January 21st, 2011

hot chocolate

Good things I have been eating

It is possibly the coldest day of the winter here; it was time to break out the hot chocolate icon. The hot chocolate itself won't be broken out until after my workout and shower, when I will likely need it. But some days of the year require a particular icon, and this is one.

One among you, or possibly someone on my FB list who is not on my lj list, was talking about making barley porridge overnight in the crockpot. "Self!" I said to myself (who else?). "We can do that! We have barley! Barley makes Scandosotans happy!" (This may not be universally true, but you couldn't prove it by the Scandos I've fed barley.)

So I put a cup and a half of barley and six cups of water in the crockpot with some cinnamon and a little nutmeg, and off I went to bed. This was, for the barley I was using and my taste in porridge, slightly too much water. And it made a huge amount of barley. I knew this in advance, but the thing is, my crockpot is very big, and it is also comparatively flat and wide, so I didn't want to burn a small portion of barley in the corner of the crockpot while I was sleeping.

When I woke up and scooped out the barley, I added chopped walnuts, chopped dried apricots, dried blueberries, and a little bit of milk, but I'm pretty sure you could do without the milk if you're vegan or have dairy allergies or sensitivities. Today I varied the nuts to pecans, and that was even better. I expect that one of these days I'll change out the blueberries for sour cherries. But it's a very nice porridge, and it's good to have real hot cereal for breakfast that I don't actually have to cook on the stove. I have grown less fond of instant oatmeals and the like as I get to be more of a food snob. I'll still eat them, but the texture is not as nice as real oats, and they're often oversweetened for my palate. So this is a pleasant option to have in mind.

I have seen so many people salting and sugaring things without tasting them, and while I am not against salt or sugar universally, I find that there's a sort of downward spiral for using them if you don't start out with the assumption that they have to be added to everything. I add less and less of each to fewer and fewer things these days. The fruit in the spiced barley was plenty of sweetening for me. If it's not for you, maple syrup or brown sugar would be pleasant too. I just didn't find it necessary.

The other food thing I wanted to commend to your attention as so good is Pigtale Twist Ridiculously Garlic Blue Dressing. I have never liked blue cheese dressings before, even though I like that kind of cheese immensely. But this one is made without filler and stabilizer and this and that: it has actual St. Pete Blue Cheese in, and so much garlic, and oh. So very good. It wants refrigerating from the time you buy it, because it is only made of the stuff it's made of and not the extra stuff for shelf life. So. Very. Good. I often want a tomato/broccoli/cauliflower salad in the winter, and this stuff is sublime in the florets of the broccoli. I expect it would be good with potatoes, too, or various other things. There is a three-berry vinaigrette we haven't tried from this manufacturer, but now I very much want to. (timprov doesn't like vinaigrettes, and he bought this for himself originally. He hasn't had any yet, and a third of the bottle is gone. I eat a lot of salads, and this is so good.)