Sunday, March 13, 2011

What's Cooking

My family does most of their grocery shopping at Trader Joe's. Although we appreciate the wonderful candy and wine selections, our main purpose in shopping there is the variety of healthy food. We have our staples that we buy every week but almost always try at least one new item every time we shop. A month or so ago, Paige saw their peanut flour and was interested in it, so I bought some, thinking that I'd be able to find lots of recipes on the internet to use it with, especially bread recipes. I never found anything that really interested me though, so yesterday I decided to experiment a little myself. I was in the mood for pretzels, and, of course, also wanted to use my precious sourdough starter. I found a recipe for  sourdough pretzels at Miss Organics Kitchen. It sounded good as it was, but I wanted to use that peanut flour, so I added 1/2 cup of it. Then, I remembered that the peanut four was non-gluten, so I added another 1/2 cup of high-gluten flour. I also added about a cup of bread flour instead only using whole wheat flour as her recipe suggested. In other words, when I was finished, it wasn't the original recipe at all, but I sure did appreciate her initial guidance. I've only made pretzels a couple of times before, but these are the best. They're not really peanut-y, but there's a definite hint of peanuts. We'd better enjoy this recipe while we can because I've been reading online that T.J.s had discontinued it. Boo hoo!

I'm reading Our Town with my students for the gazillionth time, and I still enjoy it. I understand that some people think it's slow, uneventful, and overly nostalgic, but I think that everyone can agree with its message that a lot of what makes people happy are the little, seemingly unimportant know, like having good soup for lunch. Every since I had Brown Butter Sea Salt Cookies, I've been excited about salt. 

 Monica Bhide was writing about paprika on her blog this week, and she mentioned that she loved the Spanish paprika from My Spice Sage. Obligingly, I got on line, ordered some Spanish paprika, some Murray River salt, some fleur del sel, and some applewood smoked sea salt. I could have a separate post to wax about the applewood smoked sea salt. It's intoxicating. My family used to spend time at a friend's cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains when I was a kid. There were innumerable reasons that I have pleasant memories of those weekends at "Uncle Fenton's" cabin in Idyllwild, but one of the memories I had forgotten until now was the smell. This salt smells like "weekends at the cabin"! I was walking around sniffing my glass jar of salt, when I realized that I needed to make soup, and I needed to season it with applewood smoked sea I did!
 I made lentil soup with red lentils, just kind of improvising, starting with several chopped cloves of garlic sauteed in ghee. Then I added carrots, sauteed them a little longer before adding Trader Joe's Hearty Vegetable Broth. I cooked the soup until the lentils were tender, about twenty minutes, and then I added a little cumin, applewood smoked sea salt, and a big handful of chopped parsley from my garden. I wish I had several nice, lunch-size portions, waiting for me to take for lunch this week in my fridge, but I would have had to been much quicker on the draw. It was gone in mere minutes.


Anonymous said...

I loved Our Town. But, then I read it as an adult.

I remember thinking some of the books I had to read in jr. high and high school were pretty lame. But, I think it's basically because at that time in life you don't have the life experience to really understand most of the classics.

My favorite of all time is a play called On Borrowed Time.

Those pretzels looks wonderful! I bet the house smelled really great while they were baking.

Anonymous said...

I've never made pretzels - but then I don't bake very often! However I do make a lot of soup ..... mostly to use up veggies that have lingered too long in the fridge!

Rani said...

Our Town. I can't believe I've never read it! Dang. I'm still pondering the fact that you teach Tale of Two Cities. That's a big one. I am off to my library link to reserve myself a copy of Our Town. Tah!

Andi said...

I have never read Our Town, but I have been meaning to. That is going to be on my To-Read list this year.
Okay your red lentil soup looks incredible!