I am extremely fortunate in the sense that I go to an excellent, out-of-state college where I love my friends, my classes, and my professors. I realize I’ve not talked about my real life very much on here – if you’ve read my introduction, you’re probably aware that I’m a vegetarian (oh, and you might have guessed that from the decided lack of recipes containing any meat products), but I’m not sure you all know much more about me – and maybe you’re curious, maybe you’re not, but I’m feeling introspective (or maybe just self-absorbed). My school is fantastic. I’m an anthropology major, and I’m lucky to be studying with one of the foremost archaeologists in the country. As quirky as he is, he’s fantastic. I’m also getting minors in biology and politics, because I have strong interests in both. My current politics class is probably one of the more challenging, frustrating classes I’ve had the opportunity to take – but I feel like I’m learning so much (I’ve felt like this in all of my politics classes – like I’m drowning, but also like I’m learning to breathe), and I love the readings I get to do for that class. I have three housemates this year, one of whom I lived with last year – and while we’re different, they are my family in the absence of my real family (which includes my best friend from home and her own mom).
But this weekend, I got to ignore both my excellent housemates (who are fortunately very tolerant) and my schoolwork, because my parents came to visit me. There isn’t much to do in my town – it’s a small, rural, primarily agricultural community that has recently become very involved in the wine industry. When my parents have visited previously, I’ve usually had class at least one of the days they come; this year, however, I have been lucky enough to have Fridays off. We poked around the town, visited my favorite bookstore (where I got a new book! You don’t know about my voracious love for reading, but when others are dreading their homework, I’ve already gotten mine done so that I can read a few pages before I fall asleep at night), and drove to an even smaller nearby town (I’d never been there – as the trees start to change here, it was a beautiful drive). I ate so well while they were here – while I’m a good cook and greatly enjoy eating my own food, I am by no means a chef who can feed a restaurant full of people, and I still love eating out (especially because they do my dishes for me!) This morning, however, when it was drizzling and grey, I had to say good-bye again. My family is extremely important to me, and we’re very close. It was a shock to go home over the summer and realize how accustomed I’d become to living on my own where I didn’t really have to depend on anyone – adjusting was a challenge. Now that I’m back at school, I miss being home, miss working around my family, trying to juggle who drives, and going to my sister’s apartment. I thought by the time I was twenty, I’d be over homesickness, but every year I realize that I have to adjust to something new, and even though it’s exciting, I’m still homesick. So, after a good breakfast, they headed home, and I headed back to my house (which is home when I’m in Washington), and started my homework. I baked two loaves of bread today, and after fighting with my yeast a little bit, I’m optimistic that they will turn out well.
It was an excellent weekend – and hopefully I won’t be too much of a wreck in the coming week (it’s only three weeks to Thanksgiving break, right?)
And now I have to go back to cooking for myself…sigh. Actually, I’m excited. I have good plans for this week, and it’s my last to try and stock up on ideas before NaBloPoMo (oh dear…I don’t think I’m at all prepared). The following dish was one that I’d been thinking about trying for a while. I discovered my love of grilled vegetables this summer after many a round of home-made veggie kabobs (no one else in my family is a vegetarian, so my mom humored me and made special vegetable kabobs for me). I’ve hoped that roasting vegetables will create a similar flavor, and I find that for the first day, it does – but these do not make good leftovers, unfortunately. As a first night dish, however, this is excellent. My housemate and I ate it over couscous (which is my new favorite grain, I’ve decided), and we ate as much as we could. With an excellent spicy flavor that could be dialed up or down (particularly if you actually had cayenne, which we haven’t had in weeks), this was a great fall dish, full of local vegetables. For something that will give your house a wonderful smell and that will be comforting when it’s raining, snowing, or windy outside, this is a great go-to meal.
Moroccan Roasted Vegetables (Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics)
1 medium-sized zucchini
1 sweet potato, peeled
1 red/chocolate/orange bell pepper
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp paprika**
1/4 tsp cayenne**
2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Rinse and prepare all of the vegetables. Combine in a bowl with chickpeas, oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. Toss well to coat the vegetables with the spices. Divide the vegetables equally between two large, parchment-paper covered baking sheets (definitely do this! You will be scraping vegetable juice off of your trays for hours if you don’t cover them somehow). Bake for 20 minutes. Remove, stir the vegetables, and bake for another 20 minutes. Serve over warm couscous.
*Unless otherwise specified, cut the vegetables into 1/4″ slices – for the zucchini, carrots, and sweet potato, cut them into 1/4″ semi-circles.
**I skipped paprika and cayenne because I didn’t have them – I used red pepper flakes instead, although I would advocate for cayenne at least; I’m not sure what the addition of paprika would do to the flavor.