French Lentils with Tomatoes, Marcona Almonds and Goat Cheese

French lentils with marcona almonds and goat cheese

As soon as we left Tim’s birthday lunch at Table 3 last week, we began plotting ways to re-create part of our appetizer: the savory lentils beneath our crispy duck confit. I am telling you, these lentils were something else: soft but not mushy, loaded with flavor, concrete proof that lentils will take on the character of whatever you mix them with.

thyme on a cutting board

It kind of cracked me up the way were talking about it—Was that tarragon, or was it thyme? Did you catch that little bit of sweetness in the beginning? The oil is just right!—because, seriously, for as long as I can remember, this has been something my mom does: she loves the lamb stew she orders at a restaurant, so the next day she’s buying lamb at the meat counter. I make her a crustless quiche, so she’s blending eggs and spinach the very day she gets back home.

making lentils

And I guess that makes me my mother’s daughter because, even beyond the lentils, I’ll be darned if half our wedding wasn’t the result of someone else’s great idea on Pinterest. The unmatching vintage plates? Something I saw on a blog or in a magazine. The banquet-style tables? Something someone else did, too. Now, from the burlap wreath on our front door to the way our dining chairs don’t match, I’m always pulling from someone else’s concept, riffing on it to make it my own.

Sometimes I wonder if there’s any real creativity possible in the world—I draw inspiration from so many sources and places; is it even possible to come up with ideas without it?

tomatoes cooking lentils cooking

As for these lentils: by the time we’d left our afternoon movie, we’d narrowed down most of the ingredients we thought we’d tasted, and so we picked them up at the store. I kept telling Tim how great it would be to get this recipe right because lentils are so cheap and so simple and yet they’re one of those foods I’ve always been a little intimidated by, as if making them well was reserved for the Really Good Cook.

lentils with tomatoes, marcona almonds and goat cheese

So here is what we did. Saturday, I soaked the lentils overnight; yesterday morning, Tim cooked them in water and set them aside. Then, in the afternoon, in the course of maybe 20 minutes total, we set to work: heating oil, adding tomatoes and almonds and thyme, combining this mixture with the lentils and topping the whole thing with goat cheese.

two bowls of lentils lentils with tomatoes

Incredible.

I think the first words out of my mouth were something like, They’re just like those lentils!

lentils for one

And this, while maybe not a mark of creativity, in my mind was a real success.

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust

cauliflower pizza

“When a wife has a good husband, it is easily seen in her face.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

cauliflower

Today is Tim’s birthday, the first one since we’ve been married.

And over the last few weeks, as I’ve been thinking about its coming up, reflecting on what our life together is like now, about how this birthday would be different from all his previous birthdays, sandwiched between our daily rhthyms of working from home and sleeping side by side and sharing breakfasts, lunches, dinners, I’ve been wanting so much to explain to you, somehow here on this blog, exactly what my face would show if you could see it: I have a good husband.

pizza ingredients

I told Tim early when we were dating, I had a little bit of a fear of marriage growing up, a fact I know some people can’t understand and others get all too well. The best I can explain it, I think, is that when you’ve been exposed to bad marriages, or to their problems, when you’re young enough, you don’t know how to take it. And for me, I took it and turned it into fear, the kind of fear that made me read books about marriage in junior high.

tim dressing the pizza tim grating cheese

Even after I met Tim and shared deep parts of my heart with him, moving to Nashville and planning our wedding, a little bit of that gnawing fear hadn’t left. There are so many men who aren’t like him, I would think to myself, there’s no way he can always be like this. Sometimes still, that fear comes up—when something triggers that part of my mind that adds up the realities of broken people (i.e., us!) covenanting their lives together. It’s almost crazy when you think about it. How can anyone really make it work?

pizza on cauliflower crust

And then I look at Tim and I marvel at our life, and I think, that’s it, that’s mystery: how God can take two selfish people and make them one, to push through the hard and the ugly and the wonderful and the unexpected, together. That adventure, that battle, is in itself a gift, a refining tool like my friend Carrie and I were saying the other night, something that changes you whether you mean for it to or not.

But the second mystery, at least for me, is that of all the people on the planet, I get to do it with Tim, a man who is, literally, unlike anyone I’ve ever known.

pizzas

I am married to the kind of man who doesn’t cancel plans at the last minute, because he believes in honoring commitments, even small ones like having coffee with a friend; a man I can go to, randomly on a weekday morning, and say, you know that story in Judges chapter 6? and he knows exactly what I’m talking about; a man who’s been cooking with me since I first knew him; a man who has taught me, and teaches me, to pray about everything, from finding a source of income to resting about an upcoming conversation to writing posts like this one; a man who can humble himself; a man who, above everything else, loves God.

my plate

I feel so blessed to share this simple life with him, to work in our dining room together, to laugh about the things the neighbors do, to make a cauliflower pizza crust and eat it across from each other, next to the window, while the longer April daylight streams inside.

dinner from above

I have a good husband.

dinner

So to Tim, that husband: I want you to know you have a happy wife.

I love you. Happy birthday!

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Homemade Blueberry Kefir

how to make blueberry kefir

Today, we started our morning with homemade blueberry kefir—a beverage that’s becoming something of a staple in our home—creamy and satisfying, sweet and tangy, loaded with good probiotics and convenient to grab on the go.

Even though making our own kefir is something we’ve talked about since before we were married, it’s only been in the last few weeks that we’ve finally ordered live kefir grains online and begun the process of combining them with raw milk and watching them grow. And, just as it is with ice cream in this household, the person behind the process is the one much more knowledgeable about food and nutrition in this marriage, Tim—which is why today’s FAQ-style post is all from him!

Below, he answers questions on how to make kefir, why use live grains, why it’s so good for you and more. Enjoy!

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Fresh-Squeezed Citrus Juice (+ some Web favorites)

citrus

Tim and I have been drinking a lot of fresh-squeezed juice lately, ever since my parents bought and sent us the citrus press of our dreams a week or two ago.

ciiiiitrus

It’s fantastic. We’ve had grapefruit juice. Orange juice. Grapefruit orange juice. Grapefruit lime, orange lime, grapefruit orange lime. And I tell you, every time we sip a new glass, it’s one of those “ah!” moments where you just can’t help but say out loud how good, how sweet, how completely perfect, the thing you’re drinking is.

grapefruit juiced citrus

That last sentence, the one where I say we can’t help but talk about how much we love our juice, is kind of funny, I think. Because the truth is, as you know from that last post, most of the time and with most things, I feel like it’s the exact opposite: It is work for me to notice benefits. It is a fight to see how we’ve been dealt with bountifully.

juiced grapefruit

Tim and I were just saying the other night how, no matter where you are in life or what you have, there’s always something to get down about. Our natural bent is to want—to get a house that you love and are so excited about, but in a few years or maybe a few months, want a house that’s newer or older or bigger or different; to buy a new outfit, but quickly see it become an old outfit, and want a new one; to have an amazing dinner and want another, better one; to love your new juicer and fresh-squeezed juice enough to “ah” one morning, but then quickly move on the next.

It’s so natural, so innate to notice what we lack. It’s so unnatural, so not innate to offer up a sacrifice of praise.

grapefruit juice

I asked on Twitter and Facebook the other day, If you could only pick ONE, which is the blog you always look for updates from? Which one is your all-around fav?

I asked because I’ve realized, although I follow over 100 different blogs, on topics ranging from food to couponing to photography, the ones I most look forward to are the ones that are good at praise, good at being thankful; the ones that focus on simple joys; that lift me upwards.

Because I need that kind of refreshing, healing voice. Because I want to be it.

So while I think on that a little more, I thought I’d share some of my favorite spots on the Web lately, some new and some not:

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