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Chickpea stew, ginger lemonade are refreshing vegan recipes

Chickpea stew, ginger lemonade are refreshing vegan recipes

Frank and I were cycling home from a particularly long day in the lab while living in California. I braked suddenly hard and put my feet down, skidding to a stop.

When Frank came back to ask what had happened, I told him with great certainty that I was going to teach high school.

Frank only nodded softly at this unexpected proclamation, bobbing his helmet. And then we completed our short drive home, where bread was to be baked.

I hadn’t spent much time with students or in class before, but that quick decision turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever made. Last week marks the end of my 11th school year learning with the youth of our community. Along the way, I’ve worked with students and educators, both here in Bloomington and across the country, to create powerful, humane learning experiences together. Our work has been awarded with great prizes and I have even published a book about it.

On the menu: Snacks from the Bloomington gas station worth filling up

How have I been able to do so many cool things professionally? I’ve been privileged in many ways, including great institutional support from my school, but I honestly think Frank is the “secret sauce.” He tirelessly supports my family as our day-to-day parent, personal chef, and financial advisor, while serving our community in a variety of volunteer roles — not to mention his own career of science and writing. All this, in addition to his unshakable emotional strength, allows me to teach with all my heart and mind.

Families can make incredible things happen if they have enough support.

One of my favorite shirts is from Bloomington’s own Bad Knees T-Shirts printing house. It’s cheerful red with bold white text that reads, “THE FUTURE IS IN MY CLASSROOM.” As the K-12 students and their families head into summer vacation, Frank and I hope you’ll enjoy these two easy, refreshing recipes: a refreshing ginger lemonade and a thick, bright-flavored chickpea stew that’s delicious on toast. And we also hope that you will continue to support our community’s schools. Our future depends on it.

And finally, congratulations on your 39th birthday tomorrow, Frank! Here’s a ginger lemonade toast to you and all you do, for me and for Bloomington.

Thick Chickpea Stew

2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin coins

2 tomatoes, diced

1 bell pepper, chopped

15 ounces chickpeas, cooked or canned, rinsed and drained

¼ cup red lentils

2 cups of water

1-by-2-inch rectangle of dried seaweed

3 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic, crushed or diced

½ teaspoon table salt

1/8 teaspoon asafoetida (or 1 tablespoon chopped onion)

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

Start by heating two teaspoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When moderately hot, add the garlic and asafoetida and continue heating for about 30 seconds, shaking a little to prevent the spices from burning. Add the red lentils, chickpeas, water, turmeric, salt and the seaweed piece (preferably keep the seaweed on top, because you will scoop it out later). Simmer for 20 minutes (during that time the lentils will absorb most of the water – you’ll need to add more if things seem to be drying out, which can happen if too much water evaporates during cooking).

In a separate pan, add the remaining teaspoon of olive oil and the carrots and sauté briefly over medium heat for 5 minutes.

After the chickpeas and lentils have simmered for about 20 minutes, remove the seaweed (simmering a piece of seaweed along with beans or lentils can make these foods feel softer for many people to digest). Use a fork to break about half of the chickpeas against the side of the pan, releasing their starch and thickening the dish. Then add the carrots, bell pepper and tomatoes and cook together for about 5 more minutes.

If you want this to taste more like restaurant food, double the amount of salt and oil. Scientists working for McDonald’s studied taste preferences for saltiness and fat content in foods, and they found that most people prefer an ideal salt content (which is a bit saltier than would be healthiest for most people, so it’s usually a better idea to spice up your food with a little extra salt sprinkled over the surface where it stands out most, rather than cooking with a lot), but that food is often more appealing if you can mix in as much oil as possible (as long as you the right texture for the dish). I’ve listed some things that I would normally use when cooking a weeknight meal for my family, but would probably switch to a more restaurant-style version if I was cooking for guests and impressing them.

These amounts of spice and heat will also be very mild: you can certainly use a teaspoon of cumin powder, half a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, increase the turmeric to half a teaspoon. Flavors such as cinnamon, nutmeg and star anise also go well with this dish. Or roasted mustard seeds, ginger and black peppercorns! That would be lovely, but it just wouldn’t fly with my young people. One day their taste will be more adventurous.

Gingery summer lemonade

6 cups of water

1.5 tablespoons fresh ginger root, peeled and diced

½ cup lemon juice (in our hands, 2-3 small lemons, squeezed)

3 tablespoons maple syrup

½ teaspoon sodium chloride (table salt)

¼ teaspoon potassium chloride (often sold as “NoSalt” or “NuSalt” or something similar)

Combine everything in a blender and simmer for about 30 seconds, enough to liquefy all the ginger pieces. Then cool, because salty liquids (and all salty foods) taste a lot less salty when refrigerated. This makes both cold soups and hot Gatorade considerably less enjoyable, as most of us would like our meals to taste saltier than our drinks.

We also tried using powdered ginger, but wouldn’t recommend it – most ginger powder will give you a rather bitter taste, even if you scale back to about half a tablespoon. Stirring in a few tulsi basil or mint leaves before chilling in the fridge will both make the drink look that little bit fancier.