our messy table

Category: Farro

red lentil soup and “normal”

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Here I am… thinking of all the ways I can get out of “real life” stuff this afternoon. There is something about the holidays – something about time spent away from work and instead spent traveling and being with family and friends. And there is something about my daily intake of sweet, caramelized food that makes me want to drift off to the sparkly land that inhabits all of my happy memories. It makes me want to pretend that the holidays will last forever.

But there are bills to pay, gosh darn it! And do I even care about my waist? It is time to deep freeze my toffee and chocolate-dipped-whatevers for upcoming bad days. It is time to starting thinking of ways to make kale taste good again. Time to look at my bank accounts and make grocery lists and lesson plans and actually fold that massive heap of laundry making itself quite comfortable on the bed. Oh, yes, and my toddler. Shouldn’t I have taught him to count to 10 by now? Shouldn’t my basement be organized and my closet color-coordinated and my next few months of meal plans freshly written out?

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Here is something you should know about me. I am a total loser when it comes to functioning outside of my routine. Some would refer to the horrid term, “control freak”, which always make me cringe. It’s the word “control’ that holds such negative connotation.

I only want control over myself and my son’s nap routine. And that is that, I swear. I have no desire to control other people or the choices they make. They can paint their own picture. Make their own story without me feeling remotely responsible for their success and failure. But my routine is very sacred to me. And here is why:

As lovely as they may be, the holidays do funky things to me (and my digestive system).Once you bring me back to reality, once you remind me of the cost of relaxation, I completely freak out. I floss my teeth excessively. I run 4 miles. I dig into the deep freezer for that sworn-off chocolate. Then I shut down. I think of ways to get out of “real life” stuff. Because life outside of the routine was easier.

So here I am.

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However. I had a very nice day with my son today. A day that felt almost “normal”… whatever that means for us anymore. As for now, I am choosing to believe normal is a day when my son plays with his toys and sings songs and gets mad at me for not turning on his new favorite movie… again. When he naps when he was supposed to and eats dinner and takes a bath and reads books and goes to bed when he us supposed to.

But know there is a human element to my need for control. Know that, as contrary as it sounds, I am grateful for this crazy life that I have no control over. I am so grateful for the crazy people who love me. And though I always freak out a little over the holidays, I am grateful for them as well.

I am grateful and humbled by the people who gave us so much when we do so little to deserve it. I am thankful for “normal”… and the lack thereof, so normal can be something to aspire for.

I am grateful for the roller coasters. For deep freezers. For naps. For family. Friends. And ,once again, for soup.

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We have made the soup quite a bit in the last year, and with several variations. We have used tomato paste instead of canned tomatoes, diced fresh garden tomatoes, thrown in cilantro, omitted the coconut all-together, added fresh ginger, golden raisins, substituted green slip peas for the rice, sauteed in diced carrots, I could go on! This recipe serves as a nice template for the creative soul, but tastes wonderful is it is typed below. We recommend good bread with each serving.

Coconut Red Lentil Soup

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 1/3 cup split red lentils
  • ½ cup brown rice
  • 6 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, olive of coconut oil (we use butter)
  • 1 Tablespoon curry powder
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

Give lentils and rice a good rinse – until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the broth or water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add salt. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.

In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don’t want to burn the curry powder. Set aside. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions. Saute for two minutes stirring constantly.

Add the toasted curry powder to the mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and tomatoes. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time, if you like. Or simmer longer for a thicker consistency.

We’ve been enjoying big ladles of this soup over 1/2 cup of warm farro or brown rice. Quinoa would be an interested alternative. Sprinkle each bowl with the remaining green onions.

20 months

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I have been a stay-at-home mom for the past 20 months of my son’s life, which is his whole life, if you were wondering.

Next week he embarks to day-care full time while I begin my semester of student teaching. I will spend 7 weeks at a high school, then 7 more weeks at an elementary school, thus completely my long drawn-out education endorsement.

When I decided to finish my teaching license, I imagined that by the end of the summer I would be  ready. I imagined that I would be ready to drop my son off at the babysitter everyday so that he can play with kids his age. That I would be eager for educational stimulation in areas not involving toddler tantrums.

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Nonetheless, my heart has been throbbing with all kinds of sentiment this final week. Our mornings have been consumed by long, cozy cuddle sessions and book reading. Our afternoons have been filled with sweet, impromptu kisses and grasshopper chasing. And the truth is, I love being home with my son.

I find great pleasure in spending long hours organizing my kitchen. I love wondering around outside with my toddler’s hands grasping mine and tugging me here and there. I love looking at ant hills and feeding leftover crackers to the bunnies and pushing swings and making lunch for two. I cherish our afternoon trips to the library and quick stops to the grocery store where my son has to stop and smell the petunias by the entry way every. single. time.

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Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that my 20-month-old and I are best friends and have great conversations all day (you know.. one word conversations..). I want to allow him all the grace he needs to be a little kid. I don’t want my messy adult world to squeak into his toddler world. So our worlds are very defined here. Meaning, I am his mom and decide what is best and he is the little boy who plays with sticks in the mud. I clean him off, give him kisses and tuck him in for a nap. And this is a relationship my introverted nature is so content with.

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But this little boy of mine is ready. He is ready to sharpen his independent nature in a new environment.  Ready to play with other kids in the mud. And I am confident that he will do extremely well without me.

And though I do feel ready, I fear the loss of time with him. The loss of our familiar and comfortable routine. I fear the changes that will inevitably take place. And I fear the guilt I will feel every day for the first few weeks away, then the guilt that will come when I don’t feel so guilty anymore.

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There really is no knowing in this situation. We are welcoming a force of changes that will make up our learning experiences, and therefore, our lives. There is no way to know at this point whether I will be sobbing in bed every night or anxiously awaiting a new day with my students. And likewise, there is no way of knowing if my son will be the sweet daycare peacemaker I have built him up to be in my head or the kid that pushes down the kids smaller than him….

I guess we just have to have faith in each other. And cherish this last week, this beautiful end to 20 precious months. And eat this lunch at least twice more.

. . .

I have long thought about posting on our typical lunch menu for two. And this seems to be an appropriate time (cue the sentimental tears*).

My son and I love sweet potatoes, and this lunch is a hearty, protein-filled staple that can fuel a busy afternoon. It reheats well. But if I want to reheat it for tomorrow’s lunch, I usually stick with the sweet potatoes and farro and leave out (or eat the rest of) the eggs before refrigerating. A reheated scrambled egg is always an overcooked scrambled egg. The sweet potatoes and farro can be easily reheated over the stove in a small knob of olive oil and still be delicious the next day.

We have served this with a bit of salt and black pepper, fresh mozzarella, a slice of avocado and a squeeze of lime or lemon, chopped cilantro or spinach… there is definitely room to get create with this dish. Let me know how it goes for you!

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Sweet Potatoe, Farro and Egg Scramble

Serves one mama and one baby

  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced into ½” cubes
  • 1-2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup semi-pearled farro, cooked
  • 1-2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the prepared sweet potatoes with olive oil and salt. Arrange in a single layer and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, tossing halfway, until the sweet potatoes are tender and caramelizing at the edges. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm a knob of olive oil. Add cooked sweet potatoes and cooked farro. Gently scramble them together to coat.

Crack the egg(s) over the mixture, then with a wooden spoon or heat proof spatula, push around the sweet potatoes, farro and eggs until the eggs are fully cooked and scrambled. Remove from heat.

Allow to cool enough for baby before serving.