Last week, the island where Jared and I were planning to vacation this week was covered in water. There was no power, and our relatives (who arrived a week before us) had to be rescued off of the island during the middle of a tropical storm. I delayed our visit by a day and set my expectations low for sun and sand.
When we arrived on Thursday afternoon, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. To my pleasant surprise, it was sunshine, all sunshine! We spent one night on the mainland while repairs were being made on the island. By Friday, we hopped on the ferry and made our way to our tropical paradise, just as beautiful as I always remembered.
Jared and I married on this very island, exactly five years ago this Sunday. On our wedding day, there was a torrential downpour all afternoon and into the early evening. I had to go to the mainland to get my hair done up at the JCPenney hair salon in the local mall, the only salon opened on a Sunday in this small town. Before I realized what she was doing, the stylist, a tiny little woman with a thick German accent, had teased my hair into an “old lady” beehive updo. Apparently, they don’t get many young brides in Retirement-Ville. Instructing my strong-willed German stylist on what I wanted was no easy task, but we finally tamed my wildly teased and over-sprayed hair into something presentable. As it turned out, it really didn’t matter. On the ferry back to the island, it was so rainy and windy, I was drenched by the time we docked. (Though my mom and I made a valiant attempt to salvage my do on the ferry boat back to the island, all captured on film by the wedding photographer. That’s mom’s hand there in the picture on the left, holding the bag. Lovely.) Thankfully, once in our condo, mom was able to fix my sagging upsweep just in time for the wedding.
No one thought we were going to be able to have the wedding outside, but like my iron-willed stylist, I had a plan and we were going with it! The beach wedding will happen, I insisted. Everyone get dressed, there will be a wedding on the beach at 7:00pm. Be there!
At 6:30 pm, the rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sun shined on our little island. In a frenzy, every guest in our group, including the groom, ran down to the beach, raked the sand, set up the music and our ceremony site, then tied ribbons on the boardwalk. I learned later that Jared hopped in the shower at 6:50pm.
At 7:00, I walked down the boardwalk, arm in arm with my dad, to a perfectly beautiful ceremony with all of my favorite people, including my most favorite person in the whole world, Jared Randolph, my soon-to-be husband. Two dolphins swam back and forth right in front of us the entire time that the preacher shared God’s words about marriage to us and we spoke our vows to one another. It was more beautiful than I could have dreamed.
Our marriage has been full of these “almosts”…not only did our wedding almost get rained out, but a month before our wedding Jared could have almost died from a fall on a construction site. (Thankfully he was okay, just a bad concussion, after a couple of scary days in the hospital.) Jared almost didn’t have a job when we returned from our honeymoon, we almost didn’t have a house to move into when he took his latest job… But in every “almost” instance, God orchestrated something so perfect, so beyond what we could have hoped for, that in every blessing of ours, we know to point to Him and give him the praise.
This sweet pea soup is one of those great meals to have on hand when you just don’t know what life is going to throw at you. If it’s cool and rainy or you’re in need of comfort, serve it in a big mug with a warm of hunk of bread. If it’s hot outside and the sun is shining down on you, serve it chilled in a tall glass with a garnish of fresh tomatoes. If you’re on the road, on the run, at the pool, put it in a cup or to-go mug and sip it as you go about your day.
And whatever storm you may be in, may you feel God’s presence in the storm and know the sun will soon shine again. It always does.
Sippable Spring Pea Soup (Hot or Chilled)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 leek, dark green section removed, chopped into thin half moons & rinsed well
1 onion, diced
1 t. salt
4 cups veggie broth
4 cups of peas (frozen or fresh)
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
Garnish options: Sprig of mint, chopped green onions, diced tomatoes, swirl of heavy cream (not for vegans)
In a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add leeks, onions, and 1 t. salt. Saute for ~ 8 minutes until onions are translucent. Add veggie broth, bring to boil, cover and reduce heat to med-low. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add peas and simmer for 4 more minutes. Remove from heat. Either transfer to a blender (in halves) or use an immersion blender and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Serve warm in a mug or refrigerate for 2 hours or until chilled and serve in tall shooter glasses. Garnish as desired.
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I think any of our regular readers know my affections for kale at this point. I do love that cruciferous veggie (in fact, this recipe sneaks in two cups of it), but I’ve been keeping quiet about another favorite food of mine. Possibly the the humblest legume out there, the lentil.
I don’t have a funny or inspiring story to tie into this recipe, so I’m just going to indulge in one of my favorite guilty pleasures, talking geeky about health food.
“What’s a lentil?” You ask. Well, I didn’t know either until about two years ago when I started eating a plant-based diet. I wish I had known about them when I was a college student trying to eat healthy on a tight budget. A pound of lentils costs less than $1.00 and will yield 5 cups of cooked lentils. Each cup boasts a whopping 17 grams of protein, 16 grams of fiber, folate (90% RDV), iron (35% RDV), magnesium, and much more, yet only has 1 gram of fat and 230 calories. All that, and they cook in 30 minutes (versus 4+ hours for most dry beans) with no soaking required.
Like most legumes, lentils aren’t a powerhouse of flavor on their own, but they pick up the flavors of whatever they are cooked in nicely. I use them in soups and spaghetti sauce all the time. This week, I discovered a new use for them. Instead of using canned beans or slow cooking kidney and black beans for my usual veggie chili recipe, I used lentils.
I know it’s warming up and, for some, chili is a winter dish, but I love any quick one-pot meal in the summer that doesn’t require turning on the oven or hovering over the stove for long. You can make a lot at once, and then take the next night off or easily pack up the leftovers for lunch at the office. And if you top it with a hit of diced avocado, some cilantro, and a squeeze of lime , it really brightens up the flavors and brings a bit of summer color to this warm dish.
What’s your favorite under-the-radar ingredient or food that you love to tell your friends about?
Rachel’s Lentil Veggie Chili
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. grated ginger
1 T. cumin
1 t. cayenne
1 t. salt
2 serrano chilies, whole
1 sweet potato, chopped
14 oz can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup (1/2 lb) dry green lentils, sorted for dirt & rocks* & rinsed
6 cups water
2 cups of frozen corn, thawed
2 cups kale, removed from stem
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes (optional for an extra spicy kick)
Other: Brown Rice and/or crackers, avocado, cilantro, & lime
In a large pot, heat a little bit of olive oil and saute onions and carrots with a pinch of salt on medium heat until soft. Add garlic and ginger and saute for 2 more minutes. Stir in cumin, cayenne, and salt. Add serrano chilies, sweet potato, tomatoes, lentil, and water. Cover and bring to a boil, lower to a simmer for 30 minutes with the lid tilted, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid. Add corn and kale & optional red pepper flakes. Simmer for 10 more minutes. If you want a thicker soup, continue to simmer uncovered until you reach the desired consistency.
Serve over brown rice or with crackers. Garnish with avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
*Before cooking any dried legumes, pour them onto a solid surface, like a paper towel and sort through them looking for sticks, little rocks, or clumps of dirt. Please don’t skip this step. I find something in probably 50% of my dried beans. You don’t want you or your guests to bite into a rock!