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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Where 'ya shopping, Melissa?

Every once in a while I commit to following a recipe. I have favorite ingredients (onion, garlic, balsamic) and my food starts to all taste the same. So I follow a recipe to the letter to try to get new ideas and shake it up a bit. I was watching $10 Dollar Dinners on The Food Network and decided to make Melissa D'arabian's North African Meatballs with Dated Cous Cous and Glazed Carrots.

First off, $10? Honey, where are you shopping? Not a chance. The cilantro and parsley alone cost $2. The meat another $3, and that was on sale. The dates for the cous cous were $1.30. And there are about 20 other ingredients. Now, here's a loophole for Melissa...using small amounts of lots of things. For example, a half cup of wine. Does this mean that she's using 2-Buck-Chuck and dividing it by 10? As in, the wine cost $.20? Because it didn't. And 1/4 cup of stock? I don't need to count things like dashes of cinnamon, that's fine, but the zest of a lemon? The lemon was almost a dollar, but she didn't actually use the lemon, just the zest. Hmmm.

Anyway, so I made this recipe. It was pretty labor-intensive. I started my usual way when I'm making complicated dishes when caring for the girls. I start chopping my aromatics, herbs and veg parsed throughout the afternoon. That way, when it's time to cook, things are ready. Yep, I chop an onion, feed a babe. Mince some garlic, read a book. That's just how it goes. It works for us.

So I made a sauce, meatballs, cous cous and carrots. The sauce was good. The meatballs were fine. As usual, when I make meatballs, I end up thinking the dish would be just as good just making a sauce with meat and saving a half hour and 3 dishes. I liked the cous cous, but Mike said it tasted like Cream Of Wheat (?) but in a nice way. And I have to admit, I didn't bother with the carrot recipe. I just squeezed the naked-but-unused-lemon on them and steamed.

All in all, this dish was interesting but not SOOO good. Not really worth the ingredients (kind of a waste of fresh herbs to cook them, imo) and resulted in TOO MANY dishes to clean. Didn't taste particularly healthy. I enjoy the funky flavor combinations of North African food but can do it in a crazy easy crockpot stew from now on. And the biggest downside is that there was really nothing the girls could help me with--too much dealing with raw meat, knives and hot oil. It was really a struggle to keep them entertained during the time-sensitive cooking process. Mia crawled around my feet and ate an onion peel. That was kind of a highlight.

Here's the recipe.

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