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Hotbox Hipster

a pittsburgh hippie chick's unbridled love for all things food related

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foodie

a bit on spiritual eating… and one spicy and spectacular sausage and lentil stew.

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ok… I know what you’re thinking… sausage and lentil stew?  how good could it be?  TRUST me… it is beyond good. Tis amazing.  absolutely bursting with flavor in every bite, super duper healthy and full of vitamin rich ingredients!  best of all… very easy to prepare, so that most anyone can whip this up on a weeknight, no problemo.   this freezes wonderfully in small 16oz containers… making for stellar lunches at any given time, or a quick little dinner for a willing friend.   I love feeding others.  it’s my thing.  I love to hear what they say about the dish… how much they enjoyed it… and it makes me smile knowing I was able to nourish another, physically… but possibly mentally as well.  allow me to spill on that a bit.  people are busy.  we all have jobs, maybe kids, pets, homes, bills, cars,  the list goes on.  when you make time to see and connect with friends and family in your life… you’re saying something.  you’re letting that person know that they are important.  they are a priority.  their presence in your life, hopefully, brings you comfort and joy.  it’s why you make time, right?  do me a favor.  think back to the last noteworthy home cooked meal you may have had with say, your mom… or your sibling… or a significant other… that food, more than likely, was prepared with love.   when you cook with love and compassion and your soul is happy… all of that shows up in your dish.  ie: the people who eat it can feel that shit.  it is a mindful practice… where the cook is thinking fondly on those who will consume their dish… and they long to nourish that person inside and out… it becomes almost a spiritual culinary experience.  taste goes beyond flavor.  it involves all of the senses… sight, smells, sounds, touch and texture… the company for the meal…  your head space as you nosh… right??  all of it plays a role in your food experience.  are you sad? are you content? are you rushed? are you relaxed??  all of these affect the taste.   I love this… and it’s why I love feeding others.  it is also… why I love foods that require one utensil.  soups, stews, shallow bowls full of rice or pasta swimming in deliciously flavorful sauces.  things that can be eaten with one spoon, or one fork.  things that can be carried to a favorite chair or couch or beside a fire… and enjoyed with both hands… one holding the vessel, and the other doing the work to bring food to mouth.  easy.  comforting. simple, but memorable.  these are the types of foods I enjoy sharing with others.   experiment with your dining experiences, and notice the way food tastes differently in various settings.  I can be by a bonfire on a crisp cool night with a few friends and a few beers… and the hot dog I roast over the flame can taste better than a fancy steak almost every damn time.  it’s the setting.  the vibe.  pizza on a rooftop patio with Edison lights strung about vs. inside the sterile pizza shop in a tomato red booth with fluorescent lighting.  food on vacation vs. food after a stressful work meeting…  we know the answer to that.  don’t even get me started on music…. haaha!   food is love.  feel the love yo.  anyway…. enjoy this stew.

 

WHAT YOU NEED:

a little  over a pound of bulk (loose) hot sausage

cup of dried lentils (cooked according to package directions)

half of a butternut squash, peeled and diced (or buy it pre packaged and already prepped)

two large carrots (peeled and diced)

two large stalks of celery (leaves included: diced)

three cloves of garlic, chopped or minced

one large onion, diced

one bell pepper (red, yellow or orange)

one 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

one 14oz can chicken broth

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

1 heaped tsp dried parsley

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg

pinch of turmeric

Prepare all vegetables.  Wash, peel, chop and set aside in a large bowl.  You will be adding them all at once, so don’t worry about keeping them separate.  This way, once your stew gets rolling and you brown your sausage, you’ll be ready to add them.  if you’ve never prepped a BN squash, lop off the top and bottom with a sharp, sturdy knife and stand it on it’s bottom.  Carefully cut it straight down the middle top to bottom.  Spoon out seeds and discard.  with a vegetable peeler, carefully peel off the outer layer of skin.  you are now ready to chop it up into bite sized chunks.  you could also buy pre peeled and chopped “ready to cook” if you are feeling lazy.

cook lentils as per package. drain and set aside.

add a generous swirl of olive oil in your favorite dutch oven.  turn on your flame and begin to brown you sausage, careful not to burn.  break it up with your spatula and stir frequently.  once you are sure it is browned and cooked through, remove it onto a place with a slotted spoon, keeping juice and grease in the dutch oven.  you will be cooking your veggies in this grease. set aside.  add your vegetables and cook over medium heat for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.  add a can of crushed tomatoes and a can of chicken broth and all of your spices.  stir together to combine. bring up to a boil.  add your sausage back in and stir to combine.  turn heat down to medium low and cover it, letting it simmer for about ten minutes. uncover, stir, and check your carrots and celery for doneness. cook few mins longer if necessary.  once these are cooked to your liking, cut the heat and add in the cooked lentils. stir once more and serve it up! I like to add a large handful of chopped fresh parsley.  fine without though. Enjoy! you will enjoy this stew for days… I’ve even been known to eat it for a late breakfast.   for the most part… pretty easy… and very very comforting…  the way life SHOULD be, if we’re doing it right.

peace and love.  spags.

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FOODIE FANTASIES

many a night i spent dreaming up ways i could make a food delivery service come to fruition.  i’d turn over scenarios in my head… catchy names, food truck artwork,  meals that would be eaten easily while standing or sitting in the grass, visions of hipsters noshing on a paper lined boat of my fabulous ‘something or other’ and posting about it on twitter or the FB.   i imagined rolling through Larryville in my converted mail truck throwing peace signs out the open door/window here and there.  rocking out to death cab for cutie… wearing an apron with the words ‘SHARE GOOD VIBES’  on it.  i could finally get that cute little spoon tattoo on my hand at the base of my thumb!   and then maybe later a santoku knife on my other wrist (cause you know you’re always thinking about your NEXT tat the minute you leave the parlor)…   this is literally how i would fall asleep more nights than i can remember.  i still do sometimes… even though i have done the homework and know how hard it is to turn even a meager profit while manning a food truck biz.  it is a labor of love, as a brick and mortar restaurant would be as well.  be prepared to be married to it they say.  fourteen hour days are the minimum, with sixteen hour days being more realistic, after preparation, clean up, book keeping, and maintenance woes on a daily.  not to mention finding a co-owner, helping hand or hired staff you can trust and rely on always.  not a good look for a wife and mother of two.  life is hard sometimes.  you know what you enjoy doing… you know you are good at it… you know people would LIKE what you sling… but you meet roadblock after roadblock when thinking of how you can get there.  more often than not, it’s money.  things cost money. A LOT of money.  to get a food truck up and running and stocked with equipment, etc etc- you’re looking at at least 30G’s start up cost… rockstar trucks decked out with bells and whistles… 70 G.  but hot damn are they beautiful.   if i was rich/ aka a trust funder or one of those lucky SOB’s who hit a powerball ticket with a group for 4 mill a piece… Hell to the Yezzesss i’d be all over this.  i’d service private picnics or corporate events…  do festivals and fairs… have FUN with it.   but for now, i am a nurse.  i make a fine and comfortable living doing it.  make no mistake in thinking me ungrateful for said career.  i worked hard to become a nurse, and it was not easy.  i feel proud of this accomplishment in my life- especially deciding to do it late, as i was about to turn 30 and already working as a social worker after college.   nursing has been good to me.  to us.  but this post is about passion.  about the Foodie world that exists in my mind.  so i do what anyone in this situation would do.  i think small.  what can i do that would simulate being a part of the food service industry while allowing me to harness some of my entrepreneurial spirit???  i seek out small groups of people that would like me to cook for them.  ie: a pediatrics office full of busy, hungry medical professionals who get an hour lunch break each day;  a group of hungry policemen who are notorious for working up appetites  while out fighting crime.  the latter had me cooking for them a week before Christmas this year… and they were pleased as punch with the whole foodie event!   prior to this i cooked for my co-workers, who also found the whole delivery yummy and satisfying!   so i am having fun with it… but on a small scale.  my food truck is my silver Subaru… and i am finally using up some of the hundreds of containers i bought online late one night when i was feeling extra ‘ready’ to make this REAL.   after all, a girl’s gotta dream.  if you never CHASE you dreams you will never CATCH them.

micro side salads
micro side salads
chicken parmesan over penne with red sauce
chicken parmesan over penne with red sauce
small batch homemade vinaigrette
small batch homemade vinaigrette
slow cooked sausages sliced over cavatappi with red sauce
slow cooked sausages sliced over cavatappi with red sauce

 

garlic bread - lined up like little soldiers
garlic bread – lined up like little soldiers
hot soup, ready for 16 oz containers.
hot soup, ready for 16 oz containers.

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