It’s that time again! Voting for Round 6 of Project Food Blog is now open! You can cast your votes for me now at the following link, or you can use the widget on the left sidebar. Be sure to do so soon! Voting closes at 6 pm Pacific Time on Thursday, October 28th. Thanks for all your support thus far, and I hope to see you in Round 7 for another edition of PGEW TV! – Kimberly
Ahh, rain. Those of you who know me well know that I despise the rain. Well, let me take that back: I hate walking in the rain. If it’s outside my window and I’m all bundled up in my favorite blanket with a cat softly purring on either side of me, I find it to be rather beautiful. But having no car, the rainy season is definitely on the bottom of my list of fun things to experience. And of course, it would plague me during this sixth “Road Trip” round of Project Food Blog! Alas, I have a competition I’m trying to win, so I wasn’t going to let falling wet stuff stop me from getting this post up. And like the US Mail, I braved the blustery, soggy rain, all bundled up, armed with the raging flu, umbrellas, jackets, cold medicine for the aforementioned flu and, of course, my cute little Project Food Blog cooler. Sans cat this time.
It’s funny… I actually had some trouble coming up with things to do for some of this particular round. Not that I’ve lost my creative edge or anything; the day that happens is the day this blog ceases to exist, as that’s what keeps this thing going! But in a flu-induced haze coupled with cold med fog, it’s a little harder to think. Not to mention the huge obstacle some folks aren’t dealing with: MONEY, or the lack thereof. While I would have loved to embark on a ton of crazy culinary adventures that would whisk me away to faraway lands for this particular post, my health and paltry pocketbook would only allow me to do so much. Light rail would have to be my fair chariot if I wanted to go anywhere.
For yet another challenge that requires us to work on a full meal, from starter to dessert to beverage, I had to think really hard to figure out what I could do that would fit into Poor Unemployed Girl’s ever-shrinking budget. And the location? For a minute there, I thought the most exotic I could get would be to picnic next to my urban garden in the backyard. Then, as if clubbed on the head with an epiphany stick, I realized the best way to go was not only to shop from my cupboards for some bare-bones staples as I usually do but shop for my picnic destination from one of the fine locations here on the Downtown grid. Perfect! I would create a menu based on some of delicious, nourishing grains and enjoy them in the rich historical setting of one of my favorite parts of the capital city: Old Sacramento. Fantastic photo ops of history all around me and history on a plate. Perfect!
Or at least it could have been, had there not been a hurricane a-swirling’…
Planning my picnic...
Anyway… really? A grain-based menu? How boring is that? Au contraire, fair readers! Whole grains and rice are ridiculously versatile and can be turned into some incredibly delicious meals. You regular PGEW readers have seen some of the grain-based dishes I’ve made over the years and you know they’re far from boring. My quinoa repertoire alone illustrates just how much you can do with one cup of the mother grain and 18 pounds of creativity. I decided to make the most of a large amount of red quinoa I had in my cupboards (honestly, I think I prefer it to regular quinoa), and try something new as well, by trying my hand at cooking with amaranth, another tiny little grain with a nutritious punch.
Amaranth, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is another one of those uber-versatile grains that have been used for centuries in South American and Mexican cooking. From popping the tiny seeds like popcorn for a nutty snack and using it in breakfast bowls, to making hearty salads and even candy with it, this protein-rich ancient grain can be used in a variety of different ways. Quinoa, my favorite grain ever, is also packed with protein and good carbs, making it a completely nutritious option for anyone. Though it may seem expensive to some, it actually yields a great amount of cooked product, and because it has so many essential nutrients, I find that it’s a very cost-effective way to nourish myself by just adding a couple of things here & there.
So my idea was to have this whole “ancient grains meet Old Sacramento”, working the whole historical angle as I’d mentioned earlier. I was going to take all sorts of fabulous photos showcasing the rich history in Old Sacramento, the lovely Sacramento River, and its amazing steamboats. Food-wise, I thought I was all set too: except for my dessert, which I’d actually had planned for weeks, I was going to make all sorts of new ancient grain-based dishes. Then the weather took a turn for the worst, I got the flu, and my menu was completely redesigned to suit my sick-person needs. I ditched the 77 salads I’d had in mind and decided to go with warm, comforting, nourishing foods.
When the weather is nice, I find myself visiting Old Sacramento on a regular basis. It’s a great escape right in my own backyard, with plenty of historical buildings, great shopping, some of Sac’s finest restaurants, and of course, the beautiful Sacramento River. After visiting the Old West, one of my favorite things to do is head south on the riverwalk, take some photos of and from the golden Tower Bridge, and loop around back into Old Sac before heading home. If I have some extra dough, I like to stop off at The Delta House for some of their amazing fish tacos and do some people-watching.
Alas, everything except for that last bit had to be scratched off my list because it was just way too blustery and wet. I now completely sympathize with photographers and filmmakers who have to do crazy outdoor shoots because it is NOT easy! From the wind blowing things all over the place to the raindrops on my camera lens to my wet, wet shoes (*sob* I hate having wet feet!), to the mean lady outside that falafel place glaring at me for sitting at “her” table even though there were 11 empty tables around me, this was probably the hardest photoshoot I’ve ever done. The only good thing was the way the light was diffused by so many clouds; I actually liked most of my shots because of that! So people were looking at me funny and my nose was runny; I was determined to make this soggy picnic work!
I didn’t have the chance to get all the great photos I wanted from Old Sac because of such inclement conditions, but I was still able to get a few cool shots of trains and awesome old buildings (and then I had fun with Photoshop, as you might have noticed. Everything is so much better in sepia!). It wasn’t the perfect picnic, and I’m absolutely soaked to the bone and should get out of these wet clothes in short order, but I feel nourished and warm on the inside. Not to mention both ridiculously proud and ridiculous in general, for having been so dedicated to finish off this challenge despite the flu and bad weather. If there’s one thing Project Food Blog really brings out in a blogger, it’s the determination to finish that post and sit back with the satisfaction of yet another awesome challenge under one’s belt.
With another piece of cake.
If you enjoyed this post for Challenge #6 of Project Food Blog, please take the time to cast your vote for me starting at 6 am on Monday, October 25th! Thanks so much to all of you who have supported me this far, and I look forward to dazzling you with an awesome video of Poor Girl in the kitchen (finally!) for Round 7, should I make it that far! Thanks for reading! – Kimberly
10/26/10 Update: Because this post was already so lengthy, I posted the recipes for the cake & the soup separately. You can also view the recipe for the Spicy Red Quinoa & Shrimp recipe here or in the archives 🙂 K