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Hello, my dears. Are you feeling fearfully neglected?

Well, you have been. My leisure of late has been spent largely in my kitchen.

I spent much of Sunday poring over a newly discovered food blog, Cookie & Kate. Isn’t that the best name? Cookie is a dog. (Kate is a person.) It’s a vegetarian blog, which means new and interesting dishes. Since meat isn’t expected to be the star, a lot of effort goes into making veggie dishes really interesting and appetizing. Even if I sometimes serve them with a side of steak.

butternut squash tabbouleh

Sunday’s dinner: butternut squash tabbouleh with a side of steak. So good. The only change I made was to use currants instead of cranberries, since I had them on hand, and add a bit of coriander and pepper. But not too much. The point of tabbouleh is to let the fresh herbs speak for themselves.

Inspired by Kate’s list of make-ahead breakfast foods, I set my mind to puffed amaranth and date bars. (I wanted to make granola, but it turned out that I didn’t have anywhere near 4 cups of oats.)

Popping amaranth is fun. Once you get the hang of it. You have to heat up the pan really hot–always hotter than you think you need–then put in a spoonful of grains. If they start popping immediately, you’re good to go: put the lid on, and in ten seconds they’re fluffy and done. Pour them into your “keep” bowl, heat the pan a little and make another spoonful. If they don’t start popping immediately, the pan isn’t hot enough, and that batch is never going to pop right; pour the scorched grains into a bowl to throw away later, heat the pan hotter and try again. Learn from my experience and don’t dump the ruined grains in the bin until they’ve cooled, unless you have a metal or glass bin. You’ll melt the plastic.

Having popped the amaranth, I turned my mind to the dates. It turns out that tiny food processor really can’t handle dates. They just kept whirring around and around in the bowl. Wop, wop. Amaranth date bars were a no-go.

granola

What to do with a quantity of popped amaranth? I almost ate it then and there with a spoon, but that wouldn’t lead to delicious breakfast food. I persisted and finally substituted the popped amaranth for half the oatmeal needed for granola. The granola recipe I had intended to make in the first place. I made a lot of substitutions for half the ingredients in that recipe, but it came out delicious. I will be making more this weekend. (In my defense, I only had enough amaranth and oatmeal for half a batch the first time.)

chia berry jam

To keep the granola company, I made chia berry jam from frozen berries, with a frozen banana for sweetness. It simmers for half an hour on the stovetop, so I kept an eye on it while I made dinner. Smelling the granola in the over while I stirred jam on the stove gave me the strangest sense of cognitive dissonance.

granola and jam

I enjoyed the granola and jam with greek yoghurt for breakfast all week. The turbulent and truncated affair of the amaranth date bars turned out deliciously in the end.

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