Thursday, March 15

Bulgur's 15 Minutes of Fame

Catastrophe struck the other day. My kitchen drain backed up into the bathtub. Unfortunately the last thing I had cooked and washed down the sink was beets. Do you know what a white bathtub filled with red beet juice and bits of floating beet looks like? Let’s just say what follows will NOT be a recipe involving beets.

I’m truly dangerous with power tools (even the Cuisinart is off limits for me), so I called the plumber. The guy who showed up looked like your typical plumber—clean cut, with a baseball hat and sturdy boots. He began snaking the kitchen pipe, and I went into the next room. Minutes later, I could hear emanating from under the kitchen sink: “Nothing you can do cause I’m stuck like glue to my guy, my guy.”Is he singing “My Guy”? “No handsome face could ever take the place of my guy, my gu-y-y-y.” Yup. He sure is. The rendition continued replete with the backup chorus.

Now, I’ve heard of The Singing Detective but not the singing plumber. I got to talking to him, and it turns out he’s more than a singing plumber. I learned that he really wants to write science fiction novels and that plumbing just pays the bills. That’s the thing about L.A. -- so many people here aren’t what they seem. You think the plumber is just the plumber, but he’s an aspiring writer. Or take my cable guy who told me that his real vocation is poker and that he had even appeared on ESPN in a championship poker series. Then there was the shuttle bus driver who animatedly described attending a Donald Trump seminar. He said driving allowed him to pursue his real career goal: real estate.

So many people living here aspire to something else, which got me to thinking. Are they, in their constant search for something better, setting themselves up for disappointment? Or, are they the embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit, which makes this area so dynamic? Perhaps in a city, renown for glamour and celebrity, it’s reflective of a desire to capture that elusive 15 minutes of fame.

Who knows what will happen to any of them or to us. What I do know, is that since moving here, my house calls have gotten a lot more interesting.

Since I couldn’t use my sink until the following morning, my dinner options were slim. This bulgur salad was made from common ingredients in my pantry and fridge and didn’t require any cooking. And you gotta love that!

In case you’re not familiar with bulgur, it’s a chewy, nutty grain that’s ideal for vegetarians because it’s super high in fiber and protein and gets along well with so many veggies, fruits, nuts, and herbs. So, feel free to experiment with whatever is in your pantry.

Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Cranberries, and Toasted Almonds
Makes 2 servings.
Print recipe only here.

½ cup dry bulgur
1 cup water
1 tsp olive oil
½ cup chickpeas
1/8 cup dried cranberries and/or raisins
1/8 cup toasted almonds, chopped
¼ teaspoon coriander
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1-2 tsp fresh lime juice
A handful of fresh mint leaves, torn into small pieces
A pinch of cayenne pepper
Some salt, to taste

In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil; add bulgur, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed and bulgur is soft. Place cooked bulgur in a bowl and add remaining ingredients; toss well to coat.

On a morning walk this week, this bold rose camellia caught my attention. It was right at eye level, staring at me. I don't know exactly what it is, but here is its 15 minutes of fame. That is unless someone picks it up on Digg, and it really makes it big-time.

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Mishmash ! said...

Anything tossed with cranberries and almonds, I am game :)That salad bowl looks soooo pretty...As usual fabulous pics .Dont we all admire people who follow their dreams and passions ?

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I love the pairing of grains and dried cranberries. It's fun to have a "kitchen picnic" once in a while!

Anonymous said...

hahah, great post! so true too, alterior motives in la are the glue that binds us ;)

our real estate agent was a hip-hop producer and my dental hygienist is a fashion designer. i love it!

eeeeeeeeeeek re your bloodbath!

Linda said...

i am not familiar with this grain. i can't wait to try it. fiber and protein are always nutrients i keep my eyes peeled for!

this looks wonderful. your photography gets better & better each time you post!

cranky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cookiecrumb said...

(I had a garbage disposal full of scraps end up in a washing machine full of white clothes once... aargh. No beets in there, though.)

sher said...

The salad looks wonderful!!

I had the same problem years ago when I canned a huge amount of tomatoes. My garbage disposal couldn't handle all the skins and seeds and my sink backed up. Not fun!!

Brilynn said...

I like bulgur. I went through a period of using it all the time but it seems to have fallen off my radar lately. Love the plumber story.

Asha said...

I make bulgur salad too,but not this way.Looks great.
Beets floating in tub!!AH...!!!!!:D

I LOVE the flower,Spring is here!YAY!!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

That plumber story had me rocking off my chair. I love LA. One very good friend of mine who also lives in LA is a Tour Guide in real life but aspiring to make and sell her own cosmetic line!
Susan, I could really kick myself! I was grocery shopping today and had bulgur in my hand. But then I out it back on the shelf and decided to go with risotto rice instead. That salad sounds too good NOT to make.

Anonymous said...

Another fabulous story! I love great stories and writing almost as much--and sometimes more--than the food and recipes that go with them.

Bulgur reminds me of another wheat product with similarly great nutritional benefits: Kasha. Made from buckwheat groats, kasha is an Eastern European staple that can be prepared numerous ways, including vegetarian friendly. My wife cooks this wonderful, nutty grain every Thanksgiving [and more often, when we remember it]. I had her do a post about it last Thanksgiving.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Susan, you and your witty texts, fabulous recipes and stunning photos are always a sight for sore eyes!
I had a miserable day at work today and this salad just picked me up.
I've never had bulgut but it looks delicious!

aTxVegn said...

You certainly have met some interesting people!

Your pictures are beautiful and your recipe sounds fabulous.

Rachael said...

I am really liking the new site design (I've been away from the blog world for a week so I'm not sure when it happened!) as well as the funny post on the plumber/LA. I also absolutely *love* bulgur. I could eat it hot, cold, as a main dish, or as a side to anything. Bulgur is my "superfood"! What an interesting recipe, and that photo makes me want to run to the kitchen to try it. I'm interested now to pair bulgur with mint and ginger...

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Susan, I'm really enjoying your stories of life out west, and all of the grain dishes look wonderful. I've got a box of Quinoa ready to go, this is bound to inspire me to pick up a box of bulgar!

Anh said...

Susan, another great story!

Right, I am making bulgur salad soon!

Stella said...

Hi Susan,
thanks for popping in, I was saying that your dish look it with looks great!:) Maybe I'll try with couscous since we don't sell bulgur wheat here:)

Anonymous said...

Susan, I can't help but thinking that most of us food bloggers are a lot like that bus driver, cable guy, or plumber insofar as we work to live, but we cook, eat, and write because those things are our true passions. I have to admit to having tried bulgur on only a handful of occasions, and it is not necessarily my favourite grain. I am, however, a huge fan of both cranberries and chick peas, so I would certainly like to try your salad. Sorry to hear about your plumbing. Hope all's well now.

Melting Wok said...

hehe..oops, sorry bout your plumbing problem. I almost fell off my chair ( 2:41am), think my upstairs neighbor car salesman/black jack dealer/electrician almost came down knocking on my door hahaha..boy, don't we all in LA great multi-taskers ala Hollywood/Bollywood wannabes ? btw, love your salad, haven't had bulgur before, yet another new ingredient for me to learn from you, thx !! :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like LA life is about as interesting as you can get in terms of the people! :) And I'm kinda glad that you couldn't use the sink - look at what you made! Gotta be glad with results like these!

Anonymous said...

Oops! That last comment was from me :P

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Mishmash- Thanks! I totally agree about the cranberries and almonds. Sometimes I just eat them with some good chocolate.

Lydia- It was fun after the fact; I certainly enjoyed writing about it.

Aria- Thanks. I know. I'm a food blogga, but my real vocation is movie star. (See comment to Shirley below). ;)

Linda- It is one of my favorite grains. I can eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Thanks.

Cookiecrumb- Ugh. That's worse than a bathtub.

Sher- It's always the red and orange foods, isn't it?

Brilynn- Thanks. I go through phases as well.

Asha- I hope you post your recipe; I'd love to see it.

Meeta- Thanks. You can't really go wrong with risotto either.

TerryB- What a kind thing to say. Thank you. I will look for your kasha post. I love that grain as well.

Patricia- Receiving comments like yours is the best part of blogging. I have felt the same way about you. Thanks.

Texas vegan- Thank you. I'm glad you had a chance to stop by.

Rachael- Thank you. I can eat it anytime as well. The mint and ginger really makes it sparkle.

TW- I am glad you enjoy them. Let's see what other grains I can induce you to buy. Now if only the bulgur people would give me endorsements...

Anh- I'm so glad you liked it.

Valentina- I am sorry about the technical difficulty. You are a sweetheart for coming back.

Rob- The plumbing is fine; it was the tub that took hours to clean to my satisfaction. I still can't get the smell of Clorox out of my nose. I appreciate and agree with your comment.

Shirley- Thanks. It's true. I am secretly hoping that some Hollywood/Bollywood exec. will discover me and want to make a movie about me and my cooking exploits. Now who would play Jeff? I'm thinking George Clooney. ;)

Ellie- Thanks. It's true, I probably would not have posted on this salad had it not been for faulty plumbing.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan - your bulgur salad sounds lovely! I'm so sorry to hear about your plumbing woes... although beet-red stains and singing plumbers certainly make it a 'memorable' experience!

wheresmymind said...

OH man...I'd be so grossed out if there was a backup like that in my house...ICK!

Anonymous said...

I love this have me laughing and smiling :) Oh, but of course I had a little scary moment imagining your bath tub! Yikes!

I am really looking into using grains more in my meals...this sounds really good and I am sure I will like it :) It helps that you have taken such a great photo :)

Monika Korngut said...

What a story :-) I guess the lesson learned is to never judge a book by its cover.

Wonderful recipe. Looks delicious and refreshing.

bee said...

spectacular rose and wonderful post.

MeloMeals said...

You know, I read this yesterday, but forgot to comment because I was so enthralled by your picture link to flikr.. you are a wonderful photographer!

Bulgur is one of my favorite foods out there.. total comfort food for me.

cindy said...

i love bulgar and cranberries and chickpeas AND almonds...this sounds amazingly delicious!

Lisa Johnson said...

I love that story! Everyone has something interesting to say, if we get a chance to sit down and chat for a while. Oh and that rose is so beautiful!

Chris said...

What a great post! I "oh no" and "hee hee'd" aloud! I love the recipe. I just began to cook with bulgur...and will be coming back to this recipe. Thanks!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Gilly- Oh, it was a day to remember all right!

Jeff- The scent of Clorox still lingers.

Joey- Thanks. If you like the way it looks, wait 'till you taste it. :)

Monika- And there are a lot of books.

Bee- Thank you.

Melody- Thanks. I am glad you stopped by my Flickr post. I am still learning a lot but am having fun.

Cinderelly- Then you'll love this salad!

Anali- Thanks. So true.

Chris- I am glad you enjoyed it.

Christina said...

I'm looking forward to trying this salad--the combination of flavors and textures sounds wonderful.

The picture you took is lovely--it isn't a rose though; it's a camellia, which bloom so beautifully around here in the early spring.

Thanks for posting such great ideas.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Thank you so much! I was hoping someone would help me with the type of flower this is. I am glad you stopped by.

Mikaela said...

What a great story, just lovely.

Oh, and the bulger salad looks good, too ;)

Anonymous said...

this looks so refreshing especially with the ginger and mint!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I love bulgar salads and now I must add dried cranberry to mine. And the singing plumber almost smooths away some of the thought of beets and juice in the tub.

Kajal@aapplemint said...

hey u shud write story books...u are good at it.If madonna can do it i think u have better chances.I love bulgur wheat.better known as tabbouleh.Geat for a diet.Can do can do a million different things with your variation.

Anonymous said...

Love both the story and the recipe! How do you manage to make salad look so good?

Connie said...

oh my. what an awful thing to have to deal with. too bad the last thing down the drain wasn't oatmeal and you could have turned the experience into a soothing bath ;) and i love love love bulgur, its so simple and versitile...

Scribbit said...

I don't know which I like better, your stories or your recipes. Can you believe I've never tried beets? My mom hates them so they were never seen at our table growing up.

J said...

Wow, I can have that with all those cranberries, almonds and coriander on it!

christine said...

Yikes! I'm imagining that scene from Psycho, except instead of a shower it's a bathtub. Not a nice thought! hehe

I think it's great that they have all these ambitions, something to keep them going everyday, in their 'mundane' lives. I've always believed in expecting the worst but hoping for the best, that way there's less chance of disappointment. Of course, that's usually easier said than done.

Hope your plumber sees his dream come true. I'm admiring his cheerful personality. Anyone singing with his face smooshed underneath a sink is great in my book! :)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Mikaela-I'm so glad you like it!

Veronica- It is light and refreshing.

Tanna-I just love tart cranberries in these types of dishes.

Kate-Thank you so much. I really enjoy writing them.

Elizabeth-Oh, just a little trick photography. ;)

Connie-Hah! That's good Connie. Really good!

Michelle-You simply must try beets; they are one of my favorites (even after the bath tub incident). ;)

Jyothsna-It is yummy!

Christine-Psycho, huh? It wasn't that far off. ;) Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

Jeanne said...

Cranberries! Almonds! Bulgur! I think I might go home and block up my sink so that I can be similarly inspired :) And re. people not beign what they seem, I have also learned to watch out for that in London. Because we have such a large itinerant/immigrant population, people often end up doing jobs that have nothing to do with their qualifications/ability. I got into a long chat about a year ago with one of our doormen of our office building - he's from Zambia so we already had a common African link. Turns out that he came to London to do a PhD in economics and is doing this to pay the bills. I make a point never to pigeonhole anybody by the job they do!!

Your plumber sounds like something out of Sex in the CIty :o)