Saturday, November 22, 2008

Exciting Pickups

As the weather gets colder, I find myself wanting to cook more. In the summer, I find coming up with enticing recipes challenging. Heat tends to blunt the appetite, and I find cooking things that don't make the house hot difficult. Anything Mexican or Mediterranean seems to be my fall-back standards--foods from hot climates.

Come winter, however, a whole forgotten world of culinary possibilities seem to open themselves up to me. Soups, stews, braises, chili, roasts, and hot cereals all call out to me. I find myself wanting to make the house as cozy and welcoming as possible, as we all tend to spend more time inside in the winter, and one of my favourite ways of whiling away a long winter night is making a slow-cooked meal. With my current strike situation, a good hot breakfast has become even more important. I need to eat something that will keep me warm and full for at least six hours, four of which are out in the cold. I'm not about to take off my mittens to go foraging for a snack that will in all likelihood be frozen anyway.

The hubby and I made a few grocery stops today, and I picked up some exciting new pantry staples that I can't wait to try. The first was brown sushi rice at the market, which is become more available in sushi restaurants around town, but which I didn't have any of at home. I don't like to eat white rice when there are alternatives, and I find that brown sushi, basmati and even arborio rice are simple for me to get my hands on. The most commonly available brand I've found is Lundberg's, which is a family farm in California. I picked up their brown basmati (delicious) a few weeks ago (it's amazing with curries), and today I grabbed the sushi rice. My first experiment with it will be oyako-don, one of my favourite winter foods, and then, once I figure out where to get good raw fish, homemade sushi, which I used to make a lot in Halifax. So fun!

I also got, at Noah's Natural Foods on Yonge St., just north of us, organic quinoa. I've heard such good things about it--like the fact that it is the most nutritious of all grains, and has a high protein content--but I haven't tried cooking with it yet. I've been wanting to try Heidi's warm and nutty cinnamon quinoa for breakfast, and I figured that Sunday morning would be a good time to give it a go. Looks delicious! My forty-minute browse around Noah's was maybe the best moment of the day so far. It is a fantastic store, and so inspiring. How can you not want to choose the most healthful and exciting ingredients when they're all there for you? I got some yogurt from a local dairy while I was there, and it is fantastic. I don't think I ever really realized what plain yogurt was supposed to taste like until I started buying good quality stuff. It's delicious, and not forcefully sour at all.

I also picked up some chia seeds to add to my quinoa and oatmeal. My dad and I had a long conversation one day about all of the amazing research coming out about chia (also called salba), and I've wanted to start using it. It has immense amounts of beneficial omega-3s, tons of fibre and calcium, and lots of magnesium and iron. There's a good article about it in The Globe and Mail. Sounds like a smart thing to start eating to me.

I've decided that I definitely enjoy shopping for food more than shopping for anything else (and that says something, coming from me, the descendant of a family of committed shopaholics). Now all I have to do is cook it! Tonight is another round of Pim's pad thai, and tomorrow is lemon and arugula orzotto with grilled salmon. Jealous?


Marilyn said...

My only comment is that you get to do all the cooking in Florida.

Melissa said...

I'm on it! Apparently there is an amazing grocery store called Publix that I entirely missed on my last trip. With two houses to cook for, and nine people, I think I'll have my hands full!

susan allport said...

Thought you would be interested in this short omega-3 video: