Monday, April 2, 2012

Weekend in Review

Because I'm currently studying for the Professional Engineering exam, my weekends for the past 5 weeks have consisted of me sitting at my kitchen table, in front of a laptop, listening to professors and engineering professionals lecture about all topics covered in the Environmental PE Exam, which I'm taking on Friday, April 13.  The review course is given online, and literally consists of 7 hours of exam prep every Saturday and Sunday for the entire month of March.  It was a brutal experience.  My last class was yesterday...and I'm glad I took the course, because I'm pretty sure I need a refresher on all things engineering before sitting for this exam...but I'm not sure the class prep is going to be enough to get me through the grueling 8 hour, 100 question, multiple choice exam I'll be sitting through next week.  Plus it was hard to stay focused on stuff like this:

For 7 straight hours 2 days in a row, with lecturers whose native language definitely wasn't English.  By the end of each class, but especially on Sundays,
all I wanted to do was throw the laptop out of the window, go to a local bar, and drink myself silly to forget all the ridiculousness that had just been crammed into my brain.  It was frustrating.

So, last night, I was pretty darn proud of myself when I resisted the urge to run to my local watering hole after my final day of hell.  Instead, I worked (with Greg) to make a healthy dinner...the lentil-lemon-kale soup I blogged about previously.  I had made it once before, and it was delicious...and decided it would be a much healthier dinner than liquid hops and the inevitable burger that would be eaten had I gone with my gut reaction.

The soup turned out delicious...and really was the highlight of my weekend (yes, I'm aware of how pathetic that makes me).  Anyway - here are some pics of the soup for you to drool over:

Maybe it doesn't look that appetizing to you, but, trust me, this stuff is the bees knees.  And it's relatively simple to make.  Here's my (very rough) instructions (special thanks to my sister Lindsay, who really gave me the first draft of these directions):

Put ~ 10 Cups of liquid into a pot.  You can use chicken broth or water, but if you use water, plan to add chicken bullion.  (If you're like me, you will use a few cups of chicken broth, add water, and at some point taste the broth and then add bullion as necessary.)
Add some fresh herbs to the pot (sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, etc. whatever you like and have on hand).
Add 1 or 2 bay leaves to the pot (I use 2 because I like the flavor).
Chop a small onion into large chunks, add that to pot.
Peel and smash some garlic cloves, add them to the pot.
Bring this all to a boil, them simmer for roughly 20 minutes to get all the flavor out of your herbs and into your soup.  Taste the broth, and add salt/pepper/additional seasoning as necessary. 

When satisfied, remove the herbs and veggies from the pot (don't worry if you can't get it all out, this is all stuff that's good for you!) and discard.

Add about 1 Cup of rinsed lentils to the pot (I used regular brown ones, but I'm sure you could use any variety).  Again bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 20 minutes until the lentils are tender.

While you're waiting for the simmering to be done, clean and chop up one head of kale (or less if you don't want SO much green in your soup).  Also chop up one large onion and juice 1 - 1.5 lemons and set aside.

In a large sautee or frying pan, heat some olive oil.  Add chopped onions and cook until tender, then add some minced garlic (I use the stuff from a jar, and take about a tablespoon of it, but I LOVE garlic).

When the garlic is just getting fragrant, start adding your kale to the pan and cook down.  You will have to add this in small-ish batches to get room in the pan as the kale cooks down.  You may have to add some more olive oil to the pan to prevent burning.  Make sure your stove heat isn't on high, I recommend a medium or even medium low setting for cooking down kale.

When you start to feel bad about how much oil you're adding to the kale to prevent burning, stop, and use some juice from the lemons to add moisture to your process.  

When the kale is bright green and can fit into your pan well, turn the heat off and set the pan aside.  Taste the kale and see if you want to add a bit of salt or pepper, I usually add just a little bit of both.

When your lentils are tender, add the kale mixture into the soup pot, and mix until all is warm and delicious.  Taste the broth, and if you want, add the rest of the juice from your lemons (I usually do this since I really love lemony stuff).

Finally, ladle into bowls and enjoy!  

OMG this stuff is delicious!!!!

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