Sunday, October 2, 2011

31 Days Cooking at Home | Day 2

Dinner last night.  Adapted from Simple Bites' Green Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Curry.

Cooking at home.  What you need to know...

Rule #1 :: There are no rules.

That might be a bit of an overstatement, but generally speaking it's true.  Cooking is not as much an exact science as it is an art.

This is freeing for 2 big reasons:

1. You don't need to examine your Pyrex measuring cup from all angles and hold it up to the light to make sure you have exactly 1 cup of water before pouring it into your pot of soup.

When you're baking you'll want more precise measurements.  But so much.  And truth be told, I don't spend much time on my baking measures either.

2. You can substitute to suit your needs and your taste.

I teach best by showing so here is how this all translates.

Remember yesterday when I mentioned standing in your kitchen with a stocked pantry and fridge yet clueless as to what to make?  I had one of those moments last night.  I knew I wanted to make something.  And then I remembered this recipe I came across last week.  So I pulled out my phone and looked up Simple Bites...and then I almost gave up on this recipe because the title states "With Coconut Milk".  And coconut milk?  Not in my pantry.

But for kicks, I looked at the list of ingredients anyway.

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or unsalted butter)
  • 1 tablespoon good quality curry powder, freshly ground
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 5 cups of vegetable stock or water
  • 1 1/2 cups green lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
garnish options:
  • fresh chopped chives
  • yogurt
  • pinch of curry powder

I had lentils, just not green lentils.  And I had everything else except for the coconut milk.  Seeing yogurt listed made me wonder...could I use the vanilla yogurt I have in my fridge as a coconut milk substitute?

I started Googling.  {When in doubt Google.  That can be non-rule number 3.}  From what I saw most coconut substitutes required coconut extract.  Not something I had on hand.  I thought about it for 2.6 seconds and decided I would try the vanilla yogurt.  Why you ask?  Well, for one thing the Hubster doesn't actually get to eat dinner with me except for twice a truthfully only my stomach was at stake.  But the biggest reason I went with the yogurt was because I knew that it would still add sweetness, and even though my soup would be thicker in consistency, it would still taste good.

So I jumped right in.

Saute, saute, saute.  {Please forgive my old and much loved pot...she is looking quite tattered these days!}

Here we are after the lentils simmered for an hour.  They smelled fabulous.  :)

Then I blended in the blender.  Instead of blending all the lentils in smaller batches to have an even consistency throughout, I blended about 3/4 all at once, then returned the lentil puree to the pot with the remaining 1/4.  This left me with some whole lentils and a thicker soup which was hearty and filling.

I chose to garnish with fresh chives and a pinch of extra curry powder.

So.  What if I didn't attempt the curry soup?  Or even worse {cue dramatic music} what if it turned out bad?

If I never tried in the first place, I never would have learned that vanilla yogurt is a decent substitute for coconut milk.  

If it turned out awful?  I would have had bread and cheese and a glass of wine for dinner instead.  And I would still be telling you about it and why it was so awful.  Because the important thing was to try something new.

No matter what, I don't think there is anything that could have stopped my dog from licking the bowl clean.

And leftovers?  Already on their way to being devoured.  ;)

1 comment:

  1. Hi - Great to meet another Judith! I can really relate to this post - making subsitutions and the risk that a recipe might not come out just right. I think imperfection scares a lot of people out of the kitchen when they might otherwise have fun. Great series topic too!