Monday, June 8, 2009

Garage Sale and Italian-Style Millet Salad

Image courtesy of Houstonian and used under Creative Commons License.

Saturday was our town's city-wide garage sale. I, along with two other women, shared a space, both to limit financial outlay and enjoy a built-in social network for the day.

The city-wide event is the only garage sale I bother with. It draws huge crowds, and the organizers do all the advertising. Another bonus: you get the stuff away from home immediately. It's held in a local parking garage that's transformed, for the day, into a veritable treasure trove.

I'll admit that the mess created in my house by going through boxes is enormous. I'm still dealing with that. But when it's all put back to rights, I'll have a better organized home. That's worth it in the end.

Mr.W and I unpacked several boxes that were still hanging out in the basement from our move three--yes, three--years ago. Gone are the strange picture frames that just don't make it into my decor. Away are those elephant figurines that have no place in my tiny home. And the best of all: I managed to sell a pair of piggy banks from when I lived in South Korea. Surely the new owner will love Mr. & Mrs. Pig much more than I ever did.

Perhaps the best part of all is the interaction. The woman who bought Mr. & Mrs. Pig said she was buying them for her step-kids' mother. How nice is that? How many women buy gifts for their husband's ex-wives? I was impressed. Other friends visited our booth--it was a fun day of chatting and catching up with people we don't often see.

The things that didn't sell--assorted nick-knacks, a set of queen mattresses and some of Mr.W's office clothes that are too big now that he's lost 70 lbs and 10 inches around the waist--went to charity. A win-win, I'd say!

As I made my to-do list Friday morning I started thinking more about the course of the following day: being away from home from morning till evening. What about meals? I decided to pack a picnic to limit our expenses as well as eliminating the likelihood of me cheating on my diet.

A quick rove through the pantry yielded a bag of millet. The rest was easy.

My millet salad was made very simply and yielded a huge bowl to easily feed 8 people or more. I went with Italian flavors and ingredients from my pantry and fridge. Unfortunately I don't have a picture to share with you--instead, I'll offer an image representing my earnings Saturday.

Image by lorenabuena and used under Creative Commons License.

Italian-Style Millet Salad
serves 8

1 cup millet

2 cups water (I'd increase this to 2-1/2 or 3 cups in the future; my millet came out cooked, but with a slightly crunchy interior. That didn't really bother me, but I'd like it to be less al dente next time)
1 can black pitted olives, drained
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
3-4 plum tomatoes, chopped
about 2 ounces sliced pepperoni, cut up
about 6 slices provolone cheese, cut up
handful shredded mozzarella cheese

generous sprinkle shredded parmesan cheese
about 1 teaspoon salt

generous sprinkle freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup bug juice (recipe follows)

Toast millet in a hot, dry skillet, stirring often, until you hear it crackling. Add water and cook until all water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Transfer millet to a large bowl and cool completely. To the cooked millet, add remaining ingredients. Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Millet will absorb some of the vinaigrette, but the tomato and cucumber will generate some juice as well--the balance is maintained.

Bug Juice
This is a type of salad dressing vinaigrette made using dried herbs--the kind of thing your grandmother used to make. Lovingly named for how closely it resembled bugs suspended in liquid. Yield: 1/2 cup

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

dried basil, oregano, parsley, garlic powder and any other herbs you enjoy; only need a little sprinkle of each

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or other salad oil as desired

Combine vinegar with dried herbs; while whisking, pour oil in a thin stream to emulsify.


Sara said...

I'm always looking for new ways to use millet, it seems like there are so few recipes for it out there!

Amanda said...

In my experience so far, it seems that one whole grain can be substituted for another--ie, this salad could be made instead with cooked bulghur wheat, rice, wheat berries, quinoa (okay, not a grain, but still), etc. Even Moroccan/North African dishes. I've used both cooked quinoa and bulghur instead of couscous as an accompaniment to tagines.

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