I’m back from a whirlwind tour around Scotland. What an awesome vacation. We were a bit ambitious in trying to hit most of the mainland areas (plus Skye) in only 8 days, but I’m glad we were ambitious. The scenery was incredible. It felt so good to get right out in the middle of these awe-inspiring landscapes and breathe in the fresh air. I’m also a sucker for castles and all things medieval, so we visited A LOT of castles.
This was my first trip to Europe since high school (airport layovers do not count), and it definitely lived up to my fond memories from all those years ago. There is just such a sense of history and heritage.
We took over 600 photos (don’t worry Mom and Dad, the highlight reel has been distilled down to about 200 :P). Here are a few of my favorites.
We did have one hitch in our trip. I was mindlessly opening the camera battery slot one night, and the metal plate broke. Honestly, I was so confused. I barely pushed in, just was sliding it like I always do, and disaster. Expensive mistakes may be the worst kind. Anyway, for the remainder of the trip we used one of my elastic hairbands to keep it functioning. And now I believe I’m off the hook for having to buy a new camera, thanks to Kevin’s patience and some Krazy glue. :)
Now, back to food. Have you tried farro yet? I had it for the first time a few months ago, and think it might be my favorite grain. It’s similar to a wheat berry, but a little softer. I love its chew and golden brown color. So far I’ve only used it in salads, but I’m sure it would be fun to use in more creative venues. Like most grains, give it a good washing.
Mushrooms and sherry are a great flavor pairing. The mushrooms are hearty enough to stand up to the bite.
Shallots and fresh thyme, mmm I like where this is heading.
This salad can be served warm or at room temperature. It’s pretty filling, so even makes a good stand-alone lunch. If you’re not feeling too keen on buying a bottle of sherry, I hear you. But I felt much better after realizing a good bottle of sherry was only about $11 and lasts indefinitely in the fridge.
Farro w/ Mushrooms & Thyme – barely adapted from Cook’s Illustrated vol. 120 (CooksIllustrated.com/feb13)
- 1 cup farro, rinsed
- table or fine sea salt & pepper
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 10oz. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and chopped coarse
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp. dry sherry
- 2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
- 1 tsp. sherry vinegar
Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven or large pot. Stir in farro and 1 tbsp. salt. Return to boil, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 min. Drain well and set aside.
Heat oil in 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms, shallot, thyme, and ¼ tsp. salt; cook, stirring frequently, until moisture has evaporated and vegetables start to brown, 5 to 8 min. Add sherry and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until pan is almost dry, 1 to 2 min. Add farro and cook, stirring constantly, until heated through, about 2 min. Remove pan from heat, stir in parsley and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Yield – 4-6 servings