Monthly Archives: January 2022

Green Lentils Three Ways!

Lentil burger

Hey, all! Hope you are surviving this snowy, cold snap that is hitting across so much of the country. We got about 14 inches of snow at the beginning of the week, and last night’s low was -6 degrees. We are in northeast Ohio, so this is not that unusual for us. I watch the weather on television and see many of you in other parts of the country are getting slammed with similar weather that is not the norm for your areas. Take care out there!

Today, it’s time for another recipe and cooking post. This one features green lentils. I never used to be a fan of lentils. Since I discovered various types of lentils besides the standard brown ones, and I am learning better ways to cook them, I have a new appreciation. So, here is a recipe I invented to incorporate some healthy lentils into our diets.

Chopped garlic, onion, and red pepper.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 of a red pepper
  • handful of baby carrots, finely diced
  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (any flavor, fire roasted is especially good)
  • 2 cups any flavor of broth (or water with a bouillon cube)
  • 1 cup green lentils

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a 12 inch skillet. Add garlic, onion, red pepper, and carrots.
  2. Sauté all until tender. Covering with a lid helps keep the veggies from burning before they are ready. Stir occasionally.
  3. Remove lid when veggies are tender. Add black pepper, garlic and onion powders, basil, and thyme. Sauté 1-2 minutes more.
  4. Add broth, or water and bouillon, and bring to boil while stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the lentils and canned tomatoes. Simmer, covered until lentils are tender. Approximately 30 minutes. You may need to add more liquid as the lentils cook. Water is fine for this.
  6. Voila! Dinner is served.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Serve on rice. Basmati is a good choice, but any rice will work.
  • Melt cheese on top for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  • Stir in a little barbeque sauce or soy sauce for added flavor.

This made more than I anticipated, so after having it for a couple meals, I made the rest into veggie patties.

To do this:

  • Put leftover lentil mixture into a food processor or chopper and run until smooth. Pulse at first and then run for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Add an egg, a bit of Parmesan cheese, and about 1/2 cup of Italian breadcrumbs. Process long enough to mix.
  • Form mixture into patties and fry in enough oil to coat pan.
  • You can melt the cheese of your choice on top.
  • Serve.

And after this, I still had a large lentil patty left, so I crumbled it up and used it as a topping for homemade pizza!

This recipe made a few meals for two people. And it lived on as incarnations in more meal ideas as well. The recipe was frugal and tasty. I’d count it as a winner. Let me know what you think. Don’t forget to follow my blog. I intend to include at least one recipe per month as part of my country living lifestyle page.

Quarry Trail Hike: Thoughts Along the Trail

Quarry at West Branch State Park

We did a new hike yesterday! We went on the Quarry Trail at West Branch State Park (Ohio). We tried to go on this hike once before but ended up on some other trail and never saw the quarry. I hesitate to say we got lost because in my book, not knowing exactly where you are and being lost are too different things. If you can find the car, you are not really lost. And sometimes, not ending up where you expected to be can turn into a really fun time.

Rock wall that crosses the Quarry Trail.

But yesterday we saw the quarry. It was not nearly as big or impressive as I anticipated, but it was still a great hike. The whole area is scattered with beautiful stones and even at this time of year many of them are covered with velvety green moss. There is a wonderful old stone fence that cuts through the middle of this trail. It was so well made that it is still very sturdy. A couple rocks were moved where the trail crosses so you can pass through. This is also a mountain bike trail so be warned. The footing is challenging in places from the rock surfaces. I recommend a stiff-soled hiking boot. If you wear tennis shoes, your feet will not thank you.

Rock outcropping on the back half of the trail.

In addition to all the smaller rocks, there are also some massive rocks still visible in the hillside. The coppery green color you see above is due to moss and lichens that grow in the area. This photo was taken from the trail below the rock. Later in the hike we crossed at the top of the rock and got the view from that side too. The trail does crisscross back and forth because it is intended for mountain bikes too. That also explains why so many rocks are actually in the trail. This is apparently desirable to mountain bikers. They like to ride over things.

Hubby with Cassius and Baxter ahead on the trail.

My husband usually takes the lead with our largest two dogs, Cassius and Baxter. I follow with the other three dogs, Shelby, Zekie, and Claire. Not many trails are wide enough for us all to walk side by side. In fact, there are often times when I have Zekie and Claire in front of me and Shelby follows behind. We lost our 14 year old dog Nikki this past fall (Miss Nikki Pouncer Pants: A Tribute), so now all the dogs are with us when we hike. I miss being able to tell other hikers that we encounter along the way that we have one more dog at home.

We have fared better than much of the country with the winter weather we have had so far. Knock on wood! We have had very little snow and mild temperatures thus far. Nearly perfect for hiking. We actually take our break from hiking in the summer months when it is hot. The warm temperatures are too hard on the dog and me too. My husband is fine with heat, but I tend to whine and complain. I am not a hot weather type of girl.

Power alley for the gas pipeline that crosses the trails.

The view above is not part of the Quarry Trail. It is a path that the utility company maintains, and it happens to cut through the park trail on several loops. We have used this on both our trips to the Quarry Trail, however. It is a direct route back to the parking lot if you become disoriented or are tired. This is the view taken from the top. It is a long, steep climb, but you know exactly where you will come out when you take this path.

I know that we will soon be on this trail again. It was fun to look at all the different rock formations. And my mind tends to wander when I am hiking. Each time that long, stacked rock wall crosses my path, or should I say I cross its path, I think of the farmers trying to make a living and grow food out on the Western Reserve of Ohio in earlier times. How long and how much time and sweat it must have taken to lay a wall so massive. Trying each rock to see which was the best fit. Putting one down and picking up another. They were true craftsman to assemble something that is still in place. Most of this area of the park was once farms. You often come across flowers that are not natural. You know they framed a homestead at some point in time. Occasionally, we come across old foundations from basements, or sometimes a circle of stones that was once the base of a silo. I find that many aspects of hiking these areas hold different types of magic for me. Sometimes, it is the beauty of nature. Other times, it is the history that lies buried if you care to look.

We were on this particular hike for 2.2 miles. It seemed more like four. Don’t get me wrong, I will gladly do it again soon. Just don’t underestimate the extra effort a rough trail can add.

The Famine of Togetherness

One of my nieces getting her groove on!

The Covid pandemic has changed me in ways I never thought possible. So far, I have remained healthy and disease-free. I have gone to great lengths to make sure this is the case. I am vaccinated, boosted, and hubby and I have spent a lot of time in isolation.

One of the biggest blessings of 2020 was being able to spend time with family again after the vaccines became available. I will never look at spending time with family in the same way. I always enjoyed it and looked forward to those times. Now, these gatherings bring me great joy. It is like a miracle every time one of my nieces’ crawls into my lap or we run around the house doing goofy activities. Hugging brothers, daughters, and other extended family is a treat. I feel like I am the survivor of a Great Depression. It was the Great Depression of solitude.

I know I am not the only person to feel this way. We watched a newsclip this morning showing people reuniting after being separated from loved ones for months and others for more than a year. The ones that reunited where one party was surprised are priceless. Watching so much joy literally brought goosebumps up on my arms.

Silly times with my other niece.

Early 2020 was the famine of togetherness, the drought of connectedness, the desert of social gatherings, but also taught us the importance of camaraderie and community.

Let us not soon forget this lesson. Time together is what makes our lives whole. Relationships with others help to fulfill us. Even encounters with strangers can be a precious thing. It is our chance to make a difference for someone else. Make it a good one. So, as we get back to a new normal, remember the great gift that the people in our lives are.

If we become annoyed or impatient with that person in front of us in the check-out line don’t take that for granted. We are in a store, in a check-out line, not reduced to using curbside pickup to avoid contact with others. (Although what a blessing curbside pickup was when we needed it. Thank you, workers!)

And we are all adjusting to a new normal. So, remember to be kind. Always.

Books I Read in December 2021

1. Once Upon a Wardrobe-Patti Callahan

Megs Devonshire’s gift lies with mathematics. And with bringing her dying brother’s love of Narnia and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to life. Megs loves her brother more than anything. In trying to fulfill her brother’s dreams she meets the two Mr. Lewis’, C.S. and his brother, and has life changing experiences. It is a magical story about the forms of love.

2. I Heart Cheese, a Cookbook-Mihaela Metaxa-Albu (Non-fiction)

Wonderful pictures and creative recipes. It got me to try some cheeses that I had heard of but hadn’t tried such as Halloumi.

3. The Book of Hope- Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams (Non-fiction)

All of Jane’s books strike a chord in me and this one is no exception. Jane is able to see all of us in herself while making us see a bit of Jane in ourselves. She is truly a master of communication and hope for this world.

4. West With Giraffes-Lynda Rutledge

Woodrow Wilson Nickel, age 105, reminisces about a journey he made across the country with two giraffes after the east coast hurricane of 1938. The plot premise sounded adventurous, but the story did not hold my interest. I stopped reading after 59 pages.

5. Sleigh Bells Ring-RaeAnne Thayne

Annie is watching her six year twin niece and nephew while their father serves a one month jail sentence. He is dealing with the death of his wife and unborn child. Annie is also the ranch manager for Angel’s View Ranch owned by the Sheridan clan. The clan comes to the ranch unannounced for a memorial for the patriarch of the family. Annie must handle accommodations for the entire clan plus take care of her niece and nephew and the volunteer projects she has committed to for Christmas. She must also deal with growing feelings for the grandson of the family. A nice holiday story.

6. The Speckled Beauty-Rick Bragg (Non-fiction)

Speck was a dog running at large and the author took him in. Speck is a farm dog in Alabama and quite a handful. The book gives a bit of a look into rural life in the south.

7. The Christmas Promise-Richard Paul Evans

Growing up, Michelle and Richelle are close, as only identical twins can be. They are identical in appearance but not personalities. As young adults a lone event comes between them forever. As years pass Richelle is alone and living her life as best she can, letting her career absorb time. Meeting and coming to love a stranger changes her life in ways she never expected.

Magazines-Good Housekeeping, Yankee, Country Living (2 issues), Writers Digest, Farmhouse Living, American Favorite Pumpkin Recipes, Best Friends (2 issues), Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Ideas, Country Living Christmas-UK edition, Oprah Magazine-the Gratitude Issue, the Cottage Journal Holiday Home, Southern Living Christmas at Home, Better Homes and Gardens Farmhouse Christmas

It is hard for me to pick one book to recommend as my favorite because this is such a varied list. I think I would have to go with Once Upon a Wardrobe. It is a little different from my usual read, but the story got in my mind and made me think. Happy reading!