Thursday, June 30, 2011

Quinoa and Fast Food

I looove to eat out.  Unfortunately it can get expensive, it's really not very healthy, and I sure have trouble keeping my waistline down when I eat out frequently.  And then there is fast know that stuff we grab because we are tired and didn't plan ahead and everyone is already hungry?

One of the areas I'd like to write about on The Lavender Tub is how to get food fast without eating out.  Great tasting, healthy food that lets you keep a little more $ in your pocket and a lot of bad fat and salt out of your body. So, let me introduce you to something called "Quinoa" (pronounced keen-wah).

Quinoa is a lot like rice, but oh so much better.  Like rice, it is a carbohydrate, but it is also a complete protein which means it supplies all 9 essential amino acids, something lacking in fast food diets.  Unlike rice, it is not a grain but rather a seed.  A flower seed that is a relative to green leafy vegetables like spinach and swiss chard.  

I'm sure that did it for most of you!  If it's related to spinach, it has to taste horrible and you will never get your family to eat it, right?  Please stick with me a little longer and see if it isn't worth giving a try.  Quinoa is quick and very easy to prepare.  (I've read that it can be difficult, but I learned from and have never had any trouble.)  Also, you can prepare a large batch and keep in the refrigerator to have instant food whenever anyone is hungry.  It is very satisfying and keeps you satiated longer than carbs, which means you eat less throughout the day, and you can mix it with anything to make it taste great!

Seriously, you can make tabouli, fried rice, mexican rice, hot cereal with cinnamon and sugar, cous cous salad, sushi, cajun rice and beans..... the possibilities truly are endless.  I think if you give it a try, you might be surprised.

To prepare quinoa:

I purchase my quinoa from the health food store in bulk for about $5/lb.  This actually makes quite a bit.

To make a pot (5-6 cups), measure out 2 Cups of dried quinoa into a bowl and cover with tap water.  It is important to let it soak for at least 15 minutes.  You can let it soak for an hour or so, but at least 15 minutes to remove it's bitter, soapy taste.

When it is finished soaking, pour off the water and rinse the quinoa through a fine strainer, shaking off the excess water. When you handle the quinoa, you may find it sticks to your hand like grass does to your feet when you are getting out of the pool, FYI.

Measure your rinsed quinoa into a large pot and add water at a ratio of 1 Cup quinoa to 1.25 Cups water or broth. Based on my measurement, this means you should add just shy of 3.75 Cups of water to the quinoa you just soaked.

Bring the water and quinoa to a boil, then turn down the heat until it is just simmering, cover and cook for 35 minutes.

After 35 minutes, remove the cover, gently fluff and enjoy. There may be a little sticking to the bottom of your pan, just fluff around it, or eat it.  It is good too.  I leave my quinoa sitting on my cooktop for a couple of hours as I find it reduces the stickiness a bit and improves the texture.  And that is all there is to it.  Very simple.

Here is a fast lunch I eat quite often.  Quinoa topped with some garlic-pepper salt and a sprinkling of cheese.

This is tabouli made with quinoa.  Stay tuned for the recipe in a future post, as well as other recipes made with quinoa.

I'd love to hear what you think.

Thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why The Lavender Tub?

Quite simply....because I own one!

For our ninth wedding anniversary, my Edward bought me a 1929 Prairie style house that has a BIG lavender tub right in the middle of the upstairs bathroom floor.  While she is not the heart of my home, she certainly is the soul for it is here that I dream, watch clouds, pray and dwell in possibilities.  I can think of nothing that would capture the essence of this blog better than The Lavender Tub.

I know there are people who would not care for her, but I absolutely adore her.  She represents so many of the qualities I aspire to.  She's simple, yet elegant.  She's timeless, reliable, available, comforting, soothing and embracing.  She's a little spunky and on the edge with her color, but that's what sets her apart from all the others.  I think it would be very nice to have these things said of me.

We've discussed ripping her out and making that bathroom more appropriate for His and Hers, but I keep telling Edward I'm just not finished enjoying her yet.  I kind of think I never will be.

Oh, and in answer to the question I'm asked most often, "Yes, I do bathe in her......... every day!"

Thanks for stopping by,


Brats Cooked in Beer and Onions

!!!Caution!!!  This is not a healthy recipe....but it is sooo delicious!  I honestly cannot even remember who to give credit to, but  I think I went to a cook-out in Minnesota 20+ years ago and had these brats there.  I'm really not sure.  I'm kind of hoping I just dreamed this recipe up sometime, in which case I'm praying, "Lord, inspire me again, because they are that GOOD!"

This is also one of those recipes where the ingredient amounts are very flexible, meaning you can cook a lot, or a little, and the results will be the same.

The ingredients are really simple: uncooked brats, beer, onions and TIME.  This truly is an easy recipe, but you do need time to let the onions cook down into a paste, so be sure and budget for that.  Also, you can prepare the brats and onions a day ahead and just grill the brats on cook-out day to give them a smoky flavor and reheat them.

To begin, fill a saucepan with chopped onions.  I would estimate about 1 medium onion per brat, but  this is very forgiving.  Please notice I did not chop the onions into a perfect little dice, but ran them through my food processor.  A finer chop will help the onions cook down faster, but "who wants to chop that many onions?".  Do not process too fine or you will have a very strong onion mush, and that is not what you want.

Place your brats on top of the onions, then fill the pan with beer.  Your brats will be about half submerged at this point.  Bring the pot just to boiling, then cover the pan and turn down the heat until the brats are gently simmering.  We are trying to slowly cook the brats and allow the fats to release into the onions, without splitting the brats. 
When the brats and onions have cooked 30-40 minutes and look about like this, remove the brats.  Continue cooking the onions without a lid to allow the liquids to cook off.  If you want to speed up the process, you can turn up the heat which is fine until the onions start to caramelize.  When this happens, watch your heat and adjust to allow your liquids to continue cooking off, without burning the onion paste that is beginning to form.
Notice the fats beginning to cook out of the onions.  We are getting closer!  Continue to cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently to caramelize the onion paste and break down the remaining pieces of onion.  When the paste is thickened and looks like the picture below, it is ready!!! 

 Brown your brats on the grill (or in your pan) and serve with sauerkraut, spicy mustard, the onion paste and whole wheat buns.  I promise, this is the only way to eat brats and no other way will ever satisfy!

Happy 4th of July and thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A New Day Has Arrived...

Welcome to the Lavender Tub!!!  I'm so excited to be here and have you with me on this journey.  This is something I've talked about and wanted to do for a very long time - to write about all things "homey" in order to share the many things taught to me by some wonderfully amazing women, and also some things I just learned along the way.

I hope you will enjoy the recipes, sewing tips, money saving thoughts, gardening suggestions, decorating ideas and more we will share at The Lavender Tub.

Thanks for stopping by,