30 November 2010

Just the ticket for a snowy evening

Vegetable-Lentil Soup with Fragrant Broth

2 tbsns olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsn minced garlic (i put in more because I used water rather than broth)
Salt and black pepper
2 cups chopped tomatoes (canned are fine; include the juice)
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 cup dried lentils, rinsed and picked over (I used split peas with great results)
6 cups vegetable stock or water
Several sprigs fresh thyme or several pinches dried

1. Put the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, sprinkling with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are golden and beginning to melt together, about 20 minutes.
2. Turn the heat back up to medium-high and stir in the tomatoes, carrots, celery, and lentils. Add the stock and thyme, then bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low so that the soup bubbles gently.
3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and vegetables are tender, 20 - 30 minutes; add water as necessary to keep the mixture brothy. Fish out the thyme sprigs, then taste and adjust the seasoning.
Serve each bowl of soup with a drizzle of olive oil on top.

Whole Wheat Bread with Pumpkin

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1 cup puréed cooked pumpkin, butternut, or other winter squash (canned is fine)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. Combine the flour, yeast, salt, and nutmeg if you're using it in a large bowl. Add the pumpkin and about 1/2 cup of water and stir until blended; the dough should be quite wet, almost like a batter (add more water if it seems dry). Cover the bowl with a teatowel and let it rest in a warm place for about 2 hours. The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Rising time will be shorter at warmer temperatures, a bit longer if your kitchen is chilly.
2. Use some of the oil to grease a 9 x 5 pan. Scoop the dough into the loaf pan and use a rubber spatula to gently settle it in evenly. Brush or drizzle the top with the remaining oil. Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled. an hour or 2 depending on the warmth of your kitchen. When it's almost ready, preheat the oven to 350.
3. Bake the bread until deeply golden and hollow-sounding when tapped, about 45 minutes.

28 November 2010

Monsters under the bed

The Alchemist quotes

Celebrating next week THREE YEARS in the New York times Bestseller List, you find below parts of the dialogue between the shepherd boy and the Alchemist on the way to the pyramids.

“Why do we have to listen to our hearts?” the boy asked, when they had made camp that day.

“Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure.”

“But my heart is agitated,” the boy said. “It has its dreams, it gets emotional, and it’s become passionate over a woman of the desert. It asks things of me, and it keeps me from sleeping many nights, when I’m thinking about her.”

“Well, that’s good. Your heart is alive. Keep listening to what it has to say.”

“My heart is a traitor,” the boy said to the alchemist, when they had paused to rest the horses. “It doesn’t want me to go on.”

“That makes sense. Naturally it’s afraid that, in pursuing your dream, you might lose everything you’ve won.”

“Well, then, why should I listen to my heart?”

“Because you will never again be able to keep it quiet. Even if you pretend not to have heard what it tells you, it will always be there inside you, repeating to you what you’re thinking about life and about the world.”

“You mean I should listen, even if it’s treasonous?”

“Treason is a blow that comes unexpectedly. If you know your heart well, it will never be able to do that to you. Because you’ll know its dreams and wishes, and will know how to deal with them.

“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”

“Every second of the search is an encounter with God,” the boy told his heart.

“Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him,” his heart said. “We, people’s hearts, seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them. We speak of them only to children. Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, toward its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them—the path to their destinies, and to happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out indeed, to be threatening place.

“So, we, their hearts, speak more and more softly. We never stop speaking out, but we begin to hope that our words won’t be heard: we don’t want people to suffer because they don’t follow their hearts.”

From “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

26 November 2010

Shut up

Shut up

inside, feeling like a stupid girl trying to unglue
from love that won't be simply pushed away
that loss of us, the one thing I held true
breaks me down bit by bit each day

i see the looks on other men's faces
trying to get into my good graces
I can't hold their gaze, know they don't have a way
to break inside my frozen heart I deny

and I still hold onto
tiny flickering flame, the big romantic dope
a fool for you, lost still in hope
so Shut up powers-that-be
Seeing that name every day is killin me
when every night you visit me in dreams
breaking the facade again, ripping me at the seams
back down into a muddled mess, foolishly wanting your caress

19 November 2010

Fighting against dark, discouraging farce
By looking under rocks for
light in little things
smiles, music, patience, wings,
of hope that
the millions of people like me
The mostly quiet ones that see
show more how to do it right every day,
go out of our way, put hands in the grime
for saving it all one heart at a time