Thursday, February 5, 2015

Color: Lentil Stew

I couldn't listen to the radio this morning.

My car is usually tuned to NPR during my commute, in both directions.  Though I read the NY Times headlines (and sometimes the articles) from the electronic version delivered to my inbox, filling in the embarrassing gaps with The Skimm, and grazing more leisurely on the relevant items in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed, NPR is mostly how I get outside my bubble.

But there are some mornings when the additional stimulus is too much.  I don't want to know what's going on.  Today, as I drove through the sparse snow falling on a world drained of color, I listened to the silence, or more accurately, to the sounds of being in my car on the way to work: the heater fan, the constant hum of my tires on the road.  I wallowed in February-ness, thought about pulling over to stand in the snow, wondered what would happen if I didn't show up on time, wondered if they'd wonder where I'd gone.

As I made my way across the top of one ridge, I was reminded of Frost:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
I wonder how he felt about February.

I was thinking the other day about how I seem to have surrounded myself with artists, with people who are careful observers of color and form and light and texture.  Our circle of friends includes a textile artist/weaver (who can also make art out of pretty much anything), several painters, graphic designers, a potter, photographers.  People who actually make art for a living.  I wonder if this is unusual, or if everyone has as many artists in their lives as I do.  And I wonder, sometimes, how this happened.

Am I drawn to them because I need their lens on the world? Because I need the color on the landscapes that I flatten into monochrome?

Is art like closing our eyes, and seeing the color that we can't see with them open?

Colour fades away
Tell who are you for anyway?
Fades to grey
I dream so exciting
But, I, I feel so bold ...

Red Lentil Stew
Adapted from the Kinfolk Table, this stew offers a good contrast to the monochromatic-ness of February in New Jersey.

1 c. red lentils, picked over
2 t. coconut oil
1 lg. onion, finely chopped
1 t. salt
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. minced fresh ginger
1 T. ground cumin
15-ounce (425-gram) can diced fire roasted tomatoes
2 slices of lemon
3 c. vegetable stock
chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Rinse the lentils well under cold running water until the water runs clear.

Melt the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and salt and saute until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin and cayenne and saute just until fragrant, about a minute. Stir in the tomatoes, lemon slices, the stock and the lentils.

Bring the stew to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are just tender.

Serve the stew over brown rice and sprinkle it with the chopped cilantro.
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  1. We have a lot of writer friends -- playwright and book. But I always just thought it was because we are both writers and you meet them because you have the same degree/work. It's interesting that you don't see yourself as an artist (or do you?) but are friends with a lot of artists.

    Though you just gave me dinner for the end of next week. So thank you!

  2. I love red lentils. On my list of things to cook next week!

    Stay warm, friend.


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