Friendly Red-Dragon Stew

Lesser known are the milder, calmer, non-carnivorous dragons.  This doesn’t mean they are any less interesting, but they are far less dangerous to the random traveler, and potentially more hospitable to those they meet.  Their temper can still flare some, but they are less prone to fiery outbursts and devouring man and beast.  May this warm, hearty, mildly fiery stew connect you with those dragons of the friendlier kind … or at least warm your belly.

Vegetable-Lentil Slow-Cooker Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2c red lentils
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1-1/2c celery, chopped
  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 can chick peas
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1t salt
  • 1t parsley
  • 1t oregano
  • 1/2t paprika (smoked works best!)
  • 1/4t cayenne pepper
  • 6-1/2c vegetable stock

Instructions:

  1. For same day cooking:  place all ingredients in a slow cooker cauldron and pour in vegetable stock.  Cook on high for 5 hours, or low for 8 hours.
  2. For next day cooking:  prep everything except the garlic and seasonings.  Store in root-cellar or appropriate substitute. On the next day, dump everything into the cauldron (base ingredients, seasonings, and broth), and cook as above.
  3. In preparation to cook another day:  add all ingredients — except for broth — to a large magically zipping bag and place in ice box.  When ready to use, remove the bag, dump contents into slow cooker, and add broth. Cook on high for 5-6 hours, or low for 8-9 (low can be better for frozen).  Since the frozen contents may be uncooperative with being “dumped”, a brief period of thawing may be wise.

Painless Portabella Pizzas

Mushrooms.

My frequency of using them causes them to be more mush than ‘shroom in my ice-box.  So my experiences with portabella remain limited, even novice.  I’m a level 1 ‘shroomer.  Hence, this inspiration comes from the back of a mushroom container.  Clever huckstering in the marketplace to prompt the purchase of additional ingredients!  That Grocers Guild has a groove for guile…

But simplicity!  This could only get easier, and less tasty, by removing ingredients.

  • 4 portabella mushroom caps, gills removed (But why a spoon, cousin…)
  • olive oil
  • minced garlic (or finely chopped/diced)
  • 1-2 tomatoes halved (stem to ‘the not-stem end’) and sliced thinly
  • mozzarella cheese
  • salt
  • pepper
  • (red pepper flakes)

So simple.  So simple.

Stoke your stove to rage the oven up to 400F.  Kindly assault the concave side of the decapitated mushrooms with olive oil.  Decorate with gobs of garlic, sprinkles of salt, and puffs of pepper.  Trim with tomato (this is where I found the halved tomato made this easier).  Muffle with mozzarella.

12-15 minutes singing in the steely stove should bring these to melted mozzarella magnificence.

Of course, if you enjoy these with pain, ravage with red pepper flakes at your discretion.

Sautéed Spinach of Shrinking

I have finally learned that boiling spinach should result in a night in the stocks.  Many nutrients end up in the water and often the result can be mush.  Steaming spinach is a great alternative, but there are just so many options that can be explored with steamed spinach.  So I took a long look at my inventory tab and decided to try a duel between a pile of spinach and a skillet.  When this starts out in the skillet, the spinach seems like it will win, but after a short time in the heat of sautéing the spinach ultimately gives up and shrinks into tasty, tender leaves.  The fun variation with this recipe is the oil.  With so few ingredients, the type and quality of oil used really stands out and can change the flavor dramatically.  I typically use a #8 cast iron pan for this with a lid.  Alternatively I suspect a “dutch oven” (or similar item) could be used.  The goal is to keep the spinach and steam contained.

Heat 1T of oil in the pan over medium heat.  Add 1T of minced garlic and let that cook for a couple minutes.  Add spinach and 1t of sesame seeds.  Stir around to coat everything with oil (that part is easier with a larger pot – in the skillet I carefully flip clumps of leaves using tongs).  Add 1T of water.  Cover.  Reduce heat to low for about 5 minutes.  Serve and enjoy.

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