Roasted Eggplant, Lentil, Orzo Stew

A few days ago, I arrived home from the grocery store with 5 or 6 bags of groceries, mostly vegetables for our “Soup Every Day Project.” I shop twice every week and I know most of the cashiers by name and they know my name. Some even know our dog’s name, Freddy, as I have given them his business card. Yes. He has a business card because he is a very good boy and cute as a button.

Anyway, Susan saw that I had bought an eggplant and she said “Bruce, what do you plan on cooking with the eggplant?” I answered, “I thought I might make eggplant parm or moussaka.” And she said, “I just found this interesting recipe for eggplant. What not take a look at it.” And I did and I said, “Susan, that sounds delicious.” And it was delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds eggplant (2 small or 1 large, skin on, or peeled, if desired), chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup dried lentils (green, black or brown)
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water
  • ½ cup orzo or other small pasta, such as ditalini, stelline or macaroni
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon, plus 4 lemon wedges for garnish
  • ¼ cup shaved ricotta salata or crumbled feta

Preparation

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1/4 cup olive oil and crushed coriander seeds until coated; season with salt and pepper. Arrange in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast until eggplant is tender and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, giving the baking sheet a shake halfway through roasting to toss the eggplant pieces for even cooking.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium. Add the carrot, onion and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato paste begins to darken on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the lentils until coated. Pour in stock or water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the type and age of lentils you use.
  5. Stir in the orzo and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with the roasted eggplant pieces and large shavings of ricotta salata, and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing.

All Cats Go To Heaven

It is early Wednesday morning
January 3, 2019
Dark and cold
I am walking my dog
Freddy, a mini-labradoodle
I am thinking of my cat
I had a cat
We had a cat
Nadine
A Calico Cat
It has been four months
Since she went to our Father in Heaven
We missed her at Christmas
I thought we had lost her
This past summer when she escaped
From the house and wandered
Nearby our property
A neighbor found her the next day
I picked her up and was struck
By how much weight she had lost
How her body was just skin and bones
She loved the outdoors, roaming around
In the backyard, sometimes near Freddy
But more often than not
Alone in the garden or a flower-bed
She came to me twelve years ago
I lived in a loft then and she delighted
In climbing the beams below the ceiling
And when Nadine and I moved
In with Susan she seemed happy here
Exploring new territory, new chairs
And tables, and beds, and late in life
Darker places–underneath the ottoman
In the sitting room or the end table
Still she sat
Near me, her paws
Placed softly on my legs
Quietly purring
Still I see her out of the corner of eye
Still I hear her early in the morning
At the bedroom door, more moaning than purring
And she would come running
Whe she heard me opening a can of tuna
Freddy doesn’t seem to miss her but
Who knows; he often crawls under the ottoman
And scratches at the rug still covered just a little
With her hair. Nadine was so often a muse
There are thousands of photographs
Of her, and I think of her, yes, I see her
Throughout the day wondering
If she will some how just show up
One day. I give thanks
She lived so long with me
With Susan, with Freddy.
All cats go to Heaven.
Right?

A few photos:

 

Inventory

Inventory

This is the day
The first Day
Of the new year.
There is a wind advisory
Today. I am sitting
At my desk. A framed photo
Of my beloved. Inspiration.
A row of books. New Spirit-
Filled Life Bible. I am
Again studying the Bible:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17
“Learn to do good. Seek justice.
Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans.
Fight for the rights of widows.”
Isaiah 1:17
Wise words
Written in this book:
Called to Create by Jordan Raynor.
“God was the first entrepreneur.
He brought something our of nothing.
He established order out of chaos.
He created for the good of others.
We are made in the image of the First Entrepreneur; thus
When we follow his call to create…….we are not just doing
Something good for the world, we are
Doing something God-like. To do
The creative work you do……you
Continue that work as a service
To the world around you.”
And in One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp:
“And when I give thanks
For the seemingly microscopic,
I make a place for God to grow within me.”
A dare to live fully
Right where you are.”
There is the book of poems
Susan’s mom bought, a Christmas Gift
For me. Blue Horses by Mary Oliver.
Poetry books by Anne Waldman,
Gary Snyder, James Dickey
And Elizabeth Bishop.
There are file folders
Filled with recipes from
Butternut Squash Soup
To Meatloaf Puttanesca.
Spiritual Pamphlets, crosses
And a Hula dancing woman,
A gift from a participant
In the Miss Teen America Pageant,
Which I photographed
A number of years ago.
Cameras and cups
Filled with pens, pencils
And paint brushes. On one mug
A painted sunrise, and this:
“This is the day the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118:24