After spending a week in the bay area at my parents' house, where it was cold enough to compell me to borrow a sweatshirt from my mom, I was happy to get back to Davis. It's been a weirdly cool summer both here and there, which is good for me since Davis temperatures usually get into the 100's during the summer. It's not so nice for my parents, who were actually lighting fires in the fireplace while I was visiting. Since returning to Davis, I've been eating almost like a vegetarian, with the exception of some chicken I had for dinner a few nights ago.

    When I eat vegetarian, it has little to do with pangs of conscience and more to do with my own laziness. Cooking meat is just more work than cooking vegetables, grains, and legumes. And there are so many ways to prepare them that I seldom feel as if a meal is missing something just because it contains no meat. Lentils are a prime example; they can be spiced every which way, served hot as a stew or cold as a salad. This particular recipe makes a deliciously spicy stew that goes well with toast, or as I served it, with fried polenta.

*serves 2-3
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
2 cups water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1 pinch cumin
1/2 carrot, sliced into thin rounds
1/2 cup chopped kale

    Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over low heat until it spreads to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic, curry powder, garam masala, chili powder, ginger, and cumin, and cook, stirring, until the spices smell slightly cooked. Add the carrot and saute it for a few minutes, until it softens a little. Add the lentils and water, raise heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Stir. Lower heat to medium low, cover, and simmer 20-25 minutes, until the lentils soften somewhat. Add the kale and stir, then simmer for about 10 more minutes, until the lentils are tender. Serve with toast, naan, or rice.