Morrocan-style Potato and Carrot Tagine

Do you like Moroccan food? I was fortunate to grow up in a family that did, and we even visited Morocco in 1980 when I was 8 years old. The two things I remember about the country are the donkeys and the mint. We were given bunches of mint to inhale while visiting the odoriferous dye vats. And when visiting carpet dealers (which seemed to be constantly, but may have been only once), they served hot mint tea by pouring it from the pot in one long, lifting arc so that it cooled as it fell into the glass.

I also have great memories of Moroccan restaurants in North America, including the Sultan's Tent in Toronto (which has now moved downtown) and the Casablanca in Harvard Square (now closed). 

But guess what? There is no Moroccan restaurant in Brattleboro, Vermont. So sometimes I make my own Moroccan food. This particular dish is adapted from several Internet recipes. The addition of green olives and preserved lemon gives it amazing flavor angles you wouldn't get from an ordinary veggie stew. 

The Brattleboro Food Coop sells preserved lemons in
jars of two. They are salty and meltingly soft.

I'm calling it "tagine," although I don't have the proper clay pot or much knowledge of actual Moroccan cooking apart from watching youtube videos. So that's also why this is "Moroccan-style" (or Moroccan-ish): because it is a loooooong way from authentic.

2 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped (or try grating for more sweetness)
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, chopped or grated
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
1 cup water (more if needed)
4 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
1 can chickpeas/garbanzos
1/2 cup pitted green olives (pit them with a knife if needed)
1 preserved lemon, quartered with seeds scraped out
parsley or cilantro for garnish

1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven and saute onion for 2-3 minutes, then garlic and ginger for 2-3 more minutes, then turmeric, pepper, and cinnamon for another few minutes.

2. Add the carrots and stir around to cover with the spice mixture, then pour in 1 cup water (or more to cover, if needed). Bring carrots to a gentle boil.

3. Add the potatoes, chickpeas, olives, and preserved lemon quarters (I tuck the quarters around the edges). Add more water to cover if needed. Cover with lid and simmer for about 20 minutes.

3. After 20 minutes, check the liquid. If there's a lot left, uncover and let the liquid reduce to make a light sauce for the veggies. Once the potatoes are soft and starting to fall apart, you can serve!

I served the veggies topped with cilantro and chopped chiles from the preserved lemon jar. We had couscous and naan on the side. I buttered the naan, but otherwise everything is vegan. (I used naan because it was the best flatbread I could find.)

I am obsessed with preserved lemons now.

So back to my first question--comment below if you like Moroccan food! What's your favorite dish or restaurant? Have you ever been to a restaurant with a belly dancer?

Of Stone Walls & Apples

You just never know what you're going to find on the back roads of Vermont. Did you know that Scott Farm Orchard on Kipling Road in Dummerston (and location for the film Cider House Rules) is home to The Stone Trust, where those interested in all aspects of dry stone walling can come for hands-on workshops or to tour examples of traditional building techniques?

If you were wondering where the only facility in North America is with regular test days for wallers to get certified by the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain, this is the place.

The 1862 Scott Farm historic cow barn (above) is now an Indoor Training Center for dry stone walling.

Inside the barn are dry stone walls in various states of completion. Wallers dismantle and rebuild them to practice the techniques.

Outside and past another barn is a mill pond. Cross a small bridge...

...and on the other side you can explore the Master Features park. 

The walls and structures here are gorgeous. We came on two different fall days to explore the walls and other stonework.

The far end of this wall is in progress.

Up close, you get a little idea how the wall is shaped and built up.

This beautiful wall is a medley of techniques, including tall flat inset slabs that act like immense bookends.

It reminds me of a knitting story about the sweaters of Aran. It used to be that in church each week, the women would check out each other's sweaters, looking for interesting new stitches and patterns and cables to try. The sweaters themselves were the pattern books and inspiration for others on the island. Don't these stone walls seem like similar storehouses of information and fancy?

One side of this is tidy and finished.

On the other side, stacks of rocks are ready to use.

Do stop by The Stone Trust, if you're in the neighborhood some sunny afternoon! Then get some drinks and donuts from the farmstand, housed in the white building shown above. 

Scott Farm itself is pretty fascinating. It's been operating since 1791 and is now owned by Landmark Trust USA, and they grow a wide variety of heirloom apples and can tell you about the history of each one. Two of my favorites are the Sheep's Nose, named for its long, tapered shape, and the Blue Pearmain, a type preferred by Henry David Thoreau. (Lucky for us, Scott Farm apples are also stocked at the Brattleboro Food Coop, so I can buy them in season any time.)