Tuesday, November 3, 2009

roasting par-tay!

Once again, I have surprised myself....I am cooking real food. And I haven't even finished a full box of cereal yet this year. This time last year, I had probably been through 3-4 boxes already. Seriously, people, I really don't know what is happening to me.

Another thing: I have given up trying to get myself to prepare chicken and other meats for myself. Granted, I am definitely not a vegetarian, nor will I ever be, for that matter. I am simply a lazy person who doesn't feel like dealing with something that grosses me out for the time being: raw meat.

Ew. I don't like it. I like eating it. Cooked, of course. In time, I will have to get over this because when I'm a real person, have a family, etc. I don't want make them eat beans and veggies and barley all the time. But for now, I could eat the same meatless thing every day and couldn't care less. And a dose of something meaty once or twice a week? Sounds good to me. I'm still having dreams of the amazing, beer and onion boiled, cheese-filled brats the boyfriend made for a tailgate a few weeks ago. Damn. That thing was good.

But alas, here we are with lentils. And they are so so good for you! They've got about 8 grams of protein and about the same amount of fiber per serving. All that fiber ought to clean ya out real good, huh? Sounds delicious to me. :)

But how to make them?! I had no clue. My grandpa is King of Bean Soups, and he makes a mean lentil soup. I had definitely eaten them before, but it had never crossed my mind how to actually cook them. So I whipped open Cooking Bible a la Mark Bittman, looked up 'lentils' in the index, and got busy cooking.

One thing I am learning about cooking is that it's pretttty hard to mess up. I guess it's a good thing that I've already mastered baking, as it is harder than cooking, so they say. For instance, if you don't have a certain spice on hand....no worries! Substitute something
else instead! However, if you're lacking baking soda, well, your cake is just gonna flop then, isn't it?

The lentil recipe called for curry...but I didn't have any. Instead, I decided to use a combination of spices that I thought were delicious in last month's Black Bean Vegetable Soup - cumin and chili powder. So into the pot went 2 tsp. of cumin and 1 tsp. chili p
owder instead of the 1 tbsp. curry (1 tbsp. = 3 tsp, by the way ;) They came out really good, but for next time, I think I would use 2 tsp. chili powder and 1 tsp. cumin to amp up the spice factor.

So what can we eat lentils with when they're not in soup-form? Roasted veggies!

Ahhhh, what happened to my hand??!?? Yes, I like playing with the fingerling potatoes. And food in general. Sigh....I suppose I'll never grow up. :)

Say hello to the cute little acorn squash I bought at the farmers market this Saturday. I sliced it up and put it in a pan with some olive oil drizzled over it and with sprinkles of sea salt and pepper.

In another pan went the sliced fingerling potatoes and broccoli, along with olive oil, parsley, basil, oregano, and sea salt. Then, both pans went into an oven preheated at 450 degrees, and I checked on them periodically, occasionally flipping the potatoes and broccoli to make sure they didn't burn.

And why use sea salt? You need less of it to get that salty flavor. And it's just delicious. I really should get my own. Sometimes I borrow Janine's sea salt. Okay, a lot of them time I borrow Janine's sea salt. Sorry, Janine. ;)

Also, I had another a-ha moment....acorn squashes have seeds!!! Here is another food that I definitely had eaten before, but didn't realize something about them. Hmmm, guess they're more pumpkin-y than I thought.

Anyway, today for lunch I ate the lentils and roasted veggies together, and it was really good. I'll definitely be making these two things again.

Split Pea, Mung Beans, or Lentils with Curry
Altered from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"

1 1/2 cups split peas, or mung beans, or lentils, washed and picked over
4 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stop, or water, plus more if needed
Salt and black pepper to taste
3 tbsp. curry - I used 2 tsp. cumin and 1 tsp. chili powder instead

Combine the beans, liquid, curry, salt, and pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover partially, and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the beans are soft and beginning to turn to mush, at least 30 minutes. Add additional liquid if necessary. The mixture should be moist but not soupy.

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