The (It's Almost) Winter of My Content

Admittedly, I did not have a mission – a design – for this post until I put the proverbial pen to paper. The actual dish below is one I have made half a dozen times, now. I learned of it through Chris, about a year and a half ago via his favorite magazine, The Week. He made it the first time I ate it, but I have made it each time hence (but not for Chris).

It’s November. As I’ve mentioned, perhaps ad nauseam, it’s that time of year. Bring on the Snuggie version of foods. Unfortunately, but also not surprising, our fair city is throwing me some major curve balls in the weather department. During the days it’s Summer. At night it’s downright cold. So a meal that sounds good when I start planning my dinner (right after lunch) is not the same meal that makes sense once the sun has sunk into the horizon.

Why is this relevant? I guess it’s not. But I was thinking how it’s not unlike my hair this week. First of all, I always want long hair. I think most girls do. I have spent years and years of my life trying to accomplish long hair. And by God, every time I do I realize the same thing. Long hair simply does not look good on me. It doesn’t help that I don’t really know how to do fun, pretty things with my hair. I don’t own a blow dryer or a curling iron, or a flattening iron (or whatever that’s called). I'm not really sure how to braid, but Maggie did show me how to put twisty-twirlys in my hair.

But also, it’s almost Winter. It’s supposedly cold-ish and fireplace-ish and scarves-ish. So what did I do earlier today? What did I do after working on growing my hair out for the past three years? What did I do the week before the holidays? I got all my hair cut off.

It looks good and I’m really happy with it. I’m even wearing a jaunty hat right this minute. It looks good with the jaunty hat. I have even already gotten a few compliments! Well, all three of those people saw me very recently with my lots of hair. I guess they had to say something.

So back to the weather, and the food. A couple of evenings ago I did my grocery shopping for the week. It was a cool night and my menu planning was hinged around that. Big food. Warm food. Cozy food.

Then, the next day I was out, in the world, doing my thing – and I was downright hot. I was wearing a tank top and a skirt and was still all sweaty. All I wanted for lunch was a salad and buckets of water. THEN, a mere few hours later, I get back home, up in my canyon, the sun sinks and it’s cold again. I swiftly changed into my warmies.

This was all fortuitous as Dougerton was coming over for a cold night kinda meal that I had planned out on that recent grocery shopping night. This brings us to the dish Chris taught me from The Week – with a few twists and turns, of course. It’s not the prettiest dish in the world, no matter how you work it. But it is really delicious.

In the aesthetic department, at least I have my new, fun hair! And, of course, the jaunty hat... (You SO thought you were getting a picture of my hair, didn't you?!)

Sausage Over Creamy Lentils
(Recipe adapted from Saveur October, 2008)

Serves 4

2 ounces smoked bacon, thinly sliced crosswise
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 small parsnip, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
4 sprigs thyme
2 fresh bay leaves
12 ounces lentils, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 fresh pork sausages, such as sweet Italian sausages
1 cup white wine
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Cook bacon in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat, until its fat has rendered, about 6 minutes. Add butter, onions, garlic, parsnip, and celery; cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Tie parsley, thyme, and bay leaves together with kitchen twine; add to pan. Stir in lentils and 5 1⁄2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Discard herbs. Stir in mustard and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring sausages, wine, and 1 cup water to a boil in a 12" skillet over high heat. Cook, turning sausages occasionally, until liquid has evaporated, 12–15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; add oil. Cook sausages until browned, 6–7 minutes. Serve the sausages over the lentils.

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