I don’t know how you know, you just do. I’m talking about when your woman has a roving eye.
The first indication was at the pool. Almost every day at 10:00 am, Don Day’s Wife and I arrive at the YMCA. We then split up for an hour. Each of us going to our own sexually segregated gym to work out on the treadmill, elliptical and bike. Then, precisely at 11:00 am, we meet at the pool for 45 minutes of aqua aerobics or as Don Day’s stepson calls it, “That jumping around looking like you have to pee dance.”
Then one day Don Day’s Wife didn’t arrive until 11:07. Where was she? This was a woman who was more precise than Big Ben. The same thing happened the next day. And the next. Why was she now always seven minutes late. She was in the woman’s locker room. Had Don Day lost her to someone who plays for the other team?
During our time in the pool, we always talk. Well, Don Day always talks. Don Day’s Wife mostly listens. We talk about where we’re going for lunch (our reward for working out). We talk about what we’re going to make for dinner and what we need to shop for. It was in these conversations that I first heard his name.
“Michael made short ribs this morning. I’m going to make short ribs tonight.”
“I learned a fabulous recipe from Michael today. We’re having it for dinner.”
“You should have seen what Michael made today.”
Michael this. Michael that. Michael was controlling my diet. Though I must say I was enjoying every dish.
Now there are quite a few adults who talk in their sleep, about 5% of them according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. There is, however, only one adult who sings in her sleep. That person is Don Day’s Wife.
The problem is determining exactly what she’s singing. If I could make out the song, I’d gladly sing along, maybe even try a little two part harmony, perhaps add some choreography. But I’ve never been able to tell what song it is. Or I hadn’t been able until that one night, a couple of weeks ago.
I awoke to da da da deeda da da dada da and I knew I recognized the tune. Da da da deeda da da dada da. I knew it was from a classic musical but which one. Da da da deeda da da dada da. I began to make out a couple of words. I recognized “why”. I heard “be more”. I got it. It was from My Fair Lady. But she’d changed the words. She was singing “Why can’t Don Day be more like Mike”.
She wanted me to be more like this Michael. Well I suppose I could. Make that of course I will if that’s what it takes.
The first thing I had to do if I was going to be more like Michael was to find out who the heck this Michael was. Sure enough, the next day in the pool, I found out.
“Guess what we’re having for dinner?”, said Don Day’s Wife. “Lobster, lentil and arugula salad.”
“Sounds great. Bit of an unusual combo, though.”, said Don Day, knowing that the word Michael was going to be coming in the next sentence.
“Michael made it this morning. And he really made the combo work”, said Don Day’s Wife.
“Michael?”, said Don Day.
“Michael Smith, the PEI chef”, said Don Day’s Wife.
I had the suspect ID’d. Now I just needed his 10-20.
We were supposed to be babysitting grandchildren the following evening at one of the kid’s places.
“I’m just going to stay home and do some research”, said Don Day. “And have the lobster and lentils leftovers.
Locating Michael Smith turned out to be remarkably easy. Because Michael Smith has more TV shows than Don Day has original teeth. Chef Michael’s Kitchen. Chef At Home. Chef Abroad. Chef At Large. And when you have 146 channels and four and half time zones to choose from, you can have Michael Smith almost 24 hours a day. If, of course, that’s what you want.
I looked for similarities between myself and Michael Smith.
Michael Smith is very tall. Don Day is not even as tall as he used to be.
Michael has long curly hair. Don Day has long curly hair except gravity has moved it to his chin.
Michael Smith has 17680 followers on Twitter. Don Day still isn’t sure what Twitter is.
Michael Smith considers himself a “nutritional activist”. Don Day considers himself a “nutritional anarchist”.
Michael Smith collects maps. Even though Don Day has a glove box full of them, he uses Mapquest.
Michael Smith likes kite sailing. Don Day has often been told to go fly a kite.
Michael Smith is a windsurfer. Don Day has also had problems with unruly wind.
There just didn’t seem to be anything I could change that would make Don Day be more like Mike.
And then I found it. Michael Smith eats a lot of lentils. Don Day occasionally eats lentils. If Don Day ate more lentils then he’d be more like Michael Smith.
Old Don Day probably even had a couple of legs up on young Mike. I could probably pronounce Du Puy before Michael Smith could say Dada (have you ever wondered why, by the way, that so many children’s first words are about an art movement).
Don Day knows what a cotleydon is. In fact if Don Day was a little sharper dresser he might have started a group called Motley Don and the Cotleydons. I wonder if Michael Smith knows that a cotleydon is the inner part of the lentil.
Now if you’re a regular reader of Don Day, you may know that he writes most of his blogs from his second home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. If you’ve ever been to Mexico, you may also know that Mexicans eat an awful lot of lentils. If you go into a Mexican supermarket, you’ll see a lentils section that’s almost as big as the junk food section in a Canadian supermarket.
From his days writing about farming, Don Day knew that Canada produced the most lentils but he knew he had to know more than that to impress Don Day’s Wife so he went to lentils.ca. There he found some pretty impressive facts from Gloria Tsang, the author of “Go UnDiet. 50 Small Actions for Lasting Weight Loss”. This was perfect. Don Day’s Wife is currently out to set the new Guinness world record for the longest diet. Most people would have already disappeared following her regimen.
Gloria Tsang says “Numerous health organizations recommend eating pulses (no Don Day doesn’t know what a pulse is but bets that Michael Smith does) and lentils on a regular basis. Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating meat alternatives such as lentils on a regular basis to reduce the amount of saturated fat intake.”
Glo (that’s what Michael Smith apparently calls her so Don Day decided to boldly do so as well) goes on to say, “The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada recommends a heart-healthy diet with foods that are high in fibre and soluble fibre to help lower cholesterol. Lentils are an excellent source of fibre. Just 100 grams of green lentils packs in 28 grams of fibre – that’s more than a whole day’s worth of the fibre you need.
There was more stuff. About lentils reducing cholesterol (Don Day has Everest height lipid counts). About lentils having lots of potassium which is good for regulating blood pressure (Don Day’s Wife has high blood pressure…obviously from living with Don Day). About how lentils are high in folate content and even though Don Day doesn’t know what folate is (but bets Michael Smith does) he now knows it’s good for preventing heart disease (maybe even a broken heart if Don Day can’t convince Don Day’s Wife he’s as good as Michael Smith).
And then Don Day saw it. On the home page of lentils.ca. The Lentil Recipe Revelations Challenge. What if Don Day submitted a recipe. Would that get Don Day’s Wife’s roving eye back on Don Day again? Would that make him the apple of her eye again. It couldn’t hurt thought Don Day.
But what to make? Well something Mexican of course. Don Day would take some of the popular Mexican flavors and incorporate them into his own little creation. It would have a Spanish name (because dishes with foreign names always sound better). It would be hearty (because that’s the kind of dish Don Day’s Wife likes best). It would be a little spicy hot but not too caliente (because Don Day’s Wife only likes it a titch spicy). It would be easy to make (because Don Day finds that no one makes the complicated dishes that he provides recipes for). And it would be very economical (because Don Day’s an old retired guy who doesn’t have a lot of money.)
Don Day then went all over the internet to make sure that no one else had ever had the same idea that he had and, when he was almost absolutely sure it was original, Don Day made another big decision. Don Day would team lentils with smoked turkey leg. Turkey was the basis for many of the original Mexican dishes, dating back to Aztec times. Smoked turkey leg is the Rodney Dangerfield of meat and is a lot like lentils in that it doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Plus smoked turkey leg is super cheap, the very best bargain of any meat in Don Day’s opinion.
Don Day went through about twenty different names for the dish, then Don Day remembered the old KISS acronym. Don Day would simply call it Lentejas Mexicanos. Even someone whose never wasted Spring break in Cancun would probably know that simply translates as Mexican Lentils.
The next day at lunch I began to score points early. I told Don Day’s Wife that from now on I’d be putting a splash of water in the pan when I cook bacon. A tip I learned from Michael. I told her that we’d be having a few drops of balsamic vinegar on our strawberries and ice cream that night. Another Michaelism. And I would be cooking a dish with lentils, not something I learned from Michael Smith, but an original Don Day creation.
Don Day’s Wife went off to the dentist and Don Day went home and put on his tightest blue jeans and the white linen shirt with one extra button undone. And Don Day made Lentejas Mexicanos.
I won’t tell you what happened that night. But I will tell you what happened the next day. We went to the Y. We worked out in our respective gyms. And at 10:55, Don Day hit “stop” on the treadmill, changed into his bathing suit, had a quick shower and headed for the pool. When he arrived at precisely 11:00, Don Day’s Wife was already in the water.
“You’re early”, said Don Day.
“I am”, said Don Day’s Wife.
“It’s nice to have you back in the pool a few minutes early. It’s nice to spend a few more minutes with you”, Don Day said. “Was it the Lentejas Mexicanos?”
“Yes, that’s part of it”, said Don Day’s Wife. “That and the fact that, since the clocks changed on Saturday night, Michael Smith comes on an hour earlier.
2 cups lentils (384 g)
16 oz. smoked turkey leg (450 grams)
4 cups low sodium chicken stock (1 litre)
2 cups water (500 ml)
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 cups chopped spinach or other leafy green
1 pint cherry tomatoes
Sauté onion in olive oil over medium heat until tender, about five minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
Rinse lentils and place in slow cooker (or ovenproof dish).
Remove skin and fat from smoked turkey leg and dice into 1/2 inch cubes.
Add the turkey, sautéed onion and garlic, chicken stock, water, and spices to the lentils.
Cook on high in slow cooker for two hours, (or preheated conventional oven at 350 degrees F. for one hour or until lentils are tender.)
Add chopped spinach and cherry tomatoes and cook for further 20 minutes.
For a quick 30 minute stovetop version of this recipe, sauté the onion and garlic, add two cans of rinsed canned lentils instead of the dry lentils, add the remaining ingredients except the spinach and tomatoes, and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Add the spinach and tomatoes, and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
Cost per Serving (based on prices at a Canadian supermarket website): $2.56
Calories per Serving: 309
Nutritional Facts (per serving)
Calories from fat: 57
Total fat: 6.3 grams
Saturated fat: 1.6 grams
Cholesterol: 60 mg
Sodium: 825 mg
Potassium: 566 mg
Carbohydrates: 37.2 grams
Dietary Fibre: 15.5 grams
Sugar: 4.1 grams
Protein: 26.8 grams