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The joy of cooking

Fri, Aug 31st, 2012
Posted in All Columnists

It wasn’t until my daughter was a baby and developed multiple food allergies that I really started exploring the art of cooking. I had to religiously read food labels, and was surprised at what I found. I found it easiest and best to make her food myself. I had to take something with us for her to eat whenever we went out, and she could rarely eat what others were eating. Most of the time, I made one meal for Grace and I to eat, and another for the rest of the family. For years, we ate everything together, usually off the same plate, usually with her on my lap. Sometimes I miss those days.

As she has grown older, Grace has outgrown all of her allergies except peanuts, and she has also developed a love of cooking. Since a very young age, she has loved to help me do any cooking or baking. If I do it without her, she gets very upset. She is only six now, but she recently made a batch of cupcakes from a box mix. Last night she made Hamburger Helper, with my supervision of course, while standing on a chair in front of the stove. I frequently hear the words, “I’ll do it!” come from her mouth. She asks me what she should do and I help her, but she is very independent.

For me, cooking has become a relaxing and enjoyable pastime instead of a chore. It’s true that I don’t always have time to make a decent meal, but I appreciate it when I do. I also love cooking for other people, so I love it when I have a friend over and I can make them something they may have never had before.

I know I have mentioned quinoa before, but I really love it. It is delicious, and easy to cook, as well as packed full of protein and other nutrients. It is becoming a very popular alternative to other grains.

I have made this recipe before many, many times, and it is always delicious. I made it for a friend of mine once, and she loved it, too. It is a great way to try quinoa for the first time, and a great, easy one-dish meal to make on a busy evening. It’s simple, but so full of flavor you will never forget. I also have a thing for filling the house with the aroma of curry simmering on the stove.

By the way, it goes perfectly with steamed broccoli. This is my version of the recipe.

Quinoa and Black Beans

1 tsp. vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

¾ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed

1 ½ cups vegetable broth

1-2 tsp curry powder

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup frozen corn kernels

1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

½ cup fresh cilantro (optional)

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and sauté until lightly browned. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with curry powder, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

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