I found myself with a lot of welcome down time this weekend. Scott and some friends decided going surfing up in the Straits was a good idea even though there were predictions of snow. So Saturday afternoon he headed North to meet up with them and Sunday morning they caught an early ferry across to the peninsula. I don’t blame him for his itch to get in the water, even when there is snow on the beach. It’s been at least since early fall that we’ve gone and surfing has this hold on you that’s hard to let pass by. The only reason I opted to stay home was the fear I’d loose all my fingers and toes to frost bite.
Instead I cozied up at home enjoying my own company alongside our cat Sofia. I put together a large batch of yeasty dough to make bread, caught up on some reading, started knitting a hat for Scott (á la Jacques Cousteau- as per his request), and went through a very large box of photo’s from my childhood that my mom had given me for Christmas. The photo’s all came from my grandmother’s albums (over 20 of them!) and when she passed away over a year ago, my mom scooped them up, took them home and went through every single one dividing every picture for my sister, cousins, and I to have and cherish ourselves, as much as she did. It was my favorite gift by far.
As I was going through the pictures, there were lots of smiles, big hugs, celebrations, and summer’s spent at our family cabin. Then I found a picture of my great grandfather holding me when I was about 2 years old. I stopped at this one for awhile. I didn’t really know my great grandfather or my great grandmother, both passed a way before I was 6 or 7, but they lived on the eastern side of Washington state, in a little town called Wenatchee. I used to call them great grandma and grandpa ‘natchee because that was my best pronunciation and it seemed to stick even after I could say it right.
I love the story this picture seems to tell and instantly fell in love with it and with the lifestyle I know he and my great grandmother lived. It took me back to a simpler time, before internet and before the constant go-go-go world we live in today. The expression on his face and mine is priceless, almost like he was just in the middle of telling me a tale, when someone decided they couldn’t pass up this kodak moment. I love that my great grandfather and I are the main focal point, but whoever took it definitely wanted to make sure and get those big, ripe tomatoes in the frame. They’re the kind of imperfectly perfect juicy tomatoes that only come from ones home garden and displayed out at the end of the harvest season; so it’s no wonder you’d want to show them off. I wish I could know them today, I know I could learn a lot from them and it would be lovely to eat a meal cooked from their kitchen.
Cumin-Scented Black Rice & Quinoa / serves 4
Adapted from Bon Appétit
This side dish would make a fantastic addition to any Spanish style meal, maybe something like this. I’ve kept it simple, but it also seems perfect to add too, I’m thinking fresh tomatoes and avocado in the summer and possibly even roasted root vegetables in the winter, maybe throw in some pinto or black beans too, make it yours. If you can’t find black rice you can swap it out for brown, but I really suggest you try it, it’s a delicious little grain. Although beware, it will stain everything it comes in contact with a purplish hue if you’re not careful.
1/2 cup black rice
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup salt plus more to taste
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
fresh ground black pepper
Bring rice and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Once boiling, cover, reduce heat to low and cook until the rice is tender and water has been absorbed, about 25-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the quinoa, bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 cup water in another small saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. If you have any remaining water, drain, return to the saucepan and keep covered for roughly 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf, fluff with a fork and transfer quinoa to a large bowl.
Heat tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin seeds and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add the onion mixture to the quinoa. Add the cooked rice and mix everything well. Stir in the remaining 1-2 tablespoons oil (depending on preference), fresh lemon juice, cilantro, parsley, and chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or room temperature and garnish with avocado slices and lemon wedges if desired.