We've made a home out of our rented house (thank you, Feist), and although our place is small, I'm loving the cramped quarters more each day. I've found that if Ryan and I get grouchy, we have to deal with our attitudes right away. There simply isn't enough room for one of us to go off and pout. Also, it's amazingly easy to clean a house that is only slightly larger than my childhood bedroom. 30 minutes, maximum, and that includes cleaning the toilet. But perhaps most importantly, it's teaching Ryan and me the beauty of living simply, of downsizing, of letting our hearts expand while our possessions dwindle. This is what I love most about our rented house, and this is the reason why Ryan and I plan to keep things on the small side, no matter where we go or how much we earn.
The other evening, we were blessed with the company of two friends, Abe and Jasmine. Abe is an amazing folk singer; his voice speaks to those hidden places in the heart, and his skills as a songwriter are unmatched by any of my musically inclined friends. We were fortunate enough to have him play at our wedding, and I will always be grateful for his gentle, loving presence on our special day. His friend, Jasmine, was a delightful woman who brought not only her sweet self, but also a housewarming candle, a coconut, and agave sweetened ginger ale- this girl knows how to make me happy!
Because our house is so small, we have to improvise when dinner guests come over. This usually means we all end up eating on our floor, which is fine, and in fact is quite delightful. When sitting on the floor, personal space begins to dissipate. Elbows and knees bump into one another, I can lean up against Ryan's shoulder while taking a bite of lentils and rice, we can put a pile of flat-bread in the middle of our circle, and our hands can touch as we all reach for another warm piece. There is something so much more relaxing about being on the floor. It reminds me of eating in the Middle East, where we would spend hours sharing a meal together, which was such a delightful contrast from the rushed meals many Americans have become content with.
I served a simple meal of stewed lentils, brown rice, fresh watermelon and garlic-thyme flatbread. The meal was delicious, a snap to prepare and amazingly inexpensive. As Ryan and I prepare to go back to school we have become even more budget conscious, but we're still committed to eating well and enjoying meals with our friends; it's wonderful to be able to enjoy such delightful company over a plate of inexpensive yet satisfying and healthy food.
This flat-bread made the meal complete. The warm, yeasty bread was perfect for dipping into the lentil and rice mixture. The flavors of garlic and thyme infused the dough with just the right amount of seasoning. I purposefully made these flatbreads small (4-5 inches in diameter) because I wanted us to be able to take as many as we liked. Sometimes, I only want a bite of bread with dinner, and I hate having to take a gigantic piece of pita or flatbread and then only eat half. But these discs of dough were so delicious that we ended up eating the entire batch.
If you are intimidated by yeast bread, I would suggest giving this recipe a try. It utilizes yeast, but the dough doesn't have to go through the lengthy rising and proofing process that a loaf of bread requires. You simply let the dough rise for one hour, and then you divide it and throw the little discs on a hot skillet. They cook like tortillas and can be on the table in minutes.
- 1 package active yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 cup water (might need more)
- 1 teaspoon oil
2. Coat a bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl, and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Allow to rise until double in size, about 1 hour.
3. When the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough and knead it lightly into a smooth ball. Cut into 16 pieces and with a rolling pin roll out to form very flat 5 to 6-inch circles.