Category Archives: Main dishes

Lentil loaf

Red lentils

Turns out, cooking split red lentils has nothing in common with cooking regular brown lentils. Or maybe I just buy a lot of stale brown lentils. After soaking the red lentils in water for an hour, I put them on the stove. I think they were done even before the water boiled. So now I’ve got a few cups of lentil mush. It’s delicious mush, but never-the-less, still mush.

Cooked lentil mush

That’s OK.

The lentil loaf turned out fine anyway. I based the loaf on Bella’s recipe. And by “based on,” I mean, “Hmmm, a lentil loaf sounds delicious, but I don’t actually have any of the ingredients she used, so I’ll make it up as I go along.”

That’s OK too.

I used lentil mush instead of lentils, fine brown bulger instead of brown bismati rice, mustard and worchestershire sauce instead of BBQ sauce, eggs instead of egg subsitute, red pepper flakes and oregano instead of cajun seasoning, and I added a cup of shredded zucchini. I did keep the mirepoix, because who doesn’t like a good mirepoix?

Mirepoix

A-OK.

The first lentil loaf turned out pretty well. It tasted great, but it only rises to spectacular when paired with more ketchup. Bertrand adores it. Go figure.

Lentil loaf

Since I had leftover lentil mush and bulgar, I decided to make a second loaf! I replaced the celery with a huge handful of chopped parsley, and put as much dijon mustard in as ketchup. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

Lentil loaf II

And leftovers for lunch this week. ;)

Vegetable skewers

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Now that we’re hitting the beach several times a month, I need some good, portable, grillable recipes. Just grill delicious meat and fish you say? Guess what Bertrand and I gave up for Lent.

Enter the vegetable skewer.

Benin’s got delicious cheese. It’s kind of like ricotta, except that it’s solid, has a tofu-like texture, and doesn’t melt, and grills up perfectly. Oh wait, it’s nothing like ricotta.

Start your skewers soaking. This is so they don’t turn black on the grill (or in the oven). This is less important if you’re not a freak about aesthetics.

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Optional: blend up a basic Beninese sauce for your marinade (recipe to come this week), heavy on the ginger and the hot peppers. Wait, there aren’t any hot peppers in that recipe? Just chop up a tablespoon oo so, and add it to the blend mix. Add in a teaspoon or so of salt and a tablespoon of oilve oil. Don’t cook the sauce!

Then, chop a bunch of vegetables. Also chop some pineapple and wagasi (or leave the wagasi, if you’re not in Benin).

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Toss marinadeable veggies (zucchinis, pineapple) and wagasi with the┬ámarinade. If you didn’t make a marinade, toss with olive oil, red pepper flakes, and salt.

Build your skewers! Leave chunks of onion in tact. They are more delicious that way.

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I cheat and roast my skewers in the oven for 20 minutes before heading out to the beach. This cooks all of the vegetables, so all I have to do once I get to the beach is reheat on the grill. When I’m cooking at home, sans grill, I roast for 30 minutes, turning and rotating the skewers halfway through.

Grill.

Eat.

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Keyan Curried Cabbage

Kenyan Curried Cabbage

Here in Benin, you can either buy ridiculously expensive meats at the grocery store, or you can go to the market. The meat is sourced from the same places, but the market doesn’t have fridges and does have a lot of flies. The solution is to go early in the morning and either cook the meat as soon as you get home, or shove it in your freezer. Hassle hassle hassle. Usually we only eat meat on the weekends, when I have the time to buy it, prep it safely, and have planned ahead enough to create a dish that will last for several days. Continue reading

Throw together meals week: “Mexican” “Pizza”

"Mexican" "Pizza"

Cheap, fast, and healthy. The diet industry seems to spend a lot of time telling us that we can only have two out of three: cheap and healthy? Prepare to spend hours slaving over a hot stove. Cheap and fast? Junk food it is. Fast and healthy? It’ll cost you an arm and a leg. Fortunately, we know that this isn’t the case. While knowing how to cook and take advantage of local ingredients is certainly a huge privilege (as is knowing how to search the Internet for advice when I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WAAAAAAAAAH), my favorite recipes are ones I’ve just thrown together. And yes, I know that it takes a serious amount of cooking experience to know how to throw meals together.

This week will is cheap, fast, and healthy week on himynameistheresa. Easy one or two pot meals that can be easily complemented with a salad. They’re not recipes, so much as guides for the clueless. How do you put a complete healthy meal together? Continue reading