Or rather, How I Spent My New Year’s Eve.
I loved your comments after I admitted I likely would not be able to stay up to see New Year’s Eve fireworks. You guys are the best.
What did I end up doing?
1. Working late. Not by choice, I swear. I usually take 2 weeks off for holidays, but hospitals can be super busy during the holidays. I don’t know whether this is worse in American, as people are eager to use the most of their insurance dollars before they need to pay their next deductible. At a cancer hospital, I would hope that finances would not keep people away from seeking treatment, but I try not to jump into those kinds of politics. PS. Did you catch last year’s article in the Times about American medical bills?
2. Chatting with my neighbour. Let it be known that Texans are super friendly. Since my neighbour is also a Canadian transplant, I appreciate his perspectives. He told me not to be alarmed that night. If I tuned in closely, I may hear gunshots at midnight (celebratory gunfire), to ring in the new year. Not that my neighbours would be shooting their guns (according to him, 3 of my other neighbours harbour guns), rather the noise may echo from outside Houston. While I originally planned to go to bed like normal, that convinced me to try to stay awake until midnight.
3. Travelled through chocolate. With the best intentions of staying awake, Rob and I feasted on some chocolate. Our friend gifted us a chocolate passport, which small bars of dark chocolate from around the world. We travelled to Ecuador that night, and it was delicious.
4. Cozied up to Netflix. After stumbling upon a list of movies soon-to-be discontinued on Netflix, I jumped at the last chance to watch a long-time bookmarked but never-watched Requiem for a Dream. Excellent. (And true to the list, no longer available on Netflix). But it wasn’t midnight yet. Bringing out the kids in us, we watched Pingu episodes. They were hilarious, especially Pingu’s Lavatory Story (watch it! it is only 5 minutes!). Sadly, while it was only 10:30pm, my eyes were heavy and I could not stay awake.
So, I missed my chance to hear possible celebratory gunfire (still illegal in Texas, mind you).. and I need corroboratory evidence from my local readers. Is it true? My neighbour said he heard 4-5 shots at midnight.
Despite my lack of collard greens for my New Year’s Day black eyed peas, I ended up eating tacos on New Year’s Day. Not these ones, mind you (cleaning out the blog backlog!), but I will tell you more about that in due time. Ever since going to Mexico City, I have been smitten by tacos. The fresh corn tortillas blew my mind and I am working on finding a suitable replacement. Until then, fresh collards will have to suffice. A bit non-traditional, these lentil-based tacos were delicious. I had been meaning to make them for a while, especially after Johanna had success with them, too. Cauliflower is riced and added to up the hidden veggie content. Leanne cautions against baking mashed beans and cauliflower, but this was delicious. It is all about the spices. With a nod to my delicious Ancho lentil tacos, I added copious amounts of Ancho chile powder. I topped it with a simple tomato-oregano salsa, a variation from the cilantro-based tomato salsa from my raw tacos.
I know I promised the top reader recipes from 2013 today, but stayed for it tomorrow, instead.
How did you enjoy your New Year’s Eve/Day festivities?
Lentil & Cauliflower Tacos with Fresh Tomato Oregano Salsa
Adapted from Fat Free Vegan
1 cup dry lentils (green or brown), rinsed
3 cups water
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp dried epazote (optional, but good)
1 bay leaf
1 medium head cauliflower (1.25 lbs)
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tbsp Ancho chile powder, divided
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
fresh tomato oregano salsa (see below)
1 bunch of collard greens, rinsed and stemmed
1. Place lentils, water, nutritional yeast, epazote and bay leaf in a medium saucepan. Add salt, to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer, covered, until the lentils are cooked through, around 30-45 minutes. Remove bay leaf and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, prepare your cauliflower. Working with approximately 1/4 of the cauliflower at a time, coarsely chop and place in a food processor. Pulse until the cauliflower has been grated into rice-sized pieces. Remove and continue with the remainder of the cauliflower. Set aside until needed.
3. In a very large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, heat a smidge of oil. Add onion, sprinkle with salt and saute until beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cauliflower and saute for another 3-4 minutes. Add 1 tbsp of Ancho chile powder, stir to combine, and continue to cook until cauliflower is cooked through, another 4-5 minutes.
4. Drain the lentils if there is a lot of liquid. I only had a bit, so I added the lentils and the little amount of broth to the skillet. Add the remaining 1 tbsp of Ancho chile powder, cumin, smoked paprika and salt. Season to taste. Cook of medium until the lentils have warmed and the flavours have combined.
5. Meanwhile, prepare your tomato salsa (see below).
6. To serve, place lentil-cauliflower taco filling on top of a collard leaf (or your choice of tortilla) and top with salsa. Add avocado if desired.
Fresh Tomato Oregano Salsa
2 cups cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
1 tsp fresh oregano, minced
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, minced (optional)
1. Combine all ingredients. Allow to sit for a few minutes to allow the flavours to meld.
Makes 2 cups.