Saturday, September 29, 2012

Kale Anyone? And A Lentil Stew Recipe

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I had it all going on yesterday.  Tomato jam, caramelized onions, apple brandy sauce, vegan lentils, turkey butt & bean soup, and kale.

Yes tons of kale.  I asked for six bags of kale, cleaned.  What I ended up with was a case of kale.  Yes it was cleaned but it was not stemmed.  I didn't have any kids to put to stemming on the front porch so Desi and Tyler offered to help.  30 minutes later the kale was "picked" and on the stove cooking.  I cooked it with some smoked turkey, bacon renderings, and hot sauce.  Two hours later it was delicious and enough to feed a small army.

With some of the kale I made a pot of wonderful lentil stew.

About 4 cups of uncooked fresh kale (if uncleaned you have to get the dirt out and remove the stem)
2 cups of lentils
1 cup shredded carrot
3 TBS Cajun blackening seasonings (we make our own so you have to adjust this per spice level)
2 TBS Gumbo File Powder
4 TBS ketchup
1/4 chopped white onion
Salt to taste (be careful if your blackening seasonings have salt in it)

Put everything into a pot with water to cover
Bring to boil then reduce to simmer for about 1 hour.  You may have to turn heat back up to reduce water, Stew should be thick.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"Help Help Me Ronda"

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I have heard that song title sung to me many many times over the years in reference to my first name.  But none I remember who it came from, except one.  It came out of a very young girl’s mouth.  She was dressed in funky clothes and I believe she was sporting a cigarette.  I was a waitress or maybe the manager at Arnold’s and was leaving work one night.  She was sitting at a table right by the bars front door, looked up with her cute little face and just blankly said “Help Help Me Ronda”.  The bar all cracked up and even I laughed.  Usually I say something like, “Gee, I have never heard that before”.   I think we were all amazed this radical girl even knew the song.
Laura is a great customer’s daughter, Pat Harrell.  Over the years Laura came and went and was no special big part of my life.  That is until 8 years ago.  It was a wonderful time and a bad time in my life.  I was getting married and trying to recover Arnold’s from the 2001 riots (which took nearly 4 years before seeing a slow upward swing).  Laura worked at a place called Mullane’s which did not survive the riots.  She was looking for a job and called me a few days before I was to go on my honeymoon.  I said I hope you can hold on, I would love for you to work for at Arnold's.  Because things always happen for a reason, Laura came to work at Arnold’s the week I went on my honeymoon.  I’m not even sure what she started out as, busser, host or server.  She worked her way up to bartender and then to manager.
Laura will be leaving us today.  She wants to start another chapter in her life.  Her daughter is growing up and life is way too short.  I knew for a long time Laura needed a change but I didn’t want her to leave.  Laura came to me and said she needed something else, she needed to leave Arnold’s.  This was a tough decision for Laura and I am proud of her for making it.  She is leaving for what is best for her and her family.  Restaurant life is hard and sometimes you just need a change of pace even if it is to another restaurant with a different position or different hours. 
Early in this blog post I wrote “this radical girl” by that, I mean Laura has passion and heart the size of an elephant.  When she lives life she lives it like there is no tomorrow.  When there is a cause or a person she cares about we all hear it loud and clear.  When she loves you, she hugs and kisses you.  When she’s pissed at you, you always know, she talks it out and gets on with it.  I trust her with my business and my heart.  She, like a daughter I never had, pulled at those heart strings many many times.   My heart strings were pulled when she said she had to go but I knew it was time. 
Laura knows, like a family member she will always have a home at Arnold’s.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Delicious Fall Soup

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Made this soup the other day and as you read the ingredients you may think of summer and the tropics.  Interesting enough the combination, thickness and richness is prefect for a beautiful fall day.

Vegan African Wild Rice Soup

1 lg can pineapple juice

1 cup uncooked wild rice
1 cup shredded carrots
1 small white onion chopped
1/4 cup craisins
2 TBS vanilla
1/4 TBS cayenne

             1 can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
             2 cans coconut milk

             1 can cannellini beans
             1 can chick peas
                Salt and pepper to taste

In pot add pineapple juice, wild rice, carrots, onion, craisins, vanilla and cayenne.  Let cook for about 20 minutes or until rice and onions are tender.

Add pumpkin and coconut milk next until smooth.  If the mixture is too thick at this point you can add 1 cup of water, stock or milk, you still want it stew like.

To this you then add your beans and chick peas, salt and pepper.

Heat back up to temp and serve!