Lent 2014: The Leftovers Lent

No, this year’s challenge is not surviving on leftovers for 40 days (though that would be interesting). I started this blog as a way to get myself back in the discipline of writing on a regular basis: just once a week, I told myself, might get me back in the daily groove. Once a week for God, and maybe that would open up enough of a crack in the door for the writing grace to walk back in and spend a little time with me. The good news is that it worked.

The bad news for this blog is that my fiction career, piddling though it may be, is demanding what spare time I have.

But it’s still Lent. I still have to cook, and we’re still going Pre-VII-style meatless. The blogging of it, however, will be extremely limited. This year will be a “best of” with a few new recipes thrown in. For instance, in the event our mint comes back enough before Easter, I really want to make samosas with mint chutney.

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For tonight, however, we’re pulling out a family favorite: Slow Roasted Potato Leek Soup.

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No, that doesn’t look slow roasted to me, either. I had to hurry things along because the slow cooker was otherwise engaged first thing this morning making a batch of veggie stock. So, if you’re in a rush, you, too, can soften your leeks in butter then soften them some more with the diced potatoes in the recipe’s 2 c veggie stock before adding it to your slow cooker.

We’re serving it with our… Homemade Beer Bread

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3 c flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 T salt
1 T sugar
120z bottle of beer
Optional: 1/4 c butter

Grease two loaf pans. Preheat oven to 400F. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and beer together and divide between loaf pans. Slice butter into pats and place on top. Bake at 400F for 35 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Ash Wednesday 2013: Besan Pancakes with Carrot Salad

Here we go! For those of you following at home, each dinner must take no more than 20 minutes to cook. We didn’t say those 20 minutes had to be all together, did we? First, let’s start with how I spent my morning:

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Carrot Salad (Time: 10 minutes)

1 lb carrots
1 c Greek yogurt
2 T chopped cilantro leaves
1 tsp each turmeric, coriander, ginger
1 tsp lemon juice

Wash, peel, and grate your carrots down to the smallest nubs you can manage. Chop the remaining nubs as small as you can get them. Combine all ingredients except lemon juice and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. Just before serving, add lemon juice.

The carrot shredding is the part that took 8 of our 10 allotted minutes. It also took this off of my thumb.

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If that portion of my manly thumb fell into the carrots, does this count as flesh meat?

This goes with…

Besan Pancakes (Time: 10 minutes)

1/2 c Greek yogurt
1 c milk (more for thinner batter, if desired)
1 1/2 c besan (chickpea flour–usually available with specialty flours in your baking aisle)
1 tsp salt
Optional whisk-ins: ginger garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric, fresh cilantro leaves

Blend yogurt and milk until smooth. Whisk into remaining ingredients until it looks like the consistency of your favorite pancake batter. Whisk in more milk (or water) if you’d like it thinner. Heat a frying pan on medium and spray with cooking spray (or rub with a paper towel dipped in oil). Once pan is hot, pour ¼ c of batter then swirl it around to thin out the pancake. Cook the pancake on one side until it’s almost completely dry on top and golden on the bottom. Flip and cook until the other side is golden, too. Eat as-is or stuff with carrot salad, above.

A note about the cilantro: We can usually get a large, fresh bunch for about one dollar. We chop it up as soon as we get it, portion it out into ice cube trays, fill the trays the rest of the way with water, then freeze and pop out to be stored in freezer bags, thawing as needed. Don’t waste that cilantro! We are counting this as part of our 2 hours/weekend food prep.

I have all sorts of thoughts that I have had going through my mind today, all sorts of fears and worries and joys.  Sharing them here would make this post much better than it is.  However, sometimes we just have to be satisfied with enough; on Ash Wednesday, we are called to find satisfaction in less what what we think would be enough.  We have to find a full belly on five loaves and a few fish to feed the five thousand.

What’s on your menu?