What do you do when your taxes are done? Breathe a sigh of relief? Cry? Some of us, of course, do our taxes early, so this is old news (if it ever was news). But others of us, who shall of course remain anonymous, do our taxes a bit, ahem, close to the deadline. For those people, a list of suggestions for how best to provide tax relief and provide a proper entree (pun intended) into a new tax year.Drink – local bevies, lots of them. Be sure to check off all categories.You wouldn't want to be audited and be exposed as having neglected one of the three major beverage groups of Oregon, would you? (Or worse yet, miss a loophole?) Coffee is optional.
- Distilled spirits – stock up by rambling down Distillery Row once your return is filed (or check out the Multnomah Whiskey Library when it opens soon).
- Wines – Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir...it's all good.
- Microbrews – sample the range from pilsners to stouts, but don't skip any style. Ale, wiessbier, rye; cask-conditioned or not...purchase widely and taste carefully to compare. A diverse portfolio is a safe hedge against market volatility.
Eat – well, and abundantly. A post-tax day menu that will give you the biggest bang for your buck would include legumes, quinoa, foraged greens, and walnuts. Some recommendations on what to eat to maximize your return on investment:
- Eat lentils. These and other legumes give you the best ROI – of money, time, and calories. Lentils are the cheapest protein out there, far better than red meat, which has more and more strikes against it with every scientific study that comes out.
- Go nuts. Walnuts are especially beneficial, but almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, peanuts – all pack a punch and are good protein sources for vegetarians, vegans, and people who love to eat red meat but are cutting back on it diligently. And nuts are extremely versatile. Nut butters; toasted walnuts on hot cereal or cold salads; slivered almonds... As few as nine half-pieces of walnut a day make a difference in your health, according to recent studies.
- Skimp on the red meat. The reasons keep piling up as to why we should eat less red meat and more legumes instead. Enjoy your bacon as treat, not one of the five major food groups. Make that nose to tail CSA you joined last a good long time, and you'll enjoy it – and life – more.
- Cook at home. Duh! (But worth repeating.)
Carrots and Lentils in Olive Oil
1 cup brown, green or black lentils, rinsed
3 cups water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, halved lengthwise, then sliced thin across the grain
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced thin (about 4 cups sliced)
1 tablespoon tomato paste dissolved in 1 cup water
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
- Combine the lentils with 3 cups water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Set a strainer over a bowl, and drain.
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy casserole or skillet. Add the onion and coriander seeds. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic and carrots and salt to taste. Cook, stirring, for two to three minutes until the carrots begin to soften. Stir in the dissolved tomato paste, sugar and lentils. Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water from the lentils (enough to cover the lentils), salt to taste and half the mint.
- Bring to a simmer, and simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes until the lentils are tender and much of the liquid has evaporated. Taste and adjust salt.
- Remove from the heat, sprinkle on the remaining mint and serve, or allow to cool and serve at room temperature with cooked whole grains, like bulgur or quinoa.
Yield: Serves four to six.