Martha Stewart

I have a love-hate relationship with Martha Stewart.

I discovered her (yes children, there was a time when Martha Stewart was not ubiquitious) when someone gave me her cookbook for a wedding present.  I cooked a few recipes and thought, meh.  I soon scorned her as more interested in “lifestyle” and not a serious cook.  After all, professional women like me don’t have time for crafts.  Imagine my surprise when I went to a dinner party filled with professional women who confessed to loving Martha Stewart, secretly watching Martha Stewart marathons on holiday weekends.

Fast forward a few years.  I needed a spice rack and was not finding one that I liked.  I have a lot of spices and didn’t want one that came with spices or jars.  After much searching, I checked out the Martha Stewart collection at K-Mart. (yes children, there used to be a Martha Stewart collection at K-Mart!) As a side note, my daughter, who was around 7 or 8 at the time, said “Martha won’t let us down” and a man at the other end of the aisle started snickering.  Lo and behold, Martha did not let us down.  I found the perfect spice rack and am still using it many years later.

This made me change my opinion of Martha.  I loved the fact that people of all income levels could go to K-Mart and buy beautiful home furnishings, courtesy of Martha Stewart.  I kept my good opinion of her even when she went to jail for insider trading.  Hey, at least she did her time and got it over with, unlike most others on Wall Street.  I even briefly subscribed to Martha Stewart Living, Whole Living, and Everyday Food (which is now available for FREE for mobile devices).

And then there was the time I tried the Martha Stewart cleanse.  For New Year’s, Whole Living magazine sponsored a Mind-Body Challenge which involved giving up caffeine, alcohol, sugar, dairy, gluten, and processed foods for three weeks.  The kicker (for me) was that you could start a community blog on the Martha Stewart site about the cleanse.  I took the plunge, secretly hoping my blog would be discovered by Martha’s people and I’d instantly be offered a regular gig for one of her magazines.  Did not happen.  I held up my end of the bargain, feeling hungry and tired for lack of my staples — coffee, bread, and wine — and blogging about it. But Martha’s people ignored the community blogs, instead creating their own cheery blog where they talked about making smoothies together with the office Vita-Mix.  Must be nice.

I decided that Martha and I needed a break.  I recently got irked when she criticized food bloggers for publishing untested recipes.  Feeling a little insecure, are we?  Guess what, Martha?  I’ve made many dishes from published recipes that were supposedly tested and they came out terribly.  I wonder how these recipes passed out of the testing phase.  By contrast, all the recipes I blog about have been made for dinner and passed muster with my family.

Lately, I’ve been getting emails from Martha.  I didn’t subscribe to anything – they just started showing up in my in-box.  Some of the recipes looked intriguing, so I tried them and now Martha’s back on my good list.  I like that she makes easy and interesting recipes available on her website for free, even if her website is a little overwhelming if you’re just trying to decide what to have for dinner.  You’ll be seeing adaptations of some of these recipes over the next few weeks.  But don’t expect to see me doing crafts any time soon.

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Lentil and Chickpea Stew

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This takes a little longer and uses more ingredients than the average Good Enough recipe, but it’s healthy, flavorful, and hearty.  Perfect as the weather gets a little cooler.

Lentil and Chickpea Stew, adapted from marthastewart.com

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 3 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. paprika
  • 1/2 t. turmeric
  • 1/2 t. ground ginger
  • 1/2 t. coriander
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 1/8 t. ground cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 T. tomato paste (I buy it in a tube so I don’t have to waste a whole can)
  • 1-2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 c. yellow lentils
  • 2 cans garbanzo beans
  • 5 oz. orzo
  • 1/2 c. pitted dates
  • 3 T. (more or less) parsley

Instructions:

1) Chop onion, slice celery, press (or chop) garlic.  Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven, add onion, celery and garlic and cook a few minutes until softened.

2) Measure your spices and salt into a small dish.  Add to the pan and stir.  Cook for a minute or two, until fragrant.

3) Add stock, cinnamon stick (if you didn’t add it with the spices), tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice, and lentils.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4) Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans.  Add them to the pan and simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5) Add orzo and chopped dates and cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.

5) Add chopped parsley.

Greek Salad with Garbanzo Beans

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Summer is over, but I’m still making salads. Sometimes you just don’t want to cook.

I’ve made Greek salads many times before, but only as a side dish. I discovered that the simple addition of garbanzo beans makes it hearty enough for a main dish. Add some pita chips and you’ve got a great, simple meal.

Ingredients:

  • lemon
  • olive oil
  • dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 container cherry tomatoes
  • 4 small, Persian cucumbers
  • 1 shallot
  • Greek olives
  • feta cheese

Instructions:

1) In a large salad bowl, add sliced cucumbers (I cut them lengthwise, then put them on their flat side and slice), cherry tomatoes (halved), garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained), olives (I usually cut them in half), shallot (thinly sliced), and feta.

2) In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine juice of one lemon, oregano, salt, and pepper (sometimes I add lemon pepper, to gild the lily).  Add some olive oil and whisk.  How much olive oil?  Start with a little, whisk, taste, add a little more, and when it tastes right, stop.

3) Add dressing to salad and toss.

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