So, let me just put this out there. I never used to watch TV. I was probably even a little snobby about the fact that I didn’t know anything about any of the shows.
In the summer of 2003, Randy and I moved to London. Besides a few of his business school contacts, we didn’t know anybody. Our year there was one of the best of my life but it was lonely. Television was more pleasant to watch there and we quickly fell into the habit. Two of their five networks do not have commercials and one of them would run movies without the massive edits that we have in this country. Even on the channels that had commercials, there was only a break every 20 minutes, as opposed to our 8-10 mintues here.
Once we returned home, I kept up my television habit. I wish at the end of the day, after the kids are in bed, I had the energy to read, but I just don’t. I like to zone out and relax but I am a little appalled at some of the shows I have gotten into. Sure, I love Project Runway, Top Chef, The Office and those other “acceptable” ones. But I also have gotten hooked on America’s Next Top Model and, yes, The Bachelor.
For those of you who don’t know, last season’s The Bachelor was actually The Bachelorette and the guy who she almost chose lives in Seattle. His name is Jason and he seemed like a very nice guy, he has a young son, and women all over the country fell in love with him. I don’t think anyone was surprised when they tagged him to be the next Bachelor.
Here is where things get interesting. My brother Alex is a personal trainer. He owns a personal training gym in Bellevue (a suburb of Seattle) and one of his clients happened to be this guy Jason’s boss. When he said he needed to get in shape for this show, the guy sent him to Alex.
I heard all this through my mother, who wouldn’t be caught dead watching a show such as The Bachelor, but she is very amused that her daughter, the one who used to be such a TV snob, does. I immediately got stars in my eyes and called Alex offering my services as a personal chef. He was enthusiastic, saying he would like to know what Jason was eating and knew that, as a trainer, he would get better results for his client knowing that the food was healthy. I think we left it that Alex would check with him and I would think about if I really had time to cook for one more person and add a completely other part of town to my route.
And then I got really busy. I picked up a new client. I cooked for a friend. I had crazy weekends full of food. I tried through all of this to be a good mother to my boys and keep my household intact. I kept thinking that Alex would call me if Jason was interested. I guess, with good reason, I let the ball drop.
Alex brought his kids over for dinner on Sunday night and told me he had just had a weekend of filming with ABC. They were in town to document Jason’s life here and the training he was doing was a part of it. I asked him whatever happened with the chef part of things and he stunned me by saying, “You never called me back.” Suddenly, I felt like I had just missed a tremendous opportunity and spent the rest of the evening replaying our last phone conversation in my head, and berating myself for not going after something with the potential to be really big.
But now, several days later, I realize that things probably worked out better anyway. Really, how could I have increased my food production and driven and miles and miles off my normal route for a non-paying client? My business is just me in my kitchen. Scaling up requires a huge investment of my time, something I don’t have with two young kids. My brother has a gym, he has a staff. I have me in my kitchen. If I got publicity from cooking for The Bachelor, where would that leave me? Unable to take on the clients who could potentially come my way.
Interestingly, today I got a request from a friend to help out someone in need. A woman who works for him just had a very preemie baby and he wants to nourish her with my food twice a week for the next couple of months. This is where my attention should be, on cooking and sharing my food, not my theatre major pipe dreams.
I have to say, I think Jason would have enjoyed this soup, healthy and filling as it is. But the person who really needs it, and who I would be really happy to share it with, is a new mommy, scared for her baby.
Mediterranean Five-Lentil and Chard Soup with Walnut Gremolata
Adapted from The Artful Vegan
With all apologies to The Millennium Restaurant (whose cookbook this is), I made some changes to the method here. They suggest you cook each type of lentil separately for which I see no reason, other than to make you crazy and do a lot of dishes. You can use fewer types, even just plain old ordinary lentils too. Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you off, it is an easy soup to make with little hands on time. The gremolata isn’t totally necessary but gives the soup a nice crunch.
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and very finely chopped
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. minced parsley
2 tbsp. minced dill
1/2 tsp. salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Serve, or store refrigerated, covered, overnight.
2 tsp. olive oil
1 red onion, cut into small dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp. caraway seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. allspice
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 15 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup dried red lentils
1/4 cup dried brown lentils
1/4 cup dried green (Le Puy) lentils
1/4 cup dried black beluga lentils
1/4 cup dried yellow split peas
6 cups vegetable stock
2 cups chopped red chard
2 tbsp. light miso
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook soft. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add all the spices and saute, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the sherry, sugar, all lentils and the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Add the chard and simmer for 10 minutes, or until wilted. Place the miso in a small bowl and whisk in 1/2 – 1 cup of stock until the miso has dissolved, then add the mixture back to the soup. (This will keep the miso from clumping.) Remove the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a garnish of 1 tbsp. of the gremolata.