I kicked my cooking into high gear about a year ago when I found myself needing a distraction on the weekends. I was living in Atlanta and much of my work took me on the road. Weekends would roll around and, because I spent so many hours on planes and in hotel rooms, I needed a way to make “my home” feel like my home. I decided that the only way I was going to connect with the city was by getting myself out and about, and the only way my apartment was going to feel like my apartment belonged to me was if I started using it. I’ve always loved Farmer's Markets, and I’ve always loved to eat…so I started going to the Farmer's Market every Sunday, and spending the rest of the day cooking. I’ve actually been cooking for the last few years, my family is full of phenomenal cooks, but this year I’ve started to work towards their level.
Now that I’m living back in Los Angeles, I’ve tried to keep my weekend cooking tradition. Sunday mornings are spent at the farmers market, usually with one of my best friends, where I get the ingredients I need to cook the rest of the day. This weekend, I learned something that blew my mind. BLEW my mind. I was at the vegetable stand purchasing some kale (obviously, this is LA – kale and quinoa are so in right now), when I overheard a fellow shopper ask the farmer – everyone who works there is a farmer as far as I’m concerned – “is this organic?” I did an eye roll and continued to peruse the array of radishes, and then I hear the farmer say “No.”
Insert close up of my face at that exact moment:
I feel like I’ve been lied to. I’ve been bamboozled. WHAT DO YOU MEAN THIS ISN’T ORGANIC? Aren’t we at a Farmer’s Market? Isn’t this Los Angeles? Isn’t this just the outside version of the Whole Foods produce section? (News flash: not everything at WF is organic, either, wtf, what am I paying for?!). They have organic spray tans for God’s sake…how is the kale at this Farmer's Market not organic?!
I’m not going anywhere with this. I’ll I’m saying is that this was a huge learning for me…and I feel kind of dumb, because apparently it’s common knowledge that not everything at the Farmer’s Market is organic.
Needless to say, I still cooked with my not-so-organic produce…and what I made was delicious and hearty, and probably (hopefully) only lightly seasoned with pesticides.
Recipe for you!
1 cup of lentils
1 3/4 cups of vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups of thinly sliced onion
1 diced zucchini
2 handfuls of pre-washed spinach/kale
1 carrot diced
1 celery stick diced
Spices to flavor: 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp cinnamon...more or less depending on your preference
Sort and rinse lentils (using any method you like, I still use the paper towel and the strainer), place in a 3 qt saucepan, add vegetable broth and simmer partially covered for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet sauté onion, zucchini, carrot, and celery in 2 tsp of olive oil until soft.
Add spices to softened veggies and stir until coated and smelling delicious.
Chop up spinach or kale (I like to cut the kale leaves off of the thick stems so it's not so bitter) and add until soft. Mix in lentils.
**Also - let it be noted, that I finally stopped being lazy a got out my camera...these pictures can now be considered "photography"**