Choose Kindness & Grilled Moroccan Chicken with Chickpea Salsa

Sunday was Mother’s Day. I admit, I was a little glum on the run up to Sunday. It was the second Mother’s Day without my mom. However, thinking of Mom and all her gifts is a good way to get out of any funk. It’s also a great reminder to choose kindness. No matter what was going on, my mother always chose kindness.

What exactly does that mean – choose kindness? That’s simple. It’s smiling and holding the door for someone. It’s saying you’re sorry when you’ve done something wrong … and meaning it. It’s holding your tongue when you don’t have anything particularly nice to say. It’s telling someone why you think he’s awesome or she is amazing. It’s being generous with compliments and stingy with criticism. It’s a thousand little things that you can do to be kind to others.

Okay, but why bother? You may not realize it but kindness makes a difference. My mother loved children. If she found herself behind a young family in the supermarket line, she always took a minute to tell the children how smart or pretty or pretty terrific they were. A compliment will boost a child’s confidence and delight the parents. Same goes for a smile and friendly good morning to the clerk checking your groceries. It could help lift her out of a funk on a dreary day. Plus, it’s a twofer. Smiling will make you feel better too. Your smile could easily be your greatest gift to humanity.

A few years ago, I bumped into a friend in the supermarket. Yes, it happens often but this time was different. Like a lot of people from yoga class or friends of friends, we were friendly but not close. However, she was aware of the trials and chaos I had faced with the illnesses of both parents. Thankfully, my family had found its new normal. We had our ups and downs but were more or less chugging along.

On the other hand, her father had recently fallen ill. Her life was turned upside down. We talked for more than a half hour, right there in front the cold beer storage. More than her troubles, she shared what she had learned. This awful experience taught her to be less judgmental. She understood deeply why someone might look past her, scowl or, perhaps inadvertently, steal a parking spot.

Of course, some people are snobs; they look past most everyone. Others are cranky; they wear a scowl every day. Still others have that sense of entitlement; stealing parking spaces and cutting in line – it’s what they do. However, my friend learned firsthand what it meant to feel completely overwhelmed. She came to realize that a blank gaze or scowl might have nothing to do with snobbery, orneriness or entitlement. It could simply mean that that a person was deep in thought. She knew all too well that those thoughts could be overwhelming and frightening. When faced with the choice to ignore or judge the blank gazes and scowls, she chose to smile. She chose kindness.

I’m not sure that my mother chose kindness. I think she came naturally by it. Mom had the gift of assuming the best in everyone. Thanks to her, I’ve tried it. It works more often than not.

Leaving you with thoughts of kindness and bon appétit!

Grilled Moroccan Chicken with Chickpea Salsa
After a long winter, it’s time to get out the grill and try something new. Enjoy!
Serves 8

2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
3 cloves garlic, minced
About 2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast

Put the spices in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the wine, lime juice, olive oil and garlic and whisk to combine. Add the chicken to the marinade and turn to coat. Turing the chicken at least once, marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature or longer in the refrigerator.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Arrange the chicken on the grill. Cook the chicken for 3-5 minutes per side or until it registers 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer.

Remove from the grill, let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice the chicken and serve with spoonfuls of Chickpea Salsa.

Chickpea Salsa
Makes about 3 cups

3 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1-2 tablespoons water
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon or to taste cayenne pepper
Sea salt to taste
1 1/2 cups (15 ounce can) cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 pound (about 1 pint) cherry tomatoes (a mix of colors is nice), finely chopped
1/3-1/2 European cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Put the tahini in a bowl, add the olive oil and lime juice and whisk to combine. A tablespoon at a time, add the water and whisk until smooth. Add the garlic, cilantro, cumin, cayenne and salt and whisk and until well combined. Add the chickpeas and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or longer in the refrigerator to combine the flavors.

Add the chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions and cilantro, toss to combine and serve.

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One Year Ago – Pissaladière
Two Years Ago – Tabbouleh
Three Years Ago – Mixed Greens with Grilled Asparagus, Cucumber & Avocado
Four Years Ago – Grilled Balsamic Vegetables
Five Years Ago – New Potato Salad Dijon
Six Years Ago – Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Vegetables
Seven Years Ago – Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
Eight Years Ago – Feta Walnut Spread
Nine Years Ago – Bruschetta with Grilled Vegetables & Gorgonzola
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How do you choose kindness? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

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Two Kinds of Easter & Roasted Moroccan Carrots

While there could be more, it seems to me that there are two kinds of Easters. The first is the Madison Avenue Easter. To see this one, all you need do is open a glossy magazine. Almost any one will do. If you don’t subscribe or have a dentist appointment in the next week, go to the glossy magazines’ websites. A bevy of beautiful photographs awaits you.

A veritable rainbow of pastels adorns every page. Cherry blossoms and forsythia, tulips and daffodils remind us that Easter is synonymous with spring. Adorable children dressed in pink and yellow, white and pale blue hold hands and search for eggs on smooth green lawns. Turn the page and these same cherubs are petting sweet baby lambs, pink-nosed bunnies and fluffy yellow chicks. There are no tears and not a single grass stain. We can only ask, “Who are these children?”

Turn the page again for the Easter feast. A mile long table is set to welcome a crowd of all ages in a beautiful garden. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins by the dozens admire the gorgeous spread. Overflowing platters are strategically placed up and down the table. Beautifully coifed women in sleeveless dresses, pastel of course, make last minute adjustments. Men in bright polo shirts stand around looking handsome. The children never cry and never spill juice on their sparkling outfits.

The second, the one I know very well, is the New Hampshire Easter. It is just as nice but nowhere near as gracious. The forsythia buds are closed up tight. Daffodils and tulips are buried under a foot or more of snow. The calendar may have proclaimed spring but a glance outside confirms that it’s winter in transition to mud season. The skiing has never been better.

Beautifully manicured or not, lawns are still covered with snow. Unless you don’t mind wallowing waist deep in it, you’ll need a pair of snowshoes to hide or find eggs. As for those pretty, pastel dresses and polo shirts, they’ll stay well hidden under parkas and snow pants. There will be no grass stains, but I don’t know about tears. There’s nothing like getting stuck in a snowbank to open the floodgates.

As for a petting zoo, wildlife abounds. There have been several bear sightings in the last few weeks. I saw a fisher-cat the other day. At least, I think it was a fisher-cat and not my neighbor’s barn cat. Raccoons are around but they only come out at night. On the other hand, squirrels are everywhere all the time. However, petting is not advised with any of these animals.

Now, what about a sumptuous picnic brunch or lunch in the garden? A long leisurely midday meal on the deck of a slope side café is a spring skiing classic and wonderful treat. That said; I’m not altogether convinced that lunch in a snowy backyard is a good idea. What with all that stamping down snow and dragging out the tables and chairs … hmmm. Maybe we should leave that photo opportunity to Madison Avenue.

Instead, how about we have dinner inside … after skiing, of course. If it’s not too cold, I have a well-weathered green fleece I can wear on the slopes. It’s faded enough to qualify as pastel.

Happy Easter and bon appétit!

Roasted Moroccan Carrots
Whether you serve your Easter dinner in the backyard or inside, these carrots are a great side dish for grilled or roast lamb. Enjoy!
Serves 8
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
3 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
1/2-1 sweet onion, cut in half and then in thin wedges
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the spices in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Put the carrots and onion in a large bowl, drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the spice mix and toss again. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on baking sheets and roast uncovered at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle with garlic and toss to combine. Return to the oven for another 3-5 minutes.

While the vegetables roast, combine the lemon zest and fresh herbs.

Transfer the vegetables to a serving bowl, drizzle with lemon juice and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the herbs and lemon zest and serve.

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One Year Ago – Maple Crème Brûlée
Two Years Ago – Mini Chocolate-Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
Three Years Ago – Tiramisu
Four Years Ago – Grilled Lamb Chops with Lemon-Mint Yogurt Sauce
Five Years Ago – Confetti Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
Six Years Ago – Magret de Canard Provencal
Seven Years Ago – Strawberry & White Chocolate Fool Parfaits
Eight Years Ago – Grilled Lamb & Lemon Roasted Potatoes
Nine Years Ago – Spicy Olives

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Do you love the snow or are you so over it? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

A Typical Spring Weekend Special

rainy_day_pleasant_lakeI think I just heard a clap of thunder! Clouds, showers and sunshine … typical spring weather is in the forecast for the weekend. What to do? Head outside when you can and find a project for when you can’t.

Last weekend I tackled the workbench. The big stuff is done but there are at least a billion nails, screws, nuts and bolts to sort. Whether you are hiking or biking or finishing your spring-cleaning, end the day with delicious dinner with family and friends.

Here are a few suggestions!

Start the evening with a glass of wine and a tasty, savory treat. If you’ve never tried my Feta-Walnut Spread, please do. Or take it up a notch with my Zucchini Pancakes. No rush, relax and enjoy the company.

Now for the main course. How about a taste of the Mediterranean? Get grilling with Moroccan Spiced Lamb with Eggplant Salsa. Add a delicious bowl of Tabbouleh and a basket of warm pita bread.

After dinner, enjoy a little something sweet. Sip cozy mugs of Spiced Chai and nibble Almond Macarons with Chocolate-Raspberry Ganache or Cherry-Pistachio Biscotti.

Enjoy the weekend and bon appétit!

What are you up to this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2016

Hop on your Bicycle & Tabbouleh

It must be spring; herds of cyclists have taken to the roads. Is herd the right word here? Perhaps flock or pack makes more sense. Flock because they fly by in their brightly colored spandex. Pack because of their tight formation as they careen down country roads. Whether you ride solo or are part of a team, gaggle or gang, it’s time to dust off your bicycle and take it on the road.

Even if they lack the romance and mystique of an easy riding Harley, bicycles gave us one of our first, intoxicating taste of freedom. Our bikes quickly took us out of shouting distance from Mom and Dad. We could cruise over to the schoolyard to swing on the swings, down to Longfellow Pond or nowhere in particular. By far, the best part was coasting down Jackson Road in joyful no-hands, no-feet abandon.

Perhaps you know, perhaps you don’t but May is National Bicycle Month. I can’t think of a better time to slip into some spandex and hit the road. If you are more the mountain bike type, hit an old logging road or rail trail. Chances are good that you’ll capture at least a bit of the heady freedom you felt at ten. Not convinced? Here are a few excellent reasons to hop on a bike!

It’s good for your heart and your head. Cycling improves stamina, strength and endurance. Watching your weight? Nothing like a spin on your bike to help keep the pounds under control. Exercise is also good for reducing stress. You’ve probably heard of the runner’s high, well, it works with biking too.

Not just for stress reduction, aerobic exercise is good for clearing your head and problem solving. Whether it is the change of scenery or the flow of oxygen to your noggin, cycling will help you think creatively and find answers. Want proof? Albert Einstein claimed he came up with the theory of relativity while riding his bicycle.

By the way, if you are a regular runner or walker, it’s not a bad idea to switch it up from time to time. An added inducement, the black flies are thick as thieves these days. You definitely can’t outwalk them (I have a few bites to prove it) and it’s hard to outrun them. However, you can probably outride them.

You’ll save money. Whether you use your bicycle to commute to work or for your daily trip to the post office, you’ll save at the pump and on your car’s daily wear and tear.

Not just good for your wallet, biking is good for the planet. Thirty percent of greenhouse emissions in the US are motor vehicle related.

Besides, you’ll be amazed at what you miss whizzing around in a car. A bike slows you down and let’s you check out the scenery. Spring daffodils, a family of loons and much more awaits you. Biking provides a more intimate view of the world.

Shopaholics will be delighted. Whether you favor the outrageously colorful or something cool and subdued, a slinky, new wardrobe is calling. (If the thought of spandex terrifies you, it’s okay to wear a pair of old shorts or snap a rubber band around the bottom of your khakis.) Even if you forgo those zippy bike shorts, the shops may still beckon. What better way to show off the fit, new you than a new outfit (maybe two)?

Have fun and bon appétit!

TabboulehTabbouleh_02
A delicious addition to your next cookout or picnic, this healthy salad will taste even better after a nice bike ride. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1/4 cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced, white and light green parts separated from the dark green
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch allspice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cups roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on the size
1 European cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

Put the bulgur in a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup boiling water to cover the bulgur plus about an inch, cover the bowl and let sit for 15 minutes. If necessary, drain well through a fine mesh sieve, pressing out any excess water.

While the bulgur soaks, put the white and light green parts of the scallions, garlic and lemon zest in a large bowl, season with cinnamon, allspice, salt and pepper, drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, and toss to combine.

Add the bulgar to scallions and garlic and tossing frequently, cool to room temperature. Add the fresh herbs, dark green part of the scallions and juice of 1/2 lemon to the tabbouleh and toss again. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to combine the flavors.

Prep the tomatoes and cucumbers and put them in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with a little olive oil and remaining lemon juice and toss to combine. Add the tomatoes and cucumbers to the bulgur and toss again.

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One Year Ago – Mixed Greens with Grilled Asparagus, Cucumber & Avocado
Two Years Ago – Grilled Balsamic Vegetables
Three Years Ago – New Potato Salad Dijon
Four Years Ago – Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Vegetables
Five Years Ago – Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
Six Years Ago – Feta Walnut Spread
Seven Years Ago – Bruschetta with Grilled Vegetables & Gorgonzola

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How do you stay fit in warm weather? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

Still Waiting for Spring Weekend Special

Daffodils_VaseAt least in New Hampshire, spring is not a season but a state of mind. There’s snow in the garden and a skim of ice on small ponds. Forget about pouting; it won’t do any good. Instead, buy a bunch of daffodils, put on some great tunes and cook up a great dinner for family and friends.

Start with a tasty appetizer. Take your inspiration from the warmth and sun of the Mediterranean. I discovered the joy of mezein Turkey, Greece and Israel. These small dishes are perfect with cocktails. Baba Ganoush is a definite favorite. Serve it with sliced cucumbers, peppers and pita chips. Add a few Roasted Almonds and Spicy Olives and the aps are done.

What about dinner? Start with a little crunch and a bit of spice with my Spicy Cucumber & Radish Salad. Next, enjoy my Moroccan Baked Cod. Baked with onions and olives, it’s warm and cozy. Topped with a lemony herb salsa, it is bright and bold. Serve the cod Couscous with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts.

Finish the evening with a sweet. Perhaps you’d like to try my Honeyed Apricots with Creamy Yogurt. It is sort of good for you. Or go for it with my Strawberry Shortcakes with Cardamom Cream. Local New Hampshire strawberries are months away but California berries are on sale at my local supermarket.

Stay warm and dry, have a great weekend and bon appétit!

What are you cooking this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2016

April Doldrums & Moroccan Baked Cod

snowy_adirondack_chair_01You know what they say about New England; if you don’t like the weather, well, wait a few minutes. Where else can you enjoy four seasons in just a couple of days? April is particularly good at showing off unpredictable and changeable weather. It is also good at mud and sand.

You’d think that after a record-breaking mild winter, we wouldn’t have to cope with mud season. No such luck. Sand is everywhere, on the roads, in the driveway and coating the front yard. The backyard, on the other hand, is a soggy bog.

As far as I can figure, there are only two ways to deal with mud season. First, find some joy in the murk or second, get the heck out of northern New England. Since I’m not in the position to buy you all plane tickets, I’ll offer a few words of encouragement for finding some fun and thinking positive.

Start your day with a cup of very good coffee. April showers may bring May flowers but in the meantime gray skies can make you feel tired. The caffeine will give you a nice little jolt as will the delicious aroma and taste.

Dress in your favorite color or take it up a notch. Instead of yoga pants, wear those slimming jeans and your favorite sweater to the supermarket. Out to dinner? Trade in the slimming jeans for that great skirt you never wear. Looking fabulous might give you just the lift you need about now.

While you’re at it, maybe you’d like to try a new haircut or style. An updated look will make you feel gorgeous and confident. Unfortunately, with this one, you could find yourself on the wrong side of a double edged sword. If you hate the new do, then you will feel even more sullen and peevish than before.

Clean out a closet. Some people suggest a good spring cleaning from top to bottom will cheer you up. If cleaning is your thing, then go at it. If not, cleaning just one closet can be incredible satisfying. You can always tackle another closet tomorrow. Before you know it, you might have the whole house done.

Forget your cold weather favorites, move on and cook up some new recipes. Yes, we all like (make that love) a classi, even a not-so-classic, boeuf bourguignon or New England fish chowder but it’s time to put some spring in your menus. Perking up your menu with fresh herbs and lemon.

By all means, get out of the house. You can’t spend the entire month cooking and cleaning. Go for a long drive to some place interesting. Visit a museum or take in a show. Discover a terrific diner or a hole-in-the wall bakery with fantastic scones. Just make sure you wipe your feet before going back into the house.

Spend some time outdoors. Fresh air and exercise is a great way to fight off the doldrums. Dust off your bicycle and explore the Rail Trail or a new back road. The lake is too cold for swimming but you can go for a walk or maybe get out the kayak.

If that sounds too strenuous, laughter yoga might suit you. Yes, it’s been scientifically proven; laughter is a wonderful medicine. It will reduce stress as well as the doldrums. If you can’t find a laughter yoga class, start or join a ha ha club. How does it work? Simple, come together in a group, look each other in the eye and laugh.

Happy April and bon appétit!

Moroccan Baked Cod
When the sky is drab and gray, it’s time for a dash of spice and taste of lemon, herbs and exotic sunshine! Enjoy!
Serves 8

4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced shallot or red onion
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Olive oil
2 1/2-3 pounds cod filets
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 onion, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise and then in thin wedges
About 1/2 cup pitted and quartered green and/or black olives
1/4 cup dry white wine

Make the herb salsa: Put the herbs, garlic, shallot, lemon zest and juice of 1/2 lemon in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Whisk in extra virgin olive oil to taste, 2-4 tablespoons. Reserve.

Can be made ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a large baking dish.

Sprinkle the fish with about 3/4 teaspoon each cumin and paprika and season with salt and pepper. Set aside while you prepare the onions and olives.

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet, add the onion, sprinkle with the remaining cumin and paprika, season with salt and pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent. Remove from the heat, add the olives and white wine and toss to combine. Evenly spread the onion and olives in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Arrange the fish in a single layer on top of the onion and olives and drizzle with the remaining lemon juice. Bake the fish at 400 degrees until cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t overcook.

Transfer the cod to a serving platter or individual plates, top with olives and onions and serve with a spoonful of the herb salsa.

Why are there two kinds of olive oil in this recipe? Extra virgin is the highest quality and priciest of the olive oils. It also tastes wonderful. However, it’s delicate flavor is lost when heat is applied. So, use save yourself some money and use olive oil for cooking and extra virgin for salsas, vinaigrettes and drizzling on finished dishes.

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One Year Ago – Artichoke Pesto
Two Years Ago – Quinoa with Sweet Potato & Spinach
Three Years Ago – Runners’ Chicken with
Four Years Ago – Bananas Foster
Five Years Ago – Tapenade
Six Year Ago – Lavender Infused White Chocolate Crème
Seven Years Ago – Lemon Tart

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How do you stay cheery during the dull days of April? Or, maybe you live in a place where spring is filled with sunshine, daffodils and butterflies! Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

Guy Fawkes Night & Moroccan Spiced Vegetables & Chickpeas with Couscous

Bonfire Night - geograph.org.uk - 1034248If you know me at all, you know I dread November. By the fourth or fifth of October, a defense mechanism sets in and I lose track of time. All too soon, it’s Halloween. This fabulous eve of ghosts and goblins seems to come only minutes after the Columbus Day leaf peeper invasion. And then, it’s November.

Gray, dreary, cold November; there’s nothing to look forward to until the end of the month. Finally, Thanksgiving pulls us out of the doldrums and lifts our spirits. Or so I thought; until I remembered Guy Fawkes Night is tomorrow! An English holiday, it’s rarely, if ever, celebrated on this side of the pond. Who cares? Heck, it’s dark at 4:30 in the afternoon; we could all use, make that need, a little frivolity.

Guy Fawkes was part of a rebellious group who tried to blow up the English House of Lords and take down King James I. He was caught, tortured, tried and found guilty. He would have been hung but he committed suicide before anyone could get a rope around his neck. Is it irony, fate or fluke that Guy Fawkes Night falls just hours after the midterm election? Let’s go with none of the above.

Like many commemorations, Guy Fawkes Night has lost most of its political overtones. It has become a night for bonfires, fireworks and fun. Sounds a bit like the Fourth of July and a good excuse for a party; not a bad idea on a dreary November night. Call it an evening of rebellion; rebellion against a cold, cruel November.

Also known as Bonfire Night, the first thing you will need is towering pile of old wood. Oops, think again, a visit and fine from the fire department will probably ruin the your evening. It might be best to settle for cozy fire pit. Expect a chill in the air and encourage your guest to practice LL Bean chic with fleece and down. It is New Hampshire after all. Mull some cider and maybe add a shot of applejack or rum. If the weather is soggy, don’t hesitate to move the party indoors. A fireplace works fine for me.

Going with the theme of rebellion, invite everyone to share a personal story of insurgence, mutiny or foot stamping. The results will be anything but dull. I’m guessing there will be a few stories of college sit-ins. Depending on your group, there could be some more recent protests as well. Perhaps, you’ll get a play-by-play account of an almost-raging response to a telemarketer. Or another’s retort to the idiot who stole, yes stole, their parking space this morning. You know the feeling, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” And who knows, maybe one of your friends actually told the boss to take that job and shove it.

From the deadly serious to the mundane, the sublime to the ridiculous; it will be an enlightening evening. A trip down memory lane, you’ll hear about petitions, vigils and boycotts. More than history, you may learn some things that you never knew, never would have guessed about each other.

Perhaps one of your friends missed his chance to compete in the Olympics when the US refused to go to Moscow. You will find out who gave up any and everything from grapes to red meat, chicken, chocolate chips, Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirts and Mickey Mouse. You might even get a firsthand account of the March on Washington or Occupy Wall Street.

Happy Guy Fawkes Night and bon appétit!

Moroccan Spiced Vegetables & Chickpeas with Couscous 
A dash of color and spice for a cold night, serve this flavorful stew as a vegetarian main course or as a side dish with chicken or lamb. Enjoy!
Serves 6 or more

Olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
2-3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon cloves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red or yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped
1-2 medium zucchinis, roughly chopped
1-2 cups crushed tomatoes
1-2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup golden raisins
1-2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
12 ounces fresh mixed baby kale or spinach
1 1/2 cups couscous
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1-2 scallions, thinly sliced
Garnish: chopped cilantro or parsley

Heat a little olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and spices and sauté until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the garlic and sauté a minute or so more.

Add the carrots and celery, season with salt and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas and stock and stir to combine. Bring the stew to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and gently simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the zucchini and simmer for about 10 minutes more.

Stir in the kale and continue cooking until it wilts.

While the vegetables are simmering, cook the couscous according to package directions. Add the pine nuts and scallion, drizzle with a little olive oil and toss to combine.

To serve: spoon couscous into shallow bowls, top with vegetables and sprinkle with cilantro or parsley.

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Bonfire photograph via Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of Gwen and James Anderson, participants in the Geograph® Britain and Ireland project. Copyright © by Gwen and James Anderson.

One Year Ago – Smashed or Mashed Potatoes
Two Years Ago – Apple Muffins
Three Years Ago – Mixed Greens with Warm Roasted Squash
Four Years Ago – Spinach Ricotta Pie
Five Years Ago – Seared Scallops with Lentils
Six Years Ago – Tomato, Olive & Feta Tart
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How do you cope with the gray days of November? What’s your strategy to keep smiling through the fog and drizzle? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014