Quinoa cornbread

I riffed on a basic cornbread recipe tonight to make it a bit healthier. Turns out that quinoa in bread makes an amazing crumb texture, and the bread stayed moist even with the changes in flour/grain. This makes me think you could use just about any flour at all (being careful to adjust the overall moisture level to account for denser flours), I just haven't been very adventurous that way in my baking or cooking before now.

Quinoa cornbread
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup millet
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1.5 Tbsp white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk + 1 Tbsp white vinegar (or 1 1/4 cups buttermilk)
2 eggs, beaten
(optional) 1/2 cup chopped green onion

1) Mix vinegar into milk and set aside to curdle
2) Preheat oven to 375F
3) In a food processor or blender, blend quinoa and millet until they are mostly flour. Some whole grains remaining is fine.
4) Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix only until combined. If you want to use it, stir in the green onion.
5) Put 2 Tbsp butter into a 9" cast iron skillet or pie plate, and put it in the oven until butter is bubbly.
6) Pour batter into melted butter, sling the whole thing into the oven, and bake for about 30 minutes. Edges should be brown and top should be fully set.

Let cool a few minutes before cutting. Serve with butter, although it was so moist that we didn't end up using any extra butter.

So Yum! And pretty damn healthy since quinoa is one of the fantastic foods of the nutrition world.


High tech running

After reading Dora's post about her new gadget (Go Gadget Go!), I thought I'd post a link to some of my run stats, which are available in a really fun form. My Garmin Forerunner 305 (a much earlier model than Dora's 110) has been my tried and true running companion for a few years now. I unfortunately have never used it to the full extent of its capabilities, like the "virtual running buddy" who has remained bench for the entire lifespan of my 305, and I can't even remember the last time I also strapped on the heart rate monitor. But I do use the built-in GPS obsessively on trail runs, and for most if not all of my road runs in the city. Today it came in extra handy when J and were lost on Cypress Mountain, somewhere in the vast trail network, since I was able to pull up the map feature and identify what direction we should be going in and an estimate of how far we had left to cover in order to get back to the car. Don't get me wrong, J and I agree that getting lost should be (and is!) a regular portion of every run since adventure is the stuff of life, but it was reassuring to get feedback that we're still on the same mountain we started out on, and that the car should probably be in sight if it weren't for all the fog getting in the way.

Blah blah blah, back to the run stats. Here's a link to the data gathered by the 305 during my trail race last weekend. I ran the Summer Solstice Half, which is actually 25.5km, on the North shore. The race starts at Cleveland Park near the Grouse Grind, winds along the Baden Powell trail a little bit, until it climbs an asshole of a trail straight up the blasted mountain called Skyline Trail. $#$^&$@* And that's all I have to say about the climb. The downhill portion was FUUUUUNNNN!!!! All technical, all awesome, super high-footing adrenaline grin-spreading FUN! Then there was some less fun but necessary terrain to cover to get back to the start/finish area. But enough from me, you can see it for yourselves on the Garmin Connect player here. Tips: Push the > play button then scroll down to view the whole map; choose Satellite in the top right corner of the map for the best view. I love how the steepest ascent of the race causes the speed graph to go off the chart since essentially the Garmin thought I was standing still rather than climbing about a foot a minute. The race took me and my friend D (a different D) 3:51:10 - trail running is soooo much sloooooower than road running, and I was pushing myself pretty hard, faster than I'm used to running trail.

Anyway, a bit of fun with gear. Have fun playing with the player! And Dora, good luck kicking that tech addiction!


Birthday trip and late breaking news

Rocco and I returned home Monday night, grubby and exhausted after a terrific weekend away camping on Galiano Island.

We had a fantastic time, and the weather really came through for us - three days of sunshine and temps upwards of 20C. We camped at the provincial campground Montague Harbour, where we've previously stayed on a cycling trip, but this time we were car camping. You know, the kind of trip that allows for all the best parts of camping, like cold beer and camping chairs.

We did an awful lot of sitting around in the sun and in the shade, reading books we bought at the island bookstore first thing Saturday morning as we drove off the ferry. I swam in the ice cold ocean while Rocco laughed at my cringing, and we pointed out every deer, arbutus tree, and dead crab the island had to offer. Sunday we hiked in to Dionisio Point, the northern-most area of the island that has a campsite accessible by boat, pedal, or foot only. We were promised seals though, and didn't see a single seal, but the area is simply stunning.

And without further ado (or additional threats from "friends"), here's the news. We're getting married! I know there are a couple people who might still read this blog that I haven't had a chance to tell personally, but word is getting out so I might as well make it public. We've already got the marriage so we might as well throw a party, right?! Part of the reason to visit Galiano this time was to scout possible locations for the wedding. And wow, you're spoiled for choice on the island! Check out the view from this possible ceremony site at Bodega Ridge Resort:

and the cabins where many of you could stay on the property:
Nothing is for sure yet, lots of decisions remain to be made, but we've pretty much decided to have the wedding in BC, next summer (2011). I don't know yet if that means May, July, or September, or on an island or in Vancouver. You'll hear about it as plans firm up, but I do promise you one thing sincerely, this blog will NOT morph into a boring, tedious wedding planning blog. You know me better than to fear for that, I hope. Also, I promise a gooooood party, because with friends and family like you guys, how could it turn out to be anything but?

It was a fabulous trip. This image of the sunset over the shell beach should sum it all up for you - peaceful and utterly relaxing!


Dinner plans

The best big sister is coming over for dinner tonight and I'm stoked because I haven't cooked for guests in WAY too long. It's been very busy around these parts with Rocco doing his professional exams at break neck pace (he just keeps passing and passing!) and I wrote and submitted the first article that will be a chapter in my thesis. YAY! That was a bit of a breakthrough for me and it feels so good that I just might ride the momentum and write and submit another one in June. Yes sir, that's the plan. But all that to say we haven't had anyone over for dinner in...months! How unlike me! With Annie coming over tonight it's reigniting my food synapses and All Recipes is getting a workout.

So here's the menu and a recipe:
Bean croquettes (probably white bean, or lima bean, onion, parsley, cumin, breadcrumbs, rolled in egg and panko then baked at 400F for 20 minutes until crispy and golden)
Saffron yogurt (recipe blow)
White rice with peas and chive blossom
Salad made of lettuce, chard, radishes, and flower petals with a light oil and vinegar dressing

I planted my deck garden the first week of May and this year decided not to plant any vegetables at all. We bought into a CSA for the summer so there will be more than enough veg to go around. Last year we joined a CSA mid-way through summer and suddenly all the veg on the deck became redundant. I had string beans up to my eyeballs and we couldn't eat them fast enough, what with them coming in the CSA box and growing like wildfire in two containers on the deck. So this year I only planted herbs and edible flowers on the deck, and our salads and other dishes will be gorgeous with a rainbow of bright petals. So far we have marigolds and nicotiana ready to eat and looking lovely, and eventually the nasturtiums will also grace our plates. The chives have been growing since February so I've been cooking with chive blossom for weeks already. You pick the large purple flower head, then separate each small blossom that is about the size of a grain of cooked rice, and use them in sautees, on salads, in baked dishes, mashed into potatoes, etc. Delicious!

And finally, here's the recipe for saffron yogurt that will be a dipping sauce for the croquettes. I got the idea from Belgian Fries on Commercial Drive where one of their mayo options to have with the fries is a saffron mayo. It shouldn't work, but it's so SO good. I can't bring myself to serve a mayo dipping sauce with an otherwise healthy meal, so I hunted down something similar made with thick yogurt. Now I have to hunt down the yogurt, because I'm not prepared to strain my own. Off to the greek deli!

Saffron Yogurt
550 mL plain yogurt (a little over 2 cups)
2 Tbsp boiling water
pinch of saffron threads
6 cardamom pods
3 Tbsp caster sugar

  1. Pour yogurt into a nylon sieve lined with muslin and leave in refrigerator overnight to drain.

  2. Put saffron and water in a small bowl and leave to soak for 30 minutes.

  3. Tip drained yogurt into a bowl and stir in saffron and its soaking liquid.

  4. Put cardamom seeds in a mortar and crush lightly with a pestle.

  5. Stir into yogurt with sugar.

  6. Serve chilled, decorated with lemon zest and cardamom seeds.
Notes: I'm buying thick yogurt, not straining regular yogurt. I'm using ground cardamom rather than crushing pods. I'm hoping to not use all the sugar recommended since I really want to avoid the sauce being too sweet. And who needs sugar? Not us.