Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Simple Red Lentil Soup with Kale

The wind was howling around the house. The snow was racing sideways in front of my window. First in one direction, and then, almost immediately, back in the other. A late season hurricane that affected much of the East coast the past days, made me take refuge at home. "Late season" because at this point I am ready for spring and not for more snow, but this preference is purely personal.

So, it was time for a warm, smooth, spicy and filling soup. I whipped up another batch of this red lentil soup that needs little preparation and cooks fast. A few Indian spices add a unique character, and the late-stage added kale rounds it out.

I had to search for my notes again for this soup recipe so I am putting it in the place where I most likely find it again, my own blog. Note, that I write this down with as much detail as I can for myself; feel free to use other ingredients (e.g. regular olive oil or grapeseed oil, etc.)


Red Lentil Soup with Kale

(makes 3 larger servings)
  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 4-5 cups of water (or broth)
  • 1 teaspoon blood orange olive oil (or plain olive oil, or grapeseed oil)
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 inch-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into tiny dices
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 0.5 teaspoon turmeric
  • 0.5 teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1-2 tiny hot dry (pequin) chilies (depending on taste) (or tiny bit of cayenne)
  • 1-2 teaspoon vegetable bouillon powder (if using water)
  • 2 handfuls of kale, torn up
Preparation:
  1. In a non-stick pot,  heat the olive oil, add the onion and raw ginger. Once the onion is sauteed and see-through, add the garlic and saute the mix for another minute.
  2. Add the lentils, water, and the spices. Close the lid, bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer with closed lid for 30min.
  3. Use an immersion blender, and puree the hot soup (or let cool down, and use a blender, but no hot soup in the blender)
  4. Put the soup back on the stove, add the bouillon and the kale.
  5. Heat soup again, and let the kale wilt down to preferred consistency (still crunchy or buttery soft).
  6. Serve.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

When Maine started looking like Bavaria

 Over the recent years, Maine has developed a buzzing micro beer industry. It all came to my attention with the Allagash brewing company, which is large compared to many of the others. There was always the Bear Brew Pub, and then came Orono Brewing Company, which really got my attention. Now, we are a tiny town of 1200 (that is, during the down time and minus the 11,000 students), and have 5 microbreweries.

I've seen hops growing up 3 story buildings in the middle of Bangor, and now it seems the Maine landscape starts more like the landscape you drive by in Bavaria on the autobahn towards Munich: wide fields of hops in their characteristic harvesting arrangement: growing up, what seems to be, large clothes lines.

Great article in The Maine Magazine


Stumbling to Spring

We are slowly inching towards spring. The big snow from the one historic blizzard that made up for all the snow that had not fallen this winter before slowly disappears under the spring rain. The arctic winds still occasionally hold a grip on the landscape and us, but the stores are in full-fledged summer mode: patio furniture, bikinis and flower pots for sale. The spring is dragged out here in Maine, with warm temperatures, the first tulips, and some green in the trees not before May. Until then I am jealous of everyone living South posting pictures from runs in the sunshine, or wearing regular shoes.

The other day I made a Dark Rye bread mix from King Arthur Flour. I poured the mix into the bowl of a stand mixer with the kneading hook attached, mixed the dry ingredients with the yeast, and added the water and a dash of olive oil, and let the machine do the work. It came together in no time, and I padded down the loaf in a little bread basket to rise. It would only rise when I placed it next to the woodstove oven, where it was cozy warm, not Maine winter kitchen cold. I flipped it on a sheet, and baked for 45min. Rye bread perfection. (The mixes are not expensive and 20% off this week. That made $3.96 for a loaf of rye bread).