We just got back from visiting Eric’s parents in Montana. People keep asking us if we had fun and what we did. The answer is yes, and I don’t know. Hung out. Chatted on the porch swing. Drank too many root beer floats. Sometimes the best vacations are the ones where nothing happens.

My dad does not subscribe to this philosophy in any way. Vacations in my family were relaxing in the way that marathons are relaxing. Not that I’m complaining; my parents love to travel and they took us all over the place. I’d visited 35 states by the time I was 17. (Even though sometimes it was just because we changed which highway we took on our way somewhere else so that we could spend 3 miles passing through the outskirts of West Virginia…but hey, we were there, cross it off!)

IMG_4018We would get up at the crack of dawn, shovel in some breakfast, walk until we wanted to die, skip lunch, walk some more, and collapse in our beds at night. It was so fun. When my dad goes on vacation, he wants to see it all, experience everything there is to experience, and do it all the way the locals do. I think his worst fear is looking like a tourist. Which is pretty funny because he is a fantastic photographer and drags his huge camera everywhere, taking a billion pictures. It’s kind of a giveaway. (Okay, not a billion, but I think he got back from Thailand a few years ago with something like 5,000 photos.)

IMG_4038He doesn’t mess around on the prep work either. When they visited Germany, my dad spent 6 months listening to learn-German CDs on his commute. He got so good that when they were actually there, he would stop locals on the street and ask for directions in German. His questions were pronounced so perfectly that they assumed he was fluent and would respond rapid fire, pointing in the direction they were supposed to walk. Then when he got to the next block he would ask someone else and the same thing would happen. He got around not because he knew German (despite his best efforts) but because people pointed when they talked.

They are in Slovakia right now, or Hungary, or somewhere around there. I’m super jealous. But until Eric and I can afford plane tickets to Timbuktu or Hong Kong or Moscow, I’ll take chatting on the porch swing any day.

IMG_4043Here’s another winner from Allrecipes.com. When 792 people say it’s a good recipe, it’s a good recipe. I could eat this stuff with a shovel. It’s a great way to use up leftover couscous from another meal. You could dress this up into a main dish if you add some chicken. Avocado would also be a great addition…isn’t it always?

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Black Bean & Couscous Salad

Serves Makes 8-10 side servings     adjust servings


  • 1 cup uncooked couscous
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 green onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil in a sauce pan and stir in the couscous. Cover the pot and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar and cumin. Add green onions, red pepper, cilantro, corn and beans and toss to coat.
  3. Fluff the couscous with a fork, breaking up any chunks. Add to the bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


If you make this recipe, share it on Instagram using the hashtag #TheFoodCharlatan so I can see it!

Source: Allrecipes.com