On our third day in BC, Nora took us to visit her friends in Victoria, on Vancouver Island. For some reason we only took one picture while we were there, like so:
We stayed two nights. L is vegetarian, so in addition to bringing a bottle of wine, Nora volunteered me to make supper, which I did. It was simple and flavourful and asian-inspired, and I made three different dishes to maximise the chances that everyone would find something they could eat, like so:
curry powder or paste
a little canola oil
Heat the red lentils in the oil, stirring until they turn pale. Add water, about four times as much as the lentils by volume. Keep cooking until soft, adding water as necessary. Dal should be soft and slurpy, not stiff. When the lentils are soft, stir in curry powder or paste to taste. Keep cooking on low heat for another fifteen minutes or so.
Carrots and Apricots
2 large onions, sliced thin
500 g carrots (1 lb), chopped into irregular 1-cm (half-inch) chunks
a fistful of dried apricots, sliced into 4 or 5 strips each
a little canola oil
Heat the onions gently in the canola oil while you chop the carrots and slice the apricots. When the onions are soft, stir in the carrots and apricots. This can be ready in as little as ten minutes after you add the carrots, but you can also keep cooking gently for another half hour or more as the onion flavour deepens and the carrots soften.
Rapini and Garlic
1 bunch of rapini
6 cloves of garlic, put through a garlic press
a little sesame oil
Boil a pot of water large enough for two bunches of rapini. Chop the rapini roughly and drop it into the boiling water. Leave it there for about three minutes or just until the stems start to soften. Pour out into a colander, rinse in cold water to stop the cooking and squeeze out the excess water. Set aside until just before you are ready to eat. (Blanching vegetables like this is scary to most people these days, because of all the vitamins that are leached into the cooking water. Note however that by completely immersing the vegetables in boiling water you cook them very quickly, and the reduced cooking time almost makes up for the leaching.) Just before you are ready to eat, heat the sesame oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Stir in the garlic then immediately stir in the rapini before the garlic starts to burn. Heat through for five minutes.
1 cup pot barley
2 1/2 cups cold water
Put the barley and the water in a pot together and cook over medium heat until done, about 45 minutes.
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This menu is easy to make because there is very little timing to worry about. Everything can pretty much sit on the stove until you’re ready to sit down. The rapini are in no danger of getting grey and mushy because you don’t stir-fry them until you’re sure people are coming to the table. It’s nutritionally balanced even if you’re a little kid and you can’t stand rapini.