Friday, April 17, 2009

Calling All Lentils

Does anybody know a good lentils recipe?

This leads me to another question. Grammatically, when speaking of a dish, do you say: "This is a marvelous lentils dish" or "This is a marvelous lentil dish"? If you know, then please educate me. I'm going to be thinking about this for a long time.

I'm trying to eat a balanced diet. As a quasi-vegetarian, most of my iron and protein comes from beans and lentils are my favorite bean. I'm trying to incorporate more creative ways of eating lentils besides lentil soup. (Oh, did you just see what I did there? "Ways of eating lentils besides lentil soup." I may have just answered my own question.)

I've got a fool-proof, dummy-proof, adjust-to-taste recipe that I make whenever I what extra food around for a few days without a lot of effort. Since I cook for one, I always have a little extra for about 4-5 days for approximately 1-2 meals each day. I should probably note that there is no science to this serving count and it really depends on portion size. I have no shame about eating the same thing twice. I just mix it up with extra vegetables on the side, added tofu, rice, bread, salad, or whatever else I have in the cupboard.

2 c. dried lentils
4 c. water
1 c. brown rice + 2 c. water (optional)
2 medium carrots chopped
1/2 medium onion chopped
1 stalk celery chopped (optional)
1 medium tomato chopped or 1/2 can tomato (optional)

vegetable broth seasoning or imitation chicken seasoning
chopped garlic
salt (or spicy seasoning salt)
cayenne flakes
black pepper

I dump everything (except seasonings) into a 5.5 qt/5 L pot all at once and cover. There is no special way to do this. I set the stove on high or medium high until there is a slow boil and then I turn it down to medium low. This is when I usually add some of the seasoning but it doesn't make a difference as far as I know. I season to taste. The list shows what I usually choose from but I never put it all in. I try to be light on the salt. My friend Candice is of the dump-in-everything-you-like-in-any-other-dish school. When we were roommates, she would add cumin, curry powder, cilantro, basil, or whatever else she found. I'm not as adventurous but I never had bad lentils. I let the soup cook until the lentils are tender--usually 40-45 minutes. Add water if you want it a little soupier or allow some of the water to boil out if you'd prefer stew.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Crop Walk 2009

As I think about how I can become a better person--a more improved version of me--I think it's important to consider how I can make life for people around me better. The two--making self better and making others better--go hand in hand (and Matthew 25:40 is a mandate).

Kesa, a friend from church, invited me to participate in the CWS/Crop Hunger Walk. For three miles and an hour of time, we joined several others from Johnson County, Iowa, in a fundraising walk. Why did we walk? Because 854 million people in America and around the world live in poverty must walk in order to care for basic needs--food, water, shelter, employment, healthcare, education. Walking in a circuitous route, wearing my thick coat and tennis shoes was a very easy task for me, and even though it took little out of me, I don't think I could imagine having to do so every day to care for myself and my loved ones. It put things in perspective.

It's really easy to make a small donation of cash, coats, or canned goods, or go on a humanitarian trip every once in a while. What I must realize is that my seasonal giving "out of the goodness of my heart" isn't going to solve the world's problems. None of us have the power to solve the world's problems but we each have the capability to make one person's day a little easier. There are so many ways to be attuned to the needs of those around us--those impoverished in our community but also dear loved ones who need the support of family and friends.

New Goal: I'm going to be just a little more aware of others around me--with an open heart and a helping hand.

Photographs by Kesa Onwere