lentil soup & roasted chestnuts

Every job no matter how exciting, has a dull repetitive aspect that can be unavoidable. Some stack dominoes for months on end in order to experience less than a minute of amazingness. Others lay a thousand bricks before they see a building come to life.

We (the recipients) are all very grateful they went through the motions when we see the end result and we thank them.

In cooking, it’s the hours of prep, and the most fundamental is chopping. It’s cool to wield a super sharp blade for a short while & pretend you’re a ninja, but after onion number 53 has been peeled & diced, your mind has switched off and your hands move on auto-pilot. This is where accidents happen & fingertips go missing….

Other tedious activities include peeling cherry tomatoes and  gutting slimy calamari.

Personally, I love chopping carrots really finely because they have that clean crisp cut that you can work with a lot of speed. Keep me away from the garlic cloves however.

Today’s task is cleaning those stubborn chestnuts, and in particular, peeling off the fuzzy second layer that is not pleasant to eat. I haven’t got a good tip to give you here other than a lot of patience goes a long way. It seems that there are some varieties out there where that fuzz just peels right off but, I can’t recognise them easily. Apart from that we have a straightforward lentil soup that will keep you warm,  full and healthy during cold winter days.

– mel

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summer berry smoothie cups

I have a thing for starry skies & healthy juices. Actually, I have “things” for a lot of things.

Like, watching meteor showers. With my man. Laying in an open clearing. On top of a mountain. The meteors didn’t show up, but at least we were there.

Bright coloured smoothies are another one of my things.

Healthy & happy, healthy & happy, healthy & happy.

I’ve hidden lots of healthy tidbits in these smoothie cups. Like celery, fennel, bee pollen. If you didn’t know what was in it, you’d never guess. That’s how good I am. It’s health in disguise. A convenient ready-to-go form. Fastfood, fasthealth!

Sci-fi movies are another one of my things. Sneaking rum into my smoothies. I do that one too.

Zombie movies that aren’t actually scary. Watched in the company of best friends.

Singing at the top of my lungs, off key, to out of tune punk artists is another. I still can’t get the notes right for ‘Angel’s Wings’.

Putting together care packages for friends is something else. If there’s glitter involved it’s even better.

I’m very attached to my dirty, black, lace-less converse too. And I especially love it when my jeans rip. There are just so many things I have “things” for. I’d give the smoothie cups a try though…. they can make being healthy one of your things.

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fragrant couscous with panfried pork chops

I remember a few years back, sitting in the kitchen with my cousin Peanut one morning & having a discussion about nutrition & diet. She said something then that will forever stick with me. What she said was, that if you sit & take a good look at food & colour, you will notice that all the things that are generally considered to be unhealthy are all shade of beige. Pasta. Bread. Potatoes. Chips. Etc.

the couscousShe then continued on by saying that the more colourful our plate, the healthier we eat. Just think about all those beautiful colours out there. Pomegranate. Avocado. Plums. Cherries. Lemons. The colours are endless & all of them have some amazing nutritional value to offer.

the pomegranate The point I’m trying to make is, bring colour to your meals. Lots of it.

pistachiosI still can’t get over the purples & greens of the pistachios. I can’t help myself, they are beautiful. As for Mel, I’m still trying to work out what inspired him to make this dish. I can’t figure out whether he was drawn to the middle-eastern undertone brought in by the spices. Or perhaps he was looking at it from an angle of trying to be healthy. Or maybe, if like me, he’s secretly a colour junky. It could very well be all three, maybe I should just ask.

the feastWhat we’re sharing now are these mouth watering, pan fried pork chops accompanied with the fragrant couscous with pomegranate, pistachio & sumak. One word…. yum.
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grilled chicken, sweet fennel, spicy rocket & fresh spinach salad

You can’t pick your family… Luckily though you can pick your ingredients, & that seems to make up for it all.

Comfort food, I could go for some of that. Something that makes me feel good on the inside & good about myself. It’s not about eating the most unhealthy thing you can find when you’re upset, it’s about eating something that makes your taste buds dance & scream with joy.

Hot, grilled chicken & wilting spinach leaves with a citrus dressing do that for me. That does it for me every time. Bread-pudding does that for me too. A giant bowl of whole-wheat pasta & tuna with a mustard & lemon dressing does it too.
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bean soup, the ultimate comfort food

I get it, it’s the middle of summer & the last thing anyone wants is a hot soup when it’s 40C outside. Would you be upset if I said you were wrong though, that it doesn’t matter, that comfort is comfort no matter the weather? That’s what I’m saying, I’m sure a majority would disagree but I’m sticking to my guns on this one.

I think the very definition of comfort food is that a dish needs to be warm, filling, & enticing to your senses. I know for some the go-to is ice-cream. Others, it’s french fries. We all have a tendency to be drawn more towards either sweet or salty. At the end of the day, I think the most comforting items are the ones that remind you of home.

So here it is, bean soup. I wasn’t involved in this recipe until after it became left-overs. That’s when it became my domain. To get to the leftovers however we need to start with the original, and trust me, it’s good.

P.s. this is what the leftovers look like.

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