Quinoa Tabbouleh

My final semester of graduate school began last week. It's hard to believe that it has been a year since I moved away from Chicago. I left the city overwhelmed and burned out after several years in nonprofit development. I didn't have much of an end goal when I started library school. I was simply eager for a change. In the last twelve months I've had the opportunity to meet many fascinating and brilliant people, to visit new places, to commute by bike for the first time in years, to encounter new ways of thinking about information, how people seek it, and how to organize it. I've even started to find my own focus in the field. It's been wonderful to be back in school. I plan to thoroughly enjoy these last few months.


In additional to my library courses, I stepped a bit out of my comfort zone and signed up for a studio art course on RAW photography. I haven't taken an art class since middle school and I'm ecstatic to be doing so again. I'm the only student from outside the art department, and while I'm slightly afraid of looking foolish, I couldn't be happier.


The start of the academic year means that falling leaves and sweaters are right around the corner. These last few weeks of late summer are always my favorite, with milder temperatures and perfect tomatoes. Here is a healthier take on traditional tabbouleh that calls for some of the abundant summer herbs and vegetables that are still available.

Quinoa Tabbouleh


1 C black quinoa - rinsed
1/2 medium cucumber - peeled, seeded, and diced
2 medium tomatoes - seeds squeezed out and diced (I used one red and one yellow)
1/4 medium red onion - diced
3 garlic cloves - minced
2 C flat-leaf parsley - stems removed and chopped
1/2 C mint - stems removed and chopped
2 Tbl lemon juice
1/4 C olive oil salt and pepper to taste


Bring two cups of salted water to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Add the quinoa, turn down the heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer about 20 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked and fluffy.

When the quinoa is cooked, pour off any excess water and add the quinoa to a large bowl. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper, and salt and pour the dressing over the quinoa. Stir to combine evenly. Add the cucumber, tomatoes, onion, garlic, parsley, and mint. Stir to combine. Add additional salt and lemon juice to taste. Refrigerate and serve chilled.

Grape & Cilantro Salad

I recently completed my second semester of graduate school. Spring was packed with multiple jobs, extra credit hours, and training for my second marathon (it went great!). It was an exciting semester, but it was truly a relief to turn in my final projects and take a short break from everything. I'm back at it though; my position with the University continues throughout the summer, I'm working on an information architecture and usability independent study project, trying to visit Chicago often, packing for a move, and my summer courses begin in just a few weeks.

May in Champaign
May in Champaign

Summer in a university town is different experience from the rest of the year. With the vast majority of undergraduate students out of town, it is easier to feel connected to a real community. I feel like I am finally getting my footing here and truly enjoying it. I've made some wonderful friends, I'm moving into a charming house, and I finally know what I want to do with myself when I graduate in December with my MLIS. It feels great.

The heat and heavy storms of summer have made their way to the midwest in the last few weeks. This is the time of year when I begin making one of my favorite salads on a frequent basis. I've posted about it before, but I thought it deserved an update. This recipe comes from my friend Ellen and it calls for just a few ingredients: Red grapes, raw almonds, cilantro, olive oil, lemon, and salt. It's simple, quick, and a bit of a departure from a typical fruit salad. You can find the recipe on Ellen's website.

Fennel and Radicchio Winter Salad Recipe

December 1 (5)

I celebrated Christmas at my parent's house this year and Nick and I were put in charge of making the salad and dessert. We made a delicious carrot cake (which I will tell you more about next week) and this vibrant winter salad. Hardy fennel and radicchio are available in most places during the winter and their bold flavors are strong enough to complement the pecorino, toasted pecans, and savory dressing in this recipe. I followed Faith Durand's recipe at The Kitchn exactly. Next time, I might try this with a more citrusy dressing - though the soy sauce based option was nice.

December 5

I've been working more hours than I expected at the American Library Association and I am really enjoying the experience. The people are wonderful and I feel useful. (Making a bit of extra money for next semester doesn't hurt either.) It has been fun to work in the Chicago Loop again, an area I especially love during the holiday season. 

December 2 (3)

Though, the full work schedule means that I haven't had the time I expected to reconnect with friends or work on personal projects. I had grand plans of finally redesigning and moving this website, working on my XML skills, and enjoying parts of Chicago that I don't often get to visit. I have been able to visit with most of my extended family though, and for that I am very grateful. 

December (4)

Nick made me a beautiful book of some of his favorite recipes from this website for Christmas. He did all of the layout by hand, making it a far more time-consuming - and more beautiful - book than the ones I typically order for loved ones through online photo services. It was a nice way to look back on the last several years. I still have a lot to learn, but it is encouraging to see a physical representation of how my photography has improved since the early days in 2005. I am sometimes tempted to tear everything down and reshoot it all - but other days I appreciate the steady progress this website displays. 

December 2010 7

I hope everyone enjoyed some time off with friends and family over these past few weeks.  Have a happy and safe celebration this evening.  I look forward to sharing more photographs and recipes with you in the new year!