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Staying in the NOW

It is still Winter in the North East and ergo, more root vegetables, roasted!

Mung Dal Salad with Rosemary Roasted Parsnips & Carrots

Last week I was in Utah. A state that I have never been to before, and, now, I wonder exactly what was wrong with me to have been so egregiously blind! Oh yes, one small teensy problem. I can't drive! Hmm.. That is being worked on in the immediate future.

Anyway, it was shorts weather there. Really. Ok, fine I had to do a last minute pants purchase. Thanks to the generosity and large heartedness of my fellow hikers (I forgot my wallet!), I managed to stay thawed in the near zero temperatures of the early mornings. Yet, it really warms up quickly through the day. Two days of hiking and biking and a lot of sunning and warmth. Plus, some very intangible experiences. I will write about that another time, when I have collected my feelings sufficiently.

Until then, I'll lead you on with a couple of snaps that also serve as my


reason for the absence here in the last week. I mean, it would be sacrilegious to look for wireless amongst these red rocks, don't you agree?!

Snow Canyon Park, UT
Zion National Park, UT

Meanwhile, back to the reality of the North East. It is chilling. Bone Chilling. It's March. No respite.

Eating seasonal is becoming a bit of a challenge. I am rising to it. It's time to dust off that red sand and get the creativity going. There is a limit to the number of ways you can consume root vegetables. No, there isn't. There is always another cuisine I have not yet experimented with. Mongolian for starters. Em, what is their cuisine. Hmm. Homework!

This time, I bring you a dish that is a collage of Indian nostalgia and Western cooking. Winter root vegetables roasted in woody rosemary. Not so new. Tossed in a salad of boiled green mung beans, a lot pungent red onions and a generous squeeze of lime. Despite the lack of garlic, this is a punchy dish, I promise. The nostalgia bit is the beans and the onion.

Mung Dal Salad with Rosemary Roasted Parsnips + Carrots

Growing up, we made a 'salad' of sprouted green mung beans, with diced onions, some grated carrot and a lot of lime (or key lime as it was) juice. The quotes around the salad because it was always a side, never a full meal. Something raw and fibrous that was served along with the main meal (roti or rice with vegetables or meat, mostly vegetables). I loved these raw roughage bits. I ate loads of them. I loved how the juices would come out and I would slurp them up, loudly. Yeah! I was voluble in my appreciation.

You could do the same with this salad, for the warmer times of the year, whenever, it decides to come along. But, while Winter continues her icy fingered stranglehold, a warmer version, with boiled beans is more inviting, which, is what I just did. Cooking the lentils in homemade stock, lends a lot of flavor to it and little forethought is needed in making this composed salad.

Warm Winter Mung Bean Salad with Rosemary Roasted Parsnips and Carrots

{serves 2)


1 cup whole green mung beans, soaked in boiling hot water for 30 mins

1-1/2 cups homemade stock

1 cup water

1 small onions, sliced in rings

handful of parsnips, sliced or diced (as you prefer)

handful of carrots, sliced or diced (as you prefer)

1 stem of rosemary, leaves picked and chopped (reserve the stem for stock)

salt and pepper as needed

Olive oil to drizzle

lemons or limes to squeeze over

chopped parsley to finish

Pre heat oven to 400F (380F fan).

Toss the carrot and parsnips in a little oil, salt, pepper and rosemary leaves. Spread in a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes under tender and crisped.

Meanwhile, drain the beans and bring to a boil with the stock and water. Season with salt.

Lower the heat to a simmer and cook covered until all the water has been absorbed.

The beans should be tender at this point. If still crunchy in the kernel, add some hot water and keep cooking until soft but not mushy.

The beans and vegetables should be done about the same time.

Toss them into a salad bowl and drizzle olive oil to ease the socializing.

Toss in the onions and parsley and squeeze a healthy dose of lemon.

Serve immediately with more parsley for garnish.

Vegemite Lamb and Black Beans with Mushroom Soup

Vegemite Lamb and Black Beans with Mushroom Soup

If you are from, well... most of the world, you are probably wondering what that first word in my title is! :) Here is a bit of definition from Wiki and then I'll tell you my story...

Vegemite is a dark brown Australian food paste made from yeast extract. It is a spread for sandwiches, toast, crumpets and cracker biscuits, and filling for pastries. It is similar to British, New Zealand, and South African Marmite, Australian (US owned) Promite, and to Swiss Cenovis.

Vegemite is made from used brewers' yeast extract, a by-product of beer manufacturing, and various vegetable and spice additives. It is salty, slightly bitter, and umami or malty — similar to beef bouillon. The texture is smooth and sticky. It is not as intensely flavoured as British Marmite and it is less sweet than the New Zealand version of Marmite.

Vegemite Lamb and Black Beans with Mushroom Soup 2

Now that you have the context, let me lay it out there by saying, I quite did not take to it. It has a very pungent yeasty smell and flavor and the idea of eating it as a spread just abhorred me. In my defense, I gave it a go twice, but I never took to it. You must wonder why I have it in my pantry then.

Lovely Julia had given it to me as a welcome gift when I visited her at Brisbane last year along with chocolate gummy bears and yummy Tim Tams. Of course, the latter two were quickly consumed but the Vegemite travelled all the way back and since then has been hibernating in my pantry.

Somewhere at the back of my mind, lingered a thought that there must be another way to consume it and the answer was given to me by Ellie in her wonderful creation of Vegemite Chicken. Ok, it did take me a while to be inspired but this dish was just perfect.

Vegemite Lamb and Black Beans with Mushroom Soup 1

I marinated the lamb in a mixture of vegemite, molasses, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar. The molasses blunts the pungence of the yeast extract and soothes its sharpness while the Worcestershire sauce enhances the salty umami of the marinade. Shallow fried with black beans it makes for a deep and complex accompaniment to a simple yet earthy mushroom and carrot soup.

Vegemite and Molasses Lamb and Black Beans

1 T Vegemite
2 T molasses
2 T malt vinegar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt

1/2 can black beans
1/4 lb boneless lamb shoulder, cubed

Combine the marinade ingredients and coat the lamb pieces in the mixture. Set at room temperature for atleast 30 minutes. If you are marinating for longer, refrigerate.

In a shallow frying pan, heat some oil and transfer the lamb along with the marinade. Add the beans and cook on low until the lamb is cooked adding as little water as possible.

Serve over the soup.

Mushroom and Carrot Soup
(Serves 2)

1 lb portebello mushrooms, stalks removed and cubed
1 small onion, diced fine
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch chunk of ginger, minced
2 sweet carrots, chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
1.5 cups stock
1/4 cup light cream
salt and pepper as needed
1/4 cup white wine (optional)

Saute the onion, garlic and ginger in little oil. Do not add the salt now. Add the mushroom pieces and brown. Pick some of the mushroom pieces and reserve for garnish. De-glaze the pan with wine, if using.

Add the carrots along with the salt, pepper and paprika. Saute for a few minutes, add half the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer until the carrots are cooked adding a bit more stock if needed.

Puree the mixture, return to the pan and add the remaining stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Gently stir in the cream and cook for a couple of minutes.

To serve, divide soup into bowls, top with reserved mushroom cubes and the lamb and beans saute.

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