Three!

This week marks three years since we moved to Alabama!  Three years!!  It seems like forever ago…or not long ago at all.  It’s been quite a ride!

Things that have not changed for us since we moved here:

1.  To the confusion of many Alabamians we still could care less about college football.

2.  We are part of an awesome church (technically the actual church is different, but us being part of one we love is the same.)

3.  We’re not fans of BBQ.

4.  I still say ‘you guys.’

5.  I have not yet found the perfect corn bread recipe.

Things that have changed for us since we moved:

1. Language:  no, we don’t have a Southern accent.  (Although with K starting school in a few weeks that may change.)  We do occasionally say things like “fixin” and “y’all.”  And I’ve come very close to saying “might could.”  Heaven help us in another three years.

2.  Family: we came as a family of 4 1/2 and became a family of 5.  (Also, my adoption of S was finalized, so I legally became the mom of two sons.)

3.  The children are significantly bigger than they were three years ago.  Significantly bigger.

4.  Bugs:  I now hate them with a new level of passion.  They are BIG here.  (Really the word ‘big’ is an understatement.)

5.  Critter type things such as scorpions, poisonous snakes, and poisonous spiders have significantly dampened my love of the outdoors.

6.  We all like sweet tea.  (Though K will only drink the neighbor’s rather than mine.  What’s that about?)

7.  40 degrees in winter feels very cold.  90 degrees in summer is a warm day.

8.  I’ve tried Okra.  I don’t hate it.

Our time in Alabama has been a bit of a desert experience with many heartaches, crises, and challenges.  However, there have also been incredibly good things and I am expecting even more good things in the next few years!!

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Three years ago.  (Well, almost.  Technically it’s 2 years and 11 months ago, but you get the general idea.)

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Sometimes I nail it

As the head chef of this household, I’m in charge of menus, dietary requirements, and the implementation of such.  Occasionally all this power goes to my head and I start picking out some…creative…recipes to make.  Sometimes these turn out well.  Sometimes, I’m the only one stubborn enough to choke down the leftovers in order to keep them from going to waste.

One of the tricks of my family is their palettes.  My husband’s is…particular.  My daughter’s is also…particular.  Both our sons are much more open yet still have their own quirky tastes.  So finding a variety of healthy, yummy foods to serve is often challenging.  One of my favorite foods is sweet potatoes.  Plain, fried, sweetened, baked, etc., I love them.  On top of my love for them they are ridiculously healthy.  Bonus.  There’s only one problem.  My husband hates them.  This man, this lover-of-all-things-sweet, hates sweet potatoes.  After all these years together I still don’t understand how this is possible.  Occasionally I try to find ways to serve them to him, which has met with little success.  Until this week I only succeeded once in our years together.  But now I have two, count then two, ways to serve sweet taters!

I was quite excited when I saw this recipe, though it sounded quite odd.  It had lots of ingredients I liked, even if I don’t normally put them together.  So without further ado (cause there’s been plenty of ado in this post already), here’s the recipe:

Sweet Potato, Carrot, Apple, and Red Lentil Soup*

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • plain yogurt
 Directions
  1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Place the chopped sweet potatoes, carrots, apple, and onion in the pot. Stir and cook the apples and vegetables until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir the lentils, ginger, ground black pepper, salt, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and vegetable broth into the pot with the apple and vegetable mixture. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the lentils and vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.
  3. Working in batches, pour the soup into a blender, filling the pitcher no more than halfway full. Hold down the lid of the blender with a folded kitchen towel, and carefully start the blender, using a few quick pulses to get the soup moving before leaving it on to puree. Puree in batches until smooth and pour into a clean pot. Alternately, you can use a stick blender and puree the soup right in the cooking pot.
  4. Return the pureed soup to the cooking pot. Bring back to a simmer over medium-high heat, about 10 minutes. Add water as needed to thin the soup to your preferred consistency. Serve with yogurt for garnish.

* From Allrecipes.com 

Let’s see, I didn’t have fresh ginger, so I used powdered.  I forgot to serve with yogurt, but we had it over brown rice.  I only had brown lentils, so I used those.  I really have fallen in love with lentils in the last year or so.  If you’ve never tried them, I highly recommend it.  Healthy, cheap, and versatile.  That’s a triple score!

Red Lentils & Meatless Mondays

If you told me I would be purchasing and eating Red Lentils 10 years ago I would politely said, “Really?  What are red lentils?”  Okay, probably not.  More likely I would have made some sarcastic remark.  Times have certainly changed (though the sarcasm has not) and I’ve learned what lentils are.  Not only that, but I like them.  And not only that last weekend I finally found and purchased red lentils.  We’ve been eating brown lentils for a couple years.  I have a great recipes for lentil tacos and a lentil soup.  Brown lentils are much easier to find.  But I wanted red lentils.  Red.  


I’ve been making a bunch of baby food for J, which is easy and kind of fun to do.  K never would eat baby food so I never tried to make any before.  But J is a good eater (this probably surprises you, but it’s true) and I’ve been looking for new foods to introduce to him.  It turns out red lentils are a great option.  They cook up soft and have tons of nutritional value…perfect.  Even better, I found them in bulk at Whole Foods!


Finding ‘red’ lentils last weekend worked out well, because I’ve been trying to do “Meatless Mondays.”  My family doesn’t know this.  Or didn’t until my hubby reads this post.  (Actually, ever since he started the CarbLovers diet he is a lot more open to eating a few vegetarian meals.)  Both he and I grew in ‘meat and potatoes’ homes.  Lots of meat and lots of starch.  There were exceptions to this, of course, but neither of us grew up with a super varied pallet.  The older I get the more interested I am in other foods.  I’m having fun experimenting with other nationalities’ cuisines.  I can’t say I’m still all that varied, but I’m trying!


So back to the lentils.  Yesterday I got to cook red ones.  Although they really look orange.  I made some for J, however, the jury is still out on how much he likes them.  I made Lebanese Style Red Lentil soup for us. It turned out pretty well, though I think it tastes better the second day.  Yummy leftovers are a bonus! 



Well, what do you know, take a girl who doesn’t cook, give her three kids and a passion for the environment and it turns out she’s alright in the kitchen..  Apparently having many mouths to feed and wanting them to be healthy means creativity in cooking!


So how about you?  What are your favorite meatless meals?   




BTW, tonight we are having sausage gravy and biscuits.  We can’t completely ignore the tradition of meat and starch!  

Pancakes

My family has put me in charge of the cooking.  I’m sure this is by default rather than ‘Chel is the best cook ever, so we pick her.’  My husband has this job thing he goes to every day.  S goes to school.  K and J aren’t allowed to use the stove.  So it’s me by default.  One of the perks of being top chef is I am in charge of the menu.  (And amazingly, we happen have lots of foods I like for dinner.)  If I’m in the mood to try a new recipe..woohoo! The family gets to come to the table in fear and trepidation.  Sometimes these meals work out fabulously.  Sometimes…not so much.  But either way, I get to decide what we’re having and when, which is definitely a plus.  However, the biggest downside of being top chef is I am in charge of the menu.  I get the privilege of coming up with meals my crew A.) enjoys B.) doesn’t get sick of and C.) are at least somewhat healthy.  I get to do this day after day after day after day after live long day.  Some days/weeks I’m great at planning.  Other times it’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon and I think “I probably should figure out a plan for dinner soon.”  Today was one of those days.  I have a couple ‘go to’ meals when I don’t have a plan, such as spaghetti, grilled cheese, etc.  And breakfast.  I love breakfast for dinner anytime, and it’s a really great plan for those days when I have no plan, like today. The only trouble with breakfast food is usually requires a ‘short order cook.’  I will never have a successful job being a short order cook.  I’m more of a slow-and-steady-and-eventually-get-the-job-done type of cook.  I’d like to believe if I wasn’t cooking amidst the ranks of three children it would be faster, but I’m sure I still won’t win any records.  


So today I wanted breakfast food with as little short order cooking as possible.  What do I do when I need a recipe?  What I always do…head to the internet!  Some of you had to cook long before the internet…I shudder to think of it.  Spend hours looking through books to find a recipe that hadn’t even been rated!  With no comments on how it tasted or how to tweak it!  Oh the horrors!  How did you ever do it?!  I’m so grateful I don’t have to live in those terrifying times.  The internet is my friend, especially when it comes to the kitchen.


Anyway, back to the story at hand.  Today I was in the mood for pancakes, even though they are heavy on the amount of time needed standing in front of the stove. J was napping, so I thought I’d live crazy and try it.  As I was looking for a pancake recipe online I found a recipe for Finnish pancakes.  I’m not Finnish, I have never been to Finland, and I did not know they had their own pancakes.  I’ve been missing out.  Kropser: baked pancakes.  OH. MY. WORD. Yum. S declared them the best pancakes he’d ever had.  Dad and K loved them.  I found them easy, tasty, and requiring no ‘short order cooking.’  SCORE!!! 


In case your wondering, I’ve included the link for the recipe.  I’ll let you read the reviews and decide what you think.  I would describe the Kropser as a cross between french toast and pancakes.  Did I mention the yummm part?
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Finnish-Kropser-Baked-Pancakes/Detail.aspx

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