Wednesday, May 28, 2008

*eating crow.

The mother is going to have a field day with this one. You see, she liked to feed us strange things when we were children. Bizarre things, like ... Well, here's a handy reference chart:

What you ate as a child

Spaghetti with meatballs

Pepperoni pizza

Honey-nut Cheerios

Red beans and rice

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich

What I ate as a child

Spinach linguine with cottage cheese

Whole-wheat crust pizza, extra sauce, no cheese

Rice Chex with orange juice, no milk

Millet and eggs

Apple stuffed with peanut butter

I mean, weird, right? But see, we didn't notice. We didn't really know any better until we got to school and were all, "DERwaitaminnit. This apple ain't no sammich." And I'm sure it was all EXTREMELY good for us and packed with nutrients, and we are abject ingrates for wanting fingernails stained with Cheetos dust, but you can't really depend on a 7-year-old for dietary judgment.

Eventually, we realized this weird-food bit was the kind of currency you just don't always get as a kid. Mother S has endured countless hours of our post-puberty torment on the subject. And neither she nor I may ever live down the Nutmeg Incident, which I think is the moment she decided to screw it and let us poison our bodies if we must, if only to keep her oldest daughter from spontaneously combusting.

So here, mother, for your reading pleasure, is my sweet, sweet comeuppance. There are grains in this recipe that we complained about for YEARS. And get this: It was damn good.

Oh, Mom, pipe down. People are trying to sleep.

I started with lentils, spinach, onions, fat-free plain yogurt (the Pube didn't have low-fat), garbanzos, olive oil, salt/pepper, a bay leaf, cumin, allspice, and turmeric. There in the front, in the pretty teacup (thank you, Grandma!), is some cooked barley, and in the back in the ominous-looking box is the Kasha (buckwheat). I KNOW.

I put the oil into the pot and immediately got distracted, so that I was shoving a handful of pretzels into my mouth before I noticed the smoke.


The pot came off the heat to simmer the heck down, then in went the onions. After they'd sweated out a bit, I added the spices. Then T called, so I was shooting the shit and forgot to take a picture. Sweaty, pungent onions, and you missed them. The Kleenex are in the bathroom, if you need a minute.

Then I added the 6.5 cups of water, but that didn't make for a pretty shot at all. I mean, would you eat this?

Me neither. And I was a little worried about that much water. Usually you get the flavor benefit of a stock/broth in a recipe like this. Would it be bland? Would I be throwing away 7.5 servings of it in three weeks? I mean, tomorrow?

Next, I tossed in the beans, spinach, and buckwheat, and let that cook for a minute.

Then I pulled it off the heat for 10 minutes. In the last 5 minutes that it had to sit, I drained the yogurt between paper towels

and frantically threw in the barley, which I realized I'd forgotten to do three steps ago. Not much liquid came out of the yogurt, because it was pretty well dense to start with. But I scooped a tablespoon of it into the bottom of the bowl, and topped with the POTAGE. That's right, it's French. It means, "Big Brother and the Non-reader are going to give you HELL for having eaten and enjoyed buckwheat AND barley because how are we now going to present a united front in the battle to Give Mom a Hard Time due to the great Sugar Allergy Test Double Cross of '85?"

I don't know. But this was delicious. Like lick-the-bowl, no-I-won't-share, spit-on-your-neck fantastic.

I'm going to go eat an Oreo now.


at: 12:50 PM said...

I love reading your blog. Not only do a learn a few things regarding new culinary adventures, I usually laugh out loud at least a couple of times during each column. They're more fun than an episode of Rumpole!

And, for what it is worth, as a witness to your childhood food ordeals, I decided a few years later to allow my daughter absolute freedom at the dining table. At age 17 her current food preferences range far and wide. Fortunately, she is also very determined not to end up fat like her parents. Although it used to shock most waiters, grandparents and innocent by-standers, I don't think having ice cream served on her spaghetti did her any long-term harm! Her biggest food complaint these days is the difficulty of finding fresh soy beans at Publix.

Looking forward to some interesting meals together with the gang in Napa.


PS. How dumb can I be? It took a second reading of "fridge id" before I got the pun in the title. If I ever create a username on this site, perhaps it should be "clueless in ponte vedra"

K. says:
at: 2:12 PM said...

oh dear! is it true? i have i stumped the great DWG? does this mean i must retire?

no ... perhaps i will just revel in the glory and use it as the wind beneath my wings to carry me to wal-mart, accursed bane of my existence.

and a wink and a nod to "interesting," my friend. interesting, indeed.

at: 12:20 PM said...

How exciting to see your endorsement of a dish that is simultaneously nutritious and delicious. Grains are so interesting and varied that using them opens up a whole new culinary world--like learning to use herbs. That said, the elation was dissipated by the previous writer's reference to your "food ordeal." I know that exaggeration makes for a better story but to set the record straight: You had spaghetti often, and with homemade sauce and fresh herbs. The pizza often as not had cheese and was heart-shaped on Valentine's Day, as were your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (red jelly, obviously). You guys had plenty of those but they were on whole wheat bread. You were deprived, for the most part, of the items you referenced as being on a "kid's menu". As toddlers you spent many lunchtimes at McDonald's (where else could my friend & I take 6 kids?) where you generally ate the bread and left the meat. You didn't have access to sodas but that's not uncommon, just ask my friend, the dentist's daughter. You suffered through homemade birthday desserts (whatever you asked for, including sweet potato pie and Boston cream pie) and boatloads of homemade Christmas cookies. And, thanks to your grandma, you endured blueberry pies, cakes and breads. Wouldn't I love to have a dollar for every pizza popover (ground beef, mozzarella, spaghetti sauce and Bisquick) I ever made! You even survived lobster for Christmas Eve.
The three of you are persons with a broad range of food preferences, as well. So at the end of the day, we took a different route from Mr. G's daughter to end up at the same place. Along the way we had extraordinary good health (except for allergies, hence the hiatus from milk and cheese for Laura's sake, who was one ear infection short of tubes) and no cavities. All I ever wanted was to give you a physiological foundation for a long and healthy life. What you did with that once you reached junior high school was your choice. At the end of the day, you always had homecooked meals whose primary ingredient was love, the MSG of life.

at: 2:49 PM said...

Wait, isn't msg BAD for you??

Look Katie, I'm reading your blog!
Love ya!

at: 5:47 AM said...

Can be but isn't always. Inside joke.



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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.