Monday, March 3, 2014

Springtime in Texas

Last week we were working outside in shortsleeves. I walked home from church without a jacket.

This morning the temperatures were in the low 20's and for a minute I wanted to slide downward into a depressive funk, crawling under my quilts for another few weeks.

Then I remembered that we will be back to the 6o's and 70's tomorrow and the rest of the week. So while my toes and fingers begin to thaw in the warm bakery, the smell of a yummy lentil and quinoa stew makes me think surely I can survive one freezing cold day this week without falling totally apart. The sun is shining, the laundry will dry on the line, and a warm stew bubbling in the crockpot will taste might fine tonight.

Here's the recipe, hope you like!

a bit of olive oil or coconut oil
1 onion, chopped finely
5 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 knob of ginger, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 butternut squash, seeded, peeled, cubed
1 whole jalapeno
3 small, colorful sweet peppers that were shriveling up in the back of the fridge, chopped up, should be fine
2 cups dry lentils
1 cup red quinoa
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 or 2 tsp cumin powder
1 or 2 heaping teaspoon sweet curry powder
1 or 2 tsp balti curry powder
1 or 2 tsp garmam masala

salt and pepper to taste
water to cover everything

one bunch cilantro
one bunch fresh greens, whatever you have, I will pick arugula, kale, bok choy, swiss chard and spinach out of the garden.

I rarely use a crock pot, but am waiting for the plumber to get here to put in a gas line for a new stove in the kitchen (Yay!!!). In the meantime, the crock pot has been a helpful tool. It is ok to dump all your ingredients, minus the green, into the pot, turn it on. However, I like the way flavors develop if you cook the fresh veggies a bit first (minus the greens). I turned the pot on high, poured in a little glug of olive oil, and then placed the onions in to begin cooking while I chopped everything else. It took awhile for the pot to heat, but eventually, as I worked on some paperwork, paid a couple bills, mixed up some homemade chicken food, washed some clothes and made a list, the onions were transparent and the squash was beginning to caramelize. I then added the lentils and quinoa, the spices and enough water to generously cover the whole thing, put the lid on, and walked away. I use a variety of curry powders from Penzeys. They are so flavorful, and each has a slightly different nuance. But when I don't have those spices, a basic curry powder from the grocery store works as well.

Since I am working here at home, I will keep an eye on the pot, and if need be, will add a bit more water as the day progresses. When the lentils and quinoa are tender, I will add the chopped cilantro and the greens and let them cook for a half hour or so. If I use turnip greens, I will put them in a bit earlier and give them a chance to become nice and tender.

My house already smells warm and cozy, and that makes it a lot more fun to deal with a little cold snap.

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