High Nutrition/Low Bullshit: Company’s Coming
You get a call on Thursday night – friends are contemplating coming through town for an overnight stop en route to a wedding, could they stay over Friday? Of course. They’re not sure, so they’ll let you know mid-day Friday, if that’s okay? Sure, sure. You return to the business of helping your guy pack for his weekend trip and drinking tea on the couch, not quite noticing the state of the house or cupboards.
Mid-Friday, the plans are confirmed – they’ll arrive at about 7pm. When you get home from work, you see things with the eyes of a host: the house is a mess and the kitchen lacks supplies for dinner. Also, it’s pouring rain outside, your put your guy on a bus that morning, so you’re going this alone – and you have two hours.
Put the dry dishes away, wash the dirty dishes, clean the counters and kitchen floor. Cupboard survey: baking staples, dried beans, rice, a handful of dried cranberries, dark chocolate, green coffee beans. Fridge: veggies, yogurt, three eggs from the neighbors’ chickens, a half-dozen different hot sauces, three kinds of mustard, kimchee, a half-cup of every dish you’ve brought for lunch this week.
Meal plan, check. Go.
Make a batch of your stock never-quite-the-same-but-close-enough muffins (whole grain flour/ cornmeal/ molasses/ nuts/yogurt). While muffins are baking, tornado around the house, sweeping floors and stacking piles of things from coffeetables. Start two cups of brown rice. Start a pan of lentils. Pull down the big cast iron skillet, warm it up and grab all available veggies (beet greens, tomatoes, onion, carrot, sweet pepper).
Hot pan, check. Oil. Onion, chop, add to pan. Carrot, chop, add to pan. Stir, salt grinder, pepper grinder, thyme. Turn down lentils and rice. Pepper, chop, add to pan. Beet greens, separate stems from leaves; chop stems and add to pan, chop leaves and set aside.
Check muffins, done. Pull from oven and place on dining room table to cool. Back to the kitchen. Add the beet greens to skillet, stir. Check lentils, done. Add lentils to skillet, creating a mountain of food threatening to explode from the pan. Stir gingerly. Chop one of the last red tomatoes from the garden and add to pan; cover, turn off heat.
When your guests arrive, tired from a long drive in the pouring rain, they’re greeted by a clean (enough) house and a filling hot dinner. Menu: lentils and veggies over rice, small plates of the bite-here-bite-there leftovers scrounged from the fridge, warm muffins, and chocolate for dessert.
1 c brown lentils, uncooked
2 c brown rice, uncooked
1 medium onion, chopped
2-4 carrots, chopped
wealth of greens (chard, beet greens, etc)
red tomato, chopped
1 t thyme
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
In a small saucepan, boil 2 cups of water. Add lentils, dash of olive oil, dash of salt. Cook gently until water has been absorbed; set aside. In a second small saucepan, bring 4 cups of water and rice to a boil. Cover and simmer until water is absorbed; set aside.
Heat a cast-iron skillet; add 1 T olive oil and, after allowing oil to warm briefly, add onion and carrot and stir occasionally. Meanwhile, separate the stems from your greens. Chop the stems, add to skillet with the thyme and some salt and pepper; stir. Roughly chop greens. Dice a sweet red pepper and add to the skillet when the stems/carrots/onions are almost cooked through. Add greens and stir. When the greens are cooked, add lentils and tomato. Turn off heat, adjust seasonings, and serve over rice.
Somewhere, there are culinary sprites who flit around kitchens and joyously compose dishes dusted with sea salt and topped with shaved fennel. Meanwhile, in actual kitchens, there are humans who make good food while being fully occupied with the business of being normal people. Welcome to High Nutrition, Low Bullshit – where we still make locally-sourced pesto, tasty kale dishes, and damn fine vegan pies – but minus the illusions and glamour.
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