Saturday, December 22, 2012

Edible gifts redux

I wanted to follow up on my post about soup in a jar and show you how it turned out.

My girlfriend decided she wanted to give these as office gifts, too.  We set up an assembly line and ended up making 14 of them.  She tied the labels on with some festive yarn.

A few tips, if you decide to do this:

  • If you're making up a big batch of the spice blend in advance, as I did, it will not go as far as you think it will.  We had to stop midway through and make some more.  I think this is probably the result of settling, since I made the spice blend the night before.  
  • A canning funnel was a huge help when it came to pouring the lentils and rice into the jars without getting them all over the table.
  • Tap the jar firmly on the table after each addition, to keep the layers level and make sure the jars are packed tight.  That will keep them looking nice when you shlep them to wherever they're going.
We packed these in gift bags with tissue paper, and included a can of coconut milk with each jar (another protip:  Trader Joe's coconut milk is only $0.99 a can!  They also had good prices on red lentils and jasmine rice.).  

Everyone really seemed pleased to receive these.  They were also impressed that we had made them ourselves, which made me laugh -- yes, I poured ingredients into a jar all by myself!  Also, I was afraid this was a hackneyed idea, but people acted like it was a great novelty.  Several commented on how creative I am (!).  Of course Glue and Glitter is the creative one, and I did give her credit.  I guess it all depends on what you're used to.

We wanted to know how it tasted, of course, so I made a batch with some ingredients we had left over:

I followed the printed directions exactly (except I used a little less olive oil than called for).  I like the combination of the two kinds of lentils.  The red ones disintegrated and the brown ones stayed relatively firm, which was a nice contrast.  I also love the aromatic spices, and the creamy richness of the coconut milk.  If I were going to make it again:

  • I would add more liquid.  The rice really drank it all up, and as you can see above I ended up with a porridgelike consistency (in fact, I have been eating this as my breakfast starch and it fills that role nicely).
  • I would use brown rice instead of white.  I think I just prefer a little more chewiness.  Wild rice might be nice, too.  I've been eating a fair amount of wild rice lately.
  • More spice.  Maybe some garam masala.  Maybe more black pepper.  Maybe a little cayenne.  Also, the recipe calls for "salt to taste" and it definitely needed the salt.  It might not if there were more heat in it.
  • Maybe change the proportions of beans to rice.  As written it's about half and half.  I think I would prefer 2/3 beans to 1/3 rice, or maybe even 3/4 to 1/4.  But I'm a huge bean fan and your mileage may vary.
  • Maybe throw some more veggies in there.  Cabbage.  Carrots.  Spinach.  Of course then we're really moving away from the "just about everything you need is in the jar" concept.
To sum up -- it's a nice bowl of comfort food and probably a good starter recipe for people who are afraid of Indian cooking, but I don't think I would make it as written again.  I do think it would be a good starting point for my own creation, though, and that's often how I use recipes, especially for soup.

I had to laugh, because unbeknownst to me, my boss had bought me two bags of chili mix from a group called the Women's Bean Project.  I'm soaking the beans from one bag this morning, and will be making chili later today.  I'll give a review of that one when it's done.

No comments:

Post a Comment