When I was in kindergarten, my mother married George Mitchell David. My first memory of him was of a very tall, dark-haired man wearing a trench coat with pockets full of Juicy Fruit gum and Mary Jane candies which he happily doled out to this wee holder of boring suspicious eyes. He was a wonderful man who not only stepped into the very difficult position of stepfather to two young children but also folded us into his very large, very close Lebanese family.
Sixty picture later, I’ve just given up. It’s simply not a pretty dish. You’ll need to take my word that it’s delicious. Earthy lentils, bitter (in a good way) onions, and lots of black pepper combine to make one of my all-time favorite bean dishes. It’s hearty and filling. It’s even vegan if that’s your thing. It’s a comfort dish that transports me to Aunt Myra’s kitchen and some warm happy memories. She is a terrific cook and introduced my childhood to mint in green salads (that one took me a while to get used to), Syrian meatloaf, and this wonderful lentil dish. Later in life she introduced me to jug wine but that’s a story for another time.
I’m pretty sure it’s the hot and muggy weather that’s gotten to my cook gene, but I’ve been in a slump when it comes to meals. I mean, really, for the love of Pete, do you people have to eat every day, multiple times each day?! In my kitchen, we don’t have the dog days of summer; we’ve got the crab days. So, it was quite an unexpected gift – a Christmas in July, if you will – when I got on a food bender. I had been thinking a lot lately about how time flies – we’re already getting things together for the boys to go back to school – which sent me on the nostalgia engine to when I was a girl getting ready to go back to school. I will spare you the brain train that got me from that all the way to remembering things I loved most about summer dinners with the family … Dad would be grilling kebabs or pork chops or burgers and yelling at us to stop doing whatever we happened to be doing in the pool. Mr. Long would be next door swaying in his hammock smoking one of his stinky cigars, occasionally yelling a hello or random commentary on George’s grill skills over the fence. Bill would be across the street mowing his grass for the umpteen time staring daggers at us if we even thought about riding our bicycle near his property. And Mom would be inside whipping up the rest of dinner, probably grateful for the quiet.