Moroccan Salad with Quinoa

IMG_4999We used to have a flat-weave picnic basket.  It was lined in green tartan, and had a place for everything that a family might need for a great lunch.  Today we tend to pack lunches into coolers or backpacks, with lots of ice or freezer paks.  Somehow our unchilled lunches of yesteryear never made us sick.  We would have a stack of sandwiches, maybe a salad or two, some pickles, and cookies and fruit for dessert.  A bottle of lemonade would be enough for us all.  No pop tins, fancy fruit juices, or iced teas.  How did we ever survive?

There is always time for a picnic.  Don’t go overboard thinking it out, just make some things that make you happy, and get outside!  Even if you just toddle down to the local park.

This salad would be an amazing picnic salad.  Salads are great when they can be used as a main dish as well.  This colourful salad, full of fragrant spices lasts well in the fridge, and works well as a side dish for dinner, or as a main course salad, for lunches or a light supper. It’s packed full of nutrition, and is pretty as well!

Continue reading

Coconut Rice with Fragrant Onion Sauce

Image In my early 20’s my younger sister and I shared an apartment.  We had two cats, two bedrooms, and groups of friends five years apart.  Somehow it all worked.  I was big sister to many of her friends, and my responsibility for her kept me with my feet firmly on the ground.  We started off in a two bedroom ground floor suite that we could hop over the hedge and come in through the sliding doors, in a complex that had a pool that we never used.  Next step up was a one bedroom in a more amenable area, in an older building with bigger rooms, with a creepy guy across the way that used to exercise in his briefs (we called him Jock Strap).

Finally we moved into a huge two bedroom third floor suite.  It had been left in disrepair, so we made a quick agreement with the manager to paint the whole of it in exchange for the damage deposit.   There was even a horrible mustard yellow “feature” wall that had a large dark stain dribbled down it.  With a group of friends over one weekend (and a can of marine grade paint to cover the yellow wall), we got the whole of it done and moved into our first home-like suite.

There was a green grocer up the street who would sell us a stalk of celery or half a head of lettuce.  The butcher was across the street, with a grocery store across the laneway.  We ate well.  Not a lot, but well.

One of our mainstay dinners was a couple of pieces of chicken seasoned and baked for ½ an hour or so, while we cooked some rice and a veg.  Very plain, but it worked.  I think the format of the supper allowed me to get some nutrition in fairly quickly after a day’s work before I’d head down to the stables to train for a couple of hours.

Rice has always been an easy way to round out a meal.  I know we’re supposed to only eat brown rice, but it just takes too long!  I use it, but more usually Basmati or Japanese.  I’ll get my whole grains elsewhere.

When a large bowl of rice gets plunked down on a table family style, it quickly conforms to the shape of the bowl, and becomes less appealing.  This recipe builds in a bit of sauce, so it stays moist and tempting far longer. Tuck a couple of flowers in the side and your family will think you’ve gone all “gourmet” on them.       Continue reading

Rice Salad with Ginger & Lemongrass

IMG_4034Potlucks are easy ways to gather for a meal.  They’ve been around for years, and will continue for many to come.

One way to hold a potluck is to give no rules, and just see what turns up.  There have been stories of twelve bowls of green salads lined up, with nothing else.  Or the transformative Thanksgiving dinner we held at a shared house; we offered to do turkey as the hosts, and left the rest up to the ten or so guests to do the rest.  We had a great dinner of turkey, stuffing, gravy and 6 different versions of pumpkin pies.

What I recommend doing, is to look after the meat & dessert.  Let everyone else bring side dishes or appetizers.  At least this way the meal will have a bit of structure.

There are times that I pull out all the stops and work to create something memorable.  However if time is limited, there’s nothing wrong with doing a simple dish, as long as it is presented well, is yummy, and interesting!  This is easy to make, and can be served cold or at room temperature.  As you can see, I served it in my bamboo steamer, but here’s a tip if you don’t want to worry about dishes.  Line a foil pan with an oversized sheet of parchment, tuck in some herbs or flowers at one side, and you can just walk away from it at the end of the meal. Continue reading