Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Weekend in Cleveland and Italian Quinoa

Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope you had a chance to get out an enjoy the beautiful weather we've been having over the past few days in the Midwest and on the East Coast. It's almost like it's spring or summer or something.


This past weekend to continue with my month of perpetual travel, Andy and I visited Cleveland to see his sister Robin graduate from Case Western Reserve University. We spent six and a half hours in the car each way to spend 24 hours at our destination. Woof. Needless to say, it was a tiring trip.

I have to say, I kind of like Cleveland. It's trying so hard to get rid of the stigma of being Cleveland and the still fresh memories of LeBron James. The area around Case is really nice and urban in a friendly way. Also, they have Yuengling there, which we purchased on our way out of the city. So yes. Two points for Cleveland! If I haven't made you want to go there, maybe this video or this video will.

Case's commencement speaker this year was Paul Buchheit. Even if that name doesn't ring a bell, you definitely know this guy's work. Paul invented Gmail (which I currently have open in more than one window as we speak) as well as AdSense, that nifty little program that reads your mind to anticipate what you want to buy on the internet and tailors your ads to meet your needs. However, I was a little underwhelmed by the performance. Although he claimed to have thought about this speech for several months, he said that he decided he would rather discover the speech with his audience than write down trite words on paper. So it was kind of disorganized. At least I can say that I saw the Gmail guy speak?

Robin's apartment was located in the Little Italy section of the city (also a very nifty area of Cleveland) adjacent to the campus. While the masses were descending on the commencement to grab seats, Andy and I grabbed a cinnamon bun and a cup of coffee at Presti's Bakery. It was a really cute local place, and it was great to have a moment to relax on a generally busy graduation weekend.

Andy's sister and mom really like to bake, and they made these adorable graduation cookies. They all had different names of her friends who were graduating or encouraging sayings like the one below. I aim to emulate these skills. So cute!

The sprinkles are even in Case Western's colors. Awesome!

On our way back to Evanston, we drove through downtown Chicago because all of the ruckus being caused by the NATO summit meant that Lake Shore Drive was closed off. We discovered that LSD was closed on our way out of the city when we ran into a barricade of SNOWPLOWS which were blocking the road. Chicago has so many, so at least they found a use for them in the off-season?

In an attempt to get off of I-90/94, we drove up Michigan Ave and found these guys hanging out.

Riot police!

I asked Andy if it would be tacky if I took pictures of the police. He said yes, but I took them anyway. They'll never know it was me. Mwahaha. If you wanted to commit a crime in Chicago anywhere but downtown, these two days would have been your opportunity. Apparently, all of the police were on this street. Further down, more snowplow barricades were discovered. Important personage need their space.

The off-season use of Chicago's snowplows


After an eventful weekend, I unfortunately had to come back to reality. Today in my Analytical Electron Microscopy class, I took my last exam EVER. Remember that class I almost didn't go to in the beginning of the quarter because I forgot that I was taking a class? Yup, that's the one. It's such a strange feeling but also a relief to not have exams hanging over my head anymore. Woooo! Now I get to do research all the time. Hooray?

To reward myself for getting through my last exam, I decided to take time off tonight and do some cooking. I've been craving quinoa (pronounced keen-WAH) and am getting bored with sandwiches, so I decided to make some yummy lunches for the rest of the week. If you aren't familiar with this grain, it's kind of like a cross between rice and cous-cous but with tons of protein. More on quinoa here from Wikipedia. I bought it in bulk at Whole Foods, so it was super cheap. The only caveat is that you have to wash it yourself to remove the bitter outer coating on the grain. No big deal to save lots of monies!

Quinoa in its bulk form

After trolling around the interwebs, I decided on an Italian dish based on the fact that we had a lot of ingredients in our pantry, and I needed to make some use of my basil plant. It took it pretty well, I think.

Naked basil plant

I also made two batches of pesto, which I froze into individual portions in an ice cube tray. I make the pesto with everything but the cheese and add that when I thaw it. It doesn't get all weird that way and tastes fresh for a longer time. Also, I put a little extra olive oil on top of each cube to prevent the basil from turning black and funky. Brilliant!

To make life easier, I use those takeout containers that soup comes in when you order Chinese food to portion out lunches for the week. This way, I have no excuse not to pack my lunch because all I have to do is grab it and go.

Boom! Lunch!

 I also have the basil in a separate bag so I can just grab that, too!

Bag of non-suspicious green herbs

I hope you give quinoa a try and enjoy it as much as I do!

 So looking forward to nomming this tomorrow!

Italian-Style Quinoa

Makes four servings of ~1 cup each

1 cup uncooked quinoa, washed
1 can fat free, reduced sodium chicken broth (about 2 cups)
2 tbsp lemon juice

1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in warm water to soften and chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1-2 tsp olive oil
1-2 tsp lemon juice
fresh basil, chopped

Place quinoa, chicken broth, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until quinoa is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 18-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a skillet until they become fragrant and golden. Roughly chop the pine nuts.

Once quinoa is done cooking, add sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, pine nuts, garlic, and spices. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil over the mixture and stir to combine. Add basil to quinoa just before eating to maintain freshness. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Yum! Pesto! Love, love love! I also use those Chinese takeout containers...So handy!