cous cous


What things do you add to flavor your couscous? I have some dried cranberries. Would that be weird? -- Palooka, Missouri


Much like pasta or rice, there are many different ways to enjoy it. Dried cranberries wouldn't be weird. Add some diced cucumber, crumbled feta cheese and balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Many people enjoy adding citrus juice (orange, lemon or lime) or dried or fresh fruit, such as cherries, raisins, mango, apricot, apple, mandarin or pineapple.
Simple add-ins can include combinations such as:
-- Lemon juice, green onions, diced tomatoes and chick peas
-- Chicken, vegetable or beef broth and vegetables
-- Parmesan cheese, olive oil and vegetables
-- Olive oil, red bell pepper, onions and diced tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and Parmesan cheese
-- Pineapple, onion, toasted pecans, olive oil, garlic and spinach
-- Vegetables such as mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, carrots or corn, etc.


I'm having a yard sale soon. I haven't done one in a long time because in the past, by the time you pay for the permit, advertising, etc., you were out a bunch of money, and for the time and such, it wasn't worth what I made back. The town is having a town-wide yard sale, so it will cost only $10, including advertising, to do it. What are your pet peeves when you go to a yard sale? -- momto5RN, New Jersey


I don't like high prices, no prices, prices written on items with permanent marker or stapled price tags on items. I wish everyone would identify cracked, chipped or broken items, be upfront about them and mark them "as is." I'm a little annoyed if they can't make change. Also, I'm annoyed by folks who create illegible signs or don't take down their signs. I'd like to see an extension cord or batteries to test items before buying, too. I don't like people who have loose dogs or small children wandering around or are smoking. I'm not a fan of a bunch of stuff in a box or just a pile of things on the ground. But I've encountered all of these things, and it doesn't stop me from shopping. I don't expect it to be like a store, and I choose to buy or not to buy.


If a recipe calls for coffee, what can you substitute for it? I do not like the taste of coffee. -- Susan, e-mail


It depends on the recipe, and I'm assuming you mean liquid coffee. If it's a small amount, like a teaspoon or so, then you could add flavored extract. If it's more, you might be able to use water, prepared Ovaltine or hot cocoa and get acceptable results. Maybe you could mix your own flavored instant coffee, decreasing the granules and increasing the water, so it's less flavorful. You might be able to get your hands on Postum, too. You'll have to do some hunting online for it. I've seen it from time to time on eBay and Amazon. It's a coffee substitute made from wheat, molasses and corn that was discontinued and is highly sought after. You could try your own homemade version. offers a recipe. You might not mind Roma, Pero, Dandy Blend, Krakus, Roastaroma, Inka, Cafix or Teeccino as substitutes. These all are within a similar range of flavor as coffee but are just different enough that you might like it in a recipe. Choose a recipe that doesn't have coffee as an ingredient because it's typically a defining ingredient when it's included.

photo by nyaa_birdies_perch