Whenever the topic of child hunger comes up I can’t tell you the reaction that my body produces. Anger, sadness, more anger, and then an unrelenting feeling that something must be done. And not later, and not by someone else. But by me, right now, and with anyone around me with just one or two hands to lend. Continue reading →
It’s amazing what can happen when you look through your cupboards sometimes. A few weeks back, as I tried to catch my breath from the holidays, I wasn’t yet ready to relax as I was hosting a baby shower for one of my very best friends in the world. Continue reading →
In the midst of a busy life, many of us can too easily succumb to feelings of pressure ( I know I can).
Pressure to perform. Pressure to please. Pressure to be who we want to be. Maybe even pressure to be what we think others want us to be. Staying cool and calm amongst all these pressures can be tough. But it’s the only way to win (in my very humble opinion).
Staying grounded starts with good nutrition. If we are fed well, our brains work and our bodies work. We can see things for what they really are.
We are all alike, on the inside.
~ Mark Twain
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Being well fed need not be complicated.
Mixing together compatible ingredients that taste great, feed our bodies, and can be pulled together easily with (just a little) know how, is really all it takes.
The trick is to just keep it real . This recipe is the perfect start.
French lentils make beautiful firm mouthfuls out of this dish, but any green or brown lentil will do, though cooking time will vary.
It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.
~ Henry David Thoreau
Less pressure to be fancy means more simple hearty foods. Less hard to find ingredients means more easily at hand meals. Less cooked, canned, and processed protein means good fuel is cheaper, cleaner, and more healthful. And when it’s this easy to cook, why not?
More hearty warm comfort food means more comfort for the soul. More easy ways to fill up means more reasons to make it habit. More simple herbs and spices means creating variety is easy, so making delicious out of (just a little) quickly becomes second nature.
Start by putting up the olive oil to heat in a medium pot on medium high. When hot, add the chopped onion and salt, and cook, stirring for 5-8 minutes or so until the onions are translucent.
Add the carrots, cumin and garlic, and cook a further 5 minutes, stirring often, being careful not to let the garlic burn.
Once all the veggies are glistening and the cumin is smelling fragrant and delicious, add the water, lentils, tomato paste, and bay leaves and stir to incorporate.
Bring to a boil on high.
Once boiling, turn heat to medium low (not low) and cook with the lid on for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice from the bottom up. After the first 20 minutes, remove the lid and rest on the side of the pot so a little air can escape. Cook another 20 minutes (total of 40 minutes) stirring here and there.
Serve piping hot with crusty fresh bread, and top with your choice of olive oil, black pepper, fresh herbs, chopped chives or scallions, fresh tomato, or slices of red onion.
You really can’t go wrong.
This dish will keep for up to 5-6 days in your fridge (it gets better the longer it languishes) and freezes well too. So double it up if you want leftovers. Seriously!
It could be because I grew up eating lentils, but I don’t know of a greater comfort food than this. There are endless variations to the uses for them, limited only by what is in season, or what you have on hand.
They are cheap. They keep forever. They are for real.
Not all those who wander are lost.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien
This dish will make a special appearance at an even more special event this weekend, stay tuned for that – I’ll be sharing!
Let’s just say it all started with Chris & Carla Read up about that here (you’ll be glad you did).
What is your ultimate easy comfort food?
Got a favorite way with lentils?
I’d love to hear how you keep it real from day-to-day.
Even with all the pressures we face, staying cool and calm is always helped by (just a little) of the right fuel at the right times.
And it needn’t ever be expensive or complicated (unless you want it to be).
I hope you’ll try this one!
On a small side note – apologies to all of my beloved blogging buds for falling behind (just a little) in my comments and visits this week, I’ve got a fairly big project on the go that is demanding my attention, one that I will be sharing with you all shortly! I’ll look forward to getting back in the groove with you all in good time
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” ― Socrates
Greetings fine blogging friends!
I’m back home after a brief business trip to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains (a fancy way of saying Calgary).
I have returned home to a few new blooms in the garden and dare I say….just a tiny bit of a tan on my face?!! Okay, that might be stretching it a (just a little) but I did spend a couple of days in the warm Prairie sun – it was pretty sweet
It’s always extra-super-amazing to be back home, no matter how long I leave for.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
In keeping with my last post (and a few before that I think!), here is one of my favorite go-to cold protein salad recipes. I hesitate to call it a recipe, as it’s more just a food I love, and a food I fall back on time and time again.
More lentils! But not just any old lentils.
I am talking about French lentils, or Puy lentils as they are also called (they originally came from Puy, France). Those of you who read this blog regularly might just say I have been training for France my entire adult life – which is about as long as I’ve been enjoying these deliciously sophisticated legumes!!
“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.”
― John Lennon
It could be hard to find these in some parts of the world, and I’ve always found them successfully in health food or organic grocery stores. A suitable substitute would be ‘Beluga’ lentils, also black and a little plumper.
I have read that French lentils take longer to cook than other lentils, which I have never found to be the case – it could be because I steam them, instead of boiling them (which for me always turns this kind to mush).
Does anyone else do this too?
I can’t tell you where I learned this from, or how I learned it, because I honestly don’t remember – but what I can tell you is it makes them ridiculously good!
Let’s get to this fierce salad, shall we? Yes!
“I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then. ”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Less boiling in hot water means more in-tact nutrition in your final product. Less canned beans and lentils means more texture, and less waste, recycling, and cost. Less heavy & starchy beans means a lighter feeling in your tummy, and less heavy tummies means more light smiles and happy times – and (maybe) (just a little) less gas. Good, right?
More high fiber legumes means more roughage in your system. More rich protein and satisfaction means you need to eat less to get full. More yummy textures and flavors mean more variety and substance. More taste and versatility means you can serve these to anyone – even if they aren’t lentil lovers (yet!).
Fierce French Lentil Salad:
(1) cup French lentils or Puy lentils (can sub Beluga lentils)
(1) pint grape tomatoes, roasted (or 1/2 cup thinly sliced or chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil)
(1/2) cup green onions
(3) tbsp extra virgin olive oil
(2) tbsp red wine vinegar
(1) tsp salt (or to taste)
(1/2) cup roasted almond slivers or blanched sliced almonds
(1/2) cup cubes of feta cheese (optional)
fresh black pepper
The trick here is to soak the lentils at least 12 hours. I usually put up a bowl to soak over night and cook them in the morning or the following evening.
Combine the lentils with lots of cold water and soak. When ready to cook, drain the lentils and rinse in a colander with plenty of cold water. Put the lentils into a vegetable steamer with enough water to last long enough to boil 25-30 minutes. Bring to a boil, once the steam water is boiling, turn the heat to medium-high and cook, covered for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. You can test them by tasting or squashing one between your fingers – it should crush easily, but you don’t want it to be mush either.
Once the lentils are done (soft but firm), transfer them to a bowl to cool. After about 5 minutes, add the olive oil and salt (you can also add the vinegar at this stage) to the still warm/hot lentils – this allows the oil and salt to soak into each lentil’s individual little soul, infusing it with yummy depth and fierce flavor!
From here, you can store the lentils in the fridge until you want to use them. Or, proceed with the following steps!
If you are using roasted grape tomatoes, rinse the tomatoes in water and drain. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the tomatoes in a tbsp of olive oil or so and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place on a flat oiled sheet, and roast the tomatoes until wrinkly – anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. They should be black a little on the bottom. Remove and cool on the pan before transferring to a bowl.
This step can be done well in advance – I often buy ‘cast-offs’ from the produce section of wrinkly tomatoes that are too old to eat fresh. They are usually dirt cheap and I roast them and keep them in the fridge. Delicious on sandwiches or on top of a salad or roasted veggies – even on pasta with capers!
Roast the nuts by placing them dry on a flat cookie sheet in the oven. Roast at 350 degrees for about 3-4 minutes, or until fragrant and turning brown.
Roasted almonds are the family favorite and we have a bowl of them in the kitchen pretty much all the time. The kids love them, the husband loves them, guests love them. I often toast up a few cups and use them at dinner.
Leftovers are brilliant on breakfast cereals or Mediterranean yoghurt in the morning with hemp hearts & maple syrup
To create the salad, combine the oiled & salted cooked (and cooled) lentils in a bowl with the nuts, green onions, and optional feta. If you are using sun-dried tomatoes, add them when you mix as well. For the roasted tomatoes, add these to the top of the mixture in the serving bowl(s) just before serving.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
This dish (or a version of this dish) is a fabulous picnic salad or addition to a summer potluck. Served with greens, fresh baguette or crackers, and a glass of French wine, the only thing better would be, well, being in France!
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
― Oscar Wilde
Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
― George Bernard Shaw
Getting out there into the big big world helps us to appreciate coming home (just a little) more, and I always come home (just a little) more thankful for all the relationships I am so lucky to be a participant in.
Whether it is the friendships and connections forged on the road or the smiles on the kids faces when you walk in the door (yes – even after one night away – lucky me!), interactions with others are always an extraordinarily special gift.
It’s a good life, indeed. Isn’t it?
Thanks to all of you who continue to read and support this (little) blog – your comments always make my day, no matter where I am!
“It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.”
― Albert Einstein
What’s your favorite potluck summer salad?
Have you a favorite lentil variety or recipe to share with us?
Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.
~ Albert Einstein
I hope you all had a truly fab weekend soaking up the spring sun and taking it all in!
As for us, we’ve got a new layer of topsoil in the garden and a clean fresh outlook – here’s to the new season…and Easter coming up!
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
Today’s post is (once again) dedicated to the simple easy pleasures in life. Healthy food made delicious by the addition of simple (and rich) spices!
A vegetarian’s palette of inspiration is only as limited as the spice cupboard, and inexpensive staples can go from prettymeh to pretty mean in a few seconds with (just a little) bit of spice.
Indian spices in particular are so wonderfully varied, it’s almost impossible to go wrong with combos (but it can be done) – and there are a few easy ones that everyone should be familiar with.
They would be (for me): cumin (both ground and seeds), ginger, turmeric, black mustard seeds, coriander, garam masala (so many kinds!), cardamom..there are a few others – what are your classic faves?
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
There are so many different spices to name but I’ve always had good luck preparing delicious veggie curries and bean dishes out of the ones listed above. They are known for being widely beneficial to digestion, and gentle and calming for the soul (maybe that part is just for me – anyone else?).
Side Note: Here in Vancouver – home to one of North America’s most widely celebrated Indian restaurants (Vij’s) – we are lucky to have a few high quality haunts (from budget to high-end) to frequent for a taste of the real thing. My recent (1st!) trip to London also brought me to Brick Lane, which was a very special experience, and I’ll never forget my 1st taste of that delicious lime pickle…amazing!
Alas, I don’t think a trip to India will ever be in the cards for me (but never say never), and I would never consider my home cooking a substitution for the real thing……but it isn’t all that hard, and cooking this way is:
Delicious, cheap, and good for you.
Less complicated ingredients means you are more likely to make this. Less canned or jarred spice mixtures mean cleaner, simpler food. Less cream and animal based curries means lighter, cheaper meals. Less heavy beans means your body might not mind eating these (especially if you are sensitive to beans and legumes).
More flavorful vegetarian dishes in your repertoire means more yummy foods to cook often. More vibrantly colored food means more visual pleasure for your senses. More ginger and spices means more help for digestion. More cheap dinners means more money for other things. Straight up and simple, this dish a classic.
Red Lentil Vegetable Curry:
(2) tbsp olive oil, canola oil, or ghee
(2) tbsp black mustard seeds
(1) onion chopped (about one heaping cup)
(2) tsp salt
(2) tsp turmeric
(2) tsp cumin
(2) tbsp fresh chopped or grated ginger
(3) carrots, chopped (about one heaping cup)
(2) medium potatoes (about one heaping cup)
(1.5) cups canned diced tomatoes (1 398ml can)
(1) cup red lentils
(4) cups water
black pepper to taste
fresh cilantro for garnish
The trick with this style of cooking is to have all of your spices ready and veggies chopped and ready to go.
Everything happens pretty quickly and even for experienced cooks it’s difficult to be prepping and measuring while the cameras are rolling. So be ready!
In a medium large pot, heat the oil on medium high. When hot, add the black mustard seeds and stir until they start to pop – don’t leave the stove – this takes about 30 seconds only!
Once the little seeds start dancing (and popping!), add the chopped onion and salt and cook, stirring about 5-6 minutes, or until golden. Add ginger and remaining dry spices and cook, stirring for one minute on medium heat. When spices are fragrant, add tomato and stir all well for about a minute or two until well integrated.
Hang tight – now you can almost step away….
Add lentils, chopped vegetables and water and stir all to well combine. Bring to a light boil on medium-high with the lid on. Once boiling temperature has been reached, turn the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 30-40 minutes stirring frequently to prevent the lentils from prevent sticking to bottom of the pot.
Once ready, add the juice of lemon. Simple, zesty, and ready to serve!
Serve with ground pepper, a dash of butter or olive oil, plenty of freshly ground pepper and chopped fresh cilantro – don’t forget the side of rice if desired and buttery naan bread too!
This will get more delicious the longer it sits in your fridge and I highly recommend making it a day before you serve it. I’ve been making this curry as long as I’ve been cooking it seems – it never gets tired, and it’s always incredible!
So there you have it! An easy dinner on a cold night, or a starter to a great Indian meal.
I’ve got a bit of this leftover and I am thinking tonight’s dinner may just consist of a bowl of curry..straight up and simple.
My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.
~ Dalai Lama
On another (slightly ironic and very sad) side note – we went to go for said Indian last night at our families favorite budget haunt here in town, only to find it had been destroyed by a fire!
Now we’re on the hunt for a new budget favorite – can’t wait to see what we find – and I hope they re-build and wish them well…lots of great memories and gratitude were had at that delicious place
Welcome! What is In Pursuit Of More? The blog about living with (just a little) less. By going without, we can gain - by giving to those who have less. Want to make a change in your eating habits for the better? Imagine how you can turn that into something positive for those who would otherwise go hungry. Go without so others don't have to. That's living with (just a little) less.