough. She feels this is simply one aspect of the grain’s natural humidity level, and can be adjusted during the final cooking stages. Once the grain has absorbed all the water, she suggested to quickly stir and remove a few pieces to test for tenderness, and if it is still firm and chewy to add in a little more water- 1/4 to 1/2 cup- quickly bring the temperature back to boiling, then reduce and simmer again for another 10 minutes.