Vegetable Tagine and…Dinner is Served – On a Shoe!

The sleeping arrangements weren’t to either of our satisfaction.  My father said she had to sleep downstairs in her basket in the kitchen and not upstairs with all of us because she was a ‘guard dog’.  But Sophie didn’t like sleeping downstairs, she wanted to sleep in my bed.  So under the cover of darkness she used to sneak out of her basket and run up the stairs and jump onto my bed where I would wake and be thrilled she was with me.  But her metal discs around her collar would make such a noise as she ran up the stairs that my father would hear her and take her back down to the kitchen.

Winter Vegetable Tagine

Soon my father became tired of running up and down the stairs at night and so he put Sophie on a leash so she was forced to sleep in her bed.  I wasn’t happy that my special little friend could no longer surprise me with a midnight visit so I would ask if I could put her on the leash at night.  I would look Sophie in the eye and she would understand that there was a secret between us.  I would make it look like she was ‘on the leash’ but actually I wouldn’t property fasten the leash to her collar so Sophie would be able to make her escape.  After everyone had gone to bed and be sound asleep she would make her escape and ever so quietly sneak up the stairs to join me.  And every morning my parents would wonder how it was that she managed to escape from her leash.

But Sophie had many more uses besides keeping me company in the middle of the night.  I didn’t like to eat as a child and was fussy over just about everything.   I didn’t like boiled eggs especially if I saw a bit of white that was ever so slightly transparent, I didn’t like meat especially if it had fat or gristle or blood on it, I didn’t like anything cooked in red wine which was a problem seeing my mother was going through a French cooking phase, I didn’t like milk, I didn’t like cheese and I didn’t like seafood.

At meal times we used to have to sit on bar stools at an eating bar and of course it was expected that we wouldn’t leave the table until we had eaten everything on our plates.  And that was a problem because there was quite often eggs or meat or cheese or milk or seafood on my plate.  I trained Sophie to sit under my bar stool.  She was not under any circumstances allowed to be fed at the table because my father said that was the worst mistake you could make with a dog.  But I didn’t believe him.  I would have Sophie under my feet every night and as I couldn’t leave the table without an empty plate and as she was always on the search for extra treats, I would carefully and silently lift my leg and when no eyes were upon me I would take the offending item of food, place it on my shoe, then slowly lower my foot to the ground and there Sophie and I would create a win/win situation.

Fortunately for Sophie, my mother didn’t often cook vegetarian meals meaning my very special friend was very well fed from my shoe for most nights of the week.  Sophie would have been very disappointed (and hungry) if my mother had cooked this Winter Vegetable Tagine.

Winter Vegetable Tagine:

Serves:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  This is a very affordable vegetarian family meal.

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 lge carrots, peeled, cut into 8cm lengths
  • 1 lge parsnip, peeled, cut into 8cm lengths
  • 300g kumara, peeled, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 300g butternut pumpkin, peeled, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground saffron
  • 1 tsp each ground ginger and tumeric
  • 2 cinnamon quills
  • vegetable stock or water to cover
  • 400g canned chickpeas, drained, rinsed
  • 2/3 cup (100g) dried apricots
  • 8 soft, pitted dates
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 2 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley or coriander
  • 1/2 cup (40g) flaked almonds, toasted
  • Harissa and couscous, to serve (optional)

Heat oil in a large flameproof casserole over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened.

Add carrot, parsnip, kumara, pumpkin, tomato paste, cayeene, saffron, ginger, tumeric and cinnamon quills.  Pour in enough vegetable stock or water to just cover and bring to a gentle simmer.  Cover and cook gently for 45 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, apricots, dates, and honey.  Season, then simmer for a further 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender and the mixture is thick and soupy.

Scatter with herbs and almonds.  Serve with harissa and couscous, if desired.

This recipe is by Jill Dupleix and can be found on the Taste website.

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  1. Oh how the picky eater turned into such a foodie!

  2. Hi,
    I love the photo of you and Sophie, dogs are such beautiful animals with their unconditional love, of course you wanted her in bed with you, and of course all Sophie wanted was to be with you regardless of where that was. 😀

    I love your Vegetable Tagine, just the thing now that it is getting cooler on this side of the world. 🙂

  3. Ben feeds the Babies all the time. They know they won’t get anything from me!

  4. Looks like a guard dog to me.

    Seems you’ve also changed your ways as a picky eater.

    Love the photo of you and Sophie. Adorable.

  5. What a wonderful story! I’ve made something similar to your tagine but I don’t think it was as fancy. I’ll give this one a try and go upmarket in the tagine department.

  6. We just had our first tangine meal a few weeks ago and wow! They are good. This one looks especially delicious with the apricots and all those wonderful spices. And your stories of Sophie remind me of my dog growing up as well. 🙂 Great memories! I always enjoy your stories.

  7. Thanks for the sweet story. What special memories of Sophie. And weren’t you an angelic-looking child!

  8. I’ll take a little couscous added to this bowl of happiness please. 😉 Enjoy your weekend Charlie!

  9. You and Sophie made a perfect match. Loved your food story, Charlie!

  10. Cute

  11. You and Sophie were simply made for each other. What if you had a fussy dog who didn’t like everything you disliked? The tajine looks beautiful (in spite of being a vegetarian dish 😉 )

  12. I love your relationship with Sophie – dog’s are definitely a foodie’s best pal 😀
    Your vegetarian tagine looks exceptional – I love it’s colour 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  13. What an adorable story, Charlie; the bond between a child and their pet is pretty incredible. And that photo of you as a child is adorable. I used to have a little book called We help Mommy (no, that’s not my memory, it’s Google!) and your photo just reminded me of it. The little girl had very blond hair too. I remember I loved that book. Thanks for taking me right back. We should all post photos of our child-selves, it could be fun!
    That Tagine looks incredible, the spice mix and the hearty sauce makes me want that for lunch! And it perfect for the weather we are having in Toronto this week, under 10°C and flurries. Very chilly indeed.
    Hope you have a great weekend.

  14. I really love your stories Charlie and that picture of you and Sophie is so cute 🙂
    I love tajeens and this one sounds like a heavenly blend of spices

  15. I’m sorry – Sophie doesn’t really look like much of a guard dog. She looks more like a snuggle bug. And so lucky to have had you to watch over her. You’re lucky you were a pretty child – I would have to look long and hard to find a decent photo of myself as a youngster. Thanks for sharing the recipe – you make it look very yummy.

  16. What a cute story!!! Sophi sounds so much like my daughters little puppy. The vegetarian tangible looks so delicious, a great winter warmer 🙂

  17. I would have loved to have grown up with a dog… alas my parents were more cat people, which is a real shame because there was always at least one parent in the house – my father worked week-days, and my mother worked 3 or 4 nights a week as a nurse. Oh well 🙁

    Dogs aren’t too fussy I find – they’ll eat pretty much anything, including veg, although I wouldn’t be giving away my plate of this to one, that’s for sure 😀

  18. What a cute story and remind me that my kids have been asking for a puppy for the longest time… I do wish to have one too but my husband thinks he’ll be the one who will take care of the doggie (and I think he’s right too! haha!). You were a picky eater before? Hard to believe for someone who makes great food! 😉 Your Vegetable Tagine looks delicious!

  19. A great story, Charlie! Tell me, do you think that your parents knew that you were feeding your pupster and that you weren’t fastening its leash at night? I only ask because, as a child, I thought we were so smart and able to pull one over on Mom & Dad. As an adult, I look back and think they knew all along and, basically, went along with it. Hard to believe that the little girl who was such a picky eater would grow up to be the connoisseur who shared this vegetable tangine recipe. It sounds delicious, Charlie!

  20. Sweet little Sophie indeed! My German Shepherd wont eat bread, rice or pasta, but will steal veggies from the garden and strawberries off the plants. Maybe he prefers a paleo diet?

  21. You were certainly determined to have Sophie with you at all costs! Did she get overweight from all the extra food? or did your parents just cut down on her main course?

  22. That photo of you and Sophie is gorgeous – very cute, both of you! This makes me think that dogs may actually be worthwhile family pets (we never had one, and now the mess puts me off!)…lovely friendship you had.

  23. What a cute picture, Charlie! Sophie was a very lucky little friend of yours, She ate well! This is a great recipe, I’m sure. I I will need to look up kumara…I’m unfamiliar! But all spices and combinations just sound wonderful. I prefer to eat a vegetarian diet most of the time…I’m not 100% any more (I was for a while), but I still love this kind of dish most of all. 🙂 Debra

  24. A delicious looking Tagine. The Glam Pooch would love a friend like you! GG

  25. Your taste bud changes throughout life!
    I love that you are so close to your puppy 🙂
    Looking at all the spices.. I know I will like this dish..

  26. Aw! You’re so cute with Sophie!

  27. We all had to stay at the table till our plates were empty too. Our dog was a pekanese and couldn’t cope with the over load!! I love your tagine with the dates and spices!

  28. Aren’t dogs just the best companions in the world? Such unconditional love. Such total understanding.

    What an easy and appealing tagine. Thanks for the recipe1

  29. Most dogs are lovingly fed scraps.. but your story of the carefully placed scrap on your shoe is too funny! You must have been so stealthy for your parents not to know!

  30. Oh that’s so sweet 🙂 I’ve always wanted a dog but my parents never wanted one…but I did have a little rabbit..but i guess..they’re not the same as dogs hehe 🙂 I really like how she’s sneak up to your room every night how cute!
    I’m really surprised that you didn’t like eating as a child because you’re now a great food blogger and always sharing amazing recipes with us 😀

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