This post was very nearly called “Cooking with Quinoa and Avoiding the Keyboard,” but I didn’t quite have it in me to put it right in the header.
In February, I wrote a lot of fan fiction. I went on vacation for a week and wrote like crazy and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Then, I was busy with business meetings for a week, and while I posted the things I’d written the week before, I didn’t write anything new.
I figured that was okay and that I’d get back in the game when I got home. I was steeling myself up to try and get back on track with my novel again; it was okay if I stepped away from the fan fiction for a few days. That’s what I told myself.
Well, I didn’t make any progress on my novel the week I got home, or my fan fiction. I had come home and almost immediately came down with a chest infection that left me too drained in the evening to do anything but sit on the couch. Even getting the computer out of my handbag seemed like too much work.
With some antibiotics in me, I’m back on my feet now and (cooking dinner again), but still found myself shying away from writing. I thought about saying, “Well, the muses just aren’t there right now,” but maybe it’s worth looking at the bigger reasoning. The problem isn’t that I don’t know where my story is going; I rarely do, but the characters are usually pretty good about showing me the way. I don’t expect every review to be good; I know I still have a hell of a lot to learn as a writer, and that the good reviews and bad all teach me something. I probably learn more from the bad reviews. I got a handful of reviews on the last chapter of my major fan fiction that weren’t necessarily bad reviews, but they told me that the story I thought I was telling wasn’t the story my readers were reading. And that shook me. As an author, I thought I knew what the story was. The fact that the story I thought I was telling isn’t the one the readers think they’re reading…it made me feel off balance to the point where I haven’t even started the next chapter. I should start it. I should write something, anything. But I keep coming back to it and wondering, “How do I make sure the story I think I’m telling is the one I am telling?”
To be honest, I don’t know. But I’m writing this post, because I keep promising myself that I won’t go months without posting here. Even if no one else is reading this, maybe I’ll understand myself more for having written it.
I’m playing around with a few different things right now. I’ve started using Instagram really for the first time since I got it. You can follow me there at HiIMakeStuff. I’ve been posting pictures of my 3D prints, snapshots of the scenery, and cooking conquests.
Even if my stories and I aren’t seeing eye to eye at the moment, I think dinner was a success tonight. I had never cooked quinoa until December and all I can say is, clearly, I was missing out. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. I like it better than fried rice now for stir frying veggies and meat. So, in order to feel like I’ve written something tonight worth reading, here’s the recipe I through together for dinner tonight. Maybe one of these days I’ll manage to make another cooking video for the Vlog.
This is a really flexible dish that will work with just about any meat and veggie combo. Here’s what I had on hand tonight to use:
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 tablespoon chicken boullion
- 2 cups of water
- veggies of choice (I used: onions, baby bella mushrooms, sweet potato, cabbage, bell peppers, scallions)
- meat of choice (tonight I used boneless skinless chicken thighs, but I also love cooking this with duck breast meat)
- oil of choice (I mixed half olive oil and half sesame oil)
- seasoning (several cloves of fresh garlic and your favorite hot sauce; I love Valentina hot sauce)
- eggs (optional, but I used 2 tonight)
- Put 1 cup of uncooked quinoa and 2 cups of water in a pot to boil. Add in a tablespoon of beef or chicken bouillon as you prefer for extra flavor.
- When the pot is boiling reduce the heat to a simmer and cover it for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, check on the pot. If there’s still water in the bottom, keeping cooking it uncovered for a little while longer on low heat. If the water is gone, go ahead and turn off the heat and set it aside.
- While the quinoa is cooking, chop up your veggies and throw them in a frying pan. Just about anything will work: zucchini squash, yellow squash, mushrooms, onions, cabbage, sweet potato, bell peppers. I’ve used them all. My general rule of thumb is usually to cook on a medium-high heat (a six on a stove that goes to 10).
- I’ve made this both with oil and without.
- No oil: Cover the veggies with a lid to keep the moisture in and help them cook more quickly. You can add a little water or lemon juice to keep them from sticking to the pan. Stir them up from time to time.
- Oil: Tonight I put a splash of olive oil and a bit of sesame oil into the pan to cook the veggies and give them a little extra flavor kick. Stir them as needed and set them aside when they’re cooked to desired doneness. Sweet potatoes can take a while to cook in the pan compared to everything else, so sometimes I roast them in the oven and add them in at the end. Tonight I experimented with steam in the bag already sliced sweet potatoes…it was so easy and I was able to add them in with no effort.
- When your veggies are cooked to your satisfaction, set them aside.
- My favorite meat to use in this dish is duck breast meat, but I didn’t have any in the house tonight, so I defrosted some boneless, skinless chicken thighs and sliced them into small pieces and tossed them in my wok with olive oil, sesame oil, and garlic. I probably should have included a little salt and pepper, but, to each his or her own. Right? Small pieces moving regularly in the pan should cook up pretty quickly. Depending on how much meat you want to cook with, you may want to do it in batches and set it aside as it’s finished.
- When my last batch of chicken was cooked, I overturned my pan of veggies and the earlier batch of chicken back into the wok.
- I scrambled 2 eggs in a bowl and poured them into the wok with the chicken and veggies and kept all the ingredients moving until they were thoroughly mixed in and the egg had cooked.
- Last, I poured the quinoa into the wok and mixed it all up again. I think my favorite thing about cooking with quinoa is that it doesn’t seem to dry out badly the way rice can. I’m not sure I’ve ever successfully cooked rice; it either ends up soggy or dry and I never seem to be able to win. With quinoa, I win every time.
- You can either add the hot sauce now, or let people add it themselves at the table.
I didn’t think to take a picture until we were going back for seconds, but maybe next time, because I can assure you, there WILL be a next time.
Even if my story feels like it’s defeating me at the moment, I have won this round against the kitchen.