Parade.com: Hold the White Rice and Get Your Freekeh On

The Freekeh Cookbook by Bonnie Matthews

Here’s a typical weekday situation: A recipe calls for rice. There’s only 30 minutes for dinner. Healthy brown rice takes 45 minutes, and unhealthy white rice is 15 minutes to cook. When it comes to time, I’m guilty of choosing the latter. I have tricks for using grains in weekday meals, such as doubling the requested amount and storing the difference in the freezer, or cooking slow-cooking grains—such as barley and farro—on weekends.

One of my favorite healthy and quick-cooking grains is whole-wheat couscous. Quinoa is another favorite, but the rinsing process is time-consuming. My recent discovery is freekeh, a familiar grain in Arabic cuisines with a 15 to 20 minute cooking time.

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A Salty Surprise

Matcha Sea Salt and Cantaloupe

There are few memories of my first trip to Birmingham, Alabama: Joking uncles, watching Spike Lee movies until sunrise with our cousins and eating sugary cantaloupe. The morning we left Birmingham, it was sweltering hot. My uncle joked about the sweat on my nose being a sign of evil. Being too young and believing every comment, I wiped the sweat off. As the final suitcase was packed into the back of Dad’s truck, our Great Aunt handed us a large container of sliced cantaloupe to enjoy on the long drive back to Virginia. My sister and I were overjoyed about eating more cantaloupe. A few hours later, Mom unsealed the container of cantaloupe slices. The first bite was a salty surprise. We’ve never had cantaloupe with salt, and we didn’t like it. Well, Mom and Dad thought the better of the situation, because it was more for them. My sister and I watched our parents gorge on our sweet cantaloupe ruined with salt.

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#SmoothieNumbers 21: Fig and Coconut Milk

#SmoothieNumbers 21: Fig and Coconut Milk

#SmoothieNumbers are quick recipes sans the story for making refreshing drinks in a blender. No expensive juicer is needed, and greens are for salads.  Read more

The Neighbor with the Fig Tree

Honey Fig Cornmeal Muffins

We once had a kind neighbor who planted a fig tree on the side of their house. They were great cooks. They would share homemade pita bread, and gave Dad a trunk of lobsters when they returned from a trip to Maine. When we first moved into our house, they shared tips on landscaping our front yard. After-school, my sister and I would accidentally leave our house keys at home, and we would stay at their house until our parent came home. The smell of their evening dinner was enticing.

They were generous. And, they broke our hearts when they moved away without telling anyone where they were going. No one had in the neighborhood had any problems or disagreements with them. We woke up one morning to discover they had disappeared. All that was left was their fig tree and beautiful yard.

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Southern Green Beans Redux

Slow-Simmered Green Beans and Turnips with Smoked Turkey

It’s a summer dish in every southern grandparent’s home. It’s served at weddings, funerals and special events. The sight of it makes pseudo-healthy eaters start a conversation about unhealthy southern food and it’s over-cooked vegetables. Every child of the south has memories of watching television, only to have a large bowl of this vegetable unexpectedly placed in front of them. They dare not verbally protest. The snapping sound of each wax green bean’s ends being trimmed are heard with the sound of a television. For a generation of a certain age, such sounds brings back memories of watching their grandparents prepare meals.  Read more