I have been doing a LOT of cooking lately. Most of it is inspired experimentation in an effort to satisfy both my new dietary “rules” and my cravings. I’m on such a learning curve that I’ve been hesitant to post the results of my labor lest they seem as far out and hastily put together to you as they sometimes seem to me. And yet I realize that this process is exactly what I need to sharing.
Breakfast during the week is always something easy like a banana and some cottage cheese or Greek yogurt since I have so much to do in the morning to get my rear end off to work. At the end of a long day at work and a couple of hours on the road I look forward to kicking off my shoes, throwing on an apron and putting something together for dinner. It can be simple or complicated, and can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes to make. I don’t mind. I discovered years ago that cooking for me is like therapy. It’s my most dedicated and regular form of meditation. I love the whole process – everything from the menu planning to washing the dishes. Really, even washing the dishes. And that is saying a lot since I don’t have a dishwasher.
Lunch, on the other hand, is tricky. I work in a very small office and have nothing available to me other than eating out, a small refrigerator and a hot and cold water dispenser. No microwave (which I don’t even own at home), no toaster oven, not even a break room where I can put things together. So lunch has to be either already assembled or very easy to assemble, tasty when eaten cold or room temperature and not too smelly, which pretty much rules out tuna fish and raw onions.
Before changing my eating style, this was much easier. I could bring sandwiches and rice/tortilla chips and juice. But I no longer eat grains, so there goes the bread and the chips and I no longer drink juice because of the high sugar content (more on that in a later post). In their place, though, not only am I eating much more healthfully but also I find that I look forward much more to eating the things I’m cooking.
Point in fact: DePuy Lentils with Sautéed Kumqats and Purple Onion
A couple of weekends ago I was wandering through the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market on a Saturday wondering what looked new (as in challenging) and fresh. I came upon some yummy-looking, fat and bright orange kumquats. My mind began to wander on how to make them…most people eat them either fresh in one big (or little) bite or stew them. But I wanted to do something different.
The next day I went to FarmShop for breakfast with friends and family. This is a relatively new restaurant located right in the center of The Brentwood Country Mart. Their food is always delicious and, although pricey by some standards, they don’t give you so much food that you walk out needing a nap and yet you leave perfectly satisfied.
I’d argue, though, that the best part about their place isn’t the restaurant at all. It’s the lovely, well-assembled, well-displayed artisan market. I wandered over to the market area while waiting for our food and came across a small bag of speckled, blue-hued DePuy lentils. I’d never seen these before and I had to have them. After a quick search on Google, I learned that DePuy lentils are, in the words of David Lebovitz, “the most fantastic lentils in the world”. I concur. And I knew instantly that these little gems would go perfectly with my kumquats.
They were ridiculously easy to prepare by following the directions on the packaging (1 cup of lentils to 2 cups of water, bring to boil, then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how firm you want them to be, and drain). In a separate pan I sautéed about a cup or so of sliced, mostly de-seeded kumquats and a cup or so of roughly diced purple onion in about a tablespoon of butter. I added a couple pinches of salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
I’m going to have this today with some crumbled goat cheese. The creamy-white color will bounce off the bright orange and purple and the salty tang will complement perfectly the mild sweet flavors of the kumquat.