April 28, 2009

Call Me Couscous

On the plus side of separation and divorce is the opportunity to fix a few things and get them right the second time around. Takes a while - a good, long while - to figure out what those things should be, exactly. It's an iterative process, and one I'm going through with some measure of success and a nearly equal measure of failure.

Here's one I'm determined to get right.

Lesson 1: Make time for you.

It’s okay not to be at the top of your list, but you should at least make the top five. A stressed out mom is a grumpy mom, and even the best of us a need a break.

Given the massive changes in my life in the last few months, I needed a big huge gargantuan break. So, last weekend, I took one. Invited a friend to hop a train with me and headed to NYC for food and art and a little Broadway.

Which brings me to couscous.

My part of the world is a quick train ride from NYC. But if you've ever spent much time on Amtrak, you know the food is, well, bleh. And that's being charitable.

So I packed a lunch. A grown-up, not-your-average-lunchbox lunch. No plain Jane turkey sandwiches for me on my grown-up vacation. Went recipe trolling on foodnetwork.com and came up with something that I thought might work: Moroccan Chicken with Apricot Couscous and Green Olive Sauce. Changed it up a bit, because no one in her right mind should ever spend an hour and ten minutes making lunch. Used boneless, skinless chicken breasts and covered them in a very intense, home-ground spice rub ... then rinsed off the rub once everything was cooked and cooled. Used regular old tortillas instead of wasting time hunting down lavosh.

Grown-up food does not have to be exotic. Just has to fake it well.

Couscous in a wrap is not something I'd ever have thought of on my own. I frankly figured the texture would be a little odd in what was basically a sandwich (and if you've read me on couscous before, you'll get that). But it went so well with the other bits, it made that wrap worth eating. Celeb chef Tyler Florence doesn't usually impress me much, but that worked.

So, the wraps were good. Set a nice, adult tone for a nice, adult weekend. Managed to stay away from the giant Toys R Us in Times Square, avoided the M&M store, and even kept my distance from the world-renowned Natural History museum. Instead, I toured a grown-up museum full of grown-up art, ate lots of grown-up food, and even had a grown-up drink or two.

Even better, though ... I had two meals worth of phenomenal leftovers waiting for me on my return. The couscous and all its flavors had a chance to meld and soften, the olive sauce settled into salty, tangy comfort, and the chicken found its juicy goodness.

I'll make that again ... then wait two or three days to eat it. Without the tortillas this time.

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