Friday, May 22, 2009

Golden Quinoa Memories (lemon quinoa salad)

Chop and I our first summer together, hanging in the living room that is home to us once again.

This sweet pad we are living in, has been home to me once before. It wasn’t nearly as “sweet” at the time, but was still really great housing and it came with (literally) a really “sweet” job. At the time I was baking and making lunch salads for the coffee shop downstairs from this place. I would wake up at 6 am and have the first batch of scones or muffins ready for Juice and Java’s 7 am opening. This was all done in my kitchen and I would walk each batch downstairs. After the morning rush was over I would move on to lunch.

I loved that job and I have to admit, I was not the seasoned cook I am today. This was actually my first experience preparing foods, and I was kind of wingin’ it. They asked if I was capable, I said yes and the menu was in my hands. The reception to the food was fantastic, and I have to admit that this is partly due to the lack of healthy affordable options on Block Island. It was by default that my food was received so well.

The following year, new owners took over the shop and kitchen access wasn’t available, leaving them to purchase more of their baked goods from off island sources. I was out of a sweet job. But the gifts that job brought me are irreplaceable. That one amazing summer, I had returned home to Block Island after living in San Francisco for 4 years, discovered a love and confidence in cooking, and met (and fell in love with) Mr. Chopper. I also reconnected with my old friends Madeline and Nicolas and their beautiful kids Jesse and Gillen (quite randomly I might add, they live in Georgia, but I ran into them on BI of all places) and had a pizza party in this “sweet” pad with them.

This is the beached whale that brought Madeline, Nicolas, Gillen, and Jesse back into my life. I think that may even be Maddie wearing the vest in this photo. Caught on camera, before I heard her voice and realized she was there.

Being back in here spawns memories from that time, although the place does look very different now. The smell of the stairway is the same, and having a bird’s eye view of the coffee shop and liquor store patrons (across the street), offers all the entertainment value as before. Yesterday, as I expressed to my friend Becky that I had “cooking block”, she pulled me out of it replying “noo, I’m sure you have dishes you haven’t made in years that you could pull out and they would seem like new”, and just like that, I remembered some of the dishes that I use to make on a daily basis in this very same kitchen. At the time, I didn’t think I would ever forget them.

Paul and Tonya owned the coffee shop at the time, and we lived together in the apartment. This was one of the rare nights we all got to unwind together, drink some wine, and hang out.

Those 3 pictures hanging in the photo above have been replaced with many more.

The bathroom then, with my friend and roommate at the time Kyle. Kyle and I had lived together in Berkeley for a short time, he loved spending time in the bathroom.

The bathroom now. Paint, curtains, and a new mirror spruce it up a bit. Kyle would love it.

So, yesterday I pulled out one of my oldies, this one happened to be Chop’s favorite. He used to come in and grab a container of it for dinner and I was so impressed with his taste (wow food has been such a part of our relationship. He even used to come up at the end of my day and help me with dishes, I hope that never gets old.) At the time I made it with cous cous, yesterday I raised the nutritional value a bit and made it with quinoa. You can make it with either, but if you eat a good amount of pasta and rarely get in the grains, try quinoa, it’s great.

1 cup quinoa (rinsed) or cous cous
2 med cucumbers peeled, de-seeded, and chopped
½ red onion diced
1 can of chick peas or pinto beans
1 cup of golden raisins
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa/cous cous according to box.
While grain is cooking, slice and dice cucumbers, and onion, then mix with raisins and beans.
Mix olive oil and lemon juice.
When grain is done cooking you can rinse under cold water in fine mesh strainer to chill it, or just let it cool a bit. Mix with all other ingredients and pour lemon and oil over top, mixing well.

Serve on its own or over a bed of baby arugula or spinach.

Fantastic, and ya got your protein (beans/quinoa), ya liver cleansing lemon and olive oil, ya sweet and tang flavor, perfecto!


Bethany said...

Hey P,
I love hearing about you life on BI, the evolution of it, your view from the window. Wonderful writing and memories. Thanks for sharing. So glad you're happy and well and cooking up a storm.

Madeline said...

Ah Persephone! : ) I love knowing that you three (well, almost) are in that beautiful improved apartment. I can picture it right now, and taste that amazing pizza you made for us, and smell that whale. ; ) It's hard to believe that the food then was just your first attempt. I so wish that I could go buy one of your baked goods right now, accompanied by a long chat with its creator.

persephone said...

Thank you Bethany and Madeline! I would love to have you both here, some pizza, and conversation would do me and my baby good!