intensely trivial

More adventures in Rachel’s kitchen

Whenever my life gets dull, I look to spice it up with legumes or tea. ๐Ÿ™‚ Actually, I am developing a new hypothesis that the amount of excitement in one area of one’s life must be counterbalanced by commensurate levels of excitement in all other areas.
Right now, the birth scene is hoppin’. Ergo, I am suddenly compelled to learn how to make butter from raw milk. Makes sense, doesn’t it.
Anyway, it’s been an interesting day in the kitchen. I mentioned how I love legumes. I really, really love them — partly because of their blank-slate challenge, and partly because I need the protein and other nutrients they provide since I’m mostly vegetarian. You can find several familiar kinds at the regular grocery store in bags, but for me the adventure starts in the bulk bins at the health-food store. And when you’ve tried out all those, you can visit the international store and find a whole new set of them. The rest of the world knows what to do with legumes.
One of our Christmas gifts was a little shopping spree at a health-food chain. Guess what I found in the bulk aisle? French lentils!!! I had heard of them, read about them in the ancient books, but now my eyes had seen! So I bagged up a couple pounds of them!

They’re cute little guys, aren’t they? With my French lentils, I made Mark Bittman’s Lemony Lentil Salad, from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. (Recipe is at the bottom of this post.) Food like this is handy to have around when you live an on-call life like I do. Lentils are convenient, because you don’t have to presoak them and they cook quickly. French lentils are a nice change of pace, because they hold their shape instead of falling apart to mush.

Lemony Lentil Salad

Also on my list today was making butter. Recently, my sister Carrie opened the door for me to join a raw-milk co-op, so I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with a gallon of raw milk a week, which none of us like to drink, but they all say it’s like the holiest thing to have in your fridge. We’ve made ice cream and tapioca pudding and several other things, and today it was butter. About every single bowl in the kitchen got buttery, and I think I killed our food processor trying to do two batches in a row, but I managed to make a precious small amount of eco-friendly and more nutritious butter. See?

And since these adventures were happening, I needed another one to counterbalance it, so I made myself some tea with a tea blossom our Japanese mouse brought from China.

Lemony Lentil Salad
(adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)

1 c. dried lentils, preferably French lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic
2 lemons
2 T. olive oil
1 T. capers
1/4 c. minced red onion
salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Put the lentils in a medium pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Add the bay leaf and garlic and bring to a boil. Cover and lower the heat so the lentils bubble gently. Cook until just tender but not burst, 20-30 min., checking occasionally to make sure there is always enough water at the bottom of the pan to keep the lentils from burning.
2. While the lentils are cooking, squeeze the juice from one of the lemons into a large bowl. Peel the other lemon and chop the segments roughly into small pieces, taking care to remove the seeds. Add the segments to the bowl along with the olive oil, capers, and onion. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
3. Drain whatever water remains from the lentils and stir them into the dressing while still hot. Let rest, stirring occasionally to distribute the dressing, until they cool somewhat. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve warm or refrigerate for up to several days.
Mark Bittman says substituting tangerines for lemons is “quite seductive.” I think the lemons are pretty seductive myself.

It seems to me the perfect supper would be a bowl of this salad, a hunk of crusty bread (slathered with homemade butter if you like that kind of thing), some fresh fruit, and a nice glass of sauvignon blanc. Alas, I have promised my family macaroni and cheese, so it’ll be macaroni and cheese with lemony lentil salad. Bon appetit!


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  1. I love that you are blogging more again! It’s so fun hearing about your kitchen adventures. I’ll be over later to have some popcorn with homemade butter. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Posted 8 years, 3 months ago
  2. * Sandie says:

    Rachel, years ago I took turns with some friends picking up and delivering raw milk from the dairy west of Riley. I always used my mixer to make butter. You might try that. The ice cream you can make with the cream from raw milk is amazing!

    Posted 8 years, 3 months ago
  3. * Jessica S. says:

    Have you made yogurt yet? I make yogurt from regular milk, just because it is so easy and so much cheaper and more tasty than grocery store fare. I’ll send you a great step by step NYT article about it if you’d like.

    Posted 8 years, 3 months ago
  4. * Rachel says:

    Jessica, I just ate a bowl of homemade yogurt for breakfast! Yum! I got directions from someone else. I think I’ll be doing this more often. Now I need to make some granola to go with it.

    Posted 8 years, 3 months ago

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