Tag Archives: recipes

Benjamin’s couscous

Lilah loves beans of all sorts.  Benjamin likes most bean dishes, although white beans are hit or miss.  Zachary would not consider eating a bean if it were coated in caramel and dipped in chocolate.

Lilah thinks squash is one of the seven wonders of the world.  Benjamin likes squash unless a better offer comes along.  Zachary would switch seats on an airplane if a squash were sitting next to him.

Lilah loves to try new foods, except on the days she doesn’t.  Benjamin assumes that any new food must be a treat that we’ve been hiding from him, and usually that turns out to be the case, like last week when he tried scallops for the first time and adored them.  Zachary hasn’t tried a new food since the Bush administration.

You see how it goes in our house.  About the only thing Zach does like is hamburgers, which Benjamin doesn’t particularly appreciate, so he ends up just eating the baked sweet potato fries.  Lilah likes burgers, though.  That’s how third children roll.

It’s all quite exhausting.

Sunday night I soaked two bags of garbanzos and then I cooked them up Monday morning while we were all getting ready for the day.  We had been out of town for the weekend so we were out of quite a few things, although we did have a couple of acorn squashes and quite a few carrots.  Unfortunately, they boys are off school, which is how I found myself at the grocery store with all three children, a situation I am usually far more successful at avoiding.

Sometime between the first and third time the boys decided to wrestle on the grocery store floor, we went down the rice aisle.  “I’m making chickpeas tonight,” I told Benjamin.  “Would you like them on rice or with this?  It’s a special pasta called ‘couscous.’”

“Um, I want that!” Benjamin replied, assuming if he hadn’t had it before, it must be delicious.

Now, their father hates couscous, but, frankly, if I thought about that fact I was afraid my head would start to spin around and my nostrils would blow blue smoke.  So, I bought some whole wheat couscous.

And, here’s what I did with it all.

Benjamin’s Couscous

Butter

Olive oil

One chopped onion

Several chopped cloves of garlic

Carrots – sliced in discs

One bag cooked garbanzos, drained

Two baked acorn squashes (sliced in half, baked face down about an hour on 400 with a little olive oil on them)

Chopped dates

Salt

Melt together the butter and olive oil.  Fry up the onions and garlic until translucent.

I didn’t have any chicken stock on hand, or I would have used that, but instead I used plain water.  I poured in a little more than 4 cups of water to a boil because the couscous package said 1 ¼ cups water to 1 cup couscous, and I wanted a little extra in there since I was cooking up other things, too.  Bring it all to a boil.  Add the carrots and cook till soft.

Then, add the couscous (in this case, I used three cups) and the dates.  Mix up and cover.  After five minutes, fluff with fork, then mix in the cooked garbanzos and chopped up cooked squash.  Don’t worry if they’ve already cooled, as this particular dish is fine warm instead of hot.

Salt to taste, which usually means I forget the salt and then we all rush to add it at the supper table.

My husband actually loved it, despite his deep seeded prejudice against couscous, perhaps due to some childhood trauma involving a Moroccan restaurant.  Benjamin and Lilah loved it, much to the detriment of our dining room rug.

Zachary didn’t try it, but I had also made garbanzo muffins.  Because I’m not an idiot.

Zachary’s favorite muffins

One of the biggest challenges of raising Zachary is that he changes his food preferences on a bi-weekly basis.  Today, he adores apples, but with the skin removed.  Tomorrow, he will eat only the skin, disposing of the entire white inside.  Next week, he will want pears.  Or star fruit.  Or cauliflower.

No, not cauliflower.  There’s not much I know in this world, but one thing I am pretty sure he will never, ever ask me for cauliflower.  That certainty lends an air of predictability to my universe.

This makes baking an extra-special kind of challenge.  By the time I actually buy the groceries, mix the batter, and bake the muffins, he’s likely to change his tastes.  We do best with recipes that require a short bake-time.  If they spend too long in the oven, he may not want them anymore by the time they come out.

One week, it’s all about the carrot-apple muffins.  He’s refusing any other food, handing muffins out to his friends at play dates, and telling me I am the best baker in the whole world.  Then, two days later, I offer him one.  “Yuck!” he exclaims.  “Those are disgusting.”

I sigh.  “I need to pack you something for lunch,” I tell him.  “What kind of muffins would you like?”

“I’ll only eat the pumpkin muffins,” he declares.

“So, if we get pumpkin at the grocery store, you will eat the muffins for lunch?  For three days?”

“Yes!  The pumpkin muffins are my favorites,” he tells me.  Now, far be it from me to remind him that two weeks ago, he declared the pumpkin muffins “monstrous.”  They are his favorites.  So, I will bake them.

They are best in the fall, when we can get real pumpkins.  I hate to use canned pumpkin.  For any number of reasons: BPAs in the cans, manufacturing pollution, loss of nutrients, extra rubbish created. Take your pick.  But, when Zachary is your child, you must sometimes make some concessions to necessity, and whole pumpkins are hard to come by in January.

I have removed the recipe.  Please email me if you would like a copy.  My email address is on the About page.

I have not worked much with dried, ground ginger before, but I must say I like it.  I don’t use a lot of ginger, and so I find when I buy the fresh stuff, some always goes to waste.  With the ground stuff, I always have it on hand.

I will delete this recipe in a day or two.

COOKIE!!!!!

It is quite easy to keep a three-year-old from eating sugar, provided you are willing to seal up all your doors and windows, plug up your chimney, and not let him out of the house until he’s old enough to register for Selective Service.  If however, you send him to preschool, take him on play dates, or occasionally step out to get the paper, he is pretty much guaranteed to stumble across mounds of refined sugar on a daily basis.

Then there are the “events.”  You know what I’m talking about – birthday parties, Halloween, cupcakes for kids’ birthdays in school even though all the same kids are going to the party that weekend, dinners out, and family get-togethers.  People always say to me, “Oh, but on special occasions, he should have a little treat.”  Hell, yes.  But, um, could we be a little more circumspect in how we define “special occasions”?  Because it seems like those come up about four times a week.

Thanksgiving dinner, as you can imagine, is a fucking minefield.  Nothing says “sugar rush” like a dessert buffet.  As we led up to the big day, Benjamin found it important to underscore his sugar issues.  We gave him a mango lassi and a smoothie a few days prior to Thanksgiving, whereupon he proceeded to flush his toothbrush down the toilet in a fit of mania.

I couldn’t exactly ask everyone to 86 dessert that night.  It wasn’t happening.  So, I knew I needed to come up with a sugar-free sweet for him.  That would be easier if I were into chemical substitutes like Splenda or the pink packets, but I just don’t trust that shit.  I flirted with agave briefly, only to discover that the reason its glucose index is so low is that it is high in fructose.  Sort of like high fructose corn syrup.  Instead of hitting one’s blood stream, it goes straight to other systems and overloads them, so the argument goes.  I am still not convinced agave isn’t a perfectly safe item, given that fructose is the sugar in fruit, but what I read raised enough concerns.  If it were as fantastic as everyone seems to think it is, I guess we’d have been using agave a great deal more frequently for decades.  We’d probably have Agave Twinkies for the yuppie who can’t let go of his childhood passion.  They’d sell for $8.95 a pack.

Anyway, I needed to find another sweetener.  Something that takes awhile to digest, that makes the body root around for the sugar, rather than simply shooting it straight into the various organs.  You know – like fruit.  I love the way apples require the body to work hard for that sugar.  I do still sweeten with honey, as that does not give the same rush as refined sugar and has been around long enough that I figure time has safety tested it as a substitute.  Nonetheless, I try to keep the honey content as low as possible, because it is still a much more direct form of sugar than fruit.

I came up with these little numbers for Thanksgiving.  They are quite good, both hot and when cooled.  The peanut butter option makes them, like, way better, but if you are baking them for school or if you have a one-year-old who has declared herself allergic to everything, you should probably leave it out.  The only sugar is the chocolate chips, and if you get very, very dark chips, the sugar content is pretty low.

Please note that I have removed the cookie recipe.  The problem with posting recipes is that people STEAL them and then they somehow become public property.