Healthy Living, or I Sexy-Danced for My Cat


I hate New Years Resolutions because I think that every day, not just January 1, presents an opportunity for change, but I think I’ve accidentally made one…

I’m going to lose weight. How much is my own business, and I share enough of my life on here as it is, but it’s really important to me that I lose it. I want to be healthy, feel better, get active, eat well. And…judging by how much pizza I ate last semester alone, this change is a little overdue. But better late than never, I guess! Plus…as much as I’m always yelling “love your body no matter what!” I want to feel sexy again, and it’s hard to do that when most of your clothes don’t fit. I suppose I could go all Lady Godiva on everyone, but I don’t particularly feel like getting arrested.

I’ve been back in my apartment for the last two days, and since then have been cooking for every meal, juicing, and exercising. Plus, I’ve had so much water that half of my life seems to be spent in the bathroom. Again, I share too much of my life on this blog. But I feel really good! A little more energetic and excited for the future. Y’all know how much I love to cook — the more complicated the recipe, the better — so this is fun for me.

The weather was gorgeous yesterday, so I went on a run around my neighborhood, past my old apartment. I bumped into an old friend — the little tiny kitty cat that lived upstairs — and she ran up to me for a cuddle. If every run involves snuggling tiny cats, I’ll lose this weight in no time.

But the weather changed today. It’s been so cold in my apartment that I checked at least 5 times to make sure the heater was actually working. There’s fog outside my window — so much that I can’t see outside. And so, with no other option but to stay inside and die slowly, I decided to work out and generate some body heat…and my sister had just given me a Zumba DVD.

Zumba is ridiculous. I probably burned more calories laughing at the instructors and myself than I burned from the actual workout. I kept yelling, “I CAN’T SALSA WHAT IS HAPPENING” while my cat stood under my feet and only just escaped being trampled at least three times. He retreated to his cat castle while I did this weird dance move that involved more shimmying than was really appropriate and I’m pretty sure I learned to booty-pop.

So I guess today’s lesson is…if you want to lose weight and you need to keep warm, you can always sexily dance for your cat.

xo

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Props to Edward the Groceryman


I got groceries today. This is not a particularly novel activity, as I have seen groceries before. Heck, I’ve even purchased them for my mother. But today, I took a bus to get them. This is also not very exciting. I’ve looked at busses, stood in the rain and been splashed by busses, and even ridden a few in my time. So today, I hopped on that bus, ID card in hand, and smiled at the incredibly grumpy bus driver before sitting down and getting bus-sick. Note to self: don’t sit in the sideways seats anymore. You knew this. This has happened before, Cappy. Don’t be stupid. Also, I got off at a stop by McDonald’s and the automated bus voice (I’m pretty sure her name is Nadine) pronounced it MAC-Donald’s, so I’ve concluded that busses are super sassy and I love them.

Anyway, today I rode that bus to dreamville (the weird, sort of creepy local grocery store with huge confetti-like shapes on the building…the 80s called, but they definitely don’t want your decor back) and it was magical. It’s not actually called dreamville, by the way.

Aisle after cramped aisle of overpriced pre-sliced lunch meat. So many products on sale (previously incredibly expensive but now semi-reasonably priced) for purchase by poor college students who prefer to shop local instead of going to Walmart. So many croutons. So many donuts, which I narrowly avoided by focusing on carrots instead. Such expensive bell peppers (seriously, why are they always so expensive?). Milk…milk for 4 dollars. Little tiny 4 dollar milk. I bought holiday-themed tupperware because it was on sale and I have nothing to put leftovers in. I didn’t know anyone wanted holiday themed tupperware.

I had coupons, yo, and I saved 5 cents for bringing my own reusable bags, holla! Bought most of the stuff on sale, except for prunes. Those are expensive forever. But they’re really good on baked chicken (who would’ve thought? Me, that’s who).

Anyway, props to Edward the Groceryman for fitting all my groceries into 2 bags! I’d bumped into him earlier in the freezer section (It’s dangerous for you to be here in the frozen food section…cuz you could melt all this stuff) and he joked that we could dance. It was a wide aisle, and I almost took him up on it, but he was a little elderly and might’ve strained his back. I’m a pretty wild dancer. Dance with me at your own risk, y’all. So then we reconnected in the checkout line, where I checked him out (no, I didn’t) and he was very helpful and very nice. Thumbs up, Edward.

Step two of adulthood complete! (I don’t know what step one was. Maybe not burning all my food?)

Start this at 0:42

Forget It, Cappy. It’s Just Chi-Town.


Chloe and me at the Bean. Yay Chicago skyline!

Chloe and me at the Bean. Yay Chicago skyline!

“Do you wanna stop viiiiiiiolence?” sang a man with long black hair on the street corner, waving a pamphlet in my face and doing a little leap/jig. That’s Chicago, now characterized in my mind by amazing food and crazy people. And train travel.

I took the train across the country and visited my family north of the city before heading to Lincoln Park to visit my girlfriend (okay, best friend, but we might as well get married) Chloe, where I embarked on a culinary tour of The Windy City. Bagels. Noodles. Waffles. Repeat. (Lather and rinse if you’d like.) I don’t think I’ve eaten so well in my life.

Day 1: Got on a train from Arlington Park to Chicago, where the conductor (whose name was surely Marshal, though I have no proof of that) grumped at me about my suitcase, then whistled while he walked away. Who yells at someone to move their suitcase while it’s being moved, then cheerily whistles three seconds later? Were you a prison warden in a past life?

Arrived and was picked up by my ladylove, and we walked to the elevated train (kind of like the light rail, if you live in Seattle…we don’t have those where I come from). We jumped on and the train started moving before I was prepared, so I flew about a foot sideways and was thrown into a glass partition, yelling, “Blahhhhh!!” and then saying (awkwardly and loudly), “Welcome to Chicago!” because I’m a doofus. When we finally found a seat, I got mean mugged by a homeless woman for the entire ride. She wouldn’t even break her stare when I made eye contact with her, so I just sat (mostly) quietly for the rest of the ride while she murdered me in her mind.

Sat in the library while Chloe went to class and witnessed the most lovely foreign couple be in love and wished I went to DePaul, because library.
I can’t even remember what we did for the rest of the day, so that’s good.

Day 2: Woke at the crack of dawn (11) after Chloe got back from class and we took a train to some loop (the West Loop? Who knows. So many loops.) to eat at Little Goat Diner. We got on the wrong train, so we had to get off and walk through Sedgewick, which is super cute building-wise but super sketchy people-wise. Some scary man looked us up and down and said, “Mmm, I like that” or something. A guy sneezed on my face as he walked by. I’m not kidding. I honestly don’t how it happened because I have PTSD.

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Napkin holder at The Little Goat!

Finally got to the restaurant. First, it’s absolutely adorable and I love it and want it to be my personal restaurant. Second, GARLIC BREAD AND TOMATO SOUP. Third, Cinnamon roll, be my husband. That is all.
We moseyed back to her apartment before heading out once more to an amazing Italian restaurant that started with a Q (I’m so good at remembering this trip…I’ll bet it impresses you) where I tried veal for the first time (delicious) and fell in love with our waiter, who looked like Tony Parker.
Went home and watched an episode of Dance Moms because we’re awesome and Abby Lee Miller is scary.

Day 3: Ate at Jam & Honey. They have a jar of nutella on the table “just in case.” Needless to say, they are my kind of people. We ate waffles and bananas and yum. A little girl was eating with her mom next to us and she told me she was getting pancakes, and since I don’t know how to talk to children, I said, “Wow, you’re going crazy!” because that makes sense. I wanted to die a little, but she was preoccupied with her doll and children are weird anyway, so they don’t care when adults are. …I’m an adult.

Went to the Mac store because duh I love makeup and it was the professional store, so makeup artists go there to get their supplies. They have every pigment ever, so you can mix specific colors and…I died a little bit, I’m not going to lie. I could live in that store.
Then we went to Lush, which doesn’t exist where I live, and I bought soap that’s called Sexy Peel, because puns are the best. I also basically got high off one of their colognes because it smelled like man. Chloe and I were almost embarrassed, because we just wanted to get boyfriends and spray it on them. It smelled like a woodpile and man. Man man man. Also, it was called Breath of God, so that’s kind of amazing.

Ate noodles in curry sauce at Flat Top. Died inside because I was so happy.
It was raining, but all I’ve ever wanted to do was go to The Bean, so we trudged our way across the city (when I say trudged I mean walked and took a train, and when I say across the city I mean several blocks) to that cute little reflecting piece of awesome, and we took lots of pictures. We asked a couple sorority girls to take our picture with the city in the background, because I feel a strange connection to anyone wearing Greek letters. They cut The Bean out of one of the pictures…connection lost.
A homeless man asked us for change and when we kept walking, said, “You look wonderful today,” to me. I honestly couldn’t help but say, “Thank you” and laugh as I walked away. He chuckled heartily in the background. Very heartily. (Somehow that sounded foreboding…it wasn’t supposed to.)
Ate bagels for dinner because Barack Obama likes that bagel shop and it’s a few blocks from Chloe’s apartment. Besides, bagels are always acceptable, and they steam them there! Whaaaat?

I was so glazed and so infused.

I was so glazed and so infused.

Day 4: Woke up, put on my new makeup (yes yes yes yes) and went to Argo Tea, where I drank the most delightful black tea with honey and lemon, before heading to Glazed and Infused Donuts. Three words: Crème brulee donut. Once again, I died of food-induced happiness.
Then, as if donuts for breakfast didn’t make us want to have heart attacks, we got deep dish pizza. It’s Chicago, y’all, and apparently that means you have to eat pizza that immediately puts you in a coma.
I got on a plane today and headed home. I miss Chloe, and I miss Chicago (which is surprising because I don’t particularly like cities…but Chicago is delightful if you ignore the dirt).

A few random quotes/situations:

Chloe: You can be my wife but I don’t know if I can share you with all the black, homeless Chicago men that find you attractive.
Me: You noticed that? It happens to me in Seattle, too.
Chloe: They were responding to whatever you were putting out. At least you’ve found your niche market in the romance department.
(I don’t wanna brag, but I do have a way with the homeless fellas. Meow.)

Me every 5 minutes: Something gross just hit me in the face.

Chloe: Oh, there’s the skyline!
Me: Cuuute! …Wait, did I just say that?

A couple Bob Marley lookalikes in Sedgewick: Man, we can rent scooters and ride the shit around that place. (Because that sentence makes sense in English).

A very-nearly toothless, scrawny white man walked onto our train, but another guy was trying to get off and they shuffled around for a second trying to get around each other before Toothless in Chicago mumbled loudly “Fuck you, outta my fuckin’ way,” then sat down across from and staring at us the rest of our ride. He answered his cell phone at one point and just yelled, “mumble mumble fucking mumble” before hanging up and getting out a packet of cigarettes. He kept slapping it against his hand and I was just praying he wouldn’t light up (if he had, I may have been forced to murder him because I was tired and I don’t like cancer)…and then we got off. More like fled, really.

Everyone was dressed in green and at least slightly drunk by about 11:30 a.m. because they all think they’re Irish and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was today. Fun times ensued, but I am neither 21 nor still in Chicago.

Chloe sang a Mariah Carey song to me in a cupcake shop last night, so that memory will just have to stay in my mind until the next time I see her. I’ll miss you, boo!

Cheers, muffins, and Happy (almost) Saint Patrick’s Day to one and all! Apparently we’re all Irish at heart, or maybe everyone just likes to drink.

My Thought Process in Trader Joe’s


I love food, as some of you may have already noticed. So, as may be obvious, I really enjoy grocery shopping. I especially like shopping at Trader Joe’s, a “specialty retail grocery store” in a few states across the country. I went shopping there a few days ago for a couple random things, and I thought I’d share my (bizarre) TJ’s thought process with you here:

Oh, those are pretty flowers. I wish I could buy some, but I would definitely forget to water them, and that would sort of be like murdering them…oh my goodness that guy went to my high school, run away! Run away! PHEW. Close call.

Isn’t Barb cute?!

Alright. Apples, apples. I like Pink Ladies, because they remind me of the girls in the movie Grease. Ho hum, maybe I’ll pick up some Puffins cereal, oh look! Barb the Puffin is on the side of the box. What a cute puffin.

I should probably avoid the freezer aisle, because that’s where they keep the cookies too, but…oh no, my cart is spinning out of control! Must…resist…frozen…section…can’t…Here I am in the freezer section…

Their microwave chicken tikka masala is so good, I’ll get three boxes. And a lamb vindaloo. Mostly because I really enjoy the word vindaloo. And one more chicken masala for good measure…great. Moving along…HEY LADY GET OUT OF MY WAY.

Resist the cookies. Resist the cookies. Ahh, cookies resisted. Maybe to counter the fact that I was so drawn to the cookies, I should buy some tomato bisque. That’s healthy, right? Good. Aaaand continue.

Oh no. There are baked goods here. I have wandered into the cake section. They have whoopie pies. Oh. God. Carrot cake?! CINNAMON BREAD?!? RUN, CAPPY! RUN!

Was it weird that I just ran out of that section? A few people looked at me strangely. Hmm pineapple juice would be nice. No! You’re on a budget! Just walk to the checkout counter. Closer. Closer. Good.

Oh no, they have chocolate bars here…

And so concludes my stream-of-consciousness blog about my struggles with sweets in grocery stores. 

Then Michael Kors Asked Me for a Cupcake


My sister and I were wandering around the city the other night when we spotted a woman staggering about in the mall. My sister, nursing student and good Samaritan that she is, went over to ask if the woman needed help, since she seemed completely normal other than the fact that she was having a hard time walking. After yelling at my sister to not touch her, she walked away and toward a store, where she leaned against the window. We stood there and watched, like typical dodos, and after a couple seconds someone came out of the store and started talking to the woman. And that was when I heard eleven words I never thought I’d hear:

“Hi, I’m Michael Kors, I’m the designer here. Are you okay?”

I laughed at first, because hello Mikey, I don’t think she cares who you are or what you do since she’s about to fall over. But then I kinda peed myself because…it was Michael Kors. Ten feet away from me. Talking to a woman who may or may not have had drugs in her system. Outside his store. Close to me. Breathing my air. Talking to a woman I had seen. Etc.

My sister and I walked away once we knew the woman would be okay, but once we were out of earshot I kind of tweaked out. “That was Michael Kors!! OH MY GOD.” Apparently my sister hadn’t heard him say his name, so she didn’t realize it was him, but I was pretty sure I recognized his face from the days when I was obsessed with Project Runway, so I Googled him on my phone (because I’m obviously not fashionable enough to recognize designers by their faces, but definitely fashionable enough to wear chinchila. Or wait, no, I meant clothes).

And then she said these fateful words: “Should we go back? I can tell him I can’t afford his stuff, but I do like his line Michael by Michael Kors.” And then I snorted, like the amazing fashionista I am not. Because hello, anyone who is anyone and knows anything knows that she was mistaking him for Marc Jacobs, as in Marc by Marc Jacobs. I am so much better than you. Listen to me, for I am amazing. (Edit: I later found out that there is a Michael by Michael Kors, further solidifying that I am not a fashionista and am just a giant blockhead.)

Needless to say, we went back. Back to his store, holding a box of cupcakes we’d just bought. Marched right in there, risking the safety of countless leather purses and shoes, because frosting can cause nasty spotting in leather…I think. Past watches more expensive than my kidneys, pretending to browse while all the while internally screeching “MICHAEL KORS!!”
He spotted our cupcakes and said, “Those are for me, right?” So basically, Michael Kors initiated a conversation with me. Or my sister. Or our box of cupcakes. Either way, I’m never washing this hand again…um…

Basically, all this tripe and writing and storytelling and ridiculousness and…anyway, its all led up to this: my sister and I had a ten minute (count ’em, ten) long conversation with Michael Kors in which he ogled our cupcakes (and I do mean cupcakes, you freaks), told us he’d had them before, and I insulted his weight. It was an accident. I swear. I don’t want to talk about it. But it did result in him saying, “Bless your heart” after I apologized profusely.

Also, he’s shorter than I imagined. And nicer.

So…real quick, can I have a total freak out? Okay. I MET MICHAEL KORS AND NOW THE DEGREE OF SEPARATION BETWEEN ME, HEIDI KLUM, NINA GARCIA, TIM GUNN, AND A WHOLE BUNCH OF SUPER SKINNY MODELS IS ONE. ONE DEGREE. ONE DEGREE OF SEPARATION.

Sorry about that. I guess the fame is getting to me. But don’t worry…someday…you’ll all be as famous as I am. It’s okay. Don’t feel bad about yourselves.

Moral of the story: help staggering women in the mall and you will automatically meet someone famous. God bless you, staggering woman. I don’t want y’all to think I forgot about her or her troubles, so I should mention that I saw her the next day at that very same mall and she was staggering less. So that’s good, right? Right.

And that is the story of Michael and the Cupcakes. Sweet dreams, children.

Fortune Cookies Suck


This is an example of a useless cookie.

Stop being a vague cookie!

I don’t think Fortune Cookies are living up to society’s expectations of them. They are like the black sheep of the family, though which family that is I’m not quite sure. Basically, society (the parents) expected great things of fortune cookies but they just let us down. They didn’t go to college, they got pregnant at 17, and now they’re doing crack in an alleyway behind an Albertson’s just waiting to die.

Well, I say: DIE. Die, you useless piece of cookie.

I hate when they say stuff like “you have a great sense of humor.” Yes, yes, I know. Thanks. That wasn’t even an ego boost. Or “you will take a great trip.” Well, my next vacation isn’t for another EIGHT YEARS, so…basically you’re slacking off on your duties. Stop doing crack and tell me my fortune.

I want very specific fortunes. “You should totally stay with your boyfriend through college. It’s a wonderful idea, and my goodness your outfit looks wonderful today.”
Or “Today, you’ll want to flip someone off because they’re tailgating you. By all means, go for it; they will not have a gun.”
Or even “You might want to carry some pepper spray on your jog today, cuz someone’s gonna try to rape you.”

Those fortunes are helpful because they contain vital information for our everyday lives. Telling me I’m gonna go on a trip is not going to be helpful, because I either a) already know that or b) am not going on a trip.

How about specifics? Specifics! Names, dates, compliments on my hair, etc would be very much appreciated. And the stuff about my hair would totally be true, so… Even “Oy, miss, you have food in your teeth” would be appreciated.

But it’s hopeless. People have even made up games to make fortune cookies better. Adding “in bed” to the end of each fortune has become popular with the teenagers of the world (and my 25-year-old co-worker Scott). But even then, “you will have a wonderful trip in bed” isn’t a great fortune since it sounds a little violent, and “you have a great sense of humor in bed” is pretty insulting, to be honest.

I just wanted to write this post so you’d all know how disappointed I am in our child, the fortune cookie. Somebody get her some rehab. She’s all cracked out.

Pregnancy Cravings


I’ve been eating like a pregnant woman (I swear I’m not joking – I’ve got the food baby to prove it), and my friends are totally fuelling my bad habit.

Here’s the deal: We’re the Cheetah Girls, and nothing, not even a food baby, can stand in the way of our happiness. Katie, Shannon, Maddie and I will eat our way to joy…and I’ll eat the leftovers. I feel like most outings (and nights in) with these girls end with me laying on the floor groaning because I’ve eaten so much. I’m beginning to be okay with that.

I guess what this all comes down to (in a terribly round-about and not entirely sensical way) is that it’s really great to be able to be yourself. Some people can do it no matter who they’re with, while others have to find that niche group. So really, happiness and friendship + self-love = being able to watch the movie Prom in a theatre with three other strangers, snort loudly, make terrible jokes, and just not care.

I’ve learned a lot this year. I’ve learned (and promptly forgotten) how convex lenses work, what happened during the 100 Years War, and what metonymy is. But I think the most important thing that I learned is that friendship and love are essential to happiness. But you have to be your own friend first.

I know, I know. It’s so corny. “Cappy, you need to shut up and start listing something semi-funny about how to not pee your pants at the zoo,” you shout (though why you’re shouting at your computer I don’t know). I know! I tell myself that every day. But I recently had a birthday and grew up a little, and I feel like y’all should get some of my grown-up wisdom. Be your friend. Because if you wouldn’t take the time to be friends with you, why the hell should you expect anyone else to? You should love yourself and your food baby the way I do. Because I’ve named my food baby Charlie. Can’t give much more love than that.

But really, I think the most important lesson here is this: don’t eat Doritos, barbecue chips, Girl Scout Cookies, lemonade, and candy and expect to feel normal afterward…

The Passion of the Food


The lemon meringue pie I made in celebration of my very first "Freshly Pressed" post.

 

   We eat every day. We have to or we die, but you all are smart enough to know that. We eat to fill, sure, but we also eat to love.
Maybe it’s more appropriate to say we eat while we love.
   Food is the most important art form. Of course music is important, but it’s not essential to the human body. As much as I hate to admit it, neither is literature. But food, food is essential to life. Food varies between cultures, speaking to us of the ancient customs of its creators; sometimes Greek cuisine spills over into Italian, sometimes into Middle Eastern.
   Food is like love. No matter how many times we eat something we don’t like, we’ll never just stop eating. Because somewhere out there, we know something so utterly satisfying is just waiting for us. Once we find it, we want it at every meal until we die. And no matter how many times we say food is just there for nourishment, we know we’re only lying to ourselves. Food is there, just like love, to make us whole.
   We fall in love over food. We take someone out, or stay in with them, light candles, and look at them across a table filled with food. We tell them we love them over that plate of pasta, ask them to marry us after finishing our strawberry shortcake, feed each other the biggest, most beautiful cake we can find at our wedding, and hope to wake up to the smell of bacon and eggs cooking in our kitchen, our kitchen, on a Saturday morning. We crave it when we’re carrying the baby that we created out of love, we feed that baby with food from our bodies, we teach the baby, once it’s not much of a baby anymore, how to cook food. That baby, all grown up, takes its love out to eat and proposes to her after shortcake too.
   Food is love. Food creates love. Food is the never ending cycle of absolute joy and contentment.
   Food is why we live, why we laugh, and how we love.

Scones: The Ultimate Gift of the Gods


I am pretty much obsessed with scones. I make them all the time and therefore eat them all the time and love them long tiiime.

They are flaky. They are pastries. They are warm when you get them right out of the oven. They are surprisingly tasty with cherry preserves. I had some with a chai tea latte this morning. They make me feel cultured.

I don’t know who invented the scone, but they are my hero. Lucky them!
Actually, lucky them they are dead, because if they were alive I would stalk them and make them tell me stories about how they invented the scone and then I would leap on them and make them be my friend forever.
It’d be pretty scary. But it’d be awesome, too.

So for your eating pleasure, I will now post my favorite scone recipe (which I have, inexplicably, memorized).

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Ingredients:
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened but not melted
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp lemon or orange zest

Mix the dry ingredients and zest together in a large bowl.
Cut the butter into small pieces and mix it into the dry ingredients with your hands (my preferred method) or with a fork, until it resembles coarse cornmeal.
Add the cream and mix with fork until just moistened. Don’t overwork the dough.

Remove 1/2 the dough from the bowl and knead on a flat surface just 5 or 6 times. Press flat on surface until it’s a circle about 6 inches in diameter and about 1 inch thick. Cut into 6 wedges. Do the same with the other half of the dough.
If you prefer, you can make them into round biscuit-like shapes. I’ve never done this, but it looks pretty snazzy.
Place on greased cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan and bake 10 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the scones are golden.
Remove to a cooling rack for a few minutes.

Then eat them and love them because they are delicious.

Once again, this recipe is courtesy of Julia Child (or rather, the cookbook Baking with Julia), so bon appetit!

To avoid cramping, eat, then pray for at least 20 minutes, THEN love. – Mo Rocca.

Lentil Chili Soup


I cannot say that this post will make you laugh, but it will (hopefully) make your tummy grumble.

My family has made lentil soup for a while, ever since my sister’s second visit to Spain two years ago. But it wasn’t until I visited Bellingham’s Avenue Bread that I discovered that lentils could also be used in chili.
It doesn’t seem like that novel a concept, to be honest, but I’d never thought of it before. So when I returned home, I looked up about ten recipes on the internet, changed them a bunch and…voila! Lentil chili.

Ingredients: (keep in mind that the veggies don’t need to be chopped perfectly – a rough chop will add to the texture)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium white/yellow onions, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 bell peppers, diced
6 large cloves garlic, minced/chopped/crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
2-3 tbsp chili powder (I find that dark chili powder works really well, but regular is totally fine)
5 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp cornstarch
28 oz can diced tomatoes, squished (use the extra juice, too)
16 oz lentils

1. Heat oil in a large pot. You could totally use a dutch oven too, but I haven’t tried it yet.
2. Add onions and carrots. Cook for 5-10 minutes until soft.
3. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, and bell pepper. Cook 5 more minutes.
4. While that’s cooking, heat vegetable broth in a separate small pot until boiling.
5. Remove one cup vegetable broth into a bowl and mix the corn starch into it with a whisk. This step is important, as it allows the cornstarch to mix with the broth without clumping. Add the mixture, along with the rest of the broth, to the large pot of veggies.
6. Add the tomatoes and lentils.
7. Lower heat and simmer for 40-45 minutes or until lentils are tender. If you need to let them simmer longer (because the rest of dinner isn’t ready, someone isn’t home, whatever) just add a little more vegetable broth or tomato juice so it doesn’t get too thick. This stuff can turn into oatmeal real quick!

In the words of Julia Child (and a whole bunch of French people), Bon Appetit!
Feel free to give feedback – it’s much appreciated.