Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Back in the Saddle

As some of you might know, for the past eight months I had been working part-time as a translator for a news agency. I liked the work, I loved the people, I hated the hours. I think maybe, somewhere in the world  there are people (namely, my former colleagues) who can get to work at 6am twice a week and still function as human beings. I am not one of those people. Waking up at 5:30 am screwed with my equilibrium. The work was shift-work so my early mornings did not occur on a set schedule-except for the last 4-5 months when I consistently worked every Sunday morning and one other day of the week. My sleep schedule was a wreck. I was losing evenings to early nights, and hours of other freelance work post-shift when I would wake up from my nap groggy and slow. It goes without saying that I haven't been doing much entertaining over the past few months. Weekends were a time to breath, to gather myself in quiet before I had to go stumbling out into the early morning dark again. A lot of friends have fed me over the past little while. A lot of friends provided me with books to read so I could sooth my brain. I am incredibly grateful to those lot of friends.

I started a new job about two and a half weeks ago. It's too early to tell whether I like the job or not. I'm still getting adjusted, but so far it's been pretty good. The people at my new office seem nice and the work is more interesting than I had anticipated. To be honest though, the best things about my new job so far are the hours and the location. I start work at 9:30 am, and live about a 10 minute walk from my new office. This means I can wake up at 7:30 like a normal person. I can shower, drink my coffee, get dressed, put on make-up, pack a lunch and still have time to check my email before I mosey on down the block to work. For this reason alone I hope I am able to keep this job for a long, long time.

 I have my life back. Suddenly I want to talk to my friends. I want go out. I want to cook new foods. I want to entertain. So entertain, I did. For the first time in ages, I hosted friends over the weekend. We ate outside in my garden, where surprisingly, both the strawberry and blackberry plants have survived the winter. We ate tacos. We drank cocktails with too much gin in them. We talked for long whiles. It was glorious. 10/10 would host again.

Also glorious was the alternative lentil-walnut filling I made for the tacos. I had originally planned to just make fish tacos, but two of my guests hated fish, so I needed another, non-meat filling for the tacos. Generally, I am wary of foods that are not meat but claim to be like meat. Meat is meat. Other food is other food. But I found this recipe on Food52 and generally Food52 has never let me down, so I figured I would give it a shot. It was by far the most popular dish on the table. And sure, it doesn't look like much-but damn, is it good-meaty and tangy- and pretty much everything you want to put in your taco.

Lentil Walnut Taco Filling

Lightly adapted from Gena Hamshaw on Food52

1 1/4 cups walnuts, toasted
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup tightly packed sun-dried tomatoes (oil packed is best)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or more, to taste)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups cooked brown lentils

1. Place the walnuts in a food processor and pulse a few times to coarsely chop. Add the soy sauce, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, spices and vinegar and pulse a few more times. Add the lentils and pulse until the mixture is incorporated. Hamshaw says the mixture should look crumbly-mine was smooth and had the texture of pate.  Serve in tortillas or taco shells with lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, slaw and any other fun taco accouterments of your choosing.

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