Monday, January 28, 2013

A Little of Everything


    After having over-caffeinated early on Saturday morning, I pretty much spent the rest of Saturday completely exhausted....unable to move off of the couch.  So I used the day as an excuse to dive into my stack of cookbooks that I wanted to re-read.  Due to my familiarity with the couch on Saturday, on Sunday I really felt the need to start over and get out of the house feeling good.  With my new cooking inspirations leading the way, I popped from place to place about the city, finding some really fantastic fresh ingredients.  Maybe it was because the week had been so gray and freezing, or perhaps everyone had spent their Saturday soaking up cooking ideas as well, but everywhere was packed with crowds of people...even if the temperature was still hovering at 30F degrees.  
A few of my finds were:

 Organic (and delicious) spelt berries


Whole-milk plain Greek yogurt from a local producer


Super fresh (moist) dried apricots


Bread cheese


Dark purple sweet potato  
I ended up  just simply roasting it with some garlic and eating it as a snack, so that I could taste its great flavor.  


I was really impressed with what can be found in DC.  Finding these first three great ingredients reminded me of one of my absolute favorite Italian dishes.  Cooked wheat berries and ricotta is a breakfast dish (...or snack... or dessert) that I never make anymore. So I adapted it to use what I had just bought.


Cook 2 cups of spelt berries in 2 cups of water and 1 cup of spiced apple cider. (This gives the spelt a tiny bit of a wintry-spice flavor but no sweetness.) Add 1/4 tsp of salt to the boiling water. Simmer for about 1 1/4 hours or until they puff up and are a nice chewy texture to the bite.

When the spelt berries are done and still warm, stir in the below:
    1 cup of whole-milk (or 2%) plain Greek yogurt ( I would not recommend non-fat, as it is too tart)
    Zest of 1 lemon
    1/4 cup of chopped dried apricots
    1/4 cup of toasted chopped almonds or almond slices
    1 tsp of toasted sesame seeds (and/or chia seeds) = lots of omega 3's
    1 tsp of honey drizzled (you can always add more if you prefer sweeter)
Eat right away, or anytime, hot or cold.


 The bread cheese, that I bought from a producer in Wisconsin, is already almost gone.  This is a pasteurized cows milk cheese of Finnish origin.  To me, it is similar to halloumi in texture, but not as salty in taste.  It is a firm cheese that does not melt easily, meaning that you can heat it, and it will mostly keep its shape.  You can also just eat it at room temperature as a nice addition to salads of all sorts.
  

My favorite way, however, is to just slightly warm it in the oven, or in a pan, and drizzle it with a little honey or jam.  I almost ate the entire pound of cheese in the last two days.  (And everyone always seems to wonder how vegetarians get their protein.)  


Next time you find yourself knocked out on the couch feeling super low, pick up those cook books instead...they seem to work wonders.

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