Israeli couscous with butternut squash and cilantro sauce

January 6, 2012 § 26 Comments

Let’s take a moment to reflect on couscous, shall we?  My family, as I recall, seems to have discovered couscous some time part of the way through my tenure in high school.  I don’t know how my mother stumbled on it or decided to purchase it, all I remember is that she served it for the first time for supper one day (alongside pork tenderloin and acorn squash if my memory serves me correctly, which it tends to when it comes to meals), and it felt like the epitome of novelty.

I was certain we were eating something flashy, exotic, new, the food equivalent of getting the first version of the iphone, right when it came out.  And this fit in lockstep with my budding epicurean ideals – which back in high school, I’ll admit, were more about the appearance of sophistication and taste than anything else.  High school.  Jeez.

Back then we just ate the Middle East brand couscous with the spice packet mixed in.  That was fancy enough for us.  (to extend the iphone metaphor: my phone gets internet!!!  Oh my gosh!  It totally doesn’t matter that it can’t seem to actually make phone calls most of the time…)  But, as couscous has completely mainstreamed, I think most of us have come to expect a little more in the preparation of this tiny noodle. « Read the rest of this entry »

Cheesy Winter Squash Muffins

October 21, 2010 § 40 Comments

What is it about fall?  Really.  I can’t get over it.  There is something so splendid, so unabashedly glorious about this time of year that I feel almost ready to pop with abundance and contentment each time I put on a sweater, step outside, and feel the soft voluminousness of the clear fall air.  I love the colors – deeper, from brilliant to brooding.  I love the nostalgia.  I love sweater weather.  I love the cold that is just enough to most definitely require snuggling.  I love the expanse of an electric blue fall sky.  I love how spacious fall weekend days feel, even though the evening closes in earlier.  I love the coziness of eating supper when it’s dark out.  I love the smells and sounds of leaves.  I want to bundle fall up in a fuzzy sweater and give it a hug.  It makes me want to sing happy songs and write sonnets to it.  Except that nobody – least of all fall – will be done any favors by my attempting to write sonnets.  So, instead I cook to it.

Fall calls for food that is encased in dough, or splashed with some cream (in case work actually listens to your petition and lets you hibernate this year), or dashed with some nutmeg, or drizzled with some maple syrup.  Food filled with all the deep colors and vibrant yet mellow flavors that echo the way fall feels.  And lots and lots and lots of winter squash.  There is almost nothing more autumnal than a butternut, or acorn, or kabocha, or buttercup squash.  They just keep filing in from my farm share, and with all their different shapes, colors, and sizes, the pile of them in my pantry is starting to look like line up of circus characters.  It’s truly fabulous.

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Corn and bacon pie

September 21, 2010 § 7 Comments

I love the word cornucopia.  Do you have any vivid memories that have to do specificly with learning a favorite, “fancy” word?  Or is that one of those things they teach you not to do when you attend ‘how not to be an incorrigible geek school’?  Either way, I distinctly remember learning the word cornucopia in early grade school and being instantly entranced by it.  “Cornucopia!”  Doesn’t it just ring with the sound of everything lovely and wonderful…and delicious?!

It was around Thanksgiving time, unsurprisingly, and our lesson in class was to draw a cornucopia by drawing a loopy spiral that grew smaller and smaller and curved off into a little tail, and then outlining it to turn it into a horn.  Then we were to fill it with drawings of all the wonderful bounty of fall, the corn, and squash, a pie (since that was my favorite part of the concept of Thanksgiving) and, if my memory is accurate (which I’m told it isn’t always – the curse/gift of storytelling) a big fat turkey wearing a pilgrim hat.  Because apparently the pilgrims were prone to using their dinner as either a hat rack or a source of entertainment before fire roasting it on a spit.

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