Wild rice & french lentils with roasted mushrooms & butternut squash with cauliflower and carrot puréee

Wild rice, french lentils and roasted vegetables

We’ve had our power back for over a week now – we’ve had it back as long as we’d lost it. But I still have dreams every night that we don’t have power, and I wake up in a panic. I’m embarrassed that it affected me so strongly, but I’m not alone in my residual stressedness. I’ve talked to many people around town who say that they, too, are having trouble recovering from the incident. They say it feels like getting over the flu – they feel physically tired and draggy and unwell. It’s stress! So strange and powerful a force. The other day on the radio we heard a news story about people driven out of their home by war – worried about keeping their families warm and fed through the coming winter. A small part of me thought, “I know what that feels like!” And then the rest of me thought – “no you do not! Don’t be absurd! You have no idea!” We were anxious and uncomfortable, but we were never really in danger, once the storm had passed. We had a fully stocked grocery store 15 minutes away. We have a house, with walls that keep out the worst of the cold, even when the heat isn’t on, and with doors that lock. We have relatives an hour away who got power back before we did. This is something I think about quite frequently – even before the storm hit. I think about people who don’t have my comfortable life. Who don’t have the luxuries that I’ve come to consider necessities – hot water, electricity, my choice of pretty much any food I can think of. I think about refugees and fugitives – people driven out of their homes by war or occupation. In my own life, I’ve come to realize that it’s the small, every-day things that ultimately make me happy or anxious or disgruntled. I wonder if it’s the same for people who are completely unsettled and unstable. I found myself so undone by … what? anxiety? Discomfort? … that I couldn’t concentrate on much of anything, large or small. I’d been so anxious about the election – so worried that Obama wouldn’t win, but on election night I couldn’t concentrate on the results coming in, and I couldn’t let myself feel as happy and relieved as I should have that he won. I could only feel anxious about when we’d get our power back. I couldn’t think clearly about the bigger political picture. It made me wonder about times and places when the bigger political situation causes stressful personal circumstances. Can you find enough strength and hope to change the situation when you’re brought down by anxiety about your next meal, or when you don’t have a safe, warm home, and winter is coming?

I like wild rice, but I don’t cook it very often, because I’m so comfortable cooking basmati, that it’s a worry-free situation for me. Quick, tasty and dependable. This dish combines wild rice with basmati and french lentils. It’s very autumnal, especially with the addition of roasted butternut squash and mushrooms, and the flavorings of sage and rosemary. I thought this was really tasty – savory, a bit sweet, a bit smoky with the cheese. Comforting! I made a purée of cauliflower and carrots to go with this, and flavored it with sweet smoky spices like cardamom and ginger. Sweet and soft where the rice is earthy and full of texture. A nice combination!

Here’s Police on My Back by The Clash. It might sound silly, but this is one of those songs that gets me to thinking about how you find hope and happiness when your life is dangerously uncertain.
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