Food

Easy Weeknight Lentil Stew.

March 4, 2017

 Easy Weeknight Lentil stew

Soup and weeknight cooking are two things that get an unfair rap. This is entirely unnecessary when something as wonderful as The Kinfolk Table’s Four Corners Lentil Stew exists. This is a recipe that boasts three particularly positive qualities:

  • 12 minutes of hands-on time.
  • 40 minutes from cupboard to dish. 
  • Scrumptious.
  • Healthy.
  • Did I mention that it takes 40 minutes?

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 1 onion
  • 3 tbls. olive oil
  • 3-4 cups of water
  • A few cubes of chicken bouillion or chicken broth
  • About 1/2 a cup, or a splash, of whatever white wine is open
  • A lemon
  • 15 oz of crushed tomatoes (or, in my case this week, some whole tomatoes that need to be used up and a little bit of paste)
  • 1 tbl. cumin
  • 1 tbl. garlic
  • 1 tbl. ginger
  • Cilantro (or not, again, as in my case this week*)
  • Flatbread

Mince the onion. Toss it into a pot with the olive oil on medium heat and allow the onions to cook until transparent. Slice the lemon into medium-thin disks. At this point, if you’re using these cubes, unwrap four and heat in two cups of water (about 3 minutes in the microwave) until the cubes are mostly dissolved. If you’re using chicken broth, skip this step and drink some wine while you wait for the onions to cook.

After the onions have cooked for a few minutes and are transparent, toss in the cumin, garlic, and ginger. Wait about 3 minutes or until the spices start to become really fragrant. Then add the crushed tomatoes (or about two cups worthof whatever tomatoes you have lying around.) If you use whole tomatoes instead of canned, be sure and add a few tablespoons of tomato paste or sauce as well. Add the broth, about 1/2 cup of wine, and additional water, totaling 4 cups of liquid. The ratio of broth-wine-water does not need to be exact. Toss in about 4 of the lemon disks.

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Cover the pot. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a medium simmer. Chop about 1/2 cup of cilantro. After about 30 minutes, or once the liquid is mostly absorbed, turn off the heat. It can sit for about 45 minutes before being served or you can serve it immediately. Serve with a generous toppig of cilantro and some warm flatbread.

This soup freezes well, can be doubled easily, and makes a great lunch the next day. The portions above make about 3 generous meal-size servings and could probably serve 5 adults if not served as the main course.

*In these photos, there’s a dollop of pesto on the soup rather than cilantro because it was all I had on hand. It was fine, but cilantro would have been better. 

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Food

Grain Bowl: The Summer Grilling Version.

June 29, 2015

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One of my favorite rituals, and one that I want to make sure I teach Miles to treasure, is that of eating together.

What better way to spend time with your toddler or small child, to instill healthy habits, and to introduce them to new delicious “real” food than to eat alongside them?

Now that we are starting to introduce Miles to more adult food, one of my favorite things to do with him during the day is to make something that we both like, sit down on the floor with him, and share.

Miles is a little obsessed with avocados and with pesto, so this is a pretty easy game to play. I make toast with avocado, sea salt, and lime juice or slice up some bread to dip in pesto and voila! Miles gets to experience new foods that he loves, I get to eat, and we spend quality time together.

This alternative to me frantically trying to find something to eat while he’s entertaining himself for 30 seconds has made our late mornings/early afternoon routines much richer and far less frantic and it gives me an excuse to introduce Miles to foods that I otherwise forget about.

A few mornings ago, I pulled out the leftovers from our grain bowl/grilled vegetable dinner the night before. (I’m a little obsessed with the grain bowl concept featured several times in my favorite magazine, Bon Appetit. If the idea of cooking bores you, try a subscription. I promise you won’t be disappointed and your life will change forever. Or something.)

I sat down by Miles and started to eat lunch with him while we played. He was SO excited to taste the savory quinoa and grilled butternut squash and I was thrilled to find yet another delicious nutritious adult dish that he would eat.

Whether you’re looking for a healthful summer dish for yourself or trying to find creative ways to introduce your baby to new, wonderful foods, this twist on the grain bowl will definitely be a summer favorite!

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Ingredients: 

1 cup quinoa

1 butternut squash

1 yellow squash

1 onion

A generous assortment of other fresh vegetables. We used 1/2 purple cabbage, a couple of bell peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower.

1/4 cup butter

2 garlic cloves

2 bouillon cubes

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup white wine

1 tsp. lemon juice

Pepper

Olive oil

Chop the vegetables into large pieces, at least 1 x 2 inches. Toss everything in a few tablespoons of olive oil and a few dashes of pepper. Place in a foil baking pan and set aside.

Summer Grain Bowl | The Orange Slate

Prepare the quinoa as follows:

Saute the quinoa in 1/2 a cube of butter and 2 garlic cloves. Dissolve two bouillon cubes in 1 1/2 cups of water and add. Add 1/2 cup of wine. Add fresh herbs, 1 tsp. of pepper, and 1 tsp. lemon juice. Cover and cook on medium heat until the liquid is dissolved.

Grill the vegetables in the foil pan until the squash is soft and the vegetables are well-seared. Combine with the quinoa on a plate. I like to drizzle some creamy balsamic dressing over the whole dish.

*This post contains some affiliate links. Thanks for supporting The Orange Slate!

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Food

DIY Baby Food – Butternut Squash

March 25, 2015

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Food is a serious pursuit in this house. I do most of the cooking right now, but Mark can hold his own over the stove. Much of our dating happened in the kitchen. We approach food from different perspectives. I’m sort of an ALL THE CARBS ALL THE TIME girl. When I first met Mark, he was a recovering vegan and subsisted on (what seemed to me like) a diet of salmon, kale, beans, and sweet potatoes.

This was completely baffling to me, especially because I didn’t even really know that kale was an actual option for humans to eat, except that one of my roommates at the time also lived on (what seemed like) only kale and sweet potatoes with some olive oil (budget-friendly, but still baffling to me).

So, surrounded, I began to be a little more daring and started to try foods like kale, sweet potatoes, and quinoa while, subjected to one too many lectures about how fat is good for brain cells, Mark agreed to expand his diet to include things like cinnamon rolls and all of the cheese.

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This is not a post about how Whole30 changed our life (it didn’t because we haven’t tried it) or how we don’t eat bread and pasta (we eat lots) or how I can make a wedding cake, frosting and all, without using gluten (I can’t and I wouldn’t want to anyway). We take our milk and our Greek yogurt with all of the fat and our grains with all of the butter.

This IS a post about eating intentionally and passing that on to little ones. We don’t eat legalistically, but we do try to eat mindfully. We don’t make rules about what not to eat, but we have some guidelines about where to start eating. We don’t label foods as “bad,” or “poison,” or guilt-trip ourselves, but we do try to focus the majority of our appetites and efforts on food that nourishes us most efficiently.

And so we try use lots of vegetables and fruits in our meals, lots of fresh foods, very little that is pre-packaged or prepared before it gets to our house.

This grand theory of eating doesn’t always work. I basically quit cooking altogether for three months after Miles was born and we ate tacos every other day, trying out every single taco chain in College Station (there are quite a few). But now that we are back into a normal rhythm, I am cooking a lot more and really savoring my time in the kitchen again.

Next to holding Miles for the first time, one of the most exciting things as a mother has been introducing Miles to food. Introducing Miles to those cute tiny containers of baby food was like Christmas. Applesauce! Sweet potatoes! Blueberries! It didn’t take long for me to get a little bored of the containers though and try to branch out into actual vegetables.

I want Miles to love not only good food, but the process of good food too. The labor of planting and growing and harvesting and making and serving is something that should be savored and appreciated, even if we aren’t always the ones doing the planting and growing and harvesting.

And so last weekend, as an early step to help Miles eat well and intentionally, I made my first batch of baby food from fresh vegetables.

It was weirdly thrilling. And weirdly easy. And when Miles downed a bowl of the food that I had made with my own hands with no packaging, my heart hit the ceiling.

Ok. So. This is silly easy and you don’t need directions. But in case you want a little guidance, here are the steps I used to make this first batch of butternut squash:

Purchase a medium-size butternut squash. Wash well. Slice down the middle lengthwise (top to bottom).

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Roast the squash face down for about 50 minutes or until a knife slides in and out easily and the inside is soft.

Scoop into the food processor in tablespoon-size chunks. (Avoid including any of the skin.) Puree until very smooth.

Drop spoonfuls of pureed mixture into muffin tins and freeze immediately.

To store, once the squash puree has frozen, remove the squash from the tins by running hot water over the back of the pan. Store the squash “cups” in Pyrex containers. Defrost individuals “cups” as needed.

What baby food have you made from scratch? Did you enjoy it? Was it a pain? Share with me!

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Food

My Grandfather’s Pinto Beans

September 9, 2013

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My grandfather was a man who believed in food. A product of the Great Depression, he firmly believed in living simply, in saving things, in reusing. But he never scrimped on food.

My grandparents’ family home was just a short drive or a long walk away from the local market and I remember my grandfather going to the grocery store every day, just for fun, just to see if there was something new that day. He was man who didn’t believe in food budgets or calorie counting. He thought there should be good food, always, and lots of it.

A native of Texas transplanted to California early in his law career, he brought the tastes of Texas to the beach with him. There are a few foods firmly associated in my senses with my memories of Grandpa –  among them, silver-dollar potatoes, bacon and pinto beans.

 

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I remember waking up in the morning to the smell of the salty San Diego air, the shrieks of siblings and cousins and the smell of bacon, fried in a cast-iron pan long before hipsters thought cast-iron was cool.

On sunny California afternoons, Grandpa would deep-fry his dollar-potatoes. He would slice them thinly so they fried to a crunchy perfection and then salt them generously. My siblings, cousins, and I would demolish them as we sat outside on the concrete covered in chalk and bikes.

 

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To this day, I can’t pick up a pack of pinto beans without thinking of my grandfather, his kindness, his generous spirit, and his warm kitchen. For years, I thought pinto beans involved some kind of complicated culinary magic that I might someday be fortunate enough to graduate to.

Apparently my grandfather knew another lesson that I would later learn – cooking doesn’t need to be complicated to be wonderful. His savory, wonderful beans that I have so much reverence for were perhaps the simplest recipe around – one of the original just-add-water recipes.

Beans are so easy, so straightforward, so hard to mess up. You can make them sweet or spicy; you can add vegetables and meat; you can just make a very simple pot with some pepper and salt. Leave them alone on the stove for a few hours and a delightful meal awaits you.

Fall is in the air and the heat in D.C. is (finally) beginning to relent, so try a pot of these this weekend.

 

 Grandfather's Pinto Beans 4

Pinto Beans

1 lb. pinto beans

8 cups water (Beans should be thoroughly covered by an inch or two of water.

2 cups chopped ham

1 bell pepper

1 onion

2 tbl. garlic

2 tbl pepper

1 tbl chili powder

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/2 white wine

Fresh basil leaves

Fresh cilantro

Wash the beans thoroughly. Cover them with water. Add the ham pieces. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower heat and allow the beans to simmer for an hour and a half or two hours. Chop the bell pepper and onion into quarter-size pieces. Add the bell pepper, onion, garlic, pepper, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, wine, basil, and cilantro. Allow the beans to simmer gently for another two to three hours. Add water if beans become too thick or begin to stick to the pan. Serve with a sprig of cilantro. 

Serve the beans straight from a pot like this one and save on the fussy dishes- this recipe is perfect for camping, outdoor family-style meals, or cozy chilly fall evenings.

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Food

A Weekend on the Chesapeake (And a Magical Coffee-Cinnamon Frosting Recipe)

September 6, 2013

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Way back in June, our dear friend Brooke urged a group of friends to block out a certain early August weekend, protect it from  the mad summer rush and spend it at a storybook cottage tucked away in a quiet little inlet on the Chesapeake Bay to celebrate another year of her life.

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The weekend was magical. Brooke, who is my almost birthday twin, is basically a super-woman. She’s classy, hilarious, bubbly, and from Texas (Mark would here interject that that fact alone is enough evidence of certain greatness).

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The foosball and air-hockey tables discovered at the house provided us with hours of entertainment. We dragged the foosball table out onto an upstairs deck and had an outdoor tournament that will live into history.

 

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We walked and talked and read on the sand. Brooke even somehow managed to convince Mark, for the first time in his life, to read a magazine on the beach. Although our plans for swimming were halted by the abundance of jellyfish, the hike along the driftwood-and-dead-jellyfish-laden beach was lovely and provided lots of material for vacay photo-shoots.

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Brooke also knows the importance of delicious food on a weekend retreat. Brooke showed up on Friday afternoon with enough groceries to feed an entire Texas brigade. She brought tea cookies (made from a secret family recipe) that were the color of the ocean on a bright summer day (I think I ate 50).

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She made a sweet tea/lemonade mixture that tasted like Southern sunshine.

 

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She taught me how to perfect an omelet by putting it under the broiler for 30 seconds. The sangria was worthy of its own blog post. The crab dip was out of this world.

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And then there was the shrimp boil. The whole nine yards. Snowy white potatoes and crunchy corn on the cob and spicy sausage and bright shrimp all covered the table that had been carefully covered in newspaper by the cooperative guys in our group. We ate and laughed for hours as the sun set over the bay.

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Of course, no birthday weekend is complete without a birthday cake.Although the actual cake recipe is a family favorite, the frosting was my own. It was a mad success. The coffee added just the right touch of bittersweet to a decadent buttery frosting.

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The weekend was one of those memorable treasures that you savor as the summer light begins to fade into fall. We won’t be able to re-live the weekend (at least not outside of pictures), but you can definitely enjoy this coffee-cinnamon frosting while I go try to pry Brooke’s secret family tea cookie recipe out of her (and maybe even the recipe for the sangria). Stay tuned.

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Coffee Cinnamon Frosting

1 cup softened salted butter (2 cubes)

4 cups powdered sugar

1 tbl. Crisco

8 tbl. milk

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp fresh coffee grounds

1 tsp almond flavoring

1 tsp vanilla flavoring

Gently whip softened butter and powdered sugar together until smooth. Slowly add milk and additional powdered sugar until desirable consistency is reached. (Remember that the frosting will soften a bit as the butter warms, so stop adding liquid before it is quite soft enough). Add cinnamon, coffee grounds, and flavoring, whipping occasionally. Add more milk or powdered sugar if necessary.

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Food

Amazing Peanut Butter Cookies

July 29, 2013

Amazing peanut Butter Cookies Title

Amazing Peanut Butter Cookies 2

I think it’s safe to say that peanut butter cookies are my favorite cookies. I love that they are not too sweet, a little bitter even. The neat-freak part of me also loves that they are such neat, simple cookies.

When I was little, my mom would make criss-cross marks on hers with a fork. One day though, I forgot to press a fork into some of my cookies and they came out much fluffier. I’m not one to argue with accidental success and so now I never make criss-cross marks in mine.

This recipe balances the salt, baking soda, and baking powder perfectly, as I use the proportions suggested and the cookies invariably come out fluffy and hold their shape without sliding into that sad flatland that cooling cookies so often enter.

I ran out of white flour one day and used wheat instead. The wheat flour added a wonderful, grainy, rugged texture to the cookies. Few peanut-butter cookie recipes that I could find included flavoring but mine include a touch of vanilla and I’m convinced that it’s the difference between decent cookies and great cookies.

Mark also convinced me to add chocolate chips to a batch and the chocolate added a gooey richness. Next time, I am going to try making them with chunky peanut butter.

Need some more cookie inspiration? Bon Appetit’s dessert recipes never fail to tempt me into the kitchen.

Amazing Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup salted butter (softened)

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup peanut butter

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups wheat flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 365 degrees. Mix the sugar, butter, and peanut butter. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly. Blend the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the batter slowly, mixing well. Add the vanilla and mix lightly. Add the chocolate chips and mix gently. Rolls the dough by hand into 1″ droplets. Bake for 7 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for 1 minute and then move the cookies to the cooling rack. Allow the cookies to cool completely before storing.

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