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Cooking with Mark Bittman
So this week it’s the Rice and Grains chapter in The Food Matters Cook Book.  Last week was my introduction to bulgur in a chickpea and chicken recipe, so thought I’d venture further into the great grain adventure.  After reading the introductory material in the chapter and most of the recipes (drool…..), I made a trip to Fresh Market and stocked up on ingredients like Quinoa (pronounced keen’-wah or alternatively, kee-noh’uh – I had to look it up) sunflower seeds, unsweetened coconut, chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, rolled oats, etc.

I started out the day Tuesday making Mark’s Granola.  It is a thing of beauty and deliciousness and, in spite of no added fat, calories.  I tell myself that they’re healthy calories.  For dinner the same day, I made Chipotle Quinoa with Corn and Black Beans.  This was my first exposure to quinoa and the first time I’ve cooked with chipotle chiles.   It will not be the last!  This is a hearty vegetarian – vegan, even – dish and is filling and very flavorful.  The quinoa has a slightly nutty texture.  I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to hot peppers, so I used the canned chiles but omitted the adobo sauce, which is very hot.  Next time, I’ll use some of the sauce.  There was some heat from the chiles, but the smoky flavor is fabulous and more heat would add even more flavor, I think.  I have the ingredients for several more dishes from the chapter and can’t wait to try them.

(Re-)Visiting Mecca

"I cannot live without books."

On a dreary winter day it’s nice to remember the adventures of autumn.  Last October my friend Corinne and I visited Washington, DC.  We drove out and stopped in Charlottesville, VA, on the way to see the University of Virginia and Monticello.  Both were intriguing and a great warm-up for a visit to our nation’s capital.  Is it a coincidence that this is the mug I’m drinking from this morning?  I don’t think so. If you’re interested in seeing pictures of our trip, here’s a link.

The highlight of the trip for me, however, was our visit to the Library of Congress.  For a a hard core, card-carrying bibliophile, it was a trip to heaven.  First of all, the place is a temple to learning.

Also, it is filled with art and is an architectural feast.  We lucked out because we were there on Columbus Day and in honor of the national holiday the Reading Room was open for visitors.  Employees of the LOC were on hand to answer questions and (joy!) photography was allowed.  Usually visiting the Reading Room requires a research pass and only quiet study is allowed – and no photography.  In addition, access was allowed to the card catalog room – a huge vault with drawer after drawer of entries.  Of course, I’m sure the catalog of holdings is largely digitized now, but for someone who well remembers using a card catalog to find books, seeing this vast collection was thrilling.