This post is sponsored by Sahadi’s.
Food access is important in my line of work. Well, if you love food, regardless of the type of work you do, it’s important. But when you are tasked to make specific foods or need to photograph a certain ingredient, you have to find it.
I’m the first one to admit that regularly accessing what I need isn’t always easy around here. Of course, this comes after spending 10 years in the surprisingly excellent local food scene of Central Kentucky, and then a few more years in the Bay Area. Which, I mean, come on. What can’t you find in the Bay Area?
Internet shopping for groceries is not only a fun pastime these days, it’s often a necessity.
Back in February, I attended a workshop with the food styling and food photography greats, Adam Pearson and Matt Armendariz. The course taught me so much about the art of working with food, but what was more unexpected was that it gave me some new inspiration for everyday cooking.
For one of the shoots, we prepared grain bowls with all kinds of good stuff like whole grains, lentils, nuts and roasted veggies. It was a build your own kind of thing for photographing. We never actually ate them.
I left that weekend thinking — I am so hungry for a grain bowl!
Every time we move to a new place it opens me up to a new world of ingredients. It’s probably obvious how that would happen with a move to Brazil. But I even felt this way when we moved back to a more rural area of Kentucky. Then, of course, there was the Bay Area.
This time around that new world of ingredients belongs to Mexican cuisine. I’ve barely scratched the surface on what is available to me. I’m also learning that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did about these ingredients.
I discover something new every time I go to the market.
Soon, we’ll be frantically running out to the supermarket to get overlooked ingredients. Soon, we’ll forget what it’s like to shop during the holidays and find ourselves elbowing our way to a check-out line. Soon, we’ll be waiting in line at the post office (something we swore we’d never do again) to get gifts mailed before the last possible hour.
Soon, no matter how hard we try to stay in control, things are going to get crazy.
I love the holiday season, crazy or not. So I say bring it on! As long as I have some lights sparkling in the living room and cookies in the oven at some point throughout the season, I’ll take it.
One might look at these photos and say — who sits down to only a bowl of lentils?
The answer to that question would be me. I have lentils as a meal so often that I’ve run out of new ideas for preparing them.
That pretty well sums up how this recipe came about. The solution to my problem called a curry powder rut.
I can’t get enough of foods in bowls.
There is something about having several tasty ingredients in one container that is drizzled with a sauce or dressing and topped with condiments that creates my idea of a perfect meal.
The combinations are endless, but I find that I’m most often drawn to those that don’t make complete sense. The more random the ingredients, the more I want to eat them.
Take this creation, for example. A chickpea seems like an odd thing to combine with Korean chili powder and cucumbers, but somehow it works.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve gotten away from canning. I used to be all about the jams and relishes.
Until I wasn’t.
And by that I mean until I had the pantry stocked with too many condiments than two people (and the occasional friend or family member) could possibly eat.
So I’ve scaled back a bit. Only small batches, and as it turns out, a lot of quick pickling. I actually prefer quickly pickling. Yes, you have to eat the veggies within a few days, but you can make much smaller amounts and things stay crisp. Something I used to struggle with when water bath canning.
In this recipe, slow cooker lentils are topped with turkey meatballs and then brightened with a sprinkle of fresh spinach for an easy one-bowl meal!
I tend to eat in earth tones. It’s something I didn’t realize until I began photographing my food.
Think about it. The occasional leafy green aside, many healthy foods are pretty much a big bunch of off white, beige and brown.
Lentils, beans, chickpeas, cauliflower, oats, onions, garlic, meats, mushrooms — all pretty much the same boring color. It’s unfair, too, because they can be pretty darn delicious.
This easy yellow split pea dal is loaded with the delicious flavors of coconut milk and garam masala. It cooks quickly in a Crock-Pot-style slow cooker for a super simple side dish.
I know what you are thinking. Really, Lori? Another recipe topped with an egg? Wait. I can explain.
You see, a few weeks ago I stocked up on lentils, dal and split peas of all varieties. Since then, I’ve thrown together some great Indian-inspired dishes. A few spices here and there, some stock, maybe some tomatoes and we’re good to go on the bean and legume group.
The problem? They are ugly. I mean, U-G-L-Y.
At the same time, though, they are super simple, and tasty with a capital T.
These chickpea and quinoa griddle cakes are made with chickpea and quinoa flours. Spiced with curry powder, they are topped with sautéed spinach and feta cheese.
I’ve been experimenting with socca a lot over the past year. In case you are unfamiliar (like I was just a year ago), socca is a snack made with chickpea flour and water. To me, it’s a cross between a tortilla and a crepe.