Lentils Three Ways

Lentils Three WaysIf you’ve recently grabbed some beans for your pantry, chances are you probably reached for lentils. I know I did. But, I will admit I don’t make lentils very often. If I do it’s usually the little green French ones that I serve with salmon. I’m not a habitual lentil consumer. But, now I have these lentils and I have been looking for new ways to use them.

Thoughts of lentils make me turn to Indian cuisine for advice—which makes sense. The pervasive use of lentils in Indian cooking makes them the experts. So, I turned to my library of Indian cookbooks and naturally found some answers.

If you have even a small affinity for Indian food I would recommend obtaining a Madhur Jaffrey Indian cuisine cookbook. She has many. She is also widely considered an expert on all things in the Indian culinary world. I found the following recipes in her World Vegetarian cookbook. The first is a basic recipe for lentils that can be eaten as is or used as a base for other recipes. So if you’re sitting there wondering what to do with your stash of lentils give these options a try.

Lentils with Onion and Garlic
Adapted from World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey
Yields 4 servings

The addition of a dollop of dairy (either butter in the first recipe or yogurt in the second two) adds a smoothness to the normally slightly dry texture of lentils.  Read more…

Mom’s Lamb Chops

Mom's Lamb ChopsMom Knows Best
You’ve stocked your freezer to the best of your ability. So now what? This has actually been one of my biggest challenges because this is totally different than how I normally cook. Generally, I stock up on things like cereal, lunch meat, snacks, etc. on the weekends. And then during the week, I make dinner according to what I feel like bringing home that day. I don’t store a whole lot of stuff in my freezer. Now that people are sheltering in place, food supply is good in some areas but bad in others, and despite the fact that I am still coming in to work, I can’t operate in the same way.

So, dinners have been pretty basic and ingredients have been limited to what I have on hand. I have noticed that I have subconsciously reverted back to my childhood and what my Mom used to make for weeknight dinners. Mom didn’t shop for food every day so what was in the fridge and pantry was what we had for dinner. Cream of mushroom soup was turned into a chicken and rice casserole. (Very old school…but total comfort food.) Pork chops with Shake & Bake on them and applesauce on the side appeared regularly. (I still make this. Though, I admit I have swapped the Shake & Bake for seasoned Panko.) But if there was one recipe that reminds me the most of my Mom, it would be her lamb chops.

I have posted this recipe before and I felt compelled to post it again after I made them for dinner the other night. Making this dish made me feel better. It was the very definition of comfort food. Which was probably why I had lamb chops in the freezer to begin with. These couldn’t be simpler and the recipe calls for three pantry staples: soy sauce, garlic powder, and rosemary (fresh or dried, though fresh is better). For me, they have to be served alongside mashed potatoes and peas or it’s just not right but feel free to do what you want.

They say, food is memories and my suggestion for everyone as we shelter in place to protect our physical selves, don’t forget to protect our mental selves. If that means making grandma’s special cake or Dad’s killer chili, I say go for it…I’ll be over here with my lamb chops and chicken casserole.

Mom’s Lamb Chops
Yields 4 servings

The amount of marinade Mom made depended on how many chops she had. You can use whatever lamb chops you can find: sirloin chops, loin chops—whatever works.

Mom always used loin chops and we always got exactly two on our plate. And, always with mashed potatoes and peas. Read more…

Fresh Homemade Pasta

Fresh Homemade PastaKeep Calm And Cook On
When you have been in business for 118 years you see a lot of things. When our store first opened in 1902, we were the only supply option for the people who had “country homes” in Piedmont. The situation changed dramatically in 1906 when people escaping the destruction of the earthquake crossed the bay to Oakland and they all needed groceries. But we survived that and will get through this too. We survived the depression and two world wars. We’ve survived fires and even more earthquakes. And we weathered the uncertain times after the 9/11 attacks. This time will be no different and we will do it because of our people.

To say we broke some records in the last week would be an incredible understatement. Through it all, our amazing employees have remained steadfast and dedicated to the community they serve. Some even volunteering to come in on their day off to help keep whatever stock we had on the shelves. It was exhausting and stressful but their commitment to our neighbors is awe-inspiring. And, I am personally humbled and beyond grateful to work with this extraordinary group of people.

I would also like to thank our surrounding community for making it easy to serve you in these past days. Through all the hysteria of long lines and empty shelves, our community remained patient and calm—even when we had technical difficulties with our pin pads. Every person who came through our check stands made it a point to thank our checkers and baggers for being there to help. Their gratitude and support made it that much easier to get through those crazy shifts.

Now we focus on learning our new normal. Here at the store, we have new business hours. We have signs posted all over the store but in case you missed it, they are listed on our website.

We will be closed tomorrow March 19th to give our staff a rest and to get the store cleaned and stocked. We will be open again on Friday at our normal time of 9 AM. We are hoping to be able to fill all of those holes I mentioned as we should be getting a big truckload in on Thursday…but we can’t be certain. The vendor warehouses are just as depleted as we are so we may not get everything we requested. We ask for your patience with us as well as them.

Since we don’t know for sure what will arrive on the truck, right now is the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill like, say, making your own pasta. Making fresh pasta is not really as difficult as you might believe. It requires only a few ingredients. Though, I will concede that flour could be an issue. (Cross your fingers for Thursday). If you are lucky to have all the ingredients, give it a shot. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfect the first time around. Keep in mind that Italians have been making pasta for centuries without fancy equipment. Just elbow grease and time—which is something we have a lot more of right now. Clean wire hangers are great for drying your pasta. Give it a try or better yet make it a family activity to get people off the screens.

Let’s everyone just take a deep breath. Remember we’re in this together and we’ll get through this. Hopefully while learning new skills and, frankly, eating pretty well… Read more…

Recipes for a Weekend at Home

Chili and CornbreadUncharted Territory
Another week and once again, what I was going to talk about this week just seems wrong. As much as I would like to go about my days in a normal fashion, the reality is that things aren’t normal…and we shouldn’t pretend that they are. This doesn’t mean that it would be appropriate to panic. But, thoughtful caution would be advised. Wash your hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, preferably with your elbow, and recognize that we will get through this. We just need to remain calm, use our heads and try not to focus as much on the many negatives of this virus outbreak. There are some positives.

Because almost all sporting events from the professional leagues on down to the four-year-olds have been canceled, we have absolutely nothing going on this weekend. There are no games. There are no tournaments. There are no fiddle concerts. That hasn’t happened in at least a year…maybe longer. And while I could take this opportunity to catch up on laundry, I am going with option number two (though I may do a load or two out of necessity). I intend to spend time on the couch streaming movies with my boys and maybe playing some Mario Cart. I intend to spend time with my daughter making something complicated in the kitchen. I intend to once again assert my dominance in Trivial Pursuit. In short, I intend to stop and slow down, sleep in, enjoy my family, build a fire in the woodstove because it will be cold and raining and that is my dog’s favorite thing ever (except maybe chicken). And I will definitely tackle the backlog of books on my Kindle.

As a family, we have been burning it at both ends because of work, school, and everything else. This weekend, it will be nice to just have the 5 of us doing nothing but doing it together. As for the cooking, my pantry is pretty well stocked on any given day. I admit I have added an extra item or two here and there. An extra bag of dried beans. a new tube of Harissa, some fresh yeast to make the bread that requires an overnight rise. Stuff like that. I have also been going back to remind myself of the recipes I really liked that I haven’t made in a while. In the process, I pulled together a list of the recipes we’ve posted over the years that could be good to make if you find yourself hunkered down at home with a bunch of dried goods and no idea what to do with them.

Check out our list of recipes… Read more…

Raspberry Rhubarb Cobbler

Raspberry Rhubarb CobblerDitchin’ The Cheese
I had planned on talking about cheese this week. You can never go wrong with cheese. But then, sometimes life throws you a curveball. Since it’s now March, everywhere you look things have gone green in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day. And, of course, I immediately think “Cheese!” (I know. My friends and family have long since stopped trying to understand my thought processes.)

However, over the weekend, I made something that was just so good I couldn’t stop myself from writing about it. The cheese will have to wait…

My in-laws were in town so I had everyone over for a lovely salmon dinner with roasted asparagus. It was while picking out the asparagus that I was enticed by the gorgeous rhubarb in all of its deep red glory that was calling my name from the shelf above. To me, rhubarb is a sign of hope that we are in fact leaving winter, and its cabbages and root vegetables, behind to usher in the new and more interesting produce that arrives with spring. My entire family loves rhubarb so there was no question. I was not leaving the store without it. But what to make?

When it comes to rhubarb recipes, I like to keep it simple. I love a good crisp—or even just roasting it by itself to put in yogurt. Strawberry Rhubarb Pie is always a hit. But, the strawberries aren’t that great yet so I will leave that to when it weather is warmer. I chose this recipe for Raspberry Rhubarb Cobbler because it was fairly quick, and something about the twist of the raspberries just appealed to me.

I have never seen a dessert disappear so fast. It might be because the flavors were so bright and different from what we’ve been eating in the last few months. But, this one, my friends, is a definite keeper. The color was stunning and I think the biscuits on top will be how I do all my cobblers going forward.

I did make some changes to the original recipe. For one, I added more cornstarch. The filling was a little too loose for my tastes. I also bumped up the sugar just a bit. Although, you could add some honey if you prefer.

Raspberry Rhubarb Cobbler Recipe  Read more…