Something to look forward to. I always need something to look forward to, to get me excited when I'm feeling that cool, grey weather dreariness. Yes, I know it isn't very buddhist-in-the-moment of me to say it, but looking forward to something, anything is just what gets me through the week when I feel stuck in the hamster wheel of my life. Wake up. Run 6 miles in the dark. Walk to work. Work. Walk home. Have dinner with Mark. Talk about the day and the rain. Watch it get dark before 5. Wish that I didn't have to get up and do it all again the next day. Sigh. Do it all again.
No, my life isn't awful, or really even that difficult... it's just the weather and the routine that could make anybody feel a little sodden right now.
Sometimes that something is simply thinking about that nice little kiss that Mark will give me when he walks in the door. Sometimes it's my favorite television show full of blood, medical drama, sex and McDreamy (attention Grey's Anatomy producers: you run the risk of losing a viewer if you fail to incorporate a hot dietitian character into the next season.) Sometimes it's making Friday night plans to do happy hour at our favorite haunt, and other times it's picturing myself curled up in a blanket and reading a book that takes me far, far away.
But sometimes, I agree to break out of the monotony by engaging my creativity - and of course this involves food. This week I started with an ingredient: wild rice. Then I started layering ideas on top of that rice. What about something sweet? What's in season? What color would be exciting? Pomegranates. Check. Then something acidic, to give it some tang... oranges, with their zest! Now this dish is starting to scream fall. And then some walnuts and sage... and this may even be one to add to my cookbook. Cookbook? Oh yes, that's another thing I tell myself to look forward to; my future and very imaginary cookbook, published by a well-known house, promoted by the Food Network (this comes after my own show, of course) and getting publicity through Gourmet magazine and while we're at it - Oprah. (Hey, this is my fantasy-slash-coping mechanism. Deal with it.)
As I bring myself down from a creative gastronomic reverie, and remind myself that a rice salad won't bring me fame and fortune, I pick up the ingredients from the market, put them into my clunker car, and head home. Beautiful food shared with others is something to look forward to, even without a pristine photo layout and endorsement by talk show hosts... but it would help.
So here's my effort, shared with you, my adoring and multitudinous fans! A colorful, delicious and nutritious dish, endorsed by the folks in the bamboo hut, featured and promoted in Seattle Sundays, and eaten by me. Enjoy, as I've been looking forward to this moment all week.
Wild Rice with Pomegranate and Sage
This dish may scream fall, but the colors remind me of Christmas. This dish would go well with any holiday meal. You could try this with cranberries either fresh or dried in place of the pomegranate, but why not make an excuse to explore this exotic fruit? They aren't as complex as they seem... just go here to learn more. The wild rice I used is of this type by Lundberg organic. If you want to substitute a wild rice blend, I'm sure that would turn out yummy as well.
2 1/3 cups water
8 oz Lundberg organic wild rice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
Juice from 1 medium orange
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped fine
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
2/3 cup broken walnut halves, toasted
In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the sea salt and the wild rice. Stir once, bring the rice back to a boil, then reduce to medium-low heat and cover to cook for 45 minutes. Do not stir! You'll know the rice is done when you lift the lid and tip the pot to one side, showing no pooling water, meaning it has all been absorbed.
While the rice is cooking, zest the orange to gain the 1 teaspoon of orange zest, then juice it into a small bowl. Add the zest, then the olive oil, minced sage, and 1/2 teaspoon of the sea salt. Stir to combine.
Open the pomegranate to remove its arils. Set aside 1/2 cup of the arils. Toast the walnut pieces either on the stovetop or in the oven until lightly browned and fragrant.
When the rice is done cooking, add the orange juice and sage mixture, and then the walnuts and the pomegranate arils. Stir and serve warmed.