“I don’t have time to talk” and a favourite dish: lentils with rice

One of my new neighbours recently told me, “I DON’T HAVE TIME TO TALK.”

All I had said to her was a simple hello. The crazy thing is that I should just be happy because I didn’t want to talk either! I was on my way out to walk my dog. I didn’t answer but if I could think faster on my feet I might have told her that a simple HELLO and a smile would take a lot less time than, “I DON’T HAVE TIME TO TALK.”

While I was walking my dog, I was thinking about the general lack of kindness and feeling pretty sad.

But then yesterday, I drove past a neighbourhood park in Kingston and I saw something that reaffirmed my faith in people. There were a couple of dozen community-minded citizens out spending their Sunday morning picking up rubbish and raking the grass and working in the park. These were families with their children and strollers and dogs. They were obviously volunteering and keeping their neighbourhood clean – picking up after those who won’t pick up after themselves. They were making the world a better place. And they made me want to be a better person too. When I walked my dog last night I picked up rubbish along the way and brought it back to the garbage bin.

Then I read this article in the UK Daily Mail quoting a study which says the best way to deal with rudeness is to turn the other cheek and treat it with silence. The study found that people who completely ignore those who are rude and offensive were more mentally healthy than those who engage with them.

Perhaps overcoming bad manners is the real test of good manners. And apparently, it’s good for you too.

Seems like a good time to start talking about lentils. Because like picking up garbage in the park; like overcoming bad manners; and like disarming people with courtesy – lentils are also good for you!

Lentils are really, really healthy. They’re do-gooder food. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the fact that lentils are just not photogenic.  But they are cheap and tasty and healthy and low impact on the planet. And combined with rice or another whole grain – they make a perfect vegetarian protein. You can make this from scratch with dry lentils and rice but I’m generally throwing it together at the last possible second and find canned lentils pretty handy.

Enjoy. Do good in the world. Smile and say hello. Pick up rubbish. And eat more lentils.

Lentils with Rice

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 2 cups water or vegetarian stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large can of lentils, rinsed thoroughly
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp tamari or soya sauce
  • black pepper

Bring the rice, water or stock, and salt (use only a pinch of salt if you’re using stock instead of water) to the boil. Stir. Turn off the heat, cover and don’t even look a the rice for 20 minutes. You can use brown rice too of course but the cooking time is longer.

Meanwhile, sauté the onion in olive oil until the onion is lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook a further 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked rice and the washed lentils. Stir to combine. Add the tamari and season with black pepper (and if you’re not vegan – go ahead and top it with some grated parmesan cheese). Serve with a  green salad and a hearty loaf of bread.





31 thoughts on ““I don’t have time to talk” and a favourite dish: lentils with rice

  1. Finally!! Yum yum yum- seeing as I am trying to clean out my cupboards for my move back home, this is the perfect way to use up some of the dried goods I have kicking around. This recipe is one of my absolute fave; the perfect home-cooked comfort food.

    Thanks again Mum for keeping me well fed, even at a distance!

  2. “A simple HELLO would take a lot less time than, “I DON’T HAVE TIME TO TALK.” So very true! I’m glad you’ve found kinder neighbors around. 🙂
    And lentils and rice are always tasty – photogenic or not… 🙂

    1. Thanks Ronit – yesterday I met an older woman out walking. She had had two hip replacements (and was still going strong). And in fact – she was leaving in the afternoon for Spain. She could not have been nicer or more interesting. It takes all kinds and we all have bad days but I will persist in believing that manners absolutely matter.

  3. I feel your frustration. I see these things on a daily basis too and roll my eyes. I like what my son says…”they were never taught”. Now, for the lentils. This is a very lovely photograph. Photogenic after all! I love the recipe, very simple and especially like the tamari in here. I can see how can lentils would be a good choice for last minute put together dinners. (what a dumb neighbor! sheesh!) 🙂

  4. The poor manners thing is baffling but sometimes I feel it is rooted in attention seeking traits or perhaps frustrations or insecurity.
    Recently I was at a local small restaurant, where most patrons are familiar to me but I was annoyed by the loud abusive and rude banter of a table full of middle age and senior folks. I didn’t know any of them thankfully. I left as soon as I could . It came across as an attention seeking thing from people old enough to now better.

    1. First of all – thank you for your comment! I’m always so happy to see you crop up here -you always have something interesting to say. Completely relate to the restaurant story – we left a restaurant in Mexico because of a table of middle-aged & older quite drunk women were obnoxiously and off-puttingly loud. They made everyone uncomfortable. I guess we all take our turn at being rude. I was thinking my post was a bit rude too. I know my neighbour won’t see it but that’s not the point is it? Thanks as usual, for making me think. xo

  5. That makes my blood boil! Sorry to hear you had to go through that. I know someone very rude myself, at work, which is even more shocking considering I work in a school. I deal with the rudeness by saying very little. I wasn’t sure if that added any stress or not, but now I know that in fact that’s the right thing to do to keep your sanity, based on the study you mentioned. Somehow, I was made to believe that venting your frustration was healthy for you.

    Thanks for the recipe. I just bought a couple of kinds of lentils, one of them the small puy lentils, supposedly superior than other lentils. We’ll see. 🙂

    1. I must try puy lentils – the name keeps cropping up. As for manners – I like the idea that overcoming bad manners is the test of good manners! Some days that’s easier than others though – right? And sigh – I guess I’m far from perfect. xo

  6. I think you might like the book “Talk to the Hand” by Lynne Truss. It is about courtesy in modern society and how people react to rudeness. It is a good read. She is the same author who wrote “Eats Shoots and Leaves.”

    I think lentils are perfectly photogenic especially the red ones. The recipe looks good. I am going to have to try it once my wife is back in town. She is a big lentil fan. She’d kill me if I made it without her.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. Good idea about Lynn Truss – I’ve read both of those books but perhaps it’s time for a reread of Talk to the Hand. I was more hurt than I probably should have been. Perhaps because moving is stressful enough all by itself and I miss my old neighbours SO much. Transition is difficult and never gets any easier.

      I hope you do make and enjoy the lentil dish with your wife when she gets back home. 😉

  7. A few years ago, I learned a phrase which really changed the way that I feel when I interact with people, especially those that I might otherwise consider rude or mean. It’s called ‘Assumption of positive intentions’. If you assume that everyone you encounter has positive intentions, (until they prove, without doubt, otherwise) your days (and nights) are so much more pleasant and less stressful. I’ve found that I need to translate what people say to me to make up for their lack of social skill. Translate “I don’t have time to talk” into “You look like a fascinating person! I want to talk later when I can give our time together the time and attention you deserve.”
    When your spouse appears to be ignoring you, assume that (s)he thinks you need some quiet time and doesn’t want to interfere with your reflections…
    Canadians already lead the world with lentil exports and Lindy, this recipe will increase world consumption! I hadn’t realize what a great protein source lentils are until you inspired me to do some research!

    1. Ned – that explains your beautiful manners on meeting people. I won’t forget how intently you watch and listen and how kindly and thoughtfully you contribute to a conversation. I like your points very much.
      And lentils – yes – much underrated they are!
      Wonderful to hear from you. Thank you! 😉

  8. Those lentils look delicious. Cooking something you like can be very therapeutic, not to mention eating it. As for your neighbour, I understand your feelings, but I hope you give her a second chance. I have met people I initially thought very rude, but when I got to know them, they were really kind and thoughtful people – they just had a slightly different idea of courtesy from me. I hope she turns out to be not such a bad neighbour after all.

  9. What a lovely meal…. and I would have all the time in the world to talk with you. I do have all the time in the world to talk. And if I don’t have the time, I would make the time, because you are lovely, and I enjoy you.
    Her loss.
    We could sit and enjoy this lovely meal… and talk. ❤

    1. From my bed I see lake Ontario – I look out at Wolfe Island. On the other side of Wolfe Island is New York State. Somewhere not far from that is you. You couldn’t be further than 4 hours drive from me I don’t think. Fancy a road trip to Kingston – I’ll cook and pour wine – we’ll both talk! ❤

      1. I think you’re right. I looked up Wolfe Island, and I see that it’s a part of the Thousand Islands region. Alex Bay was our summertime vacation spot while I was growing up…we would go several times each summer.. Four hours is all it took to get there… ❤

  10. That rude woman has no idea what she is missing by not engaging with you. I love the words that come out of your mouth and fall onto the page. It certainly is her loss, my friend. The good thing is that it leaves more of you for us….your friends. Xxxxoooo

      1. Would love to my dear. Name the date….I’m pretty free the next few weeks.

  11. It is so frustrating seeing those that don’t care but how wonderful seeing that great group of people working together to clean the park. It really is reaffirming. Your lentil dish is not just beautiful but happens to be a favorite combination of mine. Rice and lentils go so well together. Lovely!

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