Friday, February 05, 2010

A Day Off (Canoeing and Lentil Soup)

Outside the wind chime is ringing in the brisk wind. Inside, a fire is crackling and it’s warm. I’m fat and happy, having fixed a big pot of lentil stew and over-indulged. I think the bed is calling, that is if I don’t fall asleep by the fire first. It’s been a full day.

All the big storms have gone south of us and we don’t even have enough snow to really cross-country ski (you could ski, but you’d probably gouge pits into the bottom of your skis). So on Thursday, I was sitting in a meeting next to guy I’ve canoed with several times. As the conversation went on and on about important things, I leaned over and asked him if he thought the river was free from ice. “We can find out in the morning,” was his answer. I threw my canoe on the truck last night and this morning, after dropping his truck at the take-out, we started paddling. We were on the river at 9 AM. The temperature wasn’t bad, 27 degrees, and there was only a little shelf ice. The river has been dropping over the past week, causing the thicker ice to break up and leaving only thin ice in the eddies. We scare up hundreds of ducks and at least five swans as there is little open water this time of the year. We also see a few river rats, muskrats, swimming in the river… There are also a few muskrats, river rats, swimming in the river, but they always dive under the water when we approach. It’s a fast paddle. We talk about books we’ve recently read and our shared desire to paddle the Okefenokee Swamp and Suwannee River. It’s a fast paddle and we cover the 7 miles in less than 90 minutes. I’m home by 11 AM and ready to make soup.

Lentil Soup

3 cups of lentils
10 cups of water
A bit of salt

Boil the lentils for 3-4 hours (or, as I did today, cheat and use a pressure cooker)

A couple cloves of minced garlic
1 cup of chopped onion
1 cup of minced celery
1 cup of chopped carrots

Sauté in a tablespoon or so of olive oil and then add to lentils and cook for a few minutes, till vegetables are done.

1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons or more of red wine
¼ of a lemon squeezed
1 ½ tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
Chopped herbs to taste: thyme, oregano, basil (fresh if available)

Add these ingredients 30 minutes before serving and simmer. When serving, extra red wine vinegar may be added to each bowl.


  1. Sage: I admire you for rowing--an outstanding cardiovascular activity in extreme weather. You are a very experienced outdoors man and adventurer!

  2. The soup looks wonderful - but 27*??? Are you kidding me? I wouldn't go out in a boat t that temp!!

  3. A canoe or small currach would be impossible on the rivers here at this time of year. There are way too many snags under the surface which would hole a thin skin. But I suppose there is less water in your rivers at this time of year, the cold holding it in place for a while.

  4. Michael, I'm just crazy, but I like it!

    Kenju, It was almost above freezing--it's supposed to be colder here now, but ya'll are getting all our weather

    Vince, there are plenty of snags and rocks in the river too, but the boat's ABS skin is sturdy

  5. How fun it must have been to get outside and enjoy the scenery and the wildlife. Even at 27 degrees I'm sure it was worth it. I bet the soup tasted great!

    If I put a canoe in any river near my home, I'd be half way to the Pacific Ocean before Urban Rescue could respond.

  6. I love winter floats. Back in the college days, we'd float the Current or Jacks Fork during February for a weekend and have the entire place to ourselves. You can't truly appreciate a river until you've seen the mist rising over it on a cold morning, a steamy mug of java, perhaps enhanced with a small pick-me-up, warming your hands.

    Thanks for bring back those memories.


  7. I've never seen a swan except in story books.

  8. Sage, these lentils must taste delicious... I'm noting down the soup recipe. I have to try it!

  9. Sage: Believe it or not, Tanya sent me! :D

  10. What fun! We're doing a vegetarian adventure this month and I'm going to have to try your lentil soup.

  11. they are getting their weather so say nothing about it being ours. Or I'll see your river freeze until June. hahahahahaha Brother I am reveling in this snow less season.

  12. Hopefully you didn't freeze your patooie off! :o)

  13. Canoeing in the winter is my favorite season for it. The lack of leaves on the trees gives you a lot more of a view and the snow makes winter time camping oh so quiet and cozy. My only complaint is having to sleep with my water bottle to keep it thawed out for a midnight swig of water.

  14. As my eyes browsed through your story...the impending smell of lentil soup disrupted the reading session every now and then:). Gonna try the recipe soon. Thank you.

  15. the temp wasn't bad?

    did you really just say that?

    it was 27 degrees fercryinoutloud!!!

    ugh... i need an attitude adjustment... if winter doesn't crack soon, i just might. ;)

  16. With all the power outtages we're having I am so glad we are not down to your temps! I've never tried Lentil soup but your recipe looks yummy.

  17. That looks like a very brisk day! Nothing in season for the fly rod?

  18. Never had Lentil soup.

    That second photo is gorgeous.

  19. I'm craving my host mom's lentejas now (lentil soup).