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Update and edibles
SSar's Beast
Well, I still love my job. Jobs. I have a main job and two smaller jobs and the pressure's gradually increasing for all of them. I have realised I am basically going to be working overtime all year, 60+ hrs, and I feel really tired. On the other hand, who is lucky enough to have three different good bosses? Jason, Sydney and Matt are all good communicators and good teachers. I must be doing something right.

Tomorrow my main task is to watch an interview and do some supplementary reading and write a 1,500-word text about an Olympic athlete. The official time budget for the first draft is 5 hours. It's pretty nifty that I get to do that for my job, but I'm not used to such fast writing tasks. Eeeep.

It's an odd week. I have had two phone calls that went, Hey, bad news... They were for the death of a young person, not very close to me, and a health scare for someone close. The health scare turned out to be minor, thank goodness.

One day soon I am going to write a real entry with a topic and everything, but I find myself pretty lazy when it comes to journaling. It's the stress of coming home and doing more work. Leftover brain is minimal.

BUT - for whatever reason, I have been motivated enough to type up a couple of recent recipes, so there are yummy things under the cuts.

Lentil and Smoked Fish Soup
Total prep time: 50 mins.
Serves: 4? Hard to tell because I am greedy and want seconds.

-2 cups split orange lentils (some green/brown lentils got mixed in, because they were the same price at Commonsense Organics and I bought them in the same bag. Use your favourite lentil).
-Salt (divided)
-1 tsp green cardamom pods
-1 tbsp cumin seeds
-1 tbsp dark mustard seeds
-1 tsp cooking oil (I like grapeseed oil best)
-1 onion
-2 cloves garlic
-1 small potato
-1 tomato
-1 smoked fish fillet - I used tarakihi, about 200gms

On the one hand, rinse the lentils. Put them in a deep pot and generously cover them in water - I think I added enough water to double the volume in the pot. Add about 1 1/2 tsp salt, the cardamom, the cumin, and the mustard seeds.

NOTE - I quite like eating cardamom pods if they've been cooked. Most people don't. If you are one of the latter, put the cardamom pods in something like a tea strainer during this process, so that you can easily remove them later, OR use about 1/2 tsp of cardamom seeds.

Boil lentils and spices for approximately 30 mins until soft but keeping distinct shape - the amount of time will vary with the lentil variety. Set aside. There should be lots of liquid left in the mixture. If there isn't, add more.

MEANWHILE, finely chop the onion and garlic, then separately chop the potato and the tomato.

Use another pot to gently heat the oil, then add the garlic, onion, and potato, and sweat them. When the onions are beginning to turn translucent, add the tomato.

When the tomato's structure has broken down so that it is making a nice red mush around the other ingredients, add the lentils back in. Simmer for about 10 minutes so that the ingredients absorb each other's flavour. Sample and add salt if required.

Flake, or break up, the smoked fish fillet. This is best done with your hands so that you can check for bones and get nice chunks. Discard the skin. Add the chunks (flakes?) to the soup.

Simmer a further 10 mins. Serve! Add garnish if you like.

Coconut Kasha - comfort food
This is a super easy grain dish with a slightly sweet flavour. The main ingredient is kasha aka casha aka cracked wheat aka bulghur/bulgur/bulgar wheat. It behaves a bit like couscous, but is sold in larger granules and is slightly chewier.

Time: 25 mins
Serves: 4 as a hearty side dish
Food preferences: Vegan. No particular health benefits I know of.

-1 tsp cooking oil
-1 onion
-2 cloves garlic
-1/3 cup dry shredded coconut
-1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, OR 1 tsp ground cardamom
-Amount of kasha (this is pretty vague. Around 250 grams?)
-1 can coconut milk
-1 can pineapple chunks in juice
-1 tsp salt

-Salt to taste

-Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Dice the onion and garlic, and gently saute them in the oil along with the shredded coconut and the cardamom.

-When the onion is soft and translucent and the coconut is beginning to show toasted bits, add the kasha and let cook for about five minutes, stirring frequently. The aim is not to fully cook the kasha at this point, but to ensure that the oil in the pan is spread around the grains, and so are the flavours.

-Add the pineapple chunks (and juice), the coconut milk, and 1 tsp salt, and stir thoroughly. Turn up the heat to medium. Cook for about 15 minutes until the grains are soft and the liquids appear to be fully absorbed. If the pools of liquid in the mixture start to disappear but the grain is still slightly crunchy, just add a little more water and cook further.

Also, I made this tonight and would absolutely recommend it: flavourful, filling, easy, vegan, fibrous, nutritious, and gluten free. Could be flavoured in a multiple of ways and is practically a whole meal all by its simple little self.

I am neither gluten-free nor vegan, but I like cooking for people, and if they have specialty food preferences, well, challenge accepted. So I am always on the lookout for recipes that are yummy/healthy/easy but ALSO fit the needs of particular food strategies. (I was going to say diets but, well, diet can be a pretty dirty word.)

Recently I have learned of supertasters, and now I am irrationally keen to find a supertaster in the wild so that I can try to cook for him, her, or zhir. I suspect I know of two people already who might test positive for that.

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I don't think I'd be one...but I do think that that sort of "ability" would need to be trained a bit - tasting a lot of different herbs and spices and identifying them. Good luck with your quest!

I hope you get some time to relax :S Sounds hardout

Apparently, supertasting is genetic, and relates directly to your quantity of tastebuds. To be silly for a moment, I suspect anyone with an irrational liking for that bland food, mac'n'cheese....

There is nothing wrong with mac n cheese! Sometimes you're just in the mood for that...artificial flavour!! :D

Besides, probably Philippa would fit into this category...

Yeah, Philippa was the first person I thought of, and maybe Paul.

Mac n cheese is a vile flavourless glop. You will never convince me (and my subjective tastebuds) otherwise. :)

Even with blue cheese and bacon? :(

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