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You know how sometimes you’re plodding along peacefully, taking the time to stare into space and smell the roses when some come along? Then life picks you up and flings you into a whirlwind and before you know, you’re running as fast as you can, just to stay in the same place. Well, life did that to me a few weeks ago and right now, I can fully empathise with a mouse running very fast in a wheel. Slowly, I’m at least beginning to to settle into a rhythm of some sort and it doesn’t seem as mad a scramble as last week.

What happened you ask? Well, I got me a job, and my summer vacation is over. Good thing too – summer’s long gone and the days are getting shorter and chillier and being cooped up all alone in the house all day long isn’t a very exciting prospect. To be working, however, has brought along a major lifestyle change. I’m rising with the sun, driving 50 km in the peak office rush hour along one of Canada’s busiest highways in the morning and back again in the evening rush hour. This means I am left without an ounce of energy by the time I get home in the evening and cooking has been taking a back seat. Left overs and take-out have been tiding us over.

Now the funny thing is, however much you claim you don’t like to cook, when you start writing a cooking blog, a seed of pride germinates within you. Not only does ordering take-out so often hurt your vanity somewhat (not to mention you wallet), but you also, somewhere deep down inside you, miss making wonderful things and bragging about them. Life becomes hum-drum. And never, ever must life become humdrum.

So this weekend, I decided I was going to spend half a day cooking and have most meals for the next week ready. Tanmoy stepped up to the challenge and we chopped and sliced and sauteed and stirred and cooked up a storm. After 5 hours, our kitchen looked like a band of rampaging monkeys had passed through and the two of us were ready to drop dead, but boy, did it feel good!

I hadn’t really planned the menu, so most of the dishes I cooked were simple daily fare, but I did make one wonderful, wonderful dish which I am very pleased to share with you today. It is one of the healthiest imaginable foods, a complete protein, delicious and oh so exotic! What am I talking about? I’m talking about Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) – an ancient super-food of the Incas, which is now being introduced into the western world. It has a nutty taste, completely unlike any other grain I’ve tasted, and well, it’s not really a grain, but a seed. I won’t go into too much more detail about Quinoa here, but do click on the link to get more information.

Prep time : 30 mins
Serves : 5-6

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WHAT YOU NEED:

1.5 cups Quinoa, washed and drained
1 medium Onion, sliced
1 cup Corn, thawed if using frozen
1 cup Carrots, diced
1.5 cups Spinach, shredded
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Pecans or Walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp Oil
3 cups water
Salt to taste

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a deep pan.
  2. Add the sliced onions and minced garlic and saute until translucent.
  3. Stir in the carrots and corn, cover and cook for a couple of minutes. Then stir in the spinach.
  4. When the spinach has wilted, add the quinoa and salt and mix well.
  5. Saute for a couple of minutes and then add 3 cups water.
  6. Cover and cook on medium heat, stirring every few minutes until all the water is absorbed. The Quinoa is done when the grain turns translucent and a thin white ring appears around the grain.
  7. Stir in the chopped pecans or walnuts.

MY NOTES:

What I have shared with you today is a very standard recipe for pilaf. It is very flexible in terms of the vegetables added, so go ahead and add your favourite ones. You could add green or red bell peppers (capsicum), broccoli, green peas or french beans.

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