Best-est and Unique-est, Yummiest Salad Ever

>> Thursday, December 30, 2010

This is a dish I never would have eaten if it weren't for a polite try at a dinner party. That polite try turned into a full dish that night and many happy meals since. It's adapted from a vegetarian cook book called, Jump Up and Kiss Me by Jennifer T. Thompson.

1 cup bulgur wheat (you can find it in health food stores, or with other grains by the flours in the grocery store)
1 cup boiling water

Boil the water then add the bulgur wheat. Stir and let sit for one hour.

In a large bowl, add to the cooled bulgur wheat:

2 teaspoons cumin
3 cups frozen corn, thawed (You can use corn cut off the cob, too. About 4 ears of corn.)
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons canola or veggie oil
1 green pepper *see note
1/2 (or so) red onion, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 cup fresh cilantro
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

Mix well.

1 cup chopped walnuts, added just before serving

This salad has a great blend of flavors with the lime, cumin, and cilantro. I sometimes like to add even more of these ingredients than the recipes call for. So yummy!

Oh, and one more thought. This makes a really big dish, so if you don't have lots of mouths to feed then it might be good to halve it.

*I have mentioned before that I have a great aversion to spicy foods. The original recipe calls for 2-4 jalapenos roasted, pealed, seeded, and diced. I like a small Anaheim with some green pepper, but that's about all I can handle. Adjust to your spice palate.


Tomato Salsa

This salsa is my absolute favorite!

3 tomatoes chopped (I like mine about 1/3 inch)
1 small white onion, finely chopped
4 radishes, grated
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 green pepper *see note
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2-3 tablespoons lime juice or lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Mix together.

I love these over homemade tortilla chips which we used to have all the time back when our ayi would hand make the tortillas and then fry them up for us. And this is me letting out a sigh for the good old days. And this is me now serving this with white corn tortilla chips purchased from a grocery store.

*I am a spice-wimp. I can't stand any heat. The recipe calls for 2 jalapeno chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped (don't forget the plastic gloves when doing this!) You can add them or any other pepper that fits your spice comfort level. I tried Anaheim peppers once and it was o.k.


Ginger Cookies

I've been asked for a few recipes lately so I'll post a few right now.

Every time I make these cookies for someone, they want the recipe. They're that good.

When I worked with Kim Miles in the RS in Bryan, she used to give these cookies to the people who didn't come to church. These cookies are so good that I half-considered becoming one of them just so I could get the cookies every month. Lucky she gave me the recipe and now I'm passing on the good will to you. Enjoy!

Ginger Cookies

Blend together:

¾ cup shortening

1 cup sugar

1 egg

½ cup molasses

Add dry ingredients:

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Set aside:

additional sugar in a bowl for rolling the dough

Preheat oven to 350°. Scoop the cookie dough and shape into balls. Roll the cookie dough balls in the sugar bowl. On a greased pan, evenly space the cookies dough balls. Leave enough room because the cookies will spread quite a bit. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven, but leave the cookies on the sheet to cool for 5 minutes. They will flatten. Remove the cookies and cool completely.

These are delicious with vanilla ice cream or on their own.


City Heart, Country Feet

>> Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I realized recently that I’m a city girl. That’s probably no surprise to many of you who know me well. But I grew up in a tiny town called Fruit Heights, Utah and now I live in another tiny town, Crookston, Minnesota. Sandwiched in between these two places are the magical metropolises of London (only for a few months) and Beijing (for a few years), and Boston. I also had a few brief tours through Hong Kong, Bangkok, Paris, Edinburgh, and Wales (and, yes, I realize Wales isn’t a city) and various U.S. cities.

When I got my mission call to Boston, someone said to me, “Oh, you’ll fit in so well there.” Included in that was a bit of the sinister implication that I didn’t fit in so well in Fruit Heights. That person wasn’t really very nice.

They were right, however. I got to Boston and felt right at home. I didn’t have culture shock until I had to go back to Utah.

When I lived in Bryan, Texas, Matt did his research near Dallas. I would go up with him just to smell the city air and see the buildings. Oh, and visit the Kimbell Art Museum. Wow, what an amazing place. These visits put a spring in my step and renewed me.

It’s so odd, I know. I should love the mountains and find solace in the whispering trees. My heart should long for the solitude of a quiet lake. Isn’t that what normal people do? Go to the ocean to rejuvenate?

Maybe so. But then I’ll just have to be not normal. I do love the ocean… as long as it’s in Thailand and I’ve already spent a few days in Bangkok. I do love the trees… around Harvard Square.

All I need is a good bit of art and music to make me whole. For example…

One time while in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, I was contemplating one of Rembrandt’s self portraits. The complete museum nerd that I am, I was staring at the painting. Looking at the brush strokes, studying the light. Experimenting with different distances and perspectives to see how the painting changed. And most of all, wondering just how it is that a person can replicate the soul with paint on a canvas.

While immersed in the painting, a concert on a period harpsichord started up in one of the main museum galleries. It was far enough away to not add more people to the room I was in, but close enough to hear the music. I was overcome with beauty and pure enlightenment—almost as if a conduit to truth opened up to Heaven. Every part of me was touched with beauty. It was one of the crowning moments of my life.

I don’t get moments like that in small towns. I like the good neighbor, folksy ways. The careful driving and friendly waves, but I haven’t found transcendence in them.

I suppose there’s a place where one naturally belongs and I suppose my place is in an art gallery or music hall found in a big city. I guess that’s where my heart will always be. Even when my feet are planted on terra firma, small town, U.S.A.


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