Monday, June 27, 2016

Persian Chickpea Lentil Soup with Dill

The summer is in full swing, with hot days, so hot that women bump into each other at the crowded bikini section at Target to finally get this new bikini for the season. Over the next days, it will cool down and some necessary showers are coming. In Maine, the farmers often don’t have irrigation systems, they will be more than grateful for the rain. A long weekend is also on the horizon, and by then, hopefully everyone is closer to their summer vacation.

I had this wonderful soup a few weeks ago at Chase’s in Belfast’';  it was a daily special,  a “Persian chickpea soup with spiced and dill.” So delectable! The dill made all the difference in the soup, plenty of fresh dill. Just for this dish (and cucumber salad) I bought a few dill plants for the garden.  This recreation comes close, but the original is still hard to beat.

persian_chickpea_soup
Persian Chickpea Soup with Dill
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped 
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans), sorted and rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 1/3 cup green lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam massala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • dash of honey or agave
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
1. Heat the oil in a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, or until it is soft. Add the garlic and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, for 1 minute. 
2. Add the chickpeas, the broth and 2 cups water to the saucepan. Stir well to blend in the onion mixture and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for 1½ hours.
3. Add the lentils, spices, salt, pepper and 2 cups water. Return to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the chickpeas and lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, mix the dill, and cilantro.
5. Add the dill and cilantro to the soup. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, for 2-5 minutes.
6. Ladle the soup into a bowls and garnish each serving with a fresh dill. Serve hot.




Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Summer Salads 2016

I love my salads, and a salad is basically any kind of vegetable with some nuts, maybe fruits and a tasty dressing. The combinations are limitless and often depend on what’s in the fridge. Nevertheless, some salad have character and so they have names. Waldorf salad, Salad Nicoise, Massaged Kale salad. Ah, kale salads. When I browse instagram, kale salads seem to have taken over  restaurant salads these days. In the last 2 years, I was no longer into kale, I felt if I’d eat anymore, it would surely grow out of my ears. But this year, I planted some kale in my garden yet again, and looking forward to all the tasty combinations.


Watermelon Kale Feta salad

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Avocado Massaged Kale Salad

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Greek Potato Salad

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Lunch on the go Salad

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Rarrrr Salad (Massaged kale with pickled jalapenos!)

rarrrr-Salad_thumb

Hopscotch

The summer is back, after a phase of unseasonably cold weather, and today is the second day of summer.  Summer brings back childhood memories, of going swimming all day, picking berries, playing all day long with friends and racing home for dinner with the town’s church bell rang 6pm. Summer days seemed endless.

I am not sure what brought it to my mind but I’ve been thinking about the endless rounds of hopscotch I played as a child. Is this something people still do today? It is just  low-tech game but so much fun.

hopscotch_1

Just a paved driveway, sidewalk or residential street, some colorful chalk and a few stones, and you are ready to go.

hopscotch_chalk

The version that I played included throwing a small pebble stone into the first number, the jumping over this block with one leg to the ground and the other leg angled up, hopping through the numbered blocks, turning around, hopping back, picking up the stone, jumping over the block, and being done with the first round. The lines could not be touched, not with the stone or hopping through them. Then, the next number. If you make a mistake, it is the other person’s turn.  The person who is finished first, wins the game.

-hopscotch_trad

We played endless afternoons, again and again and again, as only children can repeat things, and get into a state of flow, talking, telling stories. It requires quite some skill and stamina that gets really better over the course of a summer, and next year it would start from the beginning.

Memories…

At least parents have legit reasons to get in on the action…

hopscotch_2

although, it seems popular and fun at any age….

kids-stuff-old-hopscotch

Monday, June 13, 2016

Summer Quinoa Salad

Summer is doing a disappearing act at the moment. It’s been cold, gray and rainy for days, oh well. By the second half of the week, the temperatures should be back to normal.

Summer is a great time to make a large salad to keep in the fridge and use for lunches, light dinners or picnics. Quinoa has such a nice, nutty flavor so that it is one of my favorite grains. Cooked with a bit of white wine and onion and garlic and broth, it has even more flavor.  Adding some fresh vegetables like radishes, apples or cucumber for color and crunch, and some nuts for more sustenance.

quinoa_salad

Quinoa Summer Salad

Cooking Quinoa

  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 1/2 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 TB olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, minced
  • 1/2 cup of crisp white wine like pinot grigio
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth or chicken broth

In a heavy bottom pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 min (don’t burn it). Add the quinoa and stir around dry in the onion and garlic for a bit to toast it and give it an even more nutty flavor. 

Now, add the white wine and stir well, scrap off the brown parts from the bottom and less the wine mostly cook off. Then, add the broth, stir, and turn down the heat to medium-low. Cover with a lid, and cook for about 20 min, until the quinoa is fluffy. 

Take off stove and cool.

Salad

  • cooled quinoa
  • 3-4 radishes, sliced
  • 1/3 of an English cucumber, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 apple, diced
  • optional: pomegranate seeds, celery
  • chopped mint, dill and cilantro
  • some sliced almonds or toasted walnuts

Mix all the salad ingredients and serve.

Monday, June 6, 2016

10 ways of treating yourself without eating or buying anything

Work, chores, just day to day life can get out of hand sometimes, and we need a treat. This can be an ice cream cone with sprinkles or some shoes online. Nothing wrong with it, but here are a some ways to treat ourselves that do not involve food or money.

siesta

1. Take a nap in the afternoon
Put on comfy clothes, lots of pillows, a blanket sprayed with a few spritz of perfume, the blinds drawn, and linger.

2. Start the day with a hot bath
Instead of an in-and-out shower, take time to run a steamy hot bath, with essential oils,  your favorite bubble bath, and flower petals. Light a few candles, and soak. Yes, in the morning. Nothing will reset the day more than time for a hot bath in the morning.  The daily plans take on a relaxed mode, too, starting to feel like vacation.

bath

3. Take a day off chores for no reason at all
Use your day off to do wonderful unproductive things: sleep in, write a journal, read an old journal, draw, cook jam, Skype with a friend in different time zone, write a letter to a friend you have not been in contact with for years. Nap. Go and smell the lilacs in the garden.

4. Re-watch your favorite movie
Movies put a watcher in a mood, and some are like a wonderful bubble bath. In the summer, I love to watch “The Talented Mr Ripley” . Who can resist Jude Law on a sailboat in 50s Italy summer, and I always want to be right there, in Montebello.

talented_mr_ripley

5. Give yourself a mani or pedi
Add a few drops of essential oil and body wash to a pretty bowl of warm water and soak your extremities while you sit back and relax. Put on a fresh coat of fast drying nail polish in a fresh color.

6. Have a friend read a section of your favorite book to you aloud
It will bring back memories from childhood, when someone took time to be close to you and read for you. If your your lover reads it, it will certainly spark intimacy.

7. Borrow a dog and go for a walk
Your friendly neighbors or friend might have a dog who would love to double the walking time. Don’t forget to tell the dog about your day either and he’ll give you all the attention and empathy.

8. Learn something new you always wanted to learn and never had time to
Learning French? Italian? Arabic? Learning how to knit? crochet? Program computers? Cooking a complicated dish? Write a short story? Compose a poem? Paint a picture without ‘coloring for adults’? Today, it is easy to learn about anything with free resources on the internet.

reading aloud

9. Go for a walk around the neighborhood
Just to stroll, to relax. Take in the familiar sights. This is your extended home. Feel at home.

10. House-sit for a friend with house in the country and a dog and cat for the weekend
Wanting to get away? A friend of mine augments her income with house and pet sitting, but it looks like a great getaway, living in a nice place with pets.

11. Listen to Samba music and start dancing
Mas ne qada, by Sergio Mendes and Bossa Nova is a good start to get in the mood for summer and the Olympics this year.