Or better stated, she couldn’t find that one perfect spot somewhere across the hundreds of square feet of backyard that was good enough for her to squat on and just go. That happens sometimes in the summer. It’s so pleasant out that Wren likes to dilly dally, eat grass, dig a little and sniff, fiddle around and then stare at the fence hoping the neighbor dogs come out so she can be ferocious and protective of her turf. So, that morning I thought I’d just walk her over to the park across the street where she could surely find some old pee-pee spot of some other furry creature to go on and be done with it. After all, I had the day off and didn’t have to be at work, so we could take our sweet time.
The park in the early morning hours was peaceful and quiet. Quite lovely actually, with the dew still hanging on the ends of the grass blades and the long shadows of trees crisscrossing the green space in the slanted early-morning light.
I should have known.
Quiet and lovely parks with no people or dogs in them are dangerous. I felt it immediately when we walked up the hill and gazed out onto the wide open green space canopied by trees – a thousand little beady eyes on us. I didn’t realize that this particular park on a quiet holiday morning would be the gathering place for roughly one billion squirrels and bunnies. I didn’t realize, but I should have. And, I swear to God, they were watching us, all one billion of them, in defiance, staring us down.
Normally, bunnies and squirrels stop dead in their tracks when they see Wren (and probably any dog) coming. Stay still, you won’t be found. Stay still and you’ll live. Stay still and the little fart will pass by without shriek-barking.
But not this time. This time we were intruding. We were on their turf during their quiet leisure time, and they weren’t having it. What I mean by that is, after they all stared us down, they just went about their business like we weren’t there. The little furry things threw caution and good sense to the wind and continued to cavort and nibble and chitter right in front of my dog who hates, hates, hates little furry things and will nearly tear your arm off to chase one. I am not exaggerating at all when I say that three little squirrels played a game of tag right there. Right in front of us. Bunnies hippity hopped through the dew covered grass eating breakfast. The grass was littered with bunnies. Dozens of them, all moving, all teasing my dog, who for a second or two probably couldn’t believe her luck and didn’t even know what to do with all the furry things to chase.
Thus commenced the ear-shattering shriek-barking and yapping and pulling and desperate attempts to get them, get them all! Wren’s exuberance could be heard across town and over the train whistle I imagine as I hurried her out of the den of defiant woodland creatures. A traditional walk up the block soon resulted in the necessary business-doing, but we were both shaken after our narrow escape.
Summer means it’s probably going to take longer for my dog to get her business done outside. And I can live with that. Warmer weather also means that lighter meals and plenty of veggie-packed salads are going to be on the menu. I can live with that too. (Yes, a loose tie-in. I’m sorry.)
Couscous Summer Salad fits the bill -- light and veggie-packed with grilled corn, fresh tomatoes and green onions and bright Thai basil drizzled with a sweet and tangy honey lemon vinaigrette that will make your taste buds sing and is sure to brighten up any summer salad or vegetable you can think of. It’s seriously crazygood, and I’m sure glad Iowa Girl Eats featured it a few weeks ago in her Sweet Corn Quinoa and Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette (originally adapted from Just a Taste). The dressing adds just the perfect amount of bright pop to bring the whole thing together.
This is just a variation on a theme with couscous (actually, I used a Trader Joe’s mix of couscous, red quinoa, orzo and baby garbanzo beans – but it was mostly couscous. My husband turned his nose up at it, but he later found out that he should always trust my instincts. It was good.), more veggies and the vinaigrette.
You could mix it up however you’d like – with just quinoa or orzo or even leafy greens. Serve it as a side dish or as a light vegetarian dinner.
Couscous Summer Salad
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Keywords: boil grill salad entree side veggies summer
Ingredients (4 as a main, 6-8 as a side)
- juice of two lemons
- zest of one lemon
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 heaping T of honey
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 4 green onions
- 2 cobs of corn
- 2 T fresh Thai basil, optional (regular basil would work here too)
Instructionsfor the vinaigretteslightly adapted from Iowa Girl Eats, originally from Just a Taste
Combine the lemon juice, zest, honey, salt and pepper in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake until well combined. Set aside.
Cook the couscous (or pasta or Trader Joe's mix) according to package directions and drain well.
Meanwhile, preheat the grill. Peel and clean the cobs of corn, then brush with lemon juice. Place the corn onto the hot grill and turn the heat down to medium. Grill the corn until slightly charred on all sides, turnning frequently, about 5 or 6 minutes. Remove the corn and let cool. Cut the corn off the cob and put in a medium bowl.
Chop tomatoes and green onions. Stack the basil leaves on top of one another, roll into a small tube, then slice then tube into pieces to julienne the basil. Add the tomatoes, onions and basil to the corn. Add the couscous, then drizzle the whole mixture with dressing and stir to combine.
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