• pearl couscous with chickpeas and vegetables

    pearl couscous with chickpeas and vegetables

    I was going through old photos recently and found this:


    It’s probably the first dish Cory and I ever made together. During my first trip to San Francisco, we had a picnic at Golden Gate Park. It was a typical San Francisco summer day — 60 degrees, windy, and the sun was nowhere to be seen, but that made no difference to us. Cory had only been living in the city for about three weeks, so everything was new and exciting. We spotted an eagle in a nearby tree, sipped on pomegranate juice, noshed on scones from Trader Joe’s, and shared a delicious couscous and vegetable dish that we prepared together earlier that day. Cory asked me to marry him. In EverQuest (as a joke, of course). It was all very romantic, obviously.

    Once I saw the photo, I had a sudden urge to recreate the dish. Our local market sells pearl couscous on the cheap and I’ve been buying it up to use as a base for easy lunches. The key to ensure this dish is a success is to not cook all the vegetables at once. If you do, you’ll end up with sad soggy zucchini. We’ve had a lot of picnic friendly days lately, but have resorted to eating lunch on the deck so this little California girl can join enjoy the sun too:

    izzygoo outdoors

    I don’t remember where we originally found the recipe. AllRecipes, maybe? Just from glancing at the old photo, I think I reproduced the dish fairly accurately, although I would’ve used more curry powder if I hadn’t run out. This is a delicious lunch, perfect for sunny springtime picnics and packed lunches.

    Pearl Couscous with Chickpeas and Vegetables

    8 ounces of pearl/Israeli couscous, cooked according to package directions
    2 cans of 15-oz chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed and drained
    1 small red onion, chopped
    1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
    2 carrots, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
    1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
    2 zucchinis, chopped into bite sized pieces, about 1/3″ thick
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 tablespoons golden raisins
    1 tablespoon curry powder (I only used about 2 teaspoons before running out)
    salt & pepper, to tastes
    1/2 cup parsley and/or cilantro, chopped
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    Cook pearl couscous according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

    Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. In a large stockpot, cook oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and jalapeno, then cook until translucent or about 5-7 minutes. Stir frequently. Add the carrots and stir frequently, for about 3-5 minutes. Then add the red bell pepper. Repeat the same process as before, cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Now add the zucchini and stir frequently for another 3 minutes. Add the garlic and raisins let it cook for about 30 seconds. Now thoroughly mix the curry powder, salt, and pepper into the mix. Incorporate the chickpeas, couscous, herbs, and olive oil into the pot, stir until mixed. You may want to cook the mixture for a few more minutes, to make sure everything is heated through. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Serves about 5

  • one year of marriage

    What do you do when you’re in love with your best friend?

    I spent many nights agonizing about what would happen to our friendship if my feelings weren’t reciprocated. When I finally mustered up the courage, I was an ocean away in Cairo. I wrote a jetlagged and melodramatic e-mail confession in the wee of hours of the night, then cried myself to sleep, trying not to think about the response waiting in my inbox in the morning. Much to my relief, Cory felt the same way. The next couple months were a whirlwind and in the midst of that Cory received a job offer in San Francisco. I still had another year of college to finish up, but that was it. We were going to be together and I was moving to San Francisco.

    It is weird to think that I married some cute guy who commented on my blog on this day 12 years ago. He introduced himself and told me that I seemed like “a special person, a unique person”. The blog post he responded to was something I had written about the first Lord of the Rings movie and a quiz result for “Which Final Fantasy X character are you?” (I got Lulu, by the way). Special person, indeed. We soon swapped AIM names, which was followed by sharing book recommendations and funny internet videos. After a couple years, we were best friends. He became my closest confidant and the keeper of my secrets. I loved him then, but it was never discussed. What was the point? A relationship between us just didn’t seem geographically possible, so I tried to forge my own path that didn’t involve us being together romantically. It another four years until that e-mail confession.

    wedding at san francisco city hall ice cream at ice cream bar cole valley

    Our life together is not a difficult one. We align on most things — sense of humor, diet, how money should be spent, politics, lack of religion, human rights, type of city in which we want to live, type of dwelling we want to share, places we want to travel, and so forth. While we agree how the cat should be fed, I have a much more difficult time resisting Izzy’s pathetic begging. We have our daily routines down. We prefer each other’s companies above anyone else’s. We communicate with each other in a secret language containing a decade’s worth of inside jokes. We annoy each other, but seldom get angry. We share a 380 square foot studio apartment in relative harmony. He eats almost everything I cook. If he has an extra piece of pizza, he usually lets me have it, or at least shares it. Neither of us have overbearing parents. I love his parents and he loves mine. We are partners in all things. We are still best friends. It is a good life and I am stupidly lucky.

    trueselvesOur true selves

    April 2nd is no longer just the day we met, but also the day we married. This day last year, we skipped work to eat french fries, pizza, milkshakes, and make it legal at San Francisco City Hall. Our wedding was on our own terms, with two close friends in attendance to serve as our witnesses, share a meal with us, and take 800+ photos. Continuing the tradition of enjoying the finer things in life (pizza, french fries, ice cream, etc.), we spent today on a gluttonous eating fest.

    We started off at Cafe Zola. I had every intention of ordering a waffle, but I couldn’t resist “deep fried sandwich” and got a Monte Cristo instead. Cory ordered a frittata and let me have most of the avocado. Aww.

    cafe zola ann arbor

    As we were walking home, we saw a large procession of unmarked cars and I jokingly said that it was Barack Obama on his way to Zingerman’s Deli, an Ann Arbor institution. After mentioning Zingerman’s, I suggested we pick up a hot drink there since we’re still rolling in gift card dough from Christmas. Turns out, it was Obama and he stopped there for lunch. Zingerman’s was closed off, so we picked up a tea latte from a nearby cafe and waited to catch a glimpse of the president. I knew it was a long shot, but I was hoping I’d get the chance to ask Obama to bless my marriage because that is totally something presidents do, right? They shake hands and kiss babies, so why not bless marriages? Didn’t happen though, and we didn’t even get a good glimpse of him. Oh well! We still get to say we saw Obama on our first wedding anniversary.

    For dinner, we headed over to Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales for pizza and french fries:

    jollypumpkinOld timey mustachioed man looks a bit like Cory

    Then we finished the night off at Blue Tractor to split a chocolate milkshake:

    izzygooNot a milkshake, but I couldn’t bring myself to post another dimly lit restaurant photo

    Here’s to many more years of pizza, french fries, and milkshakes. <3

  • link lovin’ – march 2014

    detroitDetroit, Michigan

    What I’m listening to: Egyptian Lover. You’ve got a soft spot for 80s electro hip hop, right?
    What I’m reading: My Life as a Mountbatten by Pamela Hicks. Uh yeah, still going through a rich English folk phase. It’s a little embarrassing.
    What I’m eating: Parmesan Beans with Kale and Sausage from Katie at the Kitchen Door
    What I’m playing: Cory and I usually watch something while we eat dinner together. After we exhausted everything Amazon Instant and Netflix had to offer from Anthony Bourdain, Michael Palin, Ricky Gervais, and Karl Pilkington, we started playing games together. So far we’ve played, The Wolf Among Us, Long Live the Queen, The Yawhg, and we just finished up The Walking Dead last night. I’m not a fan of the zombie genre and had no expectations for the Walking Dead but I ended up loving it. The ending had me in tears for much of the night. The only thing that made me feel better was to look up stupid fan art, which I’m pretty sure cures lots of things.


    // Roasted garlic is heaven. I often roast garlic to spread on toast and slip into soups, but I’ve never used it as a salad dressing.

    // Need to get my hands on some cheap mangoes for this Mango Chana Masala from the taste space.

    // Spring and autumn are short in Michigan, and it’s going to get hot very soon. Should we get an air conditioner that we will only use for a month, or should I drink Cinnamon Dolce Iced Coffees and horchata non-stop? Hmm.

    // This Pasticho (Venezuelan Lasagna) from Tara’s Multicultural Table looks absolutely delicious.

    // New twist on deviled eggs. Guacamole Deviled Eggs… because avocados make everything better.

    // Need to butter up to someone? This Peanut Butter Fudge from The Sugar Hit would make a great gift.

    Design, Development, and Freelancing:

    // Zoe Rooney’s Workflow for Setting Up a Custom WordPress Theme Project

    // Pretty desktop wallpaper from Jess Creatives, just in time for April.

    // 10 client boundaries to have in place as a freelancer. Note to self: stop answering work-related e-mails at 1 am.

    // The Power of Collaboration & Personal Projects from Nicole’s Classes.

    // Cylburn, a semi-connected script font from the Lost Type Co-Op.

    Good reads:

    // A This American Life episode about Ibragim Todashev, shot and killed by the FBI was allegedly friends with one of the Boston Marathon bombers, but the circumstances behind his death aren’t entirely known.

    // Why Carl Sagan is truly irreplaceable

    // How a man in India revolutionized menstrual health for women in developing countries

    // Debunking the Attempted Debunking of Our 10 Poverty Myths, Debunked

    // Brave Jezebel writer and her friends cooked some gross recipes from the 1950s. Why bother eating something if it’s not in a jello mold? I’ve since spent hours reading Mid Century Menu, in awe and disgust.

    // Modern Faces of Kabul

  • orzo with mixed vegetables

    orzo with mixed vegetables

    I’ve been slipping in my meal planning. My mind has been on other things, like preparing for another cross-country move. Honestly, there isn’t much I really need to do another couple months, but it’s easy to get distracted looking at apartment listings and adding restaurants to an already unwieldy spreadsheet. And so, after spending who knows how long getting lost on Google street view, obsessively checking Walkscore, and reading Yelp reviews for grocery stores (yeah, I’m a very cool lady), I feel a rumbling in my stomach and realize oh yeah, what’s for lunch?

    I long for spring, you know real spring. Not the kind of spring where it still snows, but the return of bountiful produce — fiddlehead ferns, fava beans, watercress, and fresh peas. Until then, I’ll continue stocking up on frozen vegetables. Which is still pretty okay, because this was orzo dish was really tasty. And it lasted us three lunches, which gave me time to go back to reading Yelp reviews… and playing 2048.

    Orzo with Mixed Vegetables

    1 pound orzo
    2 tablespoons butter
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 cup vegetable or chicken broth, or water
    1 tablespoon tomato paste
    2 1/2 cups mixed vegetables (I used a mix of corn, carrots, peas, green beans, and edamame)
    1 tablespoon mix of dried herbs of your choice (basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, etc.)
    cayenne pepper, to taste
    salt & pepper, to taste
    1/4 cup parmesan cheese
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    2 tablespoons pine nuts

    In a large stockpot, cook orzo according to package directions. Drain, and set aside.

    Melt butter in the stockpot over medium low heat. Once melted, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Add the broth and mix in the tomato paste. Toss in the vegetables and cook until heated through. This should only take a few minutes. Once the vegetables are ready, add the herbs, spices, salt, pepper, and parmesan and mix. Now add the orzo to the pot and mix thoroughly. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and the pine nuts. Keep on the stove a few minutes longer until heated through, stirring frequently. Add more salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

    Serves 6

  • a day in detroit: marche du nain rouge

    marche du rouge detroit 2014 02

    Did you know that Detroit is haunted by a red dwarf? Sightings of the Nain Rouge in Detroit go back as far as 1701, first as a protector of the city and then as the harbinger of doom. The urban legend of the Nain has survived the centuries, but has seen a revival in the last few years with an annual parade to banish him from the city for another year.

    marche du rouge 2014 03

    The Marche Du Nain Rouge was yesterday, the Nain riled us all up with taunts (taking credit for the Polar Vortex and telling us that oh sure, we can fight poverty in Detroit with artisinal cheeses and launching Kickstarter campaigns for gluten free energy bars), then we paraded through the city while the Nain rode a fire breathing dragon.

    marche du rouge 2014 05

    Friends told me that in previous years, an effigy of the Nain was burned to banish him from the city for another year, but this year he got a parking ticket for illegally parking his dragon and had to leave. I think we succeeded in banishing him. Good and creepy fun either way.

    marche du rouge 2014 04

    Attendees are encouraged to dress up, preferably in masks so the Nain won’t recognize you next year. My friend Cristina is the giraffe on the right.

    marche du rouge detroit 2014 06

    My favorite part of the parade? Dogs, of course. So many dogs in silly costumes.

    marche du rouge detroit 2014 01

    The basement entrance of the Masonic Temple made for some really creepy/cool photo ops. There was an after party held in the basement, though before you think we’re party animals, we were just there to use the bathroom. Incredible building and I’d love go back there an explore some more. As our time in Michigan draws to a close, we’ll need to make a couple more trips to Detroit.

    marche du rouge detroit 2014 07.

    We ended the day at Neehee’s Indian Vegetarian Street Food in nearby Canton. That’s fig, pistachio saffron, and fennel ice cream. Without a doubt some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had. They serve more than just ice cream and I would love to try their puri and dosas.

    A+++ fun day would do again