Kitchen Dancing

Made some lentil salad yesterday and it was not bad. Was listening to the radio while I cooked and heard the word “bouquiniste” which caught my attention. Lovely on the ear, and I was pleased to learn when I looked it up that a bouquiniste is a dealer in old and used books. I love that such a person has a title, and when I think about it, I am one myself. A bouquiniste. I love books and giving books and receiving books. I exchange books and lend and share. One of the things of joy in my life.

This life holds all manner of things of joy. Candles are another. I love that light can flicker and spark and waver through the day when someone passes by. I love how candles smell, and how they make their reaching presence known. And then there are wooden spoons that bring me joy, and flour sack towels, and underwear that fits just right. Peanut butter M&Ms are a joy and so is Spam sliced thin and fried. In butter. Cotton is a joy, and blankets, and the smell of the grass growing outside this very moment. And dancing is a sure joy, especially kitchen dancing, which I do often and sometimes with Mr. S, if he’s in a mood.

Kitchen dancing has made an appearance in every generation of my family, all the way back far as I can recall. The stories go back even further than my own memory, which is a long way. Safe to say, kitchen dancing is in my bones and I never give a jig a second thought. Nor a waltz. Nor a loose two-step keepin’ time. Sometimes when a pie is baking, I do a whole routine. My own show, in the private spotlight beaming down from above the chopping block. Sometimes I pretend a tango, and now and then I roust up a good polka. It’s all true, and yes, Mr. S will join me from time to time, mostly on the slow tunes and the ones without words so I can’t nudge him into song. He’s a quiet man that way. Not much for song and dance unless he has a reason, and I respect that. But when he does cut loose a bit, well, laughter isn’t far behind. Belly laughter, the kind that gets you down on the ground rollin’ about. Laughter that almost hurts, then leaves you gasping, and sighing, then smiling and thinking, a few days after, “OH, how we danced!” Such joy in the kitchen these spring days. Oh, yes.

Here’s a healthful side dish for your Easter table. A little something different, with a good amount of garlic and the cooling surprise of mint.

Lentil Salad with Olives, Mint, and Feta

1cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
Salt and pepper
6cups water
2cups chicken broth
5garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
1bay leaf
5 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 T white wine vinegar
1/2cup coarsely chopped pitted kalamata olives
1/2cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1large shallot, minced
1ounce feta cheese, crumbled (1/4 cup)

Place lentils and 1 tsp salt in bowl. Cover with 4 cups warm water (about 110 degrees) and soak for 1 hour. Drain well. (Drained lentils can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before cooking.)
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Place drained lentils, 2 cups water, broth, garlic, bay leaf, and ½ teaspoon salt in medium saucepan. Cover and bake until lentils are tender but remain intact, 40 to 60 minutes. Mean-while, whisk oil and vinegar together in large bowl.
Drain lentils well; remove and discard garlic and bay leaf. Add drained lentils, olives, mint, and shallot to dressing and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with feta, and serve warm or at room temperature.

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