"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Monday, March 26, 2012


There have been quite a few changes happening around these parts, of late.  Adjusting our lives to fit a new, albeit temporary, space is the name of the game right now.  When I was packing up the house, prior to the move, my mission was to figure out which bits and pieces of our lives were necessary, and would be unpacked to use, and which could be boxed up until a permanent move was made.  We're renting a lovely place until we find the right home to buy, so to avoid extra packing/unpacking work, I'm limiting our unpacked stuff to only what is necessary.  This is tricky to define, though.  Exactly how many ramekins does one need for everyday use?  (I decided eight was good.  And that ice cream dishes were not necessary, though it rather pained me to pack them up, for you just never know when you may need a pretty ice cream dish, do you now?)  Cookbooks...that was tough, let me tell you.  But I powered through, and was very strict with myself, only keeping out what I use most, these days.  And here they are, looking somewhat lonely without all their friends:

Six.   A mere six cookbooks.  Thank goodness for the internet and the library, right?  I'm pretty sure I'll pull through, and that we'll be continue to be well fed.

It's not been all self-imposed limitations, I am happy to report.  With the move, came a largely increased space, and I was finally, after five and a half years, able to resume life with a proper sized dining table.   A table that comfortably accommodates a decent sized group, and allows for serving meals family-style, once again.  Rather than the cook (that would generally be me) serving it up in the kitchen, restaurant-style.  (Although I don't allow substitutions or special requests.)  Oh, how I missed this table, and how very much I'm enjoying our mealtimes these days.

In the spirit of redefining odds and ends, I have an old recipe to share, that I tweaked a bit, updated a little, and made a bit more my own.  This recipe is one which appears at least once a year, at family gatherings, and I can honestly say I don't remember a time that Mom's Rice Salad wasn't a part of my growing-up food history.  It's not to say that the salad needed to be altered, but just that I wanted to see if I could put a spin on it, modernize it a little.  I kept quite true to the original ingredients, because I love the way all the vegetables complement each other.  The salty green olives perfectly contrast with crunchy green peppers, which in turn set off the creamy artichoke hearts.  A minor adjustment here and there, the old white rice replaced with Israeli couscous...the dressing lightened just a bit...and the end result...pretty tasty, if I may say so.  This is a great salad to make for a barbecue, and it keeps well for several days, in the fridge.

An old favorite, redefined.

Israeli Couscous Salad with Green Veggies
- serves  8 to 10, as a side

1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
zest of half a lemon
juice of one lemon
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, or 2 Tbs artichoke heart marinade
1 Tbs green olive brine
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
3 or 4 green onions, chopped
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
1/3 cup green olives (the kind with pimentos), sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Put a medium pot of salted water on to boil, and while you're waiting for it, prepare your vegetables.

Cook the couscous until al dente.  Because it will soften further as it cools, and also absorbs some dressing, we don't want to cook it as long as the package suggests.  Mine took about 7 or 8 minutes, to be tender on the exterior, but with a bit of a bite on the inside.

While the couscous is still hot, pour the lemon zest, half the lemon juice, artichoke marinade (or olive oil), and olive brine over the couscous, and season with pepper.  Hold off on the salt because the olives and brine add quite a bit of salt to the salad.  Leave to come to room temperature, about half an hour.

Once the couscous has cooled, add the mayonnaise, and the remaining lemon juice.  Add in the vegetables and parsley, and gently stir to combine.  Check for seasoning, and chill for an hour before serving.  (Can be made a day ahead.)

This one's best eaten with a group of friends, or family, I think.  Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Looks nummy, and I love the benches with the dinning room table!