Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cook's Block

Everybody knows what writer’s block is, but have you ever heard of cook’s block? This debilitating condition is more common than most would suspect. Symptoms range from a lack of desire to cook or bake to weariness at the thought of dinner. Appetite can disappear. People suffering from particularly acute cases have been known to turn to takeout. Cook’s block can happen to the best of us from time to time, and it strikes without warning.

I have my periods of inspiration and intense creativity, but this is not one of them. I’ve been overcome by cook’s block *sigh*. I try to focus—what to cook today? But it’s futile, there’s just a blank where the ideas used to be. Thank goodness the pendulum always swings. Eventually.

In the meantime, we still have to eat. Fall says it’s time for soup. And the leftover basmati rice in the fridge tells me curried lentils. I listen.

Curried Lentil Soup
Printable Recipe

2 tablespoons canola oil
¼ cup minced garlic
¼ cup minced ginger
2 to 3 jalapenos, seeded and minced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 bay leaves
4 quarts water
1 ¼ pounds red lentils, picked over
Juice of 2 limes
Kosher salt
½ cup minced cilantro

Heat a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the garlic, ginger, and jalapenos and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft. Add the celery and carrot and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft. Add the curry powder, cumin, and bay leaves and sauté 1 to 2 minutes more, or until fragrant. Add the water and lentils, bring to a boil, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the lentils fall apart. Discard the bay leaves, stir in the lime juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into individual bowls, top with plenty of cilantro, and serve immediately.

Serves 8. A bowlful of this nourishing vegetarian soup with its aromatic spices will warm you on the coldest of days. I sometimes serve it over cooked basmati rice.


Kate said...

Curried Lentil Soup is wonderful! I will be trying your recipe. Thanks!

veron said...

I totally understand how you feel. I go through mood swings and suddenly I do not want to cook or bake and wish I was doing something else. This looks delicious and very color makes me feel cozy!

Janice said...

Yum, yum, yummy. On my list now to cook this week. I'm having a cook's block, too!

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction said...

That happens to me a lot. I'll have lots of inspiration when I'm *not* in the kitchen, and then when it comes to dinner, I can't think of anything to make. Your soup looks delicious, though!

peg @ pastry pieces said...

Can we get take-out? Do you deliver to Portland?

Kamran Siddiqi said...

OMG! Looks too good! Are you and I related? I just noticed that you talked about your cook's block... In my post (without me even coming to your site, mind you!), I talk about my food blogger's block. Weird, huh?

Anyway, your curried lentil soup looks to die for!

avaserfi said...

This soup is great and it freezes well. Officially stocked up. Thanks!

Allie said...

I completely relate to how you feel, as I am also going through Cook's Block. I am embarrassed to admit I have turned to take-out a number of times as a result, but now I'm trying to just start cooking the old stand-bys until I recover and feel inspired again.

Thanks for the commiseration!

Correen said...

The pictures do your recipe justice - the ingredients pushed me over the edge! Sounds so incredibly comforting - a perfect fall afternoon farm lunch ;)

HollowPeas said...

Thanks for posting this! I made this a few weekends ago (I left out the celery and used chicken broth instead of water) and it was so good! My freezer is full of it still, it made such a huge batch! It is spicy and comforting, thanks again for sharing!

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