Quinoa – What It Is and Why You Should Be Eating It

It’s pronounced KEEN-wah, and it’s name is quinoa. And it’s VERY hot right now, showing up in a lot of restaurants, recipes and healthy-eating articles.

What the heck is it, you ask?

It’s an ancient grain, dating back over 5000 years to the time of the Incas in South America. It contains more high-quality protein than any other grain, and is the only grain that provides all the essential amino acids. It is gluten-free, to boot.  It looks like a cross between couscous and tapioca – round little spheres. Here’s what it looks like cooked:

I tasted some at a wine-pouring event last summer. It was served in a tasting cup with a slice of tri-tip, and it was delicious!  I’m a big fan of healthy eating, so I bought a box and made it one evening, to be served with a pork roast and some vegetables.

My family loves a side dish of plain rice (jasmine, basmati or brown) seasoned with just butter, salt and pepper. No icky rice mixes from a box. (Well, one exception that my 88-year old mother in law loves. I make an exception for her). The subtle flavors add a nice contrast to the main dish and vegetables or salad that accompanies the meal. I fixed the quinoa just like that – cooked up and added some salt, butter and a dusting of garlic powder.

I took a bite and ….. was rather underwhelmed. It seemed bland even though I had seasoned it. It was okay, but in my house, “okay” usually means no repeat visit. Sigh. It just didn’t move me. Drat. I had such high hopes.

I had made enough to create leftovers, so I decided to make a cold pilaf. We don’t throw away perfectly good food here even if it is a little less than spectacular. I added olive oil, seasoned rice vinegar, chopped cucumber, red pepper, red onion, and a sprinkling of feta cheese.

WOW! 🙂 It was amazingly good! I thought back to the tri-tip and quinoa tasting bite at the wine pouring event – it wasn’t served hot, either.

So that’s how I plan to keep this amazing grain in my food rotation. It gives me another way to do a hot-weather meal besides a pasta-based salad, and it provides way more protein and doesn’t need any mayonnaise to taste great. I can also serve it as a side dish instead of potato salad.

Check out quinoa today!!

My Husband’s Cancer Diary

My husband, Jim, is currently undergoing treatment for squamous cell cancer of the mouth as a result of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). We have decided to document our journey with a blog. Here is the address:


Please pass on this address to anyone you know who might be suffering from squamous cell cancer of the mouth caused by HPV. We are going to do our best to document every day of radiation treatments, which started today, March 15, 2012.

They say shared experiences can be a powerful thing. We hope that by documenting our journey, we might help others who are having to deal with it. Just to know there’s someone else out there dealing with the same thing can be helpful.

We will try to respond to any questions and/or comment on the blog as quickly as possible. To all those other there is cyberspace suffering from cancer of any kind, we send you our most sincere wishes for a speedy recovery.

One Plus One Equals a Litter

Update on my new little guy, Angus…

The neutering went well, the tapeworm (ick! ick! ick!) is gone and he’s settling into a nice routine. He’s so friendly, everyone loves him. Well, except Tabitha, but I wasn’t expecting miracles.

It wasn’t until I saw him sitting very close to a neighborhood kitty on my front porch that the bells went off. This little girl kitty has a home; she just likes to wander and nibble out of  the various food bowls, which is making her fatter and …

Oh. My. God.

Yep – little Munchkin (my name for her. Her real name is Muneca or something like that. It’s Spanish. I cannot pronounce it) is preggers. If I had any doubts, they were quashed today. Her little belly is lumpy and I’ve seen those types of lumps before.

I feel so guilty and yet this probably happened before Angus even ventured into my yard. Remember my first post on Angus, on how I was curious what kind of genetics would come into play if he ever sired any litters?

Guess I’m about to find out. I don’t even know if the neighbors know she’s expecting. I want to go over there but they’re kind of a rough-looking bunch.

Stay tuned for updates. By my guess, she’ll be due right around April 1st.

The War of the ‘Hoses

I really love Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. So far, everything she has worn out in public has been beautiful, flattering to her slim figure, and – on several occasions – items that the average person can quickly go buy for themselves off the rack. (Provided they move quickly, as these items often sell out within HOURS of being worn). Ya just gotta love her mix of designer duds with more common clothes. And I’m not the only one – there has been a lot written about how elegant and comfortable she has looked no matter what she was wearing. As far as I recall, she hasn’t had a really bad fashion faux pas yet, and that includes her footwear. It’s like everyone just loves everything she wears.

But I wonder if she’s aware that she’s about to start and international war among women.

I’m talking about …. pantyhose. In case you didn’t notice, Duchess Kate wears nude-colored pantyhose with her dresses. Most likely this is because of her position within English society: as a royal, one must look the part and keep a degree of modesty about oneself. It could also be because she likes them, no one has really asked her as far as I know. But I bring it up because here she is, getting universal wows on her outfits, all the while wearing barely-visible hose.

“Love that dress!” ” What a great color!” “I would wear that!”

Then I point out the pantyhose and it’s like the woman suddenly was drowning kittens.

“ACK! No WAY!” “How subservient!” “Bet they make her wear ’em!” “TACKY!” “Old-fashioned!” “PRUDISH!”

Are we talking about the same woman?

Somewhere along the line, pantyhose became a permanent resident on the “OUT” list right next to girdles and chastity belts, and I fail to understand why. Let me first start by saying that yes, I wear pantyhose. And not just to my yearly visit to church. I wear them anytime I put on a skirt or dress unless I am on vacation, and the skirt or dress in question is light, billowy and gauzy. They give a slight blush of color to my pale legs (Don’t even suggest bronzers. I’ve tried. I’m allergic to ALL of them). They hold in whatever needs holding in. They keep my shoes from sticking to my feet. People – what’s not to like here?

I can give a pass to the younger crowd. I was one of you once, before the knee scars from cycling, the varicose veins and the 20 pounds that permanently live on my hips. And I know that there is a small portion of women aged 30+ who can still pull off the bare-leg look. Most of them either live in Hollywood or spend money on their bodies like they lived in Hollywood.

But the rest of us? Um, in a word… NO.  Look, it’s just two wispy scraps of nylon or polyester with a Spanx-like panty. You love Spanx, right? So what’s the big deal? I KNOW it’s important for women to be authoritative, bold, career-minded, determined, energetic, fashionable, a go-getter (I could go all the way to Z but you get the idea). I just don’t see how pantyhose makes you a doormat. Despite the witch hunts in the 70’s, bras survived the burnings at the stake and now make Victoria’s Secret executives very wealthy. Women love bras so much these days that they like to show them off, peeking out from low-cut tops and tanks. For the record, most of that looks good. So why the pantyhose protest? Not comfortable, you say? Uh-huh. Show me a ultra-padded, lace-trimmed, sequin-encrusted push-up that is comfortable. Bottom line – if you’re in a skirted suit for business, you need hose. Make ’em dark opaque tights if you want, but you need hose. Period. It looks totally unprofessional otherwise.

Catherine’s bold fashion choice has inspired classic hose manufacturers like L’eggs and No Nonsense to ramp up their advertising. I saw a TV add for L’eggs over the holidays – classy and nice. I didn’t see anything to remind me of June Cleaver or the Dark Ages.

I challenge you to experiment. Go get yourself a pair of nude colored hose. They won’t set you back more than $5 or $6. That’s just two Starbuck’s Frappie-Machio-somethings. Then wear them out to your next dressy occasion. Spring is coming … you’re going to a wedding, shower or graduation…wear them. See what happens.

If you truly hate them, you can always cut the legs off, put 3 tennis balls in a leg, tie off the cut end and give it to the dog for a toy.