Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Art of Sharing

Sharing is a problem for me. You would think I could handle this societal practice being the eldest of 3. Oh no. Interestingly enough, I'm actually good with sharing certain things. Need to borrow my car? Go ahead! Want to stay over? No problem. Interested in having a bite of my dinner? No way in hell! I've come the realize I can share any of my material possessions however when it comes to my food, don't even ask.

I know, this is a major problem and definitely not in line with my health counselor persona. Being ashamed of this deep character flaw, I've done a lot of pondering and soul searching around this point. Thinking back I've traced it to my Dad. It always goes back to childhood, right?

My Dad is not a big sharer. Wait, let me rephrase. My Dad is not a big sharer with his own food. When asked, "Can I have a bite of that?" The usual response begins with an eye roll and proceeds, "Don't you have your own?" However, my father LOVES to share other peoples food. He has no problem asking for a bite of this or that. You get the feeling he perceives all food as his own and is just letting you borrow it for the time being.

In addressing my sharing defaults, there is one memory emblazoned upon my brain. I was about 6 years old and my Dad asked if he could taste my ice cream. I was not yet jaded to the pitfalls of sharing so I innocently responded, "Sure, Daddy." Upon my retort, his giant mouth appeared from the distance above and began to suck up my little ice cream cone. Remember when Spaceball One turned into Mega Maid and sucked all the air out of Planet Druidia? It was like that. My Dad, with his giant hoover like mouth, sucked down almost all of my child-sized cone in one single swipe!

I was mortified! What was he thinking? My perfect mint chip cone was left looking like a tornado hit it, mishapen and cock-eyed with stranded chocolate chips looking for mint shelter. I screamed, I cried, I yelled at my Dad. He looked a me with a little smirk and said, "What???"

With that I vowed never to share anything again. Especially not ice cream! As years went by I owned by non-sharingness. When friends asked if I wanted to share something the response was always, "You know, sharing is just not my thing." My friends became so well trained that in mixed company they answered for me, "Oh no, Jamie doesn't share". On dates I just laid it on the line. "Just so you know, I'm not a food sharing kind of girl". Non-sharing became part of my persona; a hard exterior that protected me from feeling vulnerable and left without.

I will say I have gotten better over the years and love making and sharing food with family and friends. Yet sometimes I still hear a voice from my 6 year old self saying, "Will there be enough for me? Will someone finish off the last bite before I get to it?" When that voice comes up I try to remind her that there is always enough and if she wants more she can have it. It sounds kookie but the conversation helps. Maybe with enough conversations I will be able to share a bite of something with my Dad. Though I doubt it will ever be ice cream.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lovely Lentils

We have put our house on the market.  Yes, I know it is not a good time to sell, but my husband thinks it's a great time to buy.  I don't know.  My skills lie elsewhere.   ANYWAY, because we have the house staged, nothing can be messed up or look "used".  When the realtor mentioned that little point my immediate thought was, "What about my kitchen?"  

You will all be happy to know that I have still have use of it, however my cooking has become quite simple and tidy.  Very simple.  Luckily I know just the go-to food for a simple and satisfying meal: lentils. 

I just love lentils.  All types too.  Red, French Green, Brown, Yellow.   I adore their creamy texture and easy with which they incorporate into other dishes.  When it comes to quick cooking, red lentils are the way to go.  This soup comes together in about 25 minutes.  No joke!  Serve it with a green salad or over your favorite grain (I prefer basmati brown rice) or BOTH.  Be sure to add the squeeze of lemon at the end.  It provides the perfect zing to balance out the other spices.

Lentil and Swiss Chard Soup 
Serves 4-5

This is a delicious soup that comes together in no time!  Serve over brown rice with a big green salad and you are ready to go.

2 cups red lentils
7-8 cups water, depending on how thick you like your soup
2 medium red onions, chopped
2 cups Swiss chard, chopped (you can use green, red or rainbow chard)
Generous handful of chopped fresh cilantro + extra for garnish
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp coriander seeds
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Grated zest of half a lemon

Wash the lentils in cold water until the water is no longer cloudy. Place in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer until the lentils are soft (about 30 minutes), skimming off any scum on the surface.

While the lentils are cooking, sauté the onions in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add the Swiss chard, stirring once or twice until the leaves begin to wilt.  Add the cooked onions, chard and fresh coriander to the lentils.  Then add the cumin and cinnamon with a little salt.  Mix well.

Simmer the soup for another five minutes. While the soup is simmering, crush the coriander seeds and garlic together in a mortar and pestle. (You can use a coffee grinder for coriander seeds and a garlic press for the garlic and then mix them together).  Stir into the lentil soup and let it stand, covered, for five minutes.

Stir in fresh cilantro and the lemon zest just before serving.  Enjoy!