Short of wanting to lop off my head and demand a lung transplant. . . I guess you could say we're "alright" here. I know we're not alone in this. I wandered into Walmart yesterday morning, down the cold remedies aisle to find myself cornered. Nary a peep other than hacks and sniffles could be heard. It was a zombie scene: "pardon me", "excuse me"-- pale, chapped noses and lips, frail bodies holding themselves up with carts--filled, mind you, with daytime, nighttime and everytime in between symptom relievers. We are ALL not well here. Quarantining ourselves. Nursing ourselves back to health. (Why didn't we have kids. . . who'd ease the burden. . . who'd help cook, clean. Okay now I sound like what we really need is an indentured servant?! Okay, and this is probably the second time in my life I've ever uttered that whole thing about "offspring"--I MUST be really ill.)
Cooking without a sense of smell is futile. To compensate for this loss, I ramp up in the heat department--hoping to give my sinuses a real jolt. You know you're not doing so hot when you pull out the Indian seasonings, sauted in oil and. . . nothing. I got nothing. I wanted to cry. Not even a remote sensation of coriander or cumin. It's so sad.
Ciabatta. Bread machine! No lie. (The recipe makes enough dough for two loaves.)
All I could muster was soup and bread. And the bread--it had to be simple, but really good. Nothing too dinner roll-ish. I wanted a hearty loaf. So after waking up from my noon nap, I searched for "artisan breads in the bread machine" and came up with this amazing recipe on The Fresh Loaf's website. Nothing says a recipe is amazing like a comment thread that goes on for four years! This Jason fellow posted this recipe around 2007. I was desperate for a great, quick ciabatta (which is my favorite bread by far). Lo and behold, Jason's Quick Coccodrillo Ciabatta. I didn't use the stand mixer for my bread, instead, I put mine in the bread machine, allowed it to do it's magic until just after the second mix (thirty minutes), then poured (yes, you will pour the wet dough) into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and mark the outside of the bowl with a piece of tape to the point where the dough will be triple in size. Then you wait. About two hours (I put my bowl on top of the fridge). Follow the rest of the directions on TFL site and you will be rewarded with this crusty, yummy, chewy, crispy-crusted artisan bread all within the matter of one afternoon. One thing--handle this dough lightly. I found that after one business letter fold after the two hour rising time, then allowing the dough to rest for 45 minutes or so before baking, yielded me a perfect loaf. I opted to not flip my ciabatta dough over--yet was very pleased with my outcome. I did bake my bread under my oval shaped dutch oven (thank you Jim Lahey for this brilliant idea). I pre-heated my dutch oven, then placed the dough on my pizza stone, then carefully covered the dough with said pot/dutch oven and baked for 20 minutes, removed the pot, allowed another 15 minutes or so of baking time uncovered--till the bread was a golden brown, then removed the bread, placing it on a cooling rack for about fifteen minutes before taking a knife to it. Amazing. You can find the link to the recipe here.
If ever there was a "cure"--it's pink rain boots. I had to come out, albeit a hot minute, and poke around in the dirt, around my rhododendrons. . . and our resident snake hole--which is what I discovered in that first picture! I love that this first break of sunshine and, did I mention gorgeous weather, happened to coincide with our need for an iron lung! (Pardon the pale, pale skin as I emerge from my winter hibernation.) But the pink boots: priceless (okay, not priceless, I paid ten bucks for them at Old Navy). Dr. Thyme came out to get at least a few minutes of fresh air, camera in hand, before collapsing back onto the sofa, napping again.
Yellow Split Pea Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup yellow lentils (rinsed and drained)
1 red onion, sliced thin
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 garlic cloved, minced
1" piece of ginger, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric
dash of cayenne pepper
4 cups water
1 veggie boullion cube
S & P to taste (really won't need salt if you add the boullion cube)
1/4 cup whole pumpkin seeds *optional
tofu sour cream *optional
juice of half a lime *optional
Rinse the lentils really well--about four good rinses in a large bowl: rinse and drain. Then, in a large soup pot, add the cumin seed, coriander, tumeric, ginger and garlic. Saute for a few minutes, then add all the chopped veggies at once. Saute for about five minutes, until the veggies begin to soften. Then, add the rinsed lentils. Stir around the lentils a good three minutes or so. Next, add the water and boullion cube. Mix to dissolve the boullion cube. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer--then cover and allow to cook about 45 minutes (until the lentils are soft). Sprinkle in some cayenne now--to taste. I used my pressure cooker to make this soup--which took all of six minutes once I had all the ingredients in the pot. I "heart" the pressure cooker! You could puree the soup--but I sort of prefer it chunky. I mixed about two tablespoons of tofu sour cream with the juice of half a lime, then swirled that over it. In a small saute pan, I added my pumpkin seeds and toasted them for about three minutes, then sprinkled them on top. Yum!