Posts Tagged ‘Recipes’

Jacob’s bowl of lentils

In my experience, there are two kinds of people in this world; those who would practically kill for a steaming bowl of lentil soup and those who turn up their noses and head to McDonalds.  Essau sold his birthright for a bowl of lentils. What does that tell you?

I was a wannabe hippie, just starting college back in 1972 when  I made my first pot of lentil soup. It seemed like a good hippie kind of thing to do. I followed a recipe in those days, but now that I'm an old hippie, I never make it the same way twice. Here is the basic starting point if you're just beginning to cook, or thinking of becoming a hippie. Ideas for making it your own are at the bottom of the post.

                                     Jacob's bowl of lentils

1 pound lentils, washed

10 cups water

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 large potato, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, or to taste

1 package (10 ounces) fresh spinach, stems discarded and leaves chopped, or 1 package (10 ounces) chopped, frozen spinach, thawed

Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)

Grated Parmesan cheese, minced celery tops (optional)

In large kettle, bring to boil lentils, water, oil, onions, carrots, celery, potato, garlic, and pepper. Simmer 40 minutes, or until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. Add spinach and salt to taste. Cover and simmer for thirty more minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in lemon juice. (If soup becomes too think, add a little boiling water.) Serve in warm soup bowls. Sprinkle with cheese and celery tops, if desired. Makes 10 cups, or about 8 servings.


Change it up with these suggestions, or come up with your own

  •             1/2 to 1 cup chopped, canned Italian tomatoes
  •             1 cup cooked small pasta, such as ditalini
  •             1 cup chopped fennel
  •             Sliced smoked turkey sausage
  •             Tiny meatballs (ground lamb – yum)
  •             Cook soup in ham broth
  •             Try bay leaves, or oregano, chopped fresh mint, curry powder

* Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate the meal, then got up and left. He showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn.     Genesis 25:34     


But What About the Recipes?

Once upon a time my identity revolved around my kitchen expertise. If a friend had a cooking question, they didn’t look it up; they called me. I would sigh and say, “Do you read your cookbooks? Ok, here’s what you do.” Then I’d hang up, puffed up bigger than the lemon soufflé rising in the oven. The feedback was addictive: I make it, they eat it, they love it, they love me – instant gratification.

Well, not always instant – the twelve-layer Dobosh torte was pretty time-consuming, given that the top layer was cut into wedges, caramelized and then leaned against chocolate buttercream rosettes. My specialty was pretentious, “I’ve been in the kitchen all day you better appreciate it/me” cooking. And I had a thing for layers, 12-layer tortes, layered gourmandise de legumes, (the term ‘food snob’ comes to mind) layered salads, trifles, “oh, look at all the pretty colors” parfaits, all of which led eventually to some other layers that I won’t elaborate on except to say that they make it difficult to fit into my skinny jeans.

Repeat recipes? Forget it; somebody might remember, (as if that would be a bad thing). If a recipe was less than three pages long, I turned up my nose. Not that I couldn’t wing it in the kitchen, I loved to improvise, but I had (and have) a healthy respect for solid, based-on-sound-technique recipes. Of course they were long, difficult and time-consuming; they were French!

Here’s the dictionary definition of recipe: Rec-i-pe /resipee/n. 1. A statement of the ingredients and procedure required for preparing cooked food. Synonyms: prescription, formula, method, technique, system, way, means, procedure.

I guess I'm a lot looser about everything these days because that, my friends, does not beckon me to the kitchen, at least, not anymore.

Here’s the definition I prefer: an expedient; a device for achieving something.

My translation of that is, “Make it easy, ‘cause I’d really like to enjoy my friends.” So, yes, friends, The Shared Table will include “expedients” from time to time, but there won’t be a ton of ingredients, measurements or instructions. Simpler is, well…simpler. And better, in my book. Stay tuned.