Wednesday, March 07, 2018

A Happy Day in the Kitchen

Not my best picture, but me in all my cooking glory
Onion glasses and my magic chopping blade
This is turning into a food blog instead of a writing blog but let me say in my defense that I did my daily word count this morning, and I am solidly into what will be the last chapter of the novel. Still no title, which bothers me.

But today was mostly a kitchen day, and my major accomplishment was to make a pot of red lentil soup for a guest tomorrow night. She gets soup and salad, and that’s it. Maybe a baguette slice or two. I don’t recall ever making lentil soup before, but I had an open package of lentils in my so-called pantry drawer, so I guess I did. I followed the directions on this one religiously. The biggest chore, to me, was to dice a large onion, but I have a great, curved chopping blade a friend gave me that makes the job easier, and I wear some pink onion glasses to keep from crying. They look like something from outer space—I really should take a picture sometime.

Anyway, I got the onion chopped and turned to the garlic that was to be minced. I deviated here and used the garlic press. I’ve read that it makes a huge difference in flavor if you press or mince, but I’m hard put to believe that. I don’t like biting into pieces of garlic in dishes, and mincing is almost as hard as dicing carrots—which I gave up on. Once the onions and garlic were translucent and a bit golden, I mixed in spices—salt, pepper, a pinch of chili powder, a bit of cumin, and a Tbsp. of tomato paste—praise be for the refrigerated tube, so I don’t have to open a small can just to get a Tbsp. Stirred all that around and sautéed until fragrant and then dumped in chicken broth, water, sliced carrot, and lentils. It did not cook as fast as the recipe said—maybe the low medium setting on my hot plate is too low. Anyway, it cooked almost all day.

The recipe suggests putting half the soup in a processor. I can do that tomorrow, in batches. because all I have is a small countertop processor. And then you add lemon juice and cilantro. I have a bit of hesitation about the lemon—the soup has such good flavor now. But I’ll probably try it.

That done, I made chicken salad for lunch. I prefer finely cut chicken rather than chunks, so I put it in the processor on the chop setting. And I’m on a blue cheese kick, so once it was made, I added blue cheese on top. That and cottage cheese made a terrific lunch, and I have enough left for tomorrow. Neat way to use up those two extra chicken tenders left from I know not what.

Tonight, I fixed a really simple dish I used to make for my kids. Cut plain old beef cutlets into strips; salt and pepper generously, and shake in a bag with flour until coated. Shake off the excess flour and sauté—I used vegetable oil. Less splatter, and I think I got a better crust. That brown crust is essential. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve. Really good.

A new Southern Living arrived today—my evening entertainment. Well, I could go back and write some more, but I’m better in the morning when my brain is fresh.

Hope all you Texans are enjoying this sunny weather. Finally.

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