This week’s Ecosophian offering is the monthly (well, more or less!) open post to field questions and encourage discussion among my readers. All the standard rules apply — no profanity, no sales pitches, no trolling, no rudeness, no paid propagandizing, no long screeds proclaiming the infallible truth of fill in the blank — but since there’s no topic, nothing is off topic. (Well, with one exception: there’s a dedicated (more or less) open post on my Dreamwidth journal on the current virus panic and related issues, so anything Covid-themed should go there instead.)
Still, I can’t resist inserting a bit of news relevant to the focus of this blog. Last week Bloomberg was incautious enough to post an op-ed piece by economist Teresa Ghilarducci titled “Inflation Stings Most If You Earn Less Than $300K. Here’s How To Deal.” The antics of economists have been a subject for well-earned hilarity on this blog, and Ghilarducci did her level best to rise to the challenge, suggesting that anyone who makes less than $289,000 a year (iirc, that’s 98.9% of the US population) ought to eat lentils instead of meat, neglect vet visits for your pets, and take public transit. Oh, and you shouldn’t buy in bulk, because somehow getting things more cheaply that way doesn’t help.
Ghilarduccil and Bloomberg got duly savaged online, but it seems to me that we have an opportunity here, because lentils (and other, ahem, bulk products) are worth including in your larder whether or not times are rough. With that in mind, my wife Sara came up with the following, which she modestly suggests should be titled “Lentils Bloomberg.”
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In the interest of helping people who make less than $289,000 a year and are feeling the pinch of inflation, we offer the following versatile, tasty, and cheap recipe. The basic recipe feeds four people who make less than $289,000 a year. With additional protein, especially meat, the recipe will feed 6 to 8 people who make less than $289,000 a year.
1 lb ordinary brown lentils
1 medium yellow onion
3 stalks of celery
About 2 to 3 tablespoons of cooking fat of some kind (butter, margarine, olive oil, etc)
About 6 to 8 cups water or stock, divided
1 medium can (14 to 16 oz) diced tomatoes
additional protein if desired (see variations, below)
seasoning as desired (see variations, below)
Peel and dice onion. Wash, peel, trim, and penny-slice carrots. Wash, trim, and dice celery. Put a couple of tablespoons of cooking fat into the bottom of a heavy pan, and saute the vegetables in this until they begin to soften and the onion begins to brown.
Meanwhile, rinse lentils and pick over to remove any stones, clods of dirt, etc. Add the lentils to the vegetables, and pour in enough water or stock to cover them to a depth of one inch. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring every few minutes, until lentils have begun to break up (probably one to two hours, depending on how dry the lentils were). Add small amounts of water or stock during the cooking, as needed to prevent the mixture sticking and burning. When the lentils and vegetables are almost done, add the diced tomatoes, either with or without the juice from the can. Continue cooking until desired degree of doneness and thickness are reached. (Anything consistency from a soup to a thick paste works well.)
Season to taste. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or pasta, or with a side of cornbread, biscuits, pita bread, tortillas, bread and butter, or buttered toast.
This can be cooked in a crockpot, in which case you may need less liquid and won’t have to stir the mixture as it cooks.
The basic recipe is vegan. For additional protein, if you consume animal products, you can add any of the following:
4 hard-boiled eggs, cut up (stir in at serving time)
2 cups grated cheese (stir in at serving time)
2 cups cut-up cooked meat (ham, bacon, chicken, turkey, and pork work really well) (cook with the lentils and vegetables)
2 cups browned ground meat (turkey and pork are excellent here) (cook with the lentils and vegetables)
Seasoning options include:
Salt and pepper
Soy sauce, minced garlic, and minced ginger
Chili powder and cumin
Cumin and cayenne pepper
Turmeric and cayenne pepper
If you don’t like tomatoes, leave them out. You can also switch up the vegetables to match your taste and what you have available.
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With that said, and a pot of tasty lentils on the stove, have at it!