August has been decreed Rice Month.  While the thought of rice doesn’t cause me to swoon in quite the way of pastry, I’m still a fan.  Plus, hey, it’s cheap.  This week’s recipe, Lentil and Rice Salad, cost me a total expenditure (as I had most items in my pantry, we’re not counting previous costs) of $1.29 for a bunch of parsley, of which I used a small fraction.  Let’s not talk about the cost of making pesto, shall we?

Yesterday was a bit of a food extravaganza, in more ways than just cooking and eating.  Let’s start with the cooking and eating part.

I have to confess that I’ve become an inveterate alterer of recipes.  I used to make fun of those commenters on recipes, and while I haven’t gone so far as to actually comment with my alterations, this blog is coming dangerously close.

As the recipe didn’t mention a particular kind of lentils, I decided this would be a good opportunity to try those cute red lentils I bought long ago and never used.  So, while the rice cooked, the lentils simmered until soft.  They got a bit mushy, those little red guys, and turned exactly the color of my wall.  But once drained, cooled, and tossed with the rice, the mushiness wasn’t a problem.

I couldn’t find scallions at the store, but I knew I had a leftover red onion that was languishing, so I chopped that up finely and used it instead.  I accidentally bought Italian rather than flat-leaf parsley, as I didn’t notice until I got home that the recipe specified.

I also seem to have mislaid the dill I thought I had, either that or it got lost in the wilted vegetables in the crisper.  Hey, that’s what the compost bin is for.  So I added a bit of dried (my dill has long since gone to flower, or seed, or whatever it is dill does).

While the rice and lentils were doing their cooking and cooling things, I made pesto.  This multitasking made the whole process feel much more complicated than it really was.  The recipe is fairly simple and adaptable and really only takes as long as it takes rice to cook and cool.  But my counters were covered in pots and heaps of things to take to the compost and piles of basil leaves and shreds of parmesan and the cutting board was festooned with parsley, onion, garlic, and lemon pips.

I took Di’s advice (it was her pesto recipe, after all) and am trying freezing the pesto in an ice cube tray.  I should take those out today and throw them in a freezer bag.  Perfect for individual thawing.

Then I threw the salad together and took the pie crust out of the fridge to soften a bit.  (Oh, did I mention I made pie, too?  I made the crust on Sunday, to save time Monday, and so it was quite refrigerated by the time I was ready.)  The final change I made with the salad was to leave out the cherry tomatoes.  Several reasons: 1) I completely forgot – I was going to grab a couple from the garden.  2) I didn’t really feel like eating cherry tomatoes – I’m not the hugest fan.  Which you wouldn’t know based on the number of cherry tomatoes plants in the garden.  3) There weren’t really enough ripe for a whole salad, and it feels unethical to buy tomatoes when I have SO MANY plants.

Speaking of, did I ever show you my first tomato?

I literally gasped with delight the day I found him.  He deigned to be eaten over the course of several delicious grilled cheese and fresh tomato sandwiches.

Now, finally, here’s the salad.

Then, it was on to the pie.  A comedy of errors in which I remembered why pie crusts strike fear into my heart.  None of the July Pastries that we did were two-crusters, so I thought I’d conquered pies.  First, the pie crust always seems to be a hair too small, no matter how much elbow grease I put into rolling (I must admit, I love the rolling part).  Then, I made the mistake of pre-baking the bottom crust so it would crisp up a bit and not sog under all the blueberries.  This was good in that it worked (no sog) but bad in that it made it difficult to do the whole tuck and pinch routine with the top crust.  So I just shoved the edges down as best as I could without burning my fingers.

Then, of course, it was nearly impossible to get foil to stay around the edges.  There were several tense minutes there.  But the end result was mighty tasty, so I suppose it was all worth it.  I used the Betty Crocker recipe, with butter in the crust instead of shortening, and with nutmeg added to the filling.  It’s calling my name.  Pie for breakfast sounds very Farmer Boy, doesn’t it?

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