Easter hamping and a remedy for all that chocolate

The tent. Smaller than we remembered.

The tent. Smaller than we remembered.

Did you go camping over Easter? You’d be un-Australian not to. Perhaps right now you’re wrangling a damp tent back into a bag that seems impossibly small and cursing the mess that has somehow magically manifested in four short days. Hopefully some drizzle is ensuring you’ll have all your stuff airing in the garage for the next month or so until you can be bothered to finally pack it away.

Due to work commitments we cheated and did a bit of hamping – home camping. Considering we hadn’t had the tent out since before Miss F was born, we figured it was probably safer – see which bits of our outdoors kit are still useable and which need upgrading. The kids didn’t care about the cheap-arse location; they loved every minute of it.

Turns out that a four-man tent only fits a newly-in-love couple or two small children, so Mr VS & I retreated to our own bed. The kids happily slept two nights out in the yard, alone. Post-firepit marshmallow cooking sessions, they were possibly both in sugar-comas. Luckily the Easter bunny still found them out there in the wild.

It was interesting that the pack up was relatively simple and it took us only one try to get the tent folded into the right size for the cover. My memory of previous expeditions is that it was always a fairly fraught, tense experience as we bickered over how to do it. I suppose nine years of marriage, parenting and umpteen pieces of flat-pack furniture construction have made Mr VS and me into a pretty slick team.

After copious amounts of chocolate, we were all ready for something healthy last night. So I whipped us this really yummy tomato and lentil soup. Nice and hearty, it’s great with buttered sourdough. I won’t mind if you decide to crumble over a bit of crispy bacon or mix through some leftover sliced sausages.

A few lentils to push that chocolate through!

A few lentils to push that chocolate through!

Brown lentil & tomato soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp curry powder
3/4 cup dried brown lentils (rinsed, drained & picked over)
800g can crushed tomatoes
2 carrots, peeled, finely diced
2 potatoes, peeled, finely cubed (or 1 potato and 1 parsnip is also delicious)
4 cups vegetable stock (stock cubes are fine)
Parsley & thyme, finely chopped (about 1 tbsp total)
1 cup frozen peas

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Pour in the oil and when hot, saute the onion, stirring often, for 4-5 minutes until starting to soften. Add in the garlic and curry powder and stir for another minute until everything smells fantastic.

Tip in the lentils and mix well then add the tomatoes, carrots and potatoes. Combine really well, tip over the stock, add in the herbs and season with pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove the lid and simmer for 20-25 minutes more until the lentils are cooked through (they’ll retain their shape but will be nice and yielding to chew on – no hard bits).

Pour in the peas, and simmer for another 5 minutes before serving with bread.

Serves 2 adults and 2 kids. (Add in a few chopped bits of sausage and you’ll be able to pad it out to 3 kids)

16 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Love your work! I LOL’d at “push that chocolate through”.
    I thought ‘hamping’ was a typo. Great idea!

  2. 3

    Nicole said,

    My husband believes that bacon is the vege that pulls any vegetarian dish together 🙂 except maybe Dahl and rice we had for dinner saturday night

    • 4

      wendyblume said,

      That’s hilarious! My husband would possibly strongly agree. The dahl recipe must be something – got a link?

      • 5

        Nicole said,

        No, just soaked Dahl, ginger, garlic,shallot ( the French ones, not the long green ones we call spring onions in WA) fry off the aromatics, add dhal, add water, cook , then mash with masher when cooked. Steamed rice, sometimes some carrot & beans cooked in with the Dahl, or on the side with soy sauce. A fried egg on top is nice too. got to love a dinner you can eat with a spoon.

      • 6

        wendyblume said,

        sounds good! love the egg. Like persian eggs for breakfast, but an indian, dahl version.

  3. 7

    susie venkat said,

    While we’re on the subject of Dahl – Indian husband loves my (Aussie) dahl recipe: Fry 1 onion, 3 cloves garlic & ginger in olive oil; add 1 cup red lentils & 2 tsp curry powder & fry off. Add in some stock – 1.5 to 2 cups & a can of coconut milk. 40 mins later on low heat & the occasional stir, add 2 cups of spinach (chopped or baby) and a can of tomatos … et voila. Probably the wrong expression; but good family-friendly lentilicious food…

  4. 9

    Erica said,

    Sounds yum. Simple and good for the upcoming cooler weather! 🙂

  5. 10

    Pam said,

    What does ‘picked over’ mean (for the lentils)? I’m going to try this recipe next weekend and I’ve never cooked a lentil in my life… A friend told me about VS this week and I’m desperate to get more vegies into MY (pregnant) diet, let alone my 2 toddlers!

    • 11

      wendyblume said,

      Welcome pam! It just means that you pop them into a sieve or something else so that you can run water through, give them a rinse and ‘pick over’ to make sure there aren’t any impurities like little rocks. Strictly speaking, you probably don’t need to do it so much today – just like you often don’t need to sieve flour either – our food processing is much cleaning than it was years ago. Good luck with it – also try this soup…https://vegiesmugglers.com.au/2011/01/04/january-detox-tim/ It’s less confronting if you’re trying to ease into a healthier way of eating.

      • 12

        Pam said,

        Thank you so much for the quick reply! That sounds much less scary than I imagined… I wasn’t sure how I’d go if I had to quality-sort the lentils or something! Thanks for the other soup recommendation too – I already bookmarked it to try soon, but I already have a chicken meal planned for this week so I didn’t want to double up. We’re making 3 of your meals this week (chicken sausage rolls & ravioli with orange sauce) for the first time so should be fun! x

      • 13

        wendyblume said,

        awesome – they’re all great, so good luck – hope the kids will eat them.

      • 14

        Pam said,

        Hi again Wendy,
        Would I be able to substitute canned brown lentils for dried brown lentils in this recipe? I have half a can left over from making your chicken sausage rolls and I couldn’t actually find dried brown lentils in the shops (they had every other colour imaginable!) If yes, what quantity of canned lentils would be a good match? Thanks!

  6. 15

    cblondie said,

    A good way to mix chocolate and fruit while camping is to make chocolate apples! They are delicious and easy, with the bonus of getting a bit of extra fruit in 🙂 All you need to do is core your apples, fill the resulting gap with choc chips and wrap each one in foil. You then put them in among the coals of your fire (like you would if you were making foil baked potatoes) and cook till the apple is tender! Note: Be careful to let them cool down before giving to young children, they will be VERY hot when they are first unwrapped!

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