Archive for March, 2010

Saturday was the first official day of Spring!  Here in New York we’ve already had a healthy dose of sunshine and blue skies over the past week, but it is nice to make it official.  Alas, my daffodils have died, but I did notice some beautiful purple and yellow crocus popping up in the neighborhood.

Since I starting writing in the Fall, I’ve mostly been writing about cold weather recipes–hot foods that fill you up and stick to your bones.  Today I am pleased to present my first Springtime recipe (although it was technically winter when I made it).  The other day, I was doing a quick shopping at Whole Foods and I was trying to think up something delicious and fast.  As I thought over our pantry at home I came up with a few things I knew I had–quinoa, sliced almonds, dried cranberries.  Then, I remembered a quinoa salad that my roommate had made a while back.  To my cart I added red onion, scallions, and apples and I made my way home.

This salad is so refreshing!!  I just know you will love it.  Make it on a warm spring day as a main dish or even a side dish.  If you haven’t cooked with quinoa yet, what are you waiting for?!  It’s very versatile–you can use it as a substitute for rice or any other grain.  I even have a recipe for quinoa muffins that are very very good.  Quinoa is actually easier and faster to make than rice and many other grains and it is so good for you.

I didn’t use measurements, so you’re going to have to get creative and do some taste-testing along the way.

-chopped red onion (about 1/4 c.)
-3 scallions/green onions chopped
-dried cranberries
-quinoa (I used 1/2 c. dried which equals 1 c. cooked)
-olive oil
-lemon juice
-dijon mustard

1. Prepare the quinoa according to package directions (make sure to rinse it first!)
2. Mix quinoa with the first four ingredients.
3. Add in the other ingredients for the dressing–adjust to taste.  I probably did 2 parts olive oil, 1/2 part lemon juice, and 1 part dijon mustard.  Don’t forget lots of salt and pepper.
4. Refridgerate for about a half hour.  Taste it again and adjust the seasonings.


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I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills, 
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils; 
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. 

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay: 
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. 

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: 
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company: 
I gazed — and gazed — but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought: 

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude; 
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

~William Wordsworth

Lately the weather here in New York has been quite (dare I say) spring-like.  I’ve been soaking up the sun and enjoying the feeling in the air.  I love this change of seasons the Northeast provides.  As soon as I am growing weary of one season, another comes along to rescue my mood and spirit.  Above all, I feel that the change from winter to spring, while painful at times with its fits and starts, is the loveliest transition of all.  It is the one which we desperately want the most (or at least I do!).  The first few hints of spring cause the air to feel lighter, people to seem happier.  Just when I can’t take one more minute of the oppressiveness of New York in winter, nature brings a little relief and I make peace with the city. 
With the change in weather, I’ve had plants on the brain lately.  Springtime flowers have to be some of my favorites–all those colorful bulbs, sometimes poking up through patches of melting snow.   They are small but powerful signs of hope.  The crocus, narcissus, hyacinth, tulip, and of course the daffodil, each remind us to hang in there and hold out for spring.  Today I was heading to the train from work, enjoying the delicious sun on my face, and I passed by a flower shop.  Outside the store, on a small table, was all sorts of spring flowers for sale.  It was a difficult choice–what with the beautifully blooming and highly fragrant narcissus, the pink and yellow tulips ready to pop, and the hyacinths about to burst.  Although I think my very favorite spring flower is the crocus, I settled on the daffodil because the plant looked strong and healthy, and because the splash of yellow will be fantastic on my window sill.
They don’t look like much, but here they are this evening:
Hopefully soon enough they will be bright and beautiful enough to compare to the flowers that inspired Wordsworth!

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