Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kansas Report

No offense to any native Kansans; I'm sure it's a lovely place to live, but the drive through kills me.  On the way out I hit Kansas City at sunset and wasn't sure I'd be able to give a report on the grain content of the state.  Coming back from Colorado, however, I got to see Kansas in all of its interminable glory. 

So here's what I learned on I-70: 
Western Missouri= more soy and corn
Eastern Kansas = even more soy and corn
Central Kansas = high plains, no crops... just like the big buffalo hunt in Dances with Wolves

Western Kansas = what I think was recently harvested winter wheat [the color was wrong for hay, but it may have been oats],  sunflower fields and a few fields of milo [the mother of sorghum].
Eastern Colorado = corn, winter wheat, some soy

[photo courtesy of JG]
Central Colorado = pine and poplar

I enjoyed visiting family, learning to skin chipmunks [yes, there're pictures, but not a lot of meat], and eating gooey butter cake [we'll revisit that soon], but I'm also very happy to be back in my own kitchen, sweltering though it may be.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Where's the Wheat?

I've just driven through over 700 miles of Missouri and Iowa and have seen nothing but endless fields of fuzzy golden corn and velvet green soybeans [plus occasional bales of alfalfa--now there's a fun word!].  This strip of the nation's breadbasket is decidedly gluten-free.
So where do they grow wheat? Or oats? I'm hitting up Kansas over the weekend.  We'll see what we see.

[I also hit an insane rain storm outside of Des Moines.  The sky went deep twilight at 2pm, the wind started flattening the corn, and the gauge on my {borrowed} car told me the outside temperature dropped almost 25 degrees in the ten minutes before the rain hit. I was sure I was going to have a cow fly by me, Twister-style,  but all I had to dodge was a giant Rubbermaid-type trashcan in one lane and the giant lid in the other.  Frankly, that's as close to cow-dodging as I need to get... You may recall I haven't had a car since I moved to Yankee-Land last year -- and my former cars were stick-shift, so I tend to use both feet in danger-reflex situations.]

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bulgur Salad Lettuce Wraps [aka Mediterranean Tacos]

I needed to cut back all of my herbs and lettuce before depositing my garden in the bathtub and skipping town, so I made this pretty little no-heat salad for dinner.  

I salted the remaining tomatoes and left them to drain over a measuring cup, then combined that with the juice from my 2 remaining lemons, stirred in 1/3 cup of fine bulgur (parboiled cracked wheat) and let it sit until the grains absorbed the liquid ~ 15 minutes.  

Then I tossed it with my herbs (mostly the cilantro and burnet, which were bolting), diced my remaining queso seco as a feta cheese stand-in, threw in a few pinches of salt and pepper,  drizzled it with olive oil, and served it with lettuce leaves, taco-style.

I was pleased with the result.  It was a nice dinner for two, but I imagine it'd make a nice side dish with shish-kebabs.  A diced cucumber and chopped kalmata olives would have added some nice texture, but I didn't have the first and I didn't think of the second until later.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chocolate Macarons

JG and I are spending a bit of time in the heartland, which meant we had to clear out the fridge and put the garden in the bathtub [it wasn't easy].  I had 6 egg whites leftover from a couple projects and chocolate that was starting to bloom in my warm pantry, so I figured I may as well make a triple batch of David Libovitz' chocolate macarons and my own low[er] fat caramelized chocolate ganache.    
My only adjustment was that I sifted the dry ingredients into the whites because the nut oil/cocoa powder combination was clumping together... and the final result was still a little too bumpy.
 As for the ganache, I caramelized the sugar and browned the butter before adding fat-free evaporated milk [in lieu of heavy cream] and then stirred in nearly a pound of chocolate... and had nearly a pound of the resulting ganache left over, waiting for me in the freezer when I come home.

Recipe: Caramelized Chocolate Ganache