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Monday, January 02, 2012

Let's Delve into 2012!

January 1st, 2012, approximately 9AM
Is there anything quite so divine as sitting down in complete slow solitude for a delicious breakfast?

Hello, 2012, and hello Blog-o-sphere! I have returned to the wonderful pacific inland northwest and to the wonderful world of blogging after a fabulous 19-days on the east coast with my family. It was just the right amount of time away filled with birthday celebrations, Chanukah festivities and overall holiday cheer. Some of the highlights of this trip included a visit to my hometown of Albany, New York, a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, some delicious restaurant meals, the ease of doing all one's Shabbat grocery shopping in one store, quality time with each of my parents, and some long walks with eager pooches! The weather was unseasonably mild aside from an appropriately-timed dusting of snow in New Hampshire on the morning of December 25th. And perhaps just as enjoyable as all the outings and activities was the time spent in my parents' homes snuggling up with a cup of tea, a good book, my journal, or some mindless television. I had the pleasure of getting to prepare a traditional Shabbat meal for my father, his wife, my sister and brother-in-law as well as a Chanukah dinner for my father, his wife and one of her daughters on the first night of Chanukah.
Festive First Night of Chanukah: Fried, Fresh and Fabulous!

Since returning home, I've been reveling in this final week off before my college classes resume. I ate breakfast sitting down at the table yesterday! I didn't even have the television or radio on! Rather, I wrote for a bit in my journal and then slowly sipped my coffee and enjoyed the blissful solitude. I've loved getting back to the gym on a more regular basis as well as getting back to my Yoga practice in preparation for this year's 21 Day Yoga Challenge. I've actually been motivated to tackle (and even enjoy) some long-awaited housework and organization. My kitchen has been accessed for the purpose of cooking again (as opposed to just grabbing whatever is quick and handy in the refrigerator). I've already been able to get some leftovers stocked up in my freezer for when life will no doubt get busy again in the next few months.
As is my tradition, I resolved this new year to make no resolutions. Overall, each moment of each day is about being the best me I can be--ever growing, always learning. It is important to love what you do and do what you love. In that spirit, I'd love to share this super-easy, budget-friendly nutritious and delicious recipe for Lentil Soup. It received rave reviews at my 1st Night of Chanukah meal and I've made it again since returning home. It was quick to prepare the ingredients and easy to leave it simmering while I tended to the potato latkes. It would freeze well and makes a perfectly sustaining and satisfying lunch or dinner when served alongside a salad.

Lentil Soup

1 tsp oil (I use extra virgin olive oil)
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable stock
2 bay leaves (*remove at the end!)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup dried lentils

In a large pot, saute onion and carrots over medium heat in oil for about 3-5 minutes, until onions turn opaque. Add the minced garlic to the pot just toward the end of that process (cooking it too long causes it to become bitter). Add the vegetable stock, bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper and lentils. Cover and cook over low heat for about 45 minutes or until lentils are soft, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the bay leaves prior to serving. If you are serving this in a Kosher kitchen with meat or prefer to keep it pareve, this is
perfect. If you are eating dairy, it goes quite well with a dollop of light sour cream or plain yogurt. Enjoy! And Happy 2012!