I had a very pretty passenger called Katie today on my school run. The sun was warm and sparkling, and this beautiful Kelpie literally shone gold.
After I picked up Little C mid-morning from an English exam, we stopped for a moment in Darling Point, to look at the boats bobbing in brilliant blue water. Katie found an old tennis ball in the bushes and we had a little game of throw and catch. She is such a determined little thing, and never misses the ball! We are so thankful to have befriended some lovely Sydney animals while we miss our own pups. They will be out of quarantine in just three days, Izzy!
I still cannot believe that GK got on a plane from Melbourne and came to help me unpack all dad’s books into the shelves early this week. Leaving behind her own busy life of running a household, being mum AND lecturing, she made an amazing difference in just 24 hours.
I had made a Parsi chicken dish the night before she arrived. It had fragrant spices in it like cinnamon sticks, cloves and cardamom. The gravy was creamy and thick with the addition of lots of ground cashews.
For a rather heavy and creamy dish, I needed a crunchy and fresh side to serve it with. Couscous salad of course, right? We are all fans of the amazing Delia Smith‘s couscous salad which has roasted root vegetables and a harrissa dressing, but for a mid-week quickie, this salad is perfect.
So just rummage around in your very nice fridge to see what might go in it: frozen peas, carrots, I had a red capsicum, so that was diced too. Right now, I’m a little crazy about FRESH walnuts, so scattered some in at the end. And spring onion of course!
Some people I know have a strained relationship with couscous. There really is no need. Once long ago, Dad and I were invited to dinner at the home of a hot young artist. After copious glasses of champagne in a freezing cold living room discussing all aspects of her art, we proceeded to the kitchen where she was just going to ‘quickly prepare the couscous’ to go with the already made tagine.
Well! she might as well have been cooking a tagine all over again. It was a long and complicated process: the couscous had been soaking. She then drained it carefully ( and slowly) and then steamed it in muslin cloth. It had to sit afterwards for what seemed like a lifetime! None of that for me- its gotta be FAST!
The long and the short of it is, buy yourself a box of plain couscous, and just follow the instructions on the package. If like me, you sometimes throw away the box with the vital instructions before you start to cook, then here is the standby method which never fails me:
- ! cup dry couscous
- 1 1/4 cups water
- salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or 1 tablespoon butter
- Using a small saucepan with a lid, bring the water to boil.
- Add butter or oil, and salt to taste perhaps one teaspoon.
- Holding your container of measured out couscous over the boiling water, pour the grain in a steady stream into the pan.
- Stir once or twice, turn the heat off, cover with a tight lid and remove from the stove.
- Using a fork, fluff the couscous and then cover again and leave the grains to absorb all the water.
Now you’ve cooked the grain, lets put the salad together! Like I said before, chose your favourite salad ingredients: rocket, carrots, cherry tomatoes, sliced spring onion, pine nuts, cucumber,crumbled feta, etc. Cut whatever you need to into bite size pieces ( except the leaves which you leave whole unless they are huge!) Crumble the couscous into the salad bowl, add a dash of olive oil (1 to 2 tablespoons) and adjust seasoning with some freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Izzy, remember to add the lemon juice and olive oil sparingly as too much liquid will make your couscous salad soggy-heaven forbid! Scatter with some favourite nuts or raisins or cranberries if you like, Now it is ready to serve!