lemon jelly

Bedroom Gardening
October 25, 2008, 3:33 pm
Filed under: food, nutrition | Tags:

For a couple of years now, I’ve been thinking about starting my own vegetable garden. I’d have pole beans and sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes and big heirloom brandywines, some kale, maybe a few varieties of summer squash…you know, a garden of biblical envy. Of course, all of this would mean having a yard of my own, and that for the time being really is a fantasy.

Up until last week, I was mostly content to buy my vegetables at the farmers’ market and to daydream in class about growing my own. I didn’t exactly see myself coaxing beans to climb up my radiator or turning my desk drawers into seedbeds. But then my friend Kim sent me home with a mixed bag of seeds for sprouting.

So, I’m not exactly growing fabulous vegetables amid my library loans, but I am sprouting my very own greens with little more than a mason jar, some cheesecloth, and a few tablespoons of seeds and lentils. It’s pretty exciting. I just harvested my first batch today, and I’ve got a different mix of green and beluga lentils sitting on my bookshelf now. I’m amazed by how simple it’s been.

The Basics of Sprouting

  1. Have a sterilised 1-litre mason jar ready, fill it with one or two tablespoons of lentils or some other sproutable seed/bean. Add two or three times their volume in water, cover the jar with a square of cheesecloth, and fasten with an elastic band. Let the seeds sit and soak for 8-12 hours. Drain the water then rinse by filling the jar with more water and swirling the seeds around. Drain into the sink again and leave the jar propped up at a 45-degree angle to drain some more – this allows the seeds to breathe and stay moist without sitting in excess water.
  2. Rinse two or three times a day, always leaving the jar to drain between rinses.
  3. In 3-6 days, the sprouts will have grown to a few centimetres or more. They are ready for eating! Just give them a final rinse and remove them from the jar.
  4. If storing the sprouts in the fridge, let them sit out to dry for 8 hours or so before putting them in a zip-lock bag.

If you’re looking for more detailed information, I found sproutpeople.net to be particularly instructive. You can also order sprouts and more sophisticated equipment from them, but that seems a little extravagant to me. You should be adequately equipped with a mason jar and some cheesecloth. But do check to make sure that the seeds/beans you plan to use do in fact produce edible sprouts. Some varieties, like kidney beans, are toxic.

As for the sprouts that are edible (lentil, mung bean, chickpea, radish, broccoli, alfalfa, etc.), you’ll be happy to know that they’re very nutritious, even more so than the original seeds/beans. The sprouting process makes their nutrients more readily available for digestion.

My only problem now is figuring out how I’m going to eat them…


Class Distractions
October 22, 2008, 1:25 pm
Filed under: food, recipes | Tags: , , ,

I have a bit of a confession to make. Sometimes, when I’m in lecture, brow furrowed, lips pursed, tapping away at my laptop, I’m not really puzzling over the ethics of proxy decision-making for incompetent patients or deliberating in my head about the role of belief in our emotions. Sometimes, I’m just thinking: “What’s for lunch/dinner?”

So, as interesting as court appeals and the issues of informed consent really are, I found myself in my bioethics class today fantasizing about the warm, crusty whole-wheat rolls and luscious lentil stew that were waiting for me at home. I couldn’t help it. Blustery winds, inverted umbrellas, and very wet feet have sort of been the norm lately, and I don’t see things getting better. I may as well take what comforts I can, and there’s little better to warm up with than a steaming bowl of stew on days like this.

The stew is something I made on Sunday with Steve, and it’s only gotten better since then. It’s a pretty quick recipe too. We were able to throw it together after dinner without too much fuss, even though neither of us really wanted to do anything except curl up on the couch with the cat.

Admittedly, I didn’t think that the stew looked like much on paper, and I really wasn’t sure about the dill, but I went along with Steve’s assurances, and sure enough, it turned out to be pretty lovely stuff. Its ingredients don’t look like anything too extraordinary, but there’s nothing banal about this stew. If you want a bowl full of warm fall flavours, this is it.

The whole-wheat rolls, by the way, are from the November/December issue of Cook’s Illustrated. It’s a fabulous magazine for its thoroughness and detail to method. I just wish it were more vegetarian friendly. My subscription is halfway through, so if anyone has any recommendations for good vegetarian magazines, I’d be open to suggestions.

Hearty Lentil Stew

Adapted from Gillian McKeith’s You Are What You Eat.

  • 2 cups brown lentils
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cubes of vegetable bullion
  • 6 cups water
  • 5 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and chopped
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs mini white potatoes, halved or quartered
  • a few handfuls of watercress (about half a pound), chopped
  • 4 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 tsp tamari
  1. Soak lentils in cold water for about 20 minutes. Rinse and drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, warm oil over medium heat and saute onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 2 or 3 more minutes.
  3. Add the bullion cube, water, lentils, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, and potatoes to the pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer 20-25 minutes or until lentils and vegetables are soft.
  4. Stir in watercress, dill, and tamari.

Serves 6-8.

Happy Thanksgiving
October 13, 2008, 11:09 pm
Filed under: food | Tags: , ,

I’m still here and cooking, but I’ve also been juggling a lot of other things like scholarship applications, midterms, and, most recently, a paper on Kant’s transcendental aesthetic. I haven’t had a lot of time for experimentation, but to my relief, I haven’t reverted back to frozen vegetables, pasta, and store-bought pesto yet either. I definitely owe that to Steve. My Sundays are now dedicated to cooking marathons in his kitchen. We’ll pick three or four recipes a few days ahead that will either keep for the week or stay fine frozen, divy up the shopping, and then cook through the afternoon and evening on Sunday. We’ve made some pretty good things so far, like barbeue tempeh sandwich filling, butternut squash soup, cannelloni, and a lentil-sweet potato curry. I don’t think I’ve eaten so well since leaving home.

Last night, we put together a little Thanksgiving feast and had my friend Keran over too. It was my first turkey-free holiday. We mostly cooked from Peter Berley’s second cookbook, Fresh Food Fast. The menu included a pear, pumpkin, and fennel soup, roasted seitan and cippolini onions, a potato and parsnip mash, swiss chard with pine nuts, and an apple crumble tart. I’d say that the night was a success. Holidays are such a great excuse to be a little extravagant and indulgent. I can’t wait for the next one.