LiterEature 101: The Scorpions of Zahir

coverThis particular book has been on my agenda for months. I’ve read tons of books in the past few months, but I desired to craft this one into something tasty simply because it takes place in Morocco. Hence a chance to delve into Moroccan flavors! Something new for everyone. And yet, upon completing The Scorpions of Zahir by Christine Brodien-Jones, I had a deflated sense of excitement. I couldn’t quite pin it down; certainly there was mention of the aromatic marketplaces, and phyllo-wrapped chicken with almonds and spicy roasted plums. But, the title should indicate there were some unpleasantries as well. Like a plethora of scorpions. And an abandoned soul in the desert feasting on fried purple locusts. *sigh* Nevertheless,I fought against the insects to bring you this new post. Please enjoy. With a side of spotted lizard if you desire (I assure you, I do not). (FYI scroll to the bottom if you just want the recipes) Continue reading

2 Sides Make a Night (Tomato Couscous with Black Beans)

The saying goes, there are two sides to every story. I warrant that’s not always true, as I have seen some very octagonal tales in my day, but that is neither here nor there (the dork in me begs to ask, Where, then? but I shall refrain). Nevertheless, one recent evening I channeled that phrase into my taste-searching fingers, and approached my cupboards with dual palettes in mind. A few weeks ago, the husband and I took an excursion to North Wildwood, New Jersey (Cape May vicinity, for those familiar) and one afternoon our health-starved mouths craved for something that wasn’t nitrate ridden (like hot dogs) or fried (everything else!) so we hit up the local grocery store and bought some tomato salad couscous. Oh the praises my little taste buds bestowed upon me for that tasty treat! And the husband discovered he had a strong liking for the rice-disguised pasta. Most likely because it looks like a rice grain. So easy to please, he is.

Since then, he spoke often about us creating our own dish inspired by that; so often that mere week or so later, I decided to make it with him during this recent battle with the CH beast. But obviously it needed a companion—this stalwart dish could not trudge into the dark recesses of our bellies without a legion to conquer that grumbling realm. Furthermore, to me it just felt like a side, a lovely accompaniment to something greater, the Sancho Panza to some elusive Don Quixote of foodstuff. But… I didn’t really have the time nor the groceries for something greater, but I did have a hearty supply of black beans at my disposal. And so the great Two-Sided Tale of our dinner was born.

Our story is headed by the great desire of the husband, a spicy, tangy and cool couscous laden with ethereal flavors. But it is closely tailed by bright, raucous beans that nearly pop with mariachi tunes and zip through your senses like Speedy Gonzalez. Combined, one reaches a sublime medium. *insert sigh of pleasure here* Continue reading