Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Filling Soup for a Fall Day

Soups are one of our favorite aspects of fall. They also provide a great opportunity to use the garden produce that is needing to be harvested this time of year. We have had tremendous success growing carrots in our garden. I'm not really a fan of peeling and chopping carrots for freezing or canning so I'm always glad to find a soup recipe that includes carrots. 
The recipe that I will be sharing is one that features not only carrots, but lentils and garbanzo beans as well. It also includes curry powder. While we are not exactly the "earthy" vegetarian types, this is a soup that we very much enjoy. The inclusion of the curry powder leaves the whole house smelling good and provides a nice accent to the flavors of the vegetables. I will admit that this isn't the most "aesthetically pleasing" soup that I have prepared, but it is quickly becoming a fall favorite with us.
Before I proceed to the recipe, a quick word about lentils…
Lentils are a member of the legume family and were among the first crops that were cultivated in the Near East. They are commonly consumed in western and southern Asia as well as in the Mediterranean region. Among legumes, their protein content is second to that of the soybean. Lentils grow on short busy plants that produce pods. The pods typically contain two seeds. Lentils are available in multiple colors, depending on the specific variety.
Lentil plants

Three colors of lentils

In India, lentils are commonly prepared with rice, often as part of a curry dish. In Ethiopia, lentils are include in a stew that is often the first solid food fed to babies. You may be surprised to learn that the top lentil-producing country in the world is … Canada. That's right. The province of Saskatchewan produces 99% of the nearly 2 million metric tons of lentils grown in Canada each year.
So, let's make some curried carrot and lentil soup …
Here are the ingredients:

Soup base:
2 tbsp olive oil - add more if needed
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 carrots, chopped
2 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons curry powder (feel free to add more to taste)
2 cups lentils
2 quarts of water - add more as needed. I would imagine that you could include a vegetable stock or chicken broth if you wanted. We have just used water.

Chickpea puree (to be added after the lentils have cooked through)
2 16-ounce cans chickpeas
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1-2 garlic cloves (optional)

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until the onion is nearly translucent. Add the carrots and garlic and continue to cook until the carrots are starting to become soft. Add the curry powder and stir until fragrant. Add the lentils and water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer until the lentils are tender, which will take approximately 30 minutes. Add additional water as needed. 

Here is the amount of carrots I used from the garden. You will see that they are various sizes. I chose a combination that would be equivalent to about 4 large carrots from the store.
We like this Hot Madras curry powder. It's easy to find in the grocery store.
I'm not sure what "variety" or "color" you would call these lentils. They were what was available in the dried beans section of the grocery store and labeled as "lentils."
While the soup is cooking, prepare the chickpea puree:
Puree the chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, water, and additional garlic together. The mixture will look much like hummus only you wouldn't have included tahini, a key ingredient in hummus along with the additional seasonings.
Once the lentils have cooked, stir the puree into the soup. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder. Add additional liquid as desired.
Serve with a salad and warm bread. 
The amounts that I provided here will make a pretty big pot of soup. You can look forward to 1) being able to feed a large group, 2) leftovers for a few nights, or 3) freezing some of the extra for a ready-to-go meal at another date and time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Primitive Piecing … part 1

I absolutely love fall! I love the cooler temperatures and changing colors on the mountain sides. Perhaps there is something about the fall that calls us to slow down a bit and return to the comforts of the familiar. Fall colors are also among my favorites for quilting projects. For me, there is something familiar and comforting in the colors and textures of homespuns and reproductive prints. For this post I will share a primitive style quilting project.
Primitive style in the quilting or textile arts world refers to a folk art style. Primitive style may have features that are characteristic of early America; however, it also can have a more contemporary look. Regardless of whether it takes on a more period or contemporary look, primitive style typically features muted colors and a rough and simple look. As was emphasized in a wool appliqué course I took a few years ago, "primitive" is a distinct style and is not to be confused with poor workmanship. The rich fall colors in the top picture are well-suited for inclusion in a primitive style quilt.  

The quilt that I am going to share through this and subsequent posts is one that was featured in the Fall 2012 "Primitive Quilts and Projects" magazine. It was designed by the ladies of Country Threads Quilt Shop and Pattern Company who operated their quilt shop from a farm in Iowa. We had a chance to visit the shop during our trip to Minnesota in the summer of 2012. I bought the magazine that featured the pattern as well as the accompanying kit. For good or for bad, other projects fell into the queue ahead of this one and it lay dormant in my sewing room. A few weeks ago, I needed a project for Midnight Sew night, and decided that the time had come to get busy on this one. 
There is no better place to start than at the beginning, right? Here are the initial three pieces sewn together to create what will be the center of the quilt. It's okay if you are thinking, "Hmm, that looks a little plain." Hang in there until the next sewing post and see what becomes of them.
Now to add a border strip or two …
What do you think of this border featuring half-square triangles? The picture also includes the magazine that features the pattern for this quilt. If you look closely, you can see that the cover features a Halloween quilt that includes churn dash blocks. The churn dash is one of my favorite traditional quilt blocks and one that is well-suited to a primitive style quilt. Some day I hope to make that quilt, but today is not that "some day" and it's time to get back to the feature project.  
Here are three cute pieced blocks that will form part of the upper border.
And, finally (for this post, at least), here is the pieced strip that will form one of the side borders.
As I look over this post, perhaps what I enjoy most about fall, as well as primitive style quilting is its peaceful simplicity. To me, there is something comforting and reassuring in both the colors and style. This peaceful simplicity calls me to pause and rest in the midst of a hectic, fast-paced schedule. 
During my Sunday School class this past week, we also reflected on the simple, foundational truths of our faith. So often in the Christian walk, it is easy to be troubled and distracted by a schedule full of peripheral issues that divert our focus from keeping our eyes on Jesus. Perhaps that is why Jesus instructs us to…
Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness … 
Matthew 6:33