Tag Archives: France

Paris: 5 Ways We Did More with (just a little) Less

Slowing down to enjoy the view.

The Seinne in the sun is pure magic.

Make hay while the sun shines, isn’t that what they say?

Hey bloggers!!

Well it’s true what they say, the time does go fast.

It’s hard to believe it is now September, with August behind us and all that it brought. Just a month ago we were putting the finishing touches on our packed luggage…

But with September comes so many good things: back to school, back to work, and back to working on this little blog and all it encompasses πŸ™‚ I hope you’ll all stick around to see what we’ve got up our sleeves!

While we get back to normal life, it’s my pleasure to share in my next three posts a few tidbits from our time in France – starting with a few things that made a big trip not only more affordable, but really, that much better.

Travel is a real luxury, and as you all know it can sure get costly. I hope you’ll enjoy this little round-up of 5 ways we traveled well with (just a little) less.

The mere sense of living is joy enough.

Β  ~ Emily Dickinson

Our favorite statue in the city just up the street from ‘home’.

1. Shack Up

And no, I don’t mean run away with a french man on a motorcycle!

As tempting as that might be πŸ™‚ …but really, I am referring to accommodation, as anyone knows that after flights, the place where you lay your head is likely to be your biggest expense, particularly on a longer trip.

And really, fancy hotels aside (which are sweet if you’ve got the budget) – just how much time will you be spending in said place of sleep?

I referenced the quaint french apartment we took in Paris, and it was just that: small, old, perfectly lovely, and right in the heart of where we wanted to be (for those of you interested we stayed in the Marais district).

After all, this is how the vast majority of people live in big cities like this, so it was fun, and not to mention for the four of us, (just a little) less hit on the budgetΒ  & a whole lot more authentic.

Unlocking the door to the courtyard after another big day.

Everything you can imagine is real.

~ Pablo Picasso

We did just fine cozied up in our tiny kitchen, enjoying simple foods made with basics (my next post).

This was the start of the food journey that has not only affirmed my approach to food more than ever before, but forever reminded me just how simple foods made with quality ingredients are best, and how important it is to enjoy each and every bite.

After all, that is precisely what the people do in France. And it certainly shows!

Our go-to salad for three whole weeks it seems!

2. Eat In

Really!

Part of the fun of having a real place to shack up in is the chance to live like any other person might in that part of the world (at least for me it was and I suspect this would be the case for many of you too!). Cooking in a strange (tiny) kitchen is an adventure, one I was up for, and one we had a blast with.

It was a beautiful thing – heck – I was cooking dinner in Paris! What a sheer delight it was, and one I took with gratitude and pleasure.

I mentioned the produce market that set up literally at the steps to our door twice in the time we were there. I bought melons, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, nectarines, apples & berries. They were all pretty amazing, yes.

The block we stayed on had a store that stocked every fine oil, wine, preserve & jelly you could want, and the boulangerie on our block made just the right baguettes and chocolate croissants for the girls, who enjoyed them daily.

It was good living, as we say.

Not like the one in Provence, but hey – pretty darned good!

Eating in saved us tons of money, and it also meant that the three of us vegetarian girls weren’t struggling with menus (and our French) every night. It also meant we ate like royalty & had plenty of time & money left to hit the streets for some quality sight-seeing, and maybe an ice cream and a night cap (or two).

Of course, we ate dinners out too, and we enjoyed it (just a little) more when we did.

Less really was more here, and it went this way through our entire trip.

The best part? Reserving the majority of our sitting time for chilling at our favorite cafes.

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

~ Dr. Seuss

Cafe life in France, and in Paris especially, is just about the funnest thing you’ll ever experience, as no one is ever in a rush.

The people watching is just about the best in the world, not to mention the goodies you are likely to enjoy. A few days in I gave up my afternoon coffee and switched it to white wine or beer.

And then we simply sat. And watched. And drank. And talked.

Until it was time to be on our way.

3. Set out on Foot

A big city like Paris is (obviously) more than well set up for tourists, and they are pros at handling all those visitors.

There are tour buses, stacked double-deckers, boats, bike tours, and of course, the metro is superb. But nothing is like seeing the city on foot both for your waistline and your wallet.

We walked for hours & hours each day, which many of you know is a wonderful way to get fresh air, exercise, and views that you just don’t get from a tourist bus, or underground on the metro.

Plus, how will you see that top in the window or find that off-the-beaten-track patisserie with the best pastry you ate the whole trip? That gorgeous old cathedral you stumbled on that time you got lost?

Nothing says adventure like traipsing around a city with just your bag, a camera, good company and a good stylish pair of comfortablish shoes.

More on shoes in an upcoming post πŸ˜‰

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr

4. Pack Coffee/Carry Water

Depending on your preference for coffee, this might not apply, but I was glad to have brought along a few bags of ground coffee from home to make French Presses while I greeted the day and acclimatized.

The kids were often tired (especially at the start of the trip), and given my (fairly unreasonable) requirement for caffeine early in the day, I got amped at home before leaving the house.

I’d done quite a bit of research on some coffee places I wanted to hit – places that are doing quality coffee like we are lucky to enjoy at home. My first try yielded a closed sign (Telescope seemed to be closed for the month) and the others were just too out-of-the-way and not convenient to drag the whole brood to.

For a full list of great spots to hit, check out this post on Alice Gao’s beautiful blog here. Alas, maybe next time.

Besides, I see plenty of snazzy coffee shops here (it’s my job), and I realized that day that I didn’t need to travel to Paris to see them there too.

So the home coffee was a major lifesaver, not to mention an easy way to avoid the Oranginas and other goodies you buy every time you sit your kids at a table (cause you know they can’t sit there with nothing).

But believe me, they got plenty of Oranginas. In fact, I am pretty sure we spent more on those drinks then most anything the whole trip. But more on that in another post too πŸ™‚

And bring water wherever you go! All that walking will make you tired, and many places might leave you high and dry (read: thirsty) and succumbing to overpriced drinks you otherwise wouldn’t need.

5. Buy a Museum Pass

Okay. So really. This one made me very, very, happy.

Mu husband deserves the credit here, and this action turned out to be genius.

And not strictly for financial reasons. In fact, all in, we figured that by the end of our week in Paris, we broke even on the cost of this. The real savings, however, turned out to be of the more precious kind.

This thing saved us precious and irreplaceable time. No line ups!

Visiting Paris in August means the height of tourist season there – in fact – there were (what felt like) more tourists than locals, and given the high rate of shop closures for ‘Vacances’, I’d say this was correct.

We bought a one week pass that got us into any museum, sans line-up. A sweet deal considering we packed a good ‘sight a day’ into the itinerary. And did I mention the time savings? Brilliant.

But this is my husband we are talking about. I married him for a reason, or two πŸ˜‰

On our ‘must-see’ cultural list was: Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, The Louvre, Musee D’Orsay, Les Invalides, Versailles, The Pompidou Centre, and of course, the Eiffel Tower (which we did not go up as one of the lifts was broken) – there are quite a few more amazing sights to see, but traveling with a young one allows only so much, and these kids were stimulated to the max.

Truthfully, they were amazing. As was my husband for buying this pass. Brilliance.

Β  Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Commitment is a line you must cross….it is the difference between dreaming and doing.

~ Bernie Fuchs

Looking back, it seems crazy that all that is behind us now. Time really flies.

True to one of my fave Dr. Seuss quotes, I’ve got to tell you that I’m pretty darned glad we did that, and my smiles feel pretty darned wide.

I’ve since returned home to enjoy the blessings we enjoy here, such as good great regional food, clean tasty water, and truly great friends.

Yes, this is where I give a shout out to all of you – whether you wrote me a text to read when I landed, a thoughtful & genuine blog comment, an email, FB message, or straight up picked up the phone and called (you know who you are), you all made coming home that much sweeter, and I have big love for each and every one of you!

Thank you all for being here with me!

Looking forward to all that is to come – and next I’ll get to those top foods – I promise πŸ™‚

  • Got any tips to add to this from your travels?
  • If you could travel anywhere tomorrow where would it be?

I’d love to add any wisdom from all you fine readers out there – and let us know your thoughts and whatever might be on your travel wish list!

Looking forward to a fab fall with all of you!

Yours in Less,

56 Comments

Filed under Family, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Photography, Rejuvenation, Shopping, Success, Travel, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Market Day in Provence: A Picture Journey

If only the world could stand still a moment.

β€œLet us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…”

~ Susan Polis Schutz

Alas it does seem a while since I posted, bonjour everyone!

Truth be told, it’s been somewhat challenging to blog from the road here, as time inside is limited and my mind is flooded with new sensations, views, ideas, and inspiration, none of which have solidified enough to properly put to words.

It is also (put more simply) that I am (and for the first time in a long time and maybe actually ever) in pure honest vacation mode, and my mind has turned off (mostly) everything.

All to make room for the new.

Here, in Provence (where we arrived Friday after a few glorious days in Burgundy), I was treated Sunday to my very first Provencal market experience, and what a treat that was!

The adorable and ancient village where we are based, called L’isle Sur La Sorgue, is somewhat popular for its markets, most notably antiques.

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Provence itself as a much larger area, (I just read in my French history book) has been celebrated since the Roman times for its particularly good fresh produce.

With the area being somewhat continually drenched in hot sun (it has been between 35 and 40 degrees steady since we arrived), one would think it obvious that this food would be good, and I had heard that indeed, it was.

But I was not prepared for this.

There are simply no words that could adequately describe the taste of the food that grows here, for this is (for any fruit and vegetable lover) a total mecca.

So in the absence of new recipes, I do hope you’ll enjoy a little tour of the town and the market with me here – as I’ve tried to do it justice, but I’ll let you be the judge πŸ™‚

Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be.

~ Eckhart Tolle

Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose.

~ Eckhart Tolle

I am quite sure I read there were over 300 stalls at this market on Sunday, and judging by the fact that we couldn’t even see it all, I believe it.

This little village, with its narrow ancient streets, transformed into a bustling shopping zone with sellers & producers offering everything from soap, to clothing, records, antiques, jewellery, shoes, bags, scarves, spices, and of course food.

Oh, the glorious food.

Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.

~ Unknown

Forget every stereotype you’ve ever heard about the French being anything less than polite. Here, they are warm, and excited to see visitors delight in their hard work. In fact, here in the south, the people are downright wonderful.

There are so many characters in a small village like this. And their food, their food.

It is truly sublime, not to mention very cheap (I’ll share more in my next post on just how inexpensive it really is).

Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

~ William Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s Sonnets

In my next post I’ll tell you the top foods we’ve been enjoying here, especially since arriving here in Provence where we’ve got a full functioning kitchen, a barbeque, and an outdoor eating area to enjoy the food and the company under the open skies.

After Paris, and then a few days in hotel in Beaune, we are happy to be enjoying a lovely amount of space here, and are taking advantage of the fresh food & views available right around the corner.

L’espoir fait vivre.

~ French Proverb, “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”

We’ve got just a few more days here, so the likelihood that I’ll get another post out before the end of this trip is quite small, but you never know – I’ll have months of inspiration to share and enjoy from the perspective of life at home.

But not just yet!

From here, we head south for a night to enjoy the ocean before returning to Paris for the last two nights – we head home Monday. I hope you all are enjoying the final weeks of summer, and I’ll look forward to catching up soon!

  • If you traveled to Provence, what would be on your list to eat?

Let us know, and thanks for joining me!

Yours in Less,

65 Comments

Filed under Aspirations, Children, Cooking, Family, Food, Happiness, Health, Hope, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Photography, Rejuvenation, Salads, Travel, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Feeding the Heart & the Soul in Paris

Here we are. On this day, in this moment.

Take rest. A field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.

~ Ovid

Here we are! A long way from home, here in Paris, enjoying what we knew would be a fabulous time away together as a family.

I mentioned in my last post about our quaint French apartment (read: tiny), and it has been the perfect place to lay our heads each night after the massive days we’ve had soaking it all in (it will be absorbing for months to come too).

We’re having a ball, and as you can well imagine, the photos are piling up faster than I can ask (politely in English) for another glass of white wine.

With that, dear IPOM readers, I figure pictures can do the noble work of talking here, as we’ve got another 2 incredible days in the city before we head south to the country.

And it all starts with a good cup of coffee (from home).

Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live.

~ Margaret Fuller

I am thrilled to report that after the jet lag, and most importantly the perspective shift, life here is actually becoming beautifully relaxed.

Instead of afternoon coffee, I have a glass of wine, and in place of my daily run, we walk all day long until dark. Dinners are simple (both out and in), breakfast is had in before we head out, and the family feels closer than ever before.

This part of town is amazing, and we’ve got a produce market twice weekly just outside our door. The produce is almost as incredible as the bread & cheese, and cooking here in this kitchen has been a blast.

A place for everything, everything in its place.

~ Benjamin Franklin

Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.

~ John De Paola

From the lover’s bridge (Pont Des Arts) to Notre Dame to the classical beauty that is the Luxembourg Gardens, we’ve covered pretty much everything we set out to do so far.

True to the plan, we hit one (or in some cases two) major sight see a day, which is plenty considering we are traveling with an eight year old. Notre Dame, Pompidou Center, Luxembourg Gardens, Versailles, The Louvre, Musee D’Orsay and the Eiffel Tower were tops on our list.

We’ve shopped (just a little, especially on account of many shop owners closing shop completely for the entire month of August), walked (a whole lot), and have truly lucked out with the weather (which has has been beyond spectacular).

I hope you’ll enjoy (just a little) of where we’ve been so far.

How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward.

~ Spanish Proverb

Be faithful to that which exists within yourself.

~ Andre Gide

As is inevitable, I arrived on this holiday knowing nothing but my current perspective at the time. Loaded with responsibility, and driven by projects, it is immensely difficult at the time to truly imagine letting go.

But it happens, because it has to. And it feels so good, and is completely necessary in every way. I am so very fortunate and blessed to have this time to enjoy with my loved ones in quite possibly my favorite place in the whole world.

On another note, you will now see at the bottom that I am testing out the WordAds program with WordPress. I’m fairly particular about the esthetics on this blog, but if there is a way to generate revenue for Not So Fast, I thought it was worth a try, so please note that all proceeds from any advertising done (now or in the future) will go directly towards charity and we’ll see how it goes!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and on anything you see in this post that you fancy. Also, with so many photos, I’d love to hear what you want to see as we wind up the first leg of this trip in the next day or so! As you can also imagine, I’ll be somewhat absent in my blog reading and commenting this month – rest assured I’ll be back.

As for us, it’s Sunday, and the shops are closed. We plan to hit the Arc De Triomphe before hitting the banks of the river for ice cream and a stroll. I love that they close the shops here for a day, I think these people might just be on to something good πŸ™‚

Thanks for joining us!

Yours in Less from Paris,

78 Comments

Filed under Family, Happiness, Inspiration, Photography, Rejuvenation, Travel

Recipe: Fresh Coconut Pulp Chocolate Torte & Thoughts on Hope

More fresh ways to get creative in the kitchen.

The greatest thoughts come from the heart.

~ Vauvenargues

It’s true! We are here!

The family made it to Paris, and after a typical long travel day, we arrived yesterday to a bustling busy city at the height of tourist season. As I write this, I’ve got a fabulous internet connection in my quaint french apartment (which will be home for the next week). French press coffee at my side (brought from home), and sleeping children in the room adjacent.

Life is good, and I hope to share it as I am inspired over the course of the 3 weeks we’ll be away here.

Of course the blog will look a little different from here, and to me this is exciting, as who knows what might inspire me? There is surely no shortage of material, as I learned from the first time I visited this beautiful city just two years ago.

Today’s post is the follow-up from the recipe for Homemade Fresh Coconut Milk, which I am quite certain a few of you will attempt, if only to get to this dessert.

Nothing is impossible for a willing heart.

~ French Proverb

Taking inspiration from this popular IPOM recipe, (remember those insanely delicious Rice Krispie Treats?), I knew there had to be a most delicious way to take advantage of the by-product from making coconut milk, and after all that work, I surely wasn’t going to waste a single morsel.

And it is so delicious, that would have been absolutely criminal.

When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”

~ Author Unknown

As it happens, last week was also fun as I was nominated in a blog relay about hope by a fellow favorite blogging chum Cara at Fork and Beans (love this girl).

This ‘relay’ asks bloggers to touch on the topic of hope, an interesting word if there ever was one. I could write a whole essay on this topic (as I am sure some of us could), and hope is a funny thing, as surely we all hope, and in turn also have hopes.

To me, I think hope is the feeling we have when we simply want something to go our way. Hope is also the deep belief & longing that helps us get through the toughest of times.

Simply put, the notion of hoping always reminds me that certain things are in our control, and others simply are not. The things we can control are often the hardest to do.

Things like how we feel & think, how & what we eat, how we behave with others. Hoping is the first step in simply doing. By doing, I believe we can get closer to actually realizing our hopes and dreams.

As a hope without action is simply just that, nothing more than a thought, or a desire. By doing, we become.

And as for the things that are beyond our control? The quote below pretty much sums it up for me.

Where hope would otherwise become hopelessness, it becomes faith.

~ Robert Brault

Here are the next few bloggers tagged in this relay – I’d love to hear what these lovely ladies have to share with us as I always enjoy their unique perspectives on food, life, art, travel, and all those hopeful dreams of ours πŸ™‚

Spree at Cooking Spree, Marina at Marina Chetner, Syders from This Sydney Life, Sharyn at the Kale Chronicles, Ishita at Ishita Unblogged. Have fun with it ladies!

The Less:

Fewer ingredients makes for simple, easy working. Less heated dessert foods means more intact enzymes and less baking in the heat of summer. Less heavy, flour-based baked goods, means less allergens and less gluten, so these treats can really be enjoyed by all, no matter where you go, or who you go with.

The More:

More uses for by-products means less waste and more value. More healthy chocolate treats means more feeling good about eating them. More easy simple recipes means more incentive to get the job done, so killing two birds with one stone just got easier. Not to mention delicious, healthy, and fun too.

Fresh Coconut Pulp Chocolate Torte:

  • leftover pulp from (1) recipe Fresh Homemade Coconut Milk you should have about 2.5-3 cups (the pulp of one coconut, or feel free to sub shredded coconut for the pulp, though I suspect the result will be much drier)
  • (2) cups chocolate chips, for melting
  • (1/3) cup almond butter, raw or roasted
  • (4) cups rice krispie cereal
  • (1) tsp vanilla

Optional Topping:

  • (1) cup chocolate chips
  • (1/4 1/3) cup shredded coconut

Begin by melting the (2) cups of chocolate chips using a double boiler, or by putting the chocolate chips in a stainless bowl (use a bowl big enough to mix the whole recipe if you can) over a pot of boiling water. Once the chocolate has melted completely, remove the bowl from the heat.

Add the almond butter and vanilla and stir. The heat from the chocolate will help the almond butter to soften without heating the almond butter over heat itself (particularly good if you are concerned about this and are using raw almond butter).

Add the coconut pulp to the chocolate-almond butter mixture and mix well. The coconut will cool the hot chocolate and bring the temperature down a little. Next, add the rice krispie cereal to the mixture, and mix well with your hands, ensuring it is even.

Line an 8 inch round or square pan with wax or parchment paper and press the mixture into the pan, using your hands to get it as even on the top as possible. Put the pan into the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.

The mixture will harden and become very firm to the touch. Remove the firm torte and with your hands take out the parchment paper, holding it in your hands carefully. Place the hardened torte back in to the pan.

From here, you can enjoy as is, or if you want to get creative or fancy (like I did), simply melt an additional cup of chocolate chips and spread over the entire cooled torte, topping with shredded dried coconut as garnish. Place the pan back in the fridge to harden the chocolate.

Serve in slices with optional fruit (raspberries are delicious!), and perhaps some ice cream or whip. You can also cut and enjoy through the week as a snack.

Hope is putting faith to work when doubting would be easier.

~Author Unknown

This dessert made a fabulous treat for a group this week as I said good-bye to my co-workers before my holiday. One good-bye was a little harder than the others.

It is rich while still being light on the tummy. A true feel good dessert!

Hope never abandons you, you abandon it.

~ George Weinberg

Hope is the only bee that makes honey without flowers.

~ Robert Ingersoll

It is my sincere desire that anyone reading this post today can feel hope in knowing that deliciousness is never far away, and that in all of our hands is carried infinite possibilities for action of all kinds.

Whether it is cooking, writing, or any form of art, it is the hands that carry out the work of the heart and the mind.

Here’s hoping we can all enjoy some of that. I’ll be seeking in the coming weeks here from France what has begun as a fabulous time in a most beautiful place. Here’s to infinite possibilities!

  • What are you hopeful for today?
  • Got a favorite no bake dessert to share with us?

More to come readers, stay tuned! Off to see the sights as I’ve officially had enough coffee…

Yours in Less,

67 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Hope, Photography, Raw, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian

Recipe: Fierce French Lentil Salad

The only way to improve a lentil is to make it (just a little) fierce & French!

β€œThe only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
― Socrates

Greetings fine blogging friends!

I’m back home after a brief business trip to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains (a fancy way of saying Calgary).

I have returned home to a few new blooms in the garden and dare I say….just a tiny bit of a tan on my face?!! Okay, that might be stretching it a (just a little) but I did spend a couple of days in the warm Prairie sun – it was pretty sweet πŸ™‚

It’s always extra-super-amazing to be back home, no matter how long I leave for.

β€œUnless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

In keeping with my last post (and a few before that I think!), here is one of my favorite go-to cold protein salad recipes. I hesitate to call it a recipe, as it’s more just a food I love, and a food I fall back on time and time again.

More lentils! But not just any old lentils.

I am talking about French lentils, or Puy lentils as they are also called (they originally came from Puy, France). Those of you who read this blog regularly might just say I have been training for France my entire adult life – which is about as long as I’ve been enjoying these deliciously sophisticated legumes!!

Not exactly the French countryside, but every once in a while it's fun to pretend. This view is right up the street from my house in the city. Doesn't it look quaint?

β€œCount your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.”

― John Lennon

It could be hard to find these in some parts of the world, and I’ve always found them successfully in health food or organic grocery stores. A suitable substitute would be ‘Beluga’ lentils, also black and a little plumper.

I have read that French lentils take longer to cook than other lentils, which I have never found to be the case – it could be because I steam them, instead of boiling them (which for me always turns this kind to mush).

Does anyone else do this too?

I can’t tell you where I learned this from, or how I learned it, because I honestly don’t remember – but what I can tell you is it makes them ridiculously good!

Let’s get to this fierce salad, shall we? Yes!

β€œI can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then. ”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

The Less:

Less boiling in hot water means more in-tact nutrition in your final product. Less canned beans and lentils means more texture, and less waste, recycling, and cost. Less heavy & starchy beans means a lighter feeling in your tummy, and less heavy tummies means more light smiles and happy times – and (maybe) (just a little) less gas. Good, right?

The More:

More high fiber legumes means more roughage in your system. More rich protein and satisfaction means you need to eat less to get full. More yummy textures and flavors mean more variety and substance. More taste and versatility means you can serve these to anyone – even if they aren’t lentil lovers (yet!).

Fierce French Lentil Salad:

  • (1) cup French lentils or Puy lentils (can sub Beluga lentils)
  • (1) pint grape tomatoes,Β roasted (or 1/2 cup thinly sliced or chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil)
  • (1/2) cup green onions
  • (3) tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • (2) tbsp red wine vinegar
  • (1) tsp salt (or to taste)
  • (1/2) cup roasted almond slivers or blanched sliced almonds
  • (1/2) cup cubes of feta cheese (optional)
  • fresh black pepper

The Lentils:

The trick here is to soak the lentils at least 12 hours. I usually put up a bowl to soak over night and cook them in the morning or the following evening.

Combine the lentils with lots of cold water and soak. When ready to cook, drain the lentils and rinse in a colander with plenty of cold water. Put the lentils into a vegetable steamer with enough water to last long enough to boil 25-30 minutes. Bring to a boil, once the steam water is boiling, turn the heat to medium-high and cook, covered for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. You can test them by tasting or squashing one between your fingers – it should crush easily, but you don’t want it to be mush either.

Once the lentils are done (soft but firm), transfer them to a bowl to cool. After about 5 minutes, add the olive oil and salt (you can also add the vinegar at this stage) to the still warm/hot lentils – this allows the oil and salt to soak into each lentil’s individual little soul, infusing it with yummy depth and fierce flavor!

From here, you can store the lentils in the fridge until you want to use them. Or, proceed with the following steps!

The Tomatoes:

If you are using roasted grape tomatoes, rinse the tomatoes in water and drain. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the tomatoes in a tbsp of olive oil or so and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place on a flat oiled sheet, and roast the tomatoes until wrinkly – anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. They should be black a little on the bottom. Remove and cool on the pan before transferring to a bowl.

This step can be done well in advance – I often buy ‘cast-offs’ from the produce section of wrinkly tomatoes that are too old to eat fresh. They are usually dirt cheap and I roast them and keep them in the fridge. Delicious on sandwiches or on top of a salad or roasted veggies – even on pasta with capers!

The Nuts:

Roast the nuts by placing them dry on a flat cookie sheet in the oven. Roast at 350 degrees for about 3-4 minutes, or until fragrant and turning brown.

Roasted almonds are the family favorite and we have a bowl of them in the kitchen pretty much all the time. The kids love them, the husband loves them, guests love them. I often toast up a few cups and use them at dinner.

Leftovers are brilliant on breakfast cereals or Mediterranean yoghurt in the morning with hemp hearts & maple syrup πŸ™‚

To create the salad, combine the oiled & salted cooked (and cooled) lentils in a bowl with the nuts, green onions, and optional feta. If you are using sun-dried tomatoes, add them when you mix as well. For the roasted tomatoes, add these to the top of the mixture in the serving bowl(s) just before serving.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

This dish (or a version of this dish) is a fabulous picnic salad or addition to a summer potluck. Served with greens, fresh baguette or crackers, and a glass of French wine, the only thing better would be, well, being in France! πŸ™‚

β€œBe yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

― Oscar Wilde

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

― George Bernard Shaw

A classic shot of T and me on my first trip to Paris, summer of 2010.

Getting out there into the big big world helps us to appreciate coming home (just a little) more, and I always come home (just a little) more thankful for all the relationships I am so lucky to be a participant in.

Whether it is the friendships and connections forged on the road or the smiles on the kids faces when you walk in the door (yes – even after one night away – lucky me!), interactions with others are always an extraordinarily special gift.

It’s a good life, indeed. Isn’t it?

Thanks to all of you who continue to read and support this (little) blog – your comments always make my day, no matter where I am!

β€œIt is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.”

― Albert Einstein

  • What’s your favorite potluck summer salad?
  • Have you a favorite lentil variety or recipe to share with us?

Let us know! I hear there is a sweet vegan potluck coming up (click the link for more info over at an unrefined vegan), it’s time to start planning contributions!

I can’t wait to see what we are all bringing to the table, and a giant thanks to Ann at AUV for bringing it all together and for all the inspiration!

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Salads, Savory, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian