Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Failed Experiments and New Favorites, or, Red Lentil Soup

Hi all,

So I thought it might be fun to bring back some of that chemistry/cooking bit that I had on here a while ago. Up today is a great bowl of Red Lentil Soup!

The good news? It's dairy-free, egg-free, and completely vegan. Delish when it's chilly out or any time of day really.

Well, maybe not at breakfast.

Don't know too many who are into the breakfast soups. Then again, if soup for breakfast is your thing, good on you, mate!

Anyway, back to the recipe. This happened as an experiment in making lentils for dinner. But as with most failed experiments, something awesome always happens!

Here's the recipe.

Red Lentil Soup
Serves: four small bowls or two large bowls

3/4 cup dried red lentils
2 and 1/4 cups water
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1/4 onion, peeled and chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 dried whole clove
2 and 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tsp cracked pepper

Rinse the lentils under cool water, taking out any stones you see.
Add them immediately to the pot. Add the water, carrot, onion, thyme, bay leaf, clove, salt and pepper. Heat to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to a simmer on low for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The lentils and carrot pieces should be soft and easy to crush with a spoon.
Remove the clove and the bay leaf.
Puree the entire pot with an immersion blender, or if you don't have one, a food processor, until smooth and a rich reddish-orange color. (Add more water if you would like the soup thinner.)

Suggestion: Serve with whole grain bread slices brushed with olive oil and lightly toasted for some fun dippers.

Trust me when I say that this soup is heavenly to smell too.

And there you have it! Easy and so healthy for you. Plus, it has the stamp of approval from Mr. K.

Enjoy, or as they say in France, bon appétit!

Until next time!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The SWAIA 2014 in Santa Fe!

Hello all!

So do I have a great series of photos to share with you. Last weekend, Mr K and I went to Santa Fe, NM to check out the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts. Or, as it's more commonly known here, the Santa Fe Indian Market. About 100,000 people come to this market/festival annually, coming from all over the world for the two day event that showcases the most beautiful hand crafted Native American arts I've ever seen.

It was a beautiful day and we were excited. Our first event! Of course, we hadn't planned on the fact that there wouldn't be enough parking. But, lucky for us, after about an hour and a half of driving around and getting stuck in LOTS of traffic, we found a free parking structure by the courthouse.

The Santa Fe Courthouse

Nice photo op, I think.

Then we walked towards the historic plaza of Santa Fe.

Entering the plaza

As you can see from the above pic, it was starting to get crowded, but it was nothing. We were only on the farthest outskirts of the market.

This building was too pretty to pass up.

And of course, there were wind catcher sculptures too!

It doesn't make sound, but it does make waves.

Anyway, we made our way to the center of the plaza, admiring the various stalls of pottery and jewelry we saw before getting a map. They had all sorts of food there too. Mr K and I had already eaten, but we may have shared a small paper bag of mini fried doughnuts in cinnamon sugar.


They also had roasted corn on the cob and Horchata (basically a cold milky drink made from rice with cinnamon, sugar and vanilla). We almost got some horchata, but we decided that water would be better for us, as we were pretty thirsty.

Another time. Another time...

Well, while meandering and munching on the mini snacks, a performance began. I believe it was a young man from the Apache tribe (please correct me if I'm wrong!) that performed some flute songs he had written based on some Native American stories that he told his children.

His flute playing was gorgeous and created a spell over the audience. Haunting and floating. I loved it.

Then he called up another person and the other man performed a wind dance to tell the story of the trickster coyote.


It was pretty neat.

He called up a sweet little boy, only six years old, his nephew to dance a hoop dance. It was so hard to catch good photos of that little dynamo. He moved so quickly!

Just look at that happy face! I was very impressed with his ability to hold four to eight hoops in one hand.

Following the boy, the flutist called up his father to share a story while he played.

The father told a story in two languages. The version in his native tongue had such expression and such emotion behind it, made me sad that I didn't understand it. But I'm glad he translated it in English too.

After that, Mr K and I decided to stretch our legs and see some of the longer stretches of tents.

We saw all sorts of crafts, but my favorite was the tent with the circle quilts. The colors were absolutely astounding. So beautiful that I forgot to take a picture!

On our way back we happened across another performance. It looked like it was a closing ceremony to the four directions (North, South, East, and West).

The dresses the girls wore were lovely and everyone danced in time. It was incredible to watch.

But, as with all good things, it came to an end and we headed back to our little car. However, we managed a few detours.

I love detours. They're so much fun.

If we hadn't stopped, we would have missed this:

For right now, this is very New Mexican to us.
The hanging chiles, the statue, the buildings.

All of it.

It just says New Mexico and Southwest culture.

And of course, I did see this:

Those carpets are pretty, but they don't hold a candle to the ones I saw in the market.

Well, we headed home and I finally got my favorite photos of the day.

I know, I know. All the photos were my favorites, but these last two really were just perfect with the light and the timing. I was pleased that they turned out!

Exhibit A:

That is Camel Rock Monument, what you see going from Santa Fe to Los Alamos.

And Exhibit B:

I love the Southwest!

And on that note, goodnight all!
Until next time!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Wedding and a Move!

Hello all!

Sorry about the delay in posting. We were a little busy with a few things.

Firstly, a gorgeous and wonderful wedding in the family: Mr. K's brother, C, to H (or rather, now another Mrs. K). Power to the newlyweds!

We had such fun at the rehearsal:

Miss A and me, feeling pretty, oh so pretty

There may have been a few shenanigans with the ring exchange...

But this one is my favorite from that night.

We had a day or two before the big event, and I even got to help out with putting baby's breath in the aisles and in the center pieces. Loved helping!!!

A rare shot of Mr K and me before the ceremony began

My in-laws, the original Mr and Mrs K.

Then we all settled down for a beautiful ceremony, outside, with a gazebo.

H was a beautiful bride and C was very dapper in his tux.
That's my sister-in-law, A, on the far left, and you all know Mr. K here on the right. He was best man.

 After the ceremony, we were led into the reception area, where the big fun happened. We all cheered for them when C and H were announced husband and wife.

Following that was the first dance. I couldn't resist this lovely shot here. C looks so happy.

Mr K led the speeches and then settled back at the "kid table" where the rest of us were.

These guys right here, are now engaged!!!
Congrats to my sister-in-law and M!

It was there that we discovered that Mr K had blackberries attached to his boutonnière. And, well, the servers seemed to miss our table with appetizers, so...

I may or may not have been a little hungry...

Anyway, back to the reception. The cake was cut.


And then the dancing. Oh the dancing! It was marvelous. 1980s music mixed with some modern stuff. So nice, and Mr K even got out on the floor with me.

Then the end came and we sent off the newlyweds in style: BUBBLES!

Off to Hawaii!

Welcome to the family, H!  I'm happy to have another sister-in-law!

But wait, there's more.

A week after the wedding we had some fun in Santa Barbara.

I love this man

Palm trees!

And sunsets

The bay at sunset. So pretty and magical.

The best photos were yet to be. Mr. K and I prepared to head out east from California to New Mexico!!

Moving time, again.

But before we left, Mr K's cousin and his wife M had a little girl!

That is one proud papa right there!

Our flight was short, only two hours or so. But the scenery was pretty.


And then we arrived in Santa Fe and went to Los Alamos!

Just the local scenery as you drive on the highway from Santa Fe to Los Alamos

 This one's my fave.

Those colors are just gorgeous.

And then we got Rosa, our first car we bought together.

We almost called her Vera.

This week, we got part one of our shipment and we've been up to our elbows in boxes.

No, literally. Up to our elbows, inside and out and all around.

We have one room in this three bedroom home that we're renting that is just dedicated to empty boxes. It's almost full and we're not done yet! But, my office is about done. Just in time for me to have a place to write and organize my thoughts before I get a Skype call from my Paris writer's group.

The kitchen is almost done, and the bedroom is okay...we had to get more hangers today.

So, soon we will be done, just in time to get part two of the shipment coming from France next month and it will all begin again...oh the joys of moving.

Aside from a few hiccups along the way, we are on our way to settling in, given a few more weeks. We couldn't be happier.

Well, times be sparse here. I'll keep you guys posted as much as I can but I can't guarantee much until we're unpacked.

Until next time,

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Last huzzah to France!

Had to put one last entry in.

I think you all might enjoy it too. It's featuring the best thing in France.

Yup, you guessed it. We're going to talk pastries today.

(Hope you're not hungry...)

First up, a Demoiselle d'ananas.

This gem is divine and from what I could glean from the info, it can mean anything from a young woman, a damsel fly, a crane or a pastry at our local bakery. What I do know is that inside this pastry dome is a lightly sweetened pineapple cream which goes deliciously with the passion fruit macaron on top. A must if you can get it!

Alright, next up, a Paris-Brest.

This is a rare form because it's in the eclair shape. Usually it's a round, circular looking type. It was created in 1910 to honor the Paris to Brest bike race which was founded in 1891. Hence the circular, wheel-like shape. This was Mr. K's fave of the day. He really liked the praline cream inside the eclair. Also a good one to try if you can get one.

Thirdly, we have a St. Honoré.

This pastry is one of my faves. It's made in honor of the patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs, St Honoré. He was a bishop in Amiens in 600AD. It has the best of all worlds in it: cream puffs, whipped cream, puff pastry, and pastry cream. The puff pastries are dipped in caramelized sugar, or in this case, caramel. It's actually very light and not very sweet. Just perfect to share à deux.

Next in the line up is a Rosée du Matin.

It's name means Morning Dew and it is just as fresh as that. Basically it's a raspberry mousse around a raspberry coulis, over a shortbread cookie called a sablé. Here our bakery even put a chocolate macaron on it. Chocolate and raspberries go very well together, don't you think?

Following that, we have a Tarte Aux Citrons Revistée.

This is fantastic! I highly recommend this to anyone who loves lemon meringue pie. So tasty and just the perfect treat to try on a summer night. It's a slightly Breton thing to eat, because of the cookie bottom. But yes. Try this one if you see it.

And lastly, what France trip is complete without trying...

Yes. Macarons. Macarons by the millons!

Mr K and I have found that it is always best to separate the strong scented ones (Bergamot and Citron, we're looking at you) from the rest of the others. They tend to give their flavors to their neighbors.

My personal favorite is the Rose flavored one. Mr. K prefers the Raspberry one or the Salted Caramel. There are so many to choose from and every place makes their own flavors.

Our suggestion: Get an assortment from your favorite place, like, say, from Georges Larnicol in St. Germain Des Près, and then go wander to your favorite garden, like the Jardin du Luxembourg, and enjoy them with friends, or just by yourself. It's lovely and delicious.

Just don't try to take them home on the train/metro or save them for the next day. Macarons are best enjoyed in the spur of the moment and all at once. (My favorite type of treat) Kinda like, well, actually, there is nothing quite like them in the United States and that, my friends, is very sad.

I will miss these delectable morsels from France. Immensely.

Maybe I can figure out how to make them in New Mexico...which is where we are headed next! But then again, I have a feeling that I will be making some new dessert discoveries in the Southwest region.

So, until next time, get out there and enjoy those French pastries if you can!

Au revoir ma chère France! Je t'embrasse bien forte!
(Au revoir et merci pour tout le poisson!)


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