Author Archives for theRaggedys

Lagniappe: We’re “Bowled” Over

We tried out a soup recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi last night – which fits right into yesterday’s blog.   Admittedly, it’s not often we’re wild about something that’s vegan, so this is obviously pretty special.  Should I say we were “bowled over” by it? 🙂

And be sure to check out Andy’s own mini Super Bowl game in yesterday’s Andy’s Corner (originally I had the link wrong, so you may have assumed you couldn’t see it).

Have a fun Super Bowl Sunday – even if you’re out riding your bike, as our 83-year-old friend in SF plans to do.   The streets are apparently very quiet then.

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Curried Lentil, Tomato, and Coconut Soup from Ottolenghi – made with Chana Dal instead of red lentils (and cooked way longer because of that)

Curried Lentil, Tomato, and Coconut Soup

This recipe is in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Simple cookbook; we modified the recipe very slightly.  If you use chana dal – which are split chickpeas – you’ll need to cook this considerably longer, but it will be equally delicious.  FYI – the recipe is vegan!

  • 2 T olive oil or sunflower oil or coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 c)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled, finely grated
  • 1 T curry powder – or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 c red lentils, rinsed and drained (you can substitute chana dal, if you have more time to cook)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 c finely chopped cilantro
  • Diamond kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk, shaken well (reserve about 1/4 c for swirling on the top when you serve, if you want to be fancy)
  • Lime wedges and cilantro leaves for serving
  • Coconut milk – or yogurt if you don’t need vegan – swirled on the top for serving (optional)

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onion and fry, stirring often, until softened and golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add lentils and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add tomatoes, cilantro, 1 tsp salt and a pinch of pepper, and 2½ cups water. Add coconut milk to saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft but not mushy, 20–25 minutes (note: if you’re using chana dal it may need to cook for as long as an hour…and maybe require a bit more water).

Season soup with more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve the soup with lime wedges and a topping of cilantro leaves.  And we love the addition of a bit of yogurt on top.

Note: the soup can be made up to 3 days ahead.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

This Bowl So Dear

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from Australia’s Michael Leunig

I find the above illustration and poem by Australia’s Michael Leunig surprisingly uplifting.  Plus, the comfort and simplicity of the bowl of homemade soup and a wooden spoon fits right into the whole notion of our blog.

A little googling about bowls vs plates led me to a whole world of sociological and psychological and historical analyses of the subject.  Where was Andy, the Sociologist, when I needed him?  FYI – he was in his office googling football bowl games. 🙂  See today’s Andy’s Corner.

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Well done, Tigers!

Little did I know that Andy, the Sociologist, had already discovered the British food writer Bee Wilson and was immersed in the Kindle edition of her book The Way We Eat Now: How the Food Revolution Has Transformed Our Lives, Our Bodies, and Our World 

In a piece that Wilson wrote for The Wall Street Journal, she writes, “Our abandonment of plates for bowls suggests that we are reverting to the simpler times of one-pot cookery, liberating ourselves once and for all from fork anxiety. Today, the thing that we are most short of in the kitchen is not necessarily money but time. Sales of bowls have climbed in tandem with the rise of the Instant Pot and the pressure cooker, time-saving gadgets that produce tasty dishes too sloppy for a plate.

But perhaps there is more than just the issue of time at play here.  In an article in the online publication Quartz, Helen Zoe Veit, a Michigan State U professor who focuses on the history of food and nutrition, indicates that snobbery was also at play in our earlier avoidance of one-bowl meals. “How we were eating [in the twentieth century] was reflective of what we were eating, and that tended, in mainstream American culture, to be a slab of protein with a couple sides, salad and bread. “(This) sort of extreme separation of meal components…is seen as a mark of refinement and education and status….Americans for a long time were sort of saying…that mixtures are a little disgusting.”

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A plated place-setting

We’re SO happy that snobbery about bowls and eating mixtures of things is now passé Though Andy and I haven’t entirely given up on a nice plated meal with a side-dish salad – and while we’re still novices when it comes to Buddha bowls and burrito bowls and grain bowls (though we promise more focus on that in blogs to come), we’re in love with soups and stews.

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Too many bowls? Or a necessary abundance of comforting things to cradle?

I think Bee Wilson is really on to something when she says, “The rise of the bowl in our lives suggests that many eaters are in a permanently fragile state, treating every meal as comfort food.  In a world of alarming news, maybe we all need something to cradle.”  Amen.

We’re sure looking for comfort – so tonight I’m making Joyce’s Clam Chowder.  Tomorrow we’re having a bowl of Jook Chicken.  Later in the week it’s Colorado-ish Potato and Green Chile Stew.  Last week we tried out three new soup-y stew-y recipes and are delighted to share them with you today.

This evening we’ll light a fire in our wood stove, turn on our 56th episode of Schitt’s Creek – or maybe the 2nd episode of Cheer, select the perfect bowl from our (crazy large) collection, dish up that bowl of chowder…feel its warmth…take our spoon (wooden or not), and proceed “with steadiness and cheer.” Continue reading

New Beginnings

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Do we need to make New Year’s resolutions about food?  If so, Harvard Medical School offers up “Six Simple Ways to Smarter, Healthier Eating.”  I’ve read it – and lots of other articles with nutrition advice – carefully.  Harvard’s #6 is the absolute best: “Plan meals that are delightful, delicious and healthy.”  (I would probably add that planning is not enough; you need to also COOK and EAT the meal you plan! 🙂 )

Please note though – I’m not giving up totally on salt or sugar or bacon or coffee or red meat or butter – or wine – as this new year starts.  I did, however, many moons ago give up drinking almost all juices, eating ultra-processed food and most pasta (which, all on my own, I decided made me gain weight).  I never eat more than half of a sandwich, and I try to have desserts around only when we have company.

Admittedly, I intend my last meal on earth to be spritz cookie batter – made with a blend of butter (preferably Kerrygold) and sugar (definitely cane, not coconut – a family insider joke).  I’d be the first to say that Julia Child and I could have been soul sisters in our love of butter.  High on my 2020 Bucket List is a visit to Bella la Crema,  a new innovative “butter bar” the next time we’re near Lyons, Colorado.  Yay, Colorado! Yay having friends we want to visit in Boulder!

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That said,  a keeper resolution is that Andy and I will cut back on the amount of beef and lamb and pork we eat – for the earth’s health maybe even more than our own health.  For the time being, I’ll pass on plant-based meat.

I most definitely intend to follow Harvard’s suggestion #2:  Harness the power of nuts (and seeds).  Here are a couple of articles to support this.

8 Health Benefits of Nuts

Super Seeds and Nuts You Should Include in Your Diet

Both are well worth a read – and we’ve added them to our Food for Thought (lots of articles there are worth a read!).

To accompany this 2020 resolution of mine, let me share a few nutty family stories and recipes.  Clearly, the family is very seedy 🙂  And – on another note – Andy was quite tweedy in his “higher” education LSU position – that is until he became quite needy in his “hire” as an adjunct.  See today’s Andy’s Corner!

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Picture this:  it’s 4:30 pm on Christmas day.  Your family has all agreed to contribute something to the Christmas dinner.  Your daughter is putting the finishing touches on her Moroccan stew; your son just iced his pumpkin bundt cake; his partner is preparing a preserved-lemon dressing for her Moroccan salad.  Your older grandson….well…let’s just say a roasted carrot dip never happened 🙂

Your small kitchen is pretty hectic about now….and then your 14-year-old grandson (i.e., Moss – of guest blogging fame) announces he’s ready to make his appetizers – which will be cracker/crisps – from scratch.  And he has never made them before.  And they have to chill in the freezer for at least an hour.

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This is not our grandson Moss making crackers or Moss in our kitchen – but it is Moss making a chocolate cake for his 14th birthday! Note: sugary, chocolate-y cakes should most definitely be allowed on birthdays!

Deep breathing.  It will all be fine.

About 2 hours later (after mixing, baking, chilling, slicing and then re-baking the cracker/crisp dough), we all sit down to taste the just-out-of-the-oven homemade appetizer cranberry nut cracker/crisps – served with fig jam and brie.  And they are delicious!

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Fortunately, Ono Moore, our Siamese cat, is not fond of blue cheese or fig jam or even Nutty Seedy Fruity Crisps

Earlier in December our daughter tipped me off to Sikil-P’ak – both a healthy and unusual pumpkin seed dip – which she served at a recent All-Ladies party.  She was also responsible for the recipe for spiced nuts, which I’ve included, straight from her Picnics cookbook.  Both of these recipes are perfect for incorporating nuts and seeds into your 2020 diet – and loving every bite.

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2020 – It’s Music to My Ears

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Carole King’s rendition of Chicken Soup with Rice is a favorite.  Slipping is not a favorite.

As we begin a new decade with new joys and challenges, I find that this little ditty by the Australian artist/cartoonist Michael Leunig speaks to me.  In fact, it inspired me to put together a “2020” playlist!

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We give thanks for singers.
All types of singers.
Popular, concert singers and
tuneless singers in the bath.
Whistlers, hummers and those
who sing while they work.
Singers of lullabies; singers of nonsense
and small scraps of melody.
Singers on branches and rooftops.
Morning yodellers and evening warblers.
Singers in seedy nightclubs, singers in the street;

Singers in cathedrals, school halls, grandstands,
back yards, paddocks, bedrooms, corridors,
stairwells and places of echo and resonance.

We give praise to all those who give some small voice
To the everyday joy of the soul.

Amen

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Andy and I agreed that we’d each make a playlist of 20 songs that we’d enjoy while cooking – or cleaning up after cooking….songs that have something about food in the title or lyrics.  Get it? 20 and 20 for 2020!

You would think this would be a non-confrontational task! 🙂  I started my playlist with my ode to Andy: Sweet Home Cookin’ Man  (listen and watch it here).  I thought “Lord how my baby cooks” was tender and loving, but Andy took exception to the “ain’t got personality” and “ain’t got such good looks” lines.

Well he ain’t got personality
He ain’t got such good looks
When I come home hungry
Lord how my baby cooks
He’s a chef of fine distinction
Always cooks and it’s just right
Whether I come home in the morning baby
Or somewhere late in the night.

That was nothing compared to when I read over Andy’s blog and his playlist and noticed one of his top choices:  My Wife Can’t Cook  from Bill Wyman of Rolling Stones fame (listen and watch it here).

If it wasn’t for the beans that come out the can
A lot of the peas or the beets, the rice and the Spam
The milk and bread at the grocery store
I tell you, I couldn’t eat no more

‘Cause let me tell you, my wife, she can’t cook
If I thought she could read, I would buy her a book
But she knows how to do with the fuss and bother
She don’t even know how to boil hot water

But in the healing spirit of the New Year, we moved on 🙂  Isn’t that what a relationship is all about?

My 20 songs for the 2020 playlist are below.  You can listen to bits of each song right here – or go to Spotify to get the whole thing.  Dance around to it while you’re makin’ that Crawfish Etouffee, sippin’ on a Sazerac, and dreamin’ of going to Mardi Gras!

And just to make a point, I would like to remind you of some undeniably great recipes that I’ve fixed for Andy – with canned beans!

*Not Your Mother’s Chili
*MountainWestBob’s Easy Crockpot Chili
*North African Crockpot Lamb Stew
*Quick White Bean Soup
*One Dish Pasta and Beans

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I’m very selective about the brand of beans I buy!

In fact, we celebrated New Year’s Eve with friends, serving them this d-lish Black Bean Chili (which also happens to be vegetarian).  After everyone left, Andy turned up the speakers, clicked on his Jazz for Kitchen Cleanup playlist and welcomed in the New Year.  See today’s Andy’s Corner.

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Bourbon Makes Everything Better

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How accurate are our memories?  That’s a question Andy and I discuss frequently.  The answer has such an impact on everything, and it’s pretty clear that there is no 100% correct response.

But I’m 98% sure I’m remembering correctly that every evening my parents would sit down and have a bourbon and water – to toast the end of another day.  The bourbon was always Ancient Age.

Another childhood memory is of my mother giving me a mixture of honey, bourbon, lemon juice, and hot water when I had a cold or cough.  I don’t remember whether or not I ever faked a cough and cold in order to get that elixir.  But I really did like it.

My fondness for bourbon remains to this day.  And I’ve managed to successfully blend bourbon-based dishes into my holiday repertoire, making the whole family’s spirits a little jollier.

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Bulleit is our preferred brand of bourbon these days

Here is my “adults-only” remedy for a cough or cold or sore throat:

Bourbon Cold and Cough Remedy 

  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 oz hot water

And here are two of our bourbon-infused standbys – which we’ve already blogged about: Honolulu Walnut Date Christmas Pudding and Pumpkin Pie O’Brien.

To add to that we’ve got three other delicious bourbon recipes to offer up.  And Andy is offering up a MOST unusual and “spirited” greeting card in Andy’s Corner.

Maida Heatter, who passed away this year at the age of 102,  was known for her excellent dessert cookbooks, with cakes being her specialty.  Her 86-Proof Chocolate Cake is superb and keeps well for days.  Just beware of over-snacking!

The Classic Manhattan cocktail is…well…a classic.  Perfect for holiday entertaining.

And the Steamed Persimmon Pudding with Bourbon Sauce has been a part of our family holiday tradition for years. Continue reading

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