Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Color and Feel of Spring + a Couscous, Fruit & Cheese Recipe

Spring is in all of its glory in my gardens. I'm so happy to see green things growing in my gardens and my yard that I don't mind the fact that much of that green is actually some form of weed.
At night I sleep with the window near by bed open just a bit. In the wee hours of the morning my sleepy consciousness is teased into waking by the chirping and singing birds with their call and response to each other. A gentle, cool breeze wafts in through that crack in the morning. Sometimes I even sit on the edge of the bed before getting up so that I can take it all in; it is the quiet before the chaos of teaching ninth grade boys that will ensue shortly.
The dew that has gathered on the new greens stirs in my nose and makes the yard feel so vibrant and alive with growth. Sometimes it even feels like an unspoken promise of what is to come.
All of the tulips are in the front yard and I leave from the back of the yard, so I have to make a point of going out to see them. The tulips reward me with a nice show of color and new combinations that I don't recall from past years.
All of this makes me hope that I have time time, energy and motivation to plant some Johnny Jump Ups and Pansies in the garden this weekend. I also hope to till the soil so that I can start peas, radishes, beets, lettuce and spinach outside.

By the time I am dressed, have my tea snuggly stored in my messenger bag and my lunch packed, the sun has already begun to rise. Turning my head to the east as I head out of the alley and onto the street, I am treated to a pink and orange sky that magically paints itself light blue by the time I come to the big, deep hill just before I arrive at work.

We enjoyed a recipe that I found via Foodgawker earlier this week.

Israel Couscous with Raspberries and Cheese (translated from Dutch into English, and measurements converted from metric to standard.)
via: In My Red Kitchen blog

350 ml (1 1/2 cups) water
125 gr (1 1/4 cup) Pearl or Israel Couscous
150 gr (1 1/2 cup) Halloumi*
4-5 branches Parsley Leaves (large leaves), coarsely chopped
40g(1/4 cup) Shelled Pistachio Nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 green apple, diced
60 gr (1/3 cup) Raspberries, fresh (I made this recipe with fresh raspberries, but they are very tart right now. You could easily substitute strawberries, cantaloupe, etc.)

For the dressing:
2 tbsp orange juice (freshly squeezed!)
1 tbsp strawberry or raspberry vinegar
1 TBL. Olive Oil
salt & pepper

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan and add the couscous. Cook for about 6 minutes (depending on the type of pearl couscous, check the package) and drain.
Make the dressing by mixing all ingredients mixed. Pour half the dressing with the warm couscous and stir with a fork.
Cut the halloumi into cubes and grill them quickly and briefly in hot oil ( I did not use oil. I simply put a tiny bit of melted butter on the bottom of the pan to keep the cheese from sticking). Drain on paper towels.
Stir well the parsley, pistachios, apples and raspberries into the couscous.
Serve with fried halloumi and remaining dressing.

* I was able to buy the halloumi cheese at Whole Foods, a local organic grocery store. The cheese is solid and a bit squeaky (like fresh mozzarella) and salty. I think If you like, you can also make your own halloumi cheese by following the directions from Simone's blog.

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