Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The First Thing I’ve Cooked Since I Got Sick….er… Since I Got Back From Mexico(?)

I woke up Monday morning at 5:30 (30 minutes before my alarm was set to ring) with my entire body stiff and my stomach in a messy state. It was so bad that I called in sick to work, and went back to bed. I won’t go into details on the nature of my stomach issues because this is a food blog, and well, no one wants to read about that. My stomach problems abated during the day, but the stiffness remained, so much so that by 9 pm I was contemplating going to the ER because I thought I had meningitis. A quick call to a doctor, and 30 seconds with a thermometer later dismissed this idea, but that made me feel only slightly better. I had eaten one 5” piece of wheat bread at like 4 pm, 2 asprin, and a glass of water, so I decided to try to make this yummy sounding recipe from Serious Eats. I mean, if a pregnant lady can eat sardines, eggs, mayo and mustard, surely I can too? Right? WRONG. (Not to mention that I didn’t have sardines, all I had was anchovy paste. I’ll have to try this again, correctly, at a future date when my stomach won’t want to kill me to see if I like it.) After 2 bites, the whole thing went into the trash. Whatever was wrong with me was based in my gastrointestinal system, and not my neurons (thank god).

I went to work the next day, though I had only eaten water crackers and bread during the past 36 hours. For lunch, I attempted the vegan soup from café in the lobby of the building, but that only caused the stomach issues to return. So I bought triscuits for dinner, and intended to eat only those until I had some sure sign that I was better.

And today (Wednesday), I got that sign. I was hungry again for the first time since Sunday. While it turned out to be a false sign, it was still glorious to eat solid food again without almost immediately regretting it. I only regretted it a little while later, and even then only a little. So while I was having the terrible catered lunch that I had at work, I decided that tonight would be the night I started cooking again (not to mention blogging…).

This all hinging on the ingredients that I’d bought about a week and half ago, when I originally planned to make this dish were still good. I bet that the tomatoes wouldn’t be, so I stopped at the store and bought a couple, but that everything else would be all right. I was right (maybe I should have been betting on something with higher stakes?).

This might be the time to mention that I have in fact cooked other things since I’ve been back from Mexico. It was one of those, “I need a vacation to recuperate from my vacation” situations. I worked till after 8pm for the 6 workdays following my return. I was in no mood to try to be entertaining about cooking; it was just about feeding myself, and most days I was letting someone else cook for me. I have a whole list of excuses for why I haven’t posted any of the things, I can keep going, but you don’t want to hear them, right? I thought not. With a little will power (and a lot of stomach getting better) this will be the first post on my road back to regular posting.

So finally, on to the food:

Hopefully the picture looks as appetizing as the dish really was (actually, is, since I made like 6 servings for little me so there is lots left). The recipe was adapted from Bittman’s How To Cook Everything, and I decided to make it because I had some leftover mint from a pesto sauce I was making at some point that I can’t remember. (Ok, ok it was last weekend, and I was making this three bean pesto salad from Rachel Ray. It needs lemon juice, but once it was added, the recipe was quite tasty).

Couscous Salad with Mint and Parsley
Makes 4 servings

About 3 cups basic couscous (I wasn’t sure if he meant 3 cups cooked, or 3 cups raw. I had 2 raw cups, so I made that much)
3 ½ cups of liquid (some mixture of water and stock, I did half and half)
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 bunches of parsley
3 plum tomatoes, cored, seeded (he says to peel, which I didn’t but wish I had)
1 bunch (or close to that) of mint
Juice of 2 lemons, or to taste
1/3 cup olive oil or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste.
1 small red onion (or ½ cup minced scallions)

To make couscous: allow oil to heat slightly over medium low heat. Add all couscous and stir to coat for about 1 minute. Add liquid all at once, with ¾ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 5-8 minutes until liquid is evaporated. Fluff with a fork, preferably in the serving dish.

While couscous is cooking, start chopping (quickly, couscous is fast) parsley, mint, tomatoes, and onion, and add to the serving dish. Add couscous to the dish whenever it is ready. Mix together all ingredients. I only added another tablespoon of olive oil because my stomach has been so sensitive, but add to taste. Mix well, and serve. In my opinion, this is best at room temperature.

Bittman differentiates from the Tabbouleh on the previous page because it has more “grains” than real tabbouleh (we won’t talk about the fact that couscous is a pasta). I found this amusing. Almost every time that I’ve seen “tabbouleh” available for purchase, it is very heavy on the couscous (except at Tanoreen, where there were no visible grains in the salad at all). This is probably a price issue than a recipe issue. Afterall, couscous is infinitely cheaper than the fresh herbs that would otherwise be the bulk of the salad.


effer64 said...

Oye, banana: when having such tummy troubles, avoid spicy or complex foods (like anchovies). Live by the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, apple juice, and tea. That's it, nothing else until you're better. Hope you're better now, and I can't wait to hear about the frijoles rancheros.

effer64 said...

CHARROS, pendejo, frijoles CHARROS, not rancheros!