At about the same time that FTTDWYW was coming about, a dear cousin of mine (Leigh) was ALSO starting a blog! Thousand Story Kitchen is a beautiful blog with a focus on food and family and it has quickly become a favorite over here. The only thing that surpasses Mary Carol’s beautiful pictures are her recipes, so definitely check it out! Not only is she guest posting here, but she is also a contributor to a great new southern-lifestyle magazine DOCICA. Collaboration is such a delicious thing! And way to go, internet… for bringing two cousins closer together! Enjoy!
It was in 2005 when my husband and I sort of accidentally fell in love with the idea of breakfast couscous. We were sea kayaking guides in the San Juan islands off the coast of Washington state. It was beautiful taking guests out to a remote island, usually seeing orcas along the way, where we set up camp and cooked meals for them. We always had the same menu, though we alternated taking guests on two, three, or five day paddling trips. The first night was spaghetti. Always. Spaghetti. The first breakfast was banana-walnut pancakes…always…so I can’t really do banana-walnut pancakes anymore. But if you were on a five day trip, you made it to the breakfast couscous morning, and your soul rejoiced just a little bit. Somehow, we never got tired of it.
Since that year, we have made breakfast couscous about a thousand times- for company, for the Sophomore backpacking trip we lead every year, for ourselves on a busy morning. I’ve made it oodles of ways- using apple cider packets in the water as flavoring, using dried orange peel, an assortment of fruits, both dried and fresh, all the nuts I can think of…and I always made it using a 1:1 ratio because that’s what it says on the package. Boil the water, pour in the same amount of couscous, turn off heat, let sit, and fluff.
Last week we were in Florida visiting with family and making couscous to go with our fresh sauteéd shrimp when I nonchalantly reminded my mom that couscous was 1:1. My aunt said from the living room, “You do couscous 1:1? huh. I’ve always done 2:1.” We continued on and ate a wonderful dinner. I got home and got to thinking about breakfast couscous again, about trying it out 2:1. I’ll never go back. My life has just changed a little bit. Okay, I know it’s simple. I mean, those little pasta flecks are bound to soak up just about anything you throw ’em in. Just believe me when I say, forevermore, “couscous is 2:1.”
The breakfast couscous I concocted today was truly a what-I-had-on-hand scenario, as this meal really always should be. I thought that the Valencia oranges I just brought home from Florida would be a perfect juicy addition to the water (it’s really all about getting that water just perfectly seasoned)- and they were. I also have been in the habit lately of grabbing the juice-infused dried cranberries and I had these blueberry flavored ones that I thought would be a nice compliment to the orange. Pecans are always in my possession, because other than my crazy husband, wild daughter, and silly-sweet son, they are my favorite nuts.
Don’t think of this as a recipe, but more of an inspiration for using your own creativity. Use what sounds good, use what you have, add brown sugar and a touch of cream. Definitely use nuts, and always and forever use 2:1!
2 cups water
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon fresh orange zest
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup dried fruit, like blueberry infused craisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup dried couscous
Bring water to a boil. Add salt, cinnamon, orange juice and orange zest and stir for about 1 minute.
Add dried fruit and chopped pecans and allow to soak in liquids for 1 more minute.
Add in couscous and allow to return to a rolling boil before turning off heat and covering. Allow to sit for 4 or 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.
Serve in bowls and top with a teaspoon of brown sugar and a splash of cream, if desired.