That boy is home again. How do I know beyond the fact that the washing machine has been going nonstop for the last three days? Because the refrigerator, once again, fills up and empties out on a daily basis. I cannot keep up. First, it’s just him catching up on ingesting as much home cooking as his bean pole body can handle. Then his friends come sniffing around and they’re hungry, too. What do they do when Noah’s away at school? They must starve because they practically unhinge the refrigerator door as soon as they get to the house.
I may sound like I’m complaining but I’m really not. Who could object to the adoration of the multitudes as they line up, fork and knife in hand, to decimate my larder? Locusts. They are like locusts with piercings and the occasional tattoo.
There are three requirements that must be met to dine at the Mayhew household. The first is that you must make eye contact. You’d be amazed at the kids who don’t. If I can’t tell what color your eyes are, no soup for you. The second is that you must try everything. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat the rest. But you have to try it. I fell in love with one kid who had supper with us one night and was forced to try Brussels sprouts. He’d never had them. At the end of the meal, he said: “Mrs. Mayhew, I ate the Brussels sprouts. Both of them.” Hooray for an adventurous eater! One more sprout than I had required.
The third requirement is that after you dine at the Mayhews one time you are no longer a guest and must help with the dishes. The rule in my kitchen is that whoever cooks doesn’t clean up and since I am the cook about 99 percent of the time that always works in my favor. Most kids willingly adhere to this requirement but every once in awhile I encounter a laggard. One kid, when presented with a dish towel, said, “I’m sorry but I’m dyslexic.” You’re dyslexic? Really? That’s the best you can do? No more soup for you.
So since I’m cooking for 10 or 20, economy of time and money is of the utmost importance. This ground beef dish takes about 20 minutes to make and is different enough because of the Middle Eastern spices to perk up the taste buds of even the pickiest eater. Sadly, I have encountered very of them. Except on fried chicken liver night. Which I do intentionally from time to time just to catch a break.
Moroccan Ground Beef
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, cut into rounds
1 pound ground chuck
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon flour
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
½ cup chopped apricots
½ cup golden raisins
Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the onion and carrot until tender. Add the ground chuck and continue cooking until the meat is well browned. Add the cinnamon, cumin, curry, paprika, salt and pepper and combine thoroughly. Whisk the flour with the broth and add it to the ground beef along with the chickpeas, apricots and raisins. Serve with couscous.