Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ham and Lentil Stew

It's winter. I'm cold. I'm feeling a little blue. I need stew.

Soups and stews are the ultimate comfort food; a warm cozy bath for your insides.

From planning to dining it's a loving experience. Standing over the simmering pot enjoying the warmth and inhaling big as you savor the smells while stirring. Blissful sigh.

Tonight it's an old favorite that I haven't made in quite some time, Ham and Lentil Stew from my trusted copy of Soups, Stews & Chilies. It was this cookbook that taught me the difference between my favorite one pot meals.

Growing up I detested stews. Over the years I have learned that what my family called stew was in fact a boiled dinner. Enjoyable to them, but not for this palette. Bleck!

A stew is in fact heartier than soups and typically with a thicker broth or gravy. It's known for it's chunks of vegetable and meaty goodness. Simmering for long periods of time it's the perfect home scenter!

Now, having tasted true and flavorful stews I'm a big fan and am working hard at converting my family. Giggle.

For the Love of Food

I love food. I love to cook it, smell it, taste it, experience it. Food brings people together. We celebrate and grieve over it. Life is lived over it. Traditions are formed around it...at least they are in my family. Giggle.

And what better time of year to discuss traditions and food than Christmas. A few of us are December babies. My father in particular is a Christmas baby.

Out of fairness and love (and a great deal of self preservation) we celebrate his birthday on Christmas Eve. After a few years of trying to find the ideal birthday worthy, no hint of Christmas celebration meal, we have settled on a much loved tradition of fondue.

Over the years as we all become health conscious the fondue has gone from oil based to a broth similar to those offered at the Melting Pot. A coq au vin inspired broth is our favorite: white wine, brandy, chicken broth and seasoning. Yum!

Keeping the French theme and being somewhat cheese obsessed I christened my new baking pottery bowl and added some baked Bree with spicy mango chutney to the menu this year. Perfect!

Finish it with a slice of rum cake, heavy on the rum and you have Christmas Eve...I mean birthday at my house.