Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Barley and mushroom risotto, turkey stuffing, lots of veggies, sweet potato casserole, and carrot cake

This week has been quite chaotic, but I managed to do a lot of cooking (partially because I needed distraction).  Squirt (my rat) got really sick last week, and after a few days of feeding her by hand and sleeping on the couch with her, she got bad enough that I knew I had to put her down.  It was rough, and I still miss her like crazy, but it's getting easier as time goes on.  Anyway, cooking gave me a good way to keep myself busy.  

First I made some barley and mushroom risotto.  This came from the same cookbook as the picadillo (Lorna Sass's "Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way"), but I see that it was also featured in the Washington Post.  I left out the parsley because I didn't have any, and I used dried portobello mushrooms because that was the only choice (other than the morels at $26/oz) at the store.  I also used green onions instead of the leeks because that's what I had handy.  I had a few space-out moments (like when I halved the recipe but forgot to cut down the liquid), but I managed to recover and the texture turned out beautifully.  It tastes good, too, but next time I'll reduce the amount of fennel seeds, or perhaps leave them out all together.  I knew that they taste somewhat like anise (which I don't like at all), and I suppose that should have been enough warning.  I still like it, but it would be much better without that flavor.

I also wanted to try out a stuffing recipe in preparation for Thanksgiving, and I thought it would be perfect while I had a little bit of turkey left.  I found a tasty looking recipe at Kalyn's kitchen (a very good website with a lot of whole grain recipes), so I tried it out.  I used basic whole wheat sandwich bread (with flax seeds) that I made last week.  I halved this recipe, too, but I didn't measure the veggies and I think I used a bit too much of them.  It tastes really good, but it could use a little bit more bread.

I then went crazy with the veggies.  Nothing too inventive, but I made lots of steamed broccoli, steamed carrots, roasted cauliflower, and roasted green beans with almonds.  I found out yesterday that it's National Roasting Month, so it worked out perfectly.  Oh, and I almost forgot about the sweet potato casserole that is delicious and amazingly simple (it only has sweet potatoes, crushed pinapple, cinnamon, and walnuts).

And my final concoction was a carrot cake sweetened with pineapple and raisins.  It's really good (and would be even better if I had remembered to add the vanilla).  I'm still amazed at how great these things turn out, and I don't miss refined sugar at all.

I can't cook for a while because I'm leaving on Friday, but now I have a new distraction because Bahareh got me a hamster for my birthday.  He's quite adorable and amazingly soft, but he's not quite sure about his new cage/owner.  Hopefully he'll figure it out soon.  Any name suggestions would be appreciated.  Right now I'm throwing around Rocko/Rocky, Pollan, and, Clack (I've been listening to far too much Car Talk lately), but I'm also waiting to see if anything about his personality jumps out at me. 

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