People's dreams are made out of what they do all day. The same way a dog that runs after rabbits will dream of rabbits. It's what you do that makes your soul, not the other way around.
- Barbara Kingsolver
It's been a hectic week around here between the post-IACP conference catching up and the follow-up emails and the post-away-from-home time spent with my little family; I've been in a whirlwind. The Plated Stories Workshop inches closer and I am busy at work finalizing my new program and work sessions and looking for the next great workshop location. Marty, as many of you who follow me on Facebook know, has been sick and is now as I write in the hospital as they try and figure out what is wrong. A Martyless house is no home. Two good things have happened this week that I would like to share with you.
The first is that my profile of Florida and sustainable lifestyle guru (for lack of a better term) James Smith, Green Horizons: A Venture into Slow Living, has been published in the gorgeous online magazine deliberateLIFE, a magazine dedicated to living – eating, cooking, traveling, gardening, shopping, etc – a deliberate, thoughtful, sustainable life (available for ipad or iphone). And James truly embodies that lifestyle. I hope to interview him upon his return from a 6-month green sailing voyage through the Bahamas he is setting out on with his brother, Jake.
The second is that Plated Stories is a finalist for a Saveur Best Food Blog Award for Best Writing. Who would have thought that a blog created just one year ago, an idea, a creative collaboration that Ilva and I came up with in the San Francisco Airport while waiting for our respective flights, would garner such attention? As I wrote about earlier, I was never the child to expect this kind of thing. It was always my sister and brother covered in prize ribbons, merit badges, voted into positions of leadership. But there you go… and Ilva and I couldn't be happier or prouder that our collaboration and our concept of merging photographs and words, images and stories, to create a single composition, has had such success. (If you haven't yet discovered Plated Stories do so now!)
But… Plated Stories needs your help if we are to win this prestigious award. You see, it is by vote. And we hope that we can count on yours. The competition is tough, the finalists are each so very talented (and many are friends!), so it is important for us that you vote. This will only take a few seconds… simply click over to the Saveur.com website and the Best Food Blog Award page and register if you aren't already. Quick and easy! Then scroll down the page (voting for your favorite in each category, of course) and when you get to the category Best Writing, hover of Plated Stories and click to vote! You have until April 9 to vote!
Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.
- Henry Ford
I also wanted to share that the registration deadline for the Plated Stories Workshop will be quickly upon us. The PS Workshop is for writers, photographers and food bloggers who want to hone their writing & photo skills as well as understand and see how the two can work together and, combined, compose a more interesting and powerful story. It is for anyone who is looking for new inspiration and new energy. It is for anyone who wants to spend a memorable, incomparable ten days in stunning Tuscany, Italy in gorgeous, inspiring surroundings with an amazingly talented group of writers and photographers. For more information you can look HERE or HERE… and any questions please email Ilva and I or Linda of Tuscan Muse at platedstories AT gmail DOT com.
Passover is quickly here and after last year's successful Lemon Almond Sponge Cake, I plan on doodling with the recipe to turn it into a Chocolate Almond Sponge, perfect for Passover, a gluten-free diet or really just anyone, anywhere, any day. And this week, husband threw together a marvelous and flavorful Couscous Tfaya, golden semolina couscous grains topped with a sweet and savory caramelized onion, raisin and spiced topping which I share with you now. Don't forget, he cooks au pif, by instinct, not precise measurements, so play around with the recipe… but it is definitely worth trying.
It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.
- Mark Twain
COUSCOUS TFAYA with CARAMELIZED ONIONS, RAISINS & SPICES
This is a delicious vegetarian lunch, a specialty of Morocco, eaten as is, served over couscous grains but is also fabulous served alongside grilled meat – lamb, beef or chicken – or hardboiled eggs (for a lighter and vegetarian meal). The Tfaya can even be prepared with the meat cooked along with the onions and raisins as part of the dish itself. The bit of cornstarch can be omitted, but it does thicken the sauce ever so slightly so it clings better to the onions and the couscous. If adding cornstarch, the sauce will get even thicker when cool, so if there are leftovers simply add about a quarter cup or so of water then gently reheat, stirring until hot through, adding water or letting water steam away as needed until desired consistency.
For 2 – 4 people
½ cup raisins
Ras al Hanout *
½ tsp cornstarch/Maizena
Salt and pepper
Small vegetable bouillon cube or ½ a large cube
* Read about ras al hanout here
Peel and trim the onions and cut in half or half and then half again. Slice the onions rather thickly, about ¼ inch (1/2 cm). Heat a combination of margarine and olive oil, about a tablespoon of each, until sizzling; add the onions, lower the heat and cook slowly, over a medium-low flame, until the onions are very soft and tender, transparent and golden brown around the edges. Add the raisins, about a teaspoon of ras al hanout, a pinch of ground cinnamon, salt (less if using salty bouillon cubes) and pepper and enough water, maybe half a cup, to cover the onions. Add the bouillon cube and stir to dissolve into the liquid. Dissolve the cornstarch into a bit more water and add to the pan. Allow to cook over low heat, stirring, until the sauce reduces and thickens slightly, the raisins plump and the onions become meltingly tender without dissolving. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
Serve hot over couscous grains. This can be served alongside hardboiled eggs or grilled meats, especially lamb or chicken.