How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Coming Out of the Cold

As mentioned in the "Cada Mes" post last week, our summer has been blessed with everything but at-home leisure, putting us well behind our usual pace of a new recipe each week. Well behind. As we get back on track, today's post is not only a specific recipe, but some of what we have learned about how to plan meals.

It began with Pam making a list of today's goals that included a freezer inventory. After a morning row and some extreme yard work, we got together at the freezer door and used a cooler so that we could take everything out and put it on a list. We threw out one or two items that were of miniscule quantity or unknown provenance, but otherwise made a detailed list of everything in the freezer before returning it there. (I did generously volunteer to save space by finishing off a small quantity of vanilla ice cream.)

With the inventory in hand, we each grabbed a cookbook to look for something that would be new to us, interesting, and most importantly that would use something from the inventory. Pam found a chicken salad that we will prepare at the end of the week for our weekly vineyard outing -- details to follow.

Because I knew we had a fresh package of tortillas in the fridge, I turned to our bible, a.k.a. The Well-Filled Tortilla. I have to admit I was doubtful. After all, we have used this book many times over the past 20 years, and much of what remains is either grandiose (even for us) or uses ingredients on the no-go list (olives, tripe). But we had a half-bag of lentils ("half" being the most common word on our freezer inventory), so I checked the index for that word.

On page 221 is a recipe entitled "Indian-style lentils." We were prepared to use the second half of our Sunday for something more complicated, but this worked out very well indeed. We went to our local farm stand at Hanson Farms after deciding the recipe, so that we could get the needed tomatoes there. We planned a grocery-store run for after the farm stand, for any items that would not be there. This is always a good order to shop -- home inventory then farm stand, then grocery.

The rest came from our shelf, fridge, or modest garden. (Actually, mint is not a "garden" item. It is something that the previous owner of our house planted, and which we can now retrieve from random spots all over our property.)

Preparation was incredibly simple, halving the recipe as printed. I put 3 cups of chicken stock (could have been any stock) in a stock pot, along with 1/2 pound of lentils and three medium potatoes, diced to 1/2-inch.  I then added plenty of turmeric, cilantro (in place of coriander), ground clove, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. I heated to a boil and then simmered for 20 minutes.

I then added a generous splash of lime juice (from a bottle in this case). We then diced tomatoes, tore up some mint, and spooned up a little sour cream that was in the fridge. The only thing missing was something the recipe calls "pickled carrots, optional."

The result; Delicious! I had been skeptical of a dish calling for both lentil and potato, but they worked well together in this case. These tacos paired beautifully with a 2013 Wild Oats Pinot Noir from from San Luis Obispo, California. This is a complex wine with dark fruit flavors and just a bit of spice.

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