Monday, March 7, 2011

An Early visit to a Medicinal Herb Garden, and Cooking with Quinoa

Today I stopped by the medicinal herb garden belonging to the College of Physicians located in Center City, Philly.   Almost through with this (hopefully) final frost, the perenials are ready to grow!  I'll write about that tomorrow.  Also, I'll be visiting the Philadelphia Flower Show tomorrow, lots of photos coming soon!  In the mean time, here is my first-time cooking experience with Quinoa:

Back on January 27, it snowed about two tons here in Philadelphia, and after four hours of shoveling, believe it or not, I came in and made soup.  Home made soup.  It doesn't take much to do it, I had a piece of beef cut from the shin, and just simmered it in salted water for a half hour while I took a shower.  Then I chopped up two small onions, along with equal amounts of carrot and celery.  I threw in the veggies with some powdered garlic, pepper and 6 beef bullion cubes, and let it simmer another hour.  I used enough water to cover everything and refreshed the water when it evaporated during simmering.  I never measure the water, I just kinda judge it, making an amount that would serve 4-6 people. 

I removed the veggies and put them in a blender to puree them, (I just wasn't in the mood for chunky veggies). I also removed the meat, separated it from the fat and pulled it into pieces (it was buttery soft) that were returned to the soup.  The bone had a nice piece of marrow in it, and that was pureed with the veggies.  The bone went to the dog (didn't see him for a couple of hours afterward)

I allowed the soup to continue on a low simmer while I took a smaller pot and boiled some barley until it was al dente, did the same with the red quinoa, and again with some tiny pasta.  The quinoa cooks like pasta, boil till al dente then drain.  If you love pasta, rice or cous cous, you'll love quinoa.   I then dumped all three of those in the soup and YUMMY!  This was my first time cooking with quinoa and I was very pleased with the ease of handling.  I can't wait to grow quinoa and amaranth this summer. 

The Gardener's Beef Barley/Quinoa Soup - Yummy. 

(In cooking, the Italian expression al dente describes pasta, rice, & beans that have been cooked so as to be firm but not hard. "Al dente" also describes vegetables that are cooked to the "tender crisp" phase - still offering resistance to the bite, but cooked through.)

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