One of the best movies I have seen in a very long time is The Blind Side. It's the true story of Michael Oher, now a Baltimore Raven in the NFL, but at one time a homeless boy from a broken home who was adopted by Sean and Leigh Anne Touhy in Tennessee. Because of his size and football potential, Michael ended up at the same private school as the Touhy children and when Leigh Anne learns he is homeless, they take him in and eventually adopt him. Sandra Bullock plays Leigh Anne and plays a private school mom very well. Her accent is pretty good, too, most of the time. (I admit to being a bit sensitive to this in movies made about Southerners.) Tim McGraw plays Sean Touhy. I have long been a fan of his music and he sings the theme song for the movie, Southern Voice.
One of the lines from the song captures the South... "Hi y'all. Did ya eat? Well, come on in, I'm sure glad to know ya." That's what Southerners do for you no matter what the situation. They feed you. When someone is sick or a family member dies, the food just stacks up on the counter and in the freezer. Celebrating a birthday? Most of us have a favorite pound cake recipe that's been handed down. Tragedy strikes and we heat up the oven. We just do not feel right going to visit someone empty-handed. I have had a few weird looks from non-Southerners when I've shown up to dinner or a party with a plate of something. My sweet potato pie did not go over well a few years back at a dinner with former Long Islanders. Oh well. Better to stick with my own kind, maybe. Before I offend anyone, I will just say that I have only lived in two places in my whole life- North Carolina and France. So I can only speak for those two places and food is the favorite topic of conversation in both. If we aren't eating, we are talking about what we've just eaten or what we are planning to eat or even just what we are thinking about eating. C'est comme ça. That's the way it is.
This past week, four of us decided to provide lunch for the middle school faculty. We made soup, bread and dessert. We told everyone to bring their mugs or bowls and come hungry. No one I work with needs to be told twice when food is involved. At the official lunch time, I took my big pot of soup down to the board room only to find the other two pots already empty. At 11:35 am. I was speechless and terribly disappointed since I have had my own soup plenty of times but hadn't tasted the other two. Oh well. I did manage to get some dessert and bread, though, so it wasn't a total loss. We received many thank yous and I have even offered to be the middle school faculty chef. Somehow I do not think my headmaster will go for that, but it's a nice thought, n'est-ce pas?
Marianne's Lentil Soup
Cook 3 c. lentils in 6 c. vegetable stock or water (more may be necessary as the soup cooks) with 4 bay leaves and crushed garlic cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Add 2- 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Sauté the following chopped vegetables in 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil until tender: one onion, celery, carrots, and fresh or frozen (thawed) spinach. Add 1-2 tsp. cumin and coriander and a pinch or two cayenne pepper. Stir.
Add the vegetables to the lentils and stir. Add salt, pepper, fresh lemon or lime juice, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar to taste. Add more cumin and/or coriander to taste. Add water, as needed. Cook until lentils and vegetables are soft.
1 lb. ground beef
1 15-oz. can of each of the following (maybe substitute or change):
- yellow corn, drained
- petite diced or rotelle tomatoes
- black beans
- light red kidney beans
- pinto beans
- black-eyed peas
Brown ground beef and drain. Drain all ingredients except tomatoes and put in large pot. Add ground beef. Add taco seasoning and stir well. Add enough water to mostly cover all ingredients. Cover. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer at least 15-20 minutes for flavors to meld and heat.
Serve with shredded cheese, if you wish.
Bon appétit, y'all! Stay warm.