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Perfectly Cooked (soaked) Quinoa

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(Raw and dry)

I feel like quinoa is new enough (to most of us) that it is still a bit misunderstood. At this point, the majority of us know how to cook pasta and rock a rice cooker, but what about the rest of the grains, especially the whole ones? And do the rules change when we soak them first? I don’t have all of the answers for you today, but I do have one: how to cook soaked quinoa perfectly.

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(Raw and soaked for 12 hours)

I don’t throw this word around recklessly. As much as I find plenty of charm in nature’s imperfections and messy but delicious food, poorly cooked quinoa is not one of them. When prepared properly, quinoa is neutral tasting compared to many whole grains, and has a less fiber-obvious texture. It is so full of protein, and such an easy (ahem, once you learn the rules) and convenient food to make, that it is only fair that you enjoy it at its best, instead of suffering through it because it is ‘good for you’.

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Stuffed Grapevine Leaves

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This tail-end of the summer business really appeals to me. It’s this in-between summer and fall time when we seem to get the best of both worlds. Sweaters with shorts, jeans with t-shirts, less squinting while on the computer, fewer terrible runs, going to bed at 10pm without feeling nerdy (because it’s actually dark outside), I love it all. Equally great, the subtle shifts in food; soup is back, the tomatoes are still here, apples are crisp and juicy, warm breakfasts, and it’s no longer a sweat-based decision whether or not to turn your oven on.

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Cozying right into ‘pre-fall’, my oven is back in action and I’m making one of my favourite things. Just like this special time of year, this dish reminds me of my Mom, and embraces both really good tomatoes and the (slightly) cooler weather.

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Green Beans with Millet and Garlic Scape Pesto

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As we age, I find it becomes easier let go of things that we may not be very good at. For instance, there is no reason for me ever to take another stab at doing my own accounting. I glaze over just thinking about it. And gardening. I always thought I would be a natural at growing my own vegetables, but as it turns out, I’m a lot better at cooking them. It takes a lot of time and attention to grow your own veggies and if you don’t have it, thank goodness for farmers, and the happiest place on earth: the farmers market.

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Eating locally is very en trend, and it feels like a trend that is here to stay. The less time between the produce’s garden-living time and your plate, the more nutrients they will still contain and the better they will taste. A stroll through the market can also be very culinarily inspiring and often enlightening too. Amongst the expected and anticipated favourites, there are always a couple of surprises. The part of the plant you never knew existed, that, yes, of course you would love to try. (more…)

Veggie-Packed Veggie Burgers

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It’s time for the veggie burger. Not the weird, brown, ‘this tastes like meat’ veggie burger, made with every scary, processed thing except meat. I’m talking about the veggie burger made with LOTS of fresh vegetables, seeds/nuts, rolled oats and spices. The ingredients could make up a hearty salad, but we’re not feeling salad-y today, we want burgers. And, although veggie-packed, these burgers will not taste like salad. You are going to love them, your friends and family are going to love them and even your meat-eating, terrified-you-might-make-them-eat-something-healthy-and-change-their-life friends and family will.

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The seeds in this burger help it to retain the crunchiness once baked, while the sweet and rich beets and carrots, sharp onions, fresh herbs and green onions, all work together to add punches of fresh flavour. You have to trust me on this, because if you taste the mixture before the baking happens, there won’t be a lot of magic just yet. The ingredients get to know each other much better during the baking process, resulting in enhanced flavour and texture. (more…)