Moroccan Meal: Carrot and Chickpea Tagine; Green Bean and New Potato Saute

I’ve realized I’m sad about my infrequent postings, if for no other reason than often I’d like a record of what I’ve made. Sometimes I want to repeat it and can’t remember what I did. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t spent as much time as usual cooking, but I am still cooking, and I’ve made some pretty good stuff, too. Instead of dismissing the idea I should do a post on it because I’m busy, or it doesn’t seem that exciting, or I’m tired, I’m going to just do it anyway. So with fresh resolve, I bring you a Moroccan meal of Carrot and Chickpea Tagine with Green Bean and New Potato Saute. Neither of these are original recipes. I decided to base the meal around the green beans I got at the farmers market so I hit the internet looking for ideas and came across a Moroccan recipe, so I went with that theme for the whole meal.

Smucky recently spent three weeks in Morocco, so I asked him to share a couple of his favorite pictures to give this post a more authentic Moroccan flair than my food probably will, so first let’s start off with the very handsome Smucky in front of a gorgeous backdrop:

He asked if I wanted food pictures and I said not necessarily, but when he sent me this one, it was so happy I had to include it.

Smucks apparently had an amazing time in the desert. He says I’d really like Morocco, so I guess I’d better put it on my list of places to go…

Possibly the greatest thing about Morocco are the GOATS IN TREES. That’s enough of a reason to go right there!

And now the recipes. We don’t do Moroccan too often, so this meal was a nice change of pace. If you make both of these dishes for the same meal, start the tagine first since it takes longer.

Carrot and Chickpea Tagine
very slightly adapted from http://moroccanfood.about.com/od/vegetarianmaindishes/r/moroccan_carrot_chickpea_tagine.htm

I’m not sure if it’s really a tagine if it’s not cooked in a tagine, but this was pretty tasty.

2 cups roughly chopped carrot
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup vegetable broth
1 can chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup raisins (golden preferred)
chopped parsley

Heat some oil over medium high heat in the base of a tagine or in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Add all of the ingredients except the broth, chickpeas, raisins, and parsley and saute for a minute or two. Add the broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the carrots are somewhat tender. Add the chickpeas, raisins, and parsley and cook until the carrots are completely tender and the chickpeas are heated through. Serve over couscous.

Green Bean and New Potato Saute
very slightly adapted from http://moroccanfood.about.com/od/saladsandsidedishes/r/green_bean_new_potato_saute.htm

1 lb green beans, trimmed
1 lb new potatoes, chopped in half
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp gound cumin
1/2 tsp hot paprika or 1/4 tsp cayenne
salt to taste
chopped parsley

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Put the green beans in and cook until just tender, about 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into an ice bath (or if you are lazy, run cold water over them in a strainer). Bring the water to a boil again if necessary, then add the potatoes and cook until tender. Drain and plunge into an ice bath (or run cold water over them in a strainer). Put some oil in a large skillet and add the garlic, cumin, paprika or cayenne, and salt, and saute for a minute or two. Add the green beans and potatoes and saute until heated through. Stir in the parsley.

Personally, I felt both of these dishes required a finish of lemon juice, so I served with lemon wedges. However, I pretty much think everything requires a lemon juice finish. I LOVE LEMONS.

My plate:

And this is Mark’s artfully arranged plate:

I’m going to talk about books – and music – for a little bit if you don’t mind. I know many of you are big readers like I am. So, Fortinbras was here the other day and after dinner I announced to him and Mark that I wanted to play my current favorite song for them and went over to my iPod and cued up Miriam Makeba’s Pata Pata, which I’ve been playing over and over again. Well, within 10 seconds of my starting the song, both Fortinbras and Mark said, practically in unison, “Yeah, that’s DEFINITELY a Renae song!” Which I thought was interesting because for one thing they’d only heard a few notes and for another, it’s not like I listen to a ton of African music. But either there is some very predictable quality about the music I like or it’s just that there’s no one in the world who knows me better than those two.

Shortly thereafter I started reading Bird Sense by Tim Birkhead and for some reason I was reminded of Mark and Fortinbras immediately pegging Pata Pata as a Renae song, because I kind of immediately pegged Bird Sense as a Renae book. While 92.1% of the books I read are fiction (and yes, that’s a real statistic; I keep track), the non-fiction books I read are, I suppose, somewhat predictable. They are all science-related for one thing, if not physics, then neuroscience or biology, and I require good writing skills on the part of the author. (I can’t abide a poorly written book, no matter how fascinating the subject matter.) And if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I’m obsessed with raptors. So a book using science to explain how it feels to be a bird? I’m all over it! I’m about halfway through it and it’s great, other than a few disturbing parts about various experiments, particularly those from a century or more ago. (Sorry, I just don’t think it’s cool to rip a bird’s eyes out to find out if it needs to see to fly.)

Here is a picture of a raptor, who is definitely using his eyes to stare me down. It’s an osprey. They always get pissed at me when I walk under their nest. They fly out of it and circle around me squawking.

I learned about Bird Sense by talking to one of the people handling the birds at the raptor safari I went to, when I rather uncharacteristically struck up a conversation with her and in the course of our conversation she recommended the book. Usually I’m super shy, but I’m learning to be less shy around rehabbers and other people I might learn from, and it always pays off.

Another interesting thing is Bird Sense referred to Thomas Nagel’s philosophical essay What is it like to be a bat?. That’s not too interesting in and of itself because it makes sense that a book about what it’s like to be a bird would make a reference to an essay about what it’s like to be a bat. But what’s weird is the book I read right before starting Bird Sense was Bright Lights, Big City, a TOTALLY different kind of book, which also referred to What is it like to be a bat?. I thought that a strange coincidence!

To bring it back around to music, my other favorite song right now is Pink Martini’s Sympathique, which I discovered when a few commenters recognized the qunioa salad I posted a few weeks ago as originally coming from China Forbes, the singer of Pink Martini. A strange way to find new music, but I LOVE the song (it’s also very much a “Renae song”) and I actually understand 95% of it (I refuse to look up the lyrics, but Mark likes it when I translate it as it plays), plus the “je ne veux pas travailler” sentiment is really fitting for me right now. I pretty much always want to dejeuner though!

How abouts I wrap up this possibly too-chatty post with some pictures from Occoquan Bay NWR, where I went to celebrate the solstice Friday?

Tree swallows:

This is not a great picture, but I find it amusing for some reason, plus I’ve never photographed a pileated woodpecker before so I kept it. (And it reminds me of Still Life with Woodpecker.)

Doe, a deer:

Bunny:

One of the creeks:

Well, je ne veux pas travailler, mais j’ai besoin d’argent, soooo je vais me couche…

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