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Monday, 14 May 2012

Making Room for Another ~ Ham and Lentil Soup

In an earlier post, I admitted that I am a sentimental fool.  I tend to hold on to things for the memories they evoke.  Decluttering, organizing and staying organized require great effort on my part.  But now, I have a reason to turn over a new leaf.  Monsieur and I have decided to combine households.  This is a huge step for the both of us as it is something that we have never done before.  I thought that I would feel stressed about making room for another but, as Monsieur said, there is a sense of liberation in purging and decluttering.  And as the kitchen is the heart of the home, it seemed natural to start my organizing efforts there.  As luck would have it, I picked up a couple of vintage Le Parfait mason jars recently.


It has always been a dream of mine to have a pantry with shelves laden with jars of all sorts of foodstuffs.  The kitchen is small with not a lot of cupboard space but it does my heart good to open a cupboard door and see rows of jars filled with staples like lentils and rice.  And it is so much more organized than having open, half used plastic bags stuffed on top of each other, or worse falling out and spilling their contents all over.


I am going to keep my eye out for more of these jars.  I adore the vintage script and the fact that they are French.  Admittedly, I giggle whenever I read the words on the side, "Le Parfait Super (!!!)" Exclamation marks are my own as by no means am I perfect or super in the kitchen. 
Upon decanting all the lentils into one of the jars, I decided to try out the recipe on the back of the packet.  The result, lentil soup, came out surprisingly tasty as, up until now, lentil soup has never been a favourite of mine.


A few slices of crusty ciabatta bread made for a simple, nutritious meal.



Here is the recipe off the back of the packet.  I tweaked it a little as I didn't have any ham on hand.

Ham and Lentil Soup
1 tbsp (15ml) canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 cup (250ml) diced ham (I used 5 strips of bacon)
1 cup (250ml) rinsed green lentils
6 cups (1.5l) chicken stock
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped (I eliminated the red pepper as I am allergic to it)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped 
chopped parsley for garnish
Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat and saute onion, garlic, celery and ham for 5 minutes (I poured off some of the bacon drippings, reserving some of it for sauteing the vegetables).  Add green lentils, chicken stock, bell pepper and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until green lentils are tender.  Makes 8 servings.  I did add ground pepper, a pinch of salt and dried oregano for added flavour.  So here I would add to the original recipe, season to taste.


It was so heartwarmingly satisfying to shop for a meal from a much more organized kitchen cupboard or pantry.  If you have any suggestions to help maintain an orderly kitchen and pantry, please let me know!  There will be many more life changes coming soon and we can't wait to discover and learn new ways of living and being. 

Monday, 7 May 2012

My First Haeger

I used to love thrifting.  Notice that I employed the past tense.  Thrifting meant retail therapy without the guilt.  But now thrifting seems an endeavour that is not for the faint of heart.  Let me back track a little.  Recently, I decided to indulge in a little "retail therapy" when I saw something on a shelf that made me gasp.  Do you ever see something and time just seems to stop?  I don't really remember walking over (or running to the shelf), just lifting it up and turning it over to check the bottom.  What was it?  It was this.


A Haeger console planter/vase!  Now Haeger pottery may be a commonplace find South of the border but up here in the Great White North, they are a rare find out in the wild.  I'd been keeping an eye out for Haeger pottery but had begun to think that they were an urban legend until now.

 
I think I had 5 seconds of dazed happiness staring at the backstamp when, all of a sudden, a screeching voice bellowed in my ear, "That's mine!  I saw it first!"  My daze of euphoria quickly turned into a daze of stupefaction.  All I could think to say was, "Ummmm....no???"  I'm guessing she saw the look of happy shock on my face, realized I'd scored a great find and decided to try her luck at bullying me into handing it over.  Unfortunately for her, my hands felt like they were now superglued to the planter.  And as you can see, it is now in my home.  Its entry into my life not only nipped off my growing thrifting obsession but precipitated an overhaul of the entry console table.  This is what it used to look like.


I had begun to realize that the various figurines on the bottom shelf had a tendency to draw the eye downwards.  The front entry doesn't have any windows so there is no source of natural light.  So the figurines blended into the shadows.  The bowl was used to hold keys but ended up holding clutter.  The box was used to hold mail but just encouraged more clutter accumulation.  Now the table looks like this.


Much better I think, don't you?  I really like the clean simple lines. 


But now I'm wondering if it's too simple and sparse.  Do you think I should add something to the bottom shelf like a flower arrangement?  Or a pair of lamps flanking the planter?  Any suggestions would be welcome!  Of course, if I decided to add more things, that would mean venturing back out into the now scary world of thrifting.  And I don't think I've recovered just yet...


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