Sunday, November 16, 2008


(Teri's Kitchen Post #1)

ForEVER I have said I'm a horrible cook. It's just not true. I am NOT a horrible cook. I am an intelligent person who can read a recipe as well as anyone. The problem is, I'll never be a cheffy person - the type who tastes a dish and discerns a need for "just a little pinch of this-or-that." And worst of all, I don't think I'll ever enjoy cooking. I suppose this stems from a stubborn, snooty, over-entitled belief I hold that comes from God-knows-where that someone else should cook for me. Or, rather, that meals should appear out of nowhere with no effort required. Honestly, if it weren't for nutritional deficiency, I would stock my frig with Lunchables, ready-made shrimp salads from Trader Joe's, and store-bought smoothies. Even when I hear of a fabulous restaurant with a delectable menu, I'm more about the ambiance than the food flavor. This must be hard to understand for any real "foodies" out there - but it's true of me. A well-dressed, friendly and interesting server in a well-designed, well-appointed restaurant would do more for me than the gourmet meal on my plate. Especially if my fellow diners are good friends with great conversational skill.

If you already think I'm weird, here's the doozy: I don't feel the same way about cleaning. I ENJOY cleaning. I'm great at it. I'm a natural organizer and am perfectly comfortable concocting a toilet cleaner out of random ingredients - but can't say the same for a stew. The nights that Kevin does the cooking and I clean up afterwards are my favorite. But, in my defense, I don't slack on the meal-providing responsibility that is part of my job description. Unless I have a newborn or a terrible mood, I plan meals weekly, shop accordingly, and pull the whole mess together begrudgingly every. single. week of my life. And once in a while, I pull off a meal that is worth the boring, slogging effort that it is to me. So, I'm going to share a favorite from time to time - if only to redeem myself in my own eyes. And I think I'll do a kitchen post once in a while either to encourage other kitchen misfits like myself - or to give a good laugh to the population in general. I have a LOT of misadventures there. When I cuss, it's usually in the kitchen - even more than in traffic!

In the spirit of the Autumn theme I got going on last night, here is my absolute favorite Fall recipe. I got it out of "Cooking Light" magazine YEARS ago (2002). It is hands-down the tastiest thing I cook. Plus it's healthy. Unfortunately, it doesn't fulfill my other, all-important menu requirement: My kids rarely eat it, unless I deprive them of all snacks for up to 10 hours before. If you cook it, and your kids eat it, bravo! Invite me over next time you make it.

Lentil Stew with Ham & Greens
1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 c. fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 c. dried lentils
1/2 c. chopped carrots
2 bay leaves
3 c. chopped Swiss chard, collard greens, or spinach (I use fresh bagged spinach)
1 1/2 c. chopped baking potato
1 c. chopped smoked ham
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 Tbs. parsley

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over med-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 5 minutes. Add broth, lentils, carrot, and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Add spinach, potato, and ham; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes, or until potato is tender. Stir in tomatoes, basil, thyme, and pepper; simmer 10 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Sprinkle with parsley.
5 (1 1/2 c.) servings, 320 calories, 8.6 g. fat, 15 g. fiber
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