Grocery store lists aren’t about helping me remember what I need.

They’re more to remind me what I don’t need—keep me focused, ward off impulse purchases.

So to use a tired cliche, grocery shopping without a list is like eating a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get. Fortunately, on my last off-the-cuff excursion into Whole Foods, I discovered the shopping riff. You simply choose one ingredient and go from there, sort of like connect-the-dots meal planning.

I started with Cornish game hens, the meat component for my dish. Then I reasoned that I should stuff them with something. I chose couscous, which made me gravitate towards a Moroccan theme.

Pretty soon I had the fixings for my new dish, plus a few other hidden gems. My favorite finds included the Ataulfo mango, organic dried apricots (so much better than non-organic), and baby artichokes.

Couscous Stuffed Cornish Game Hens



– 4 1½- 1¾ lb. Cornish game hens
– 1 cup couscous
– 1½ cups water
– 1/3 cup organic dried apricots, chopped
– 1/3 cup chopped green olives
– 1/3 cup sliced almonds
– 1/3 cup chopped scallion
– 2 Tbsp minced ginger
– 8 half-moon shaped lemon slices
– 4 tbsp paprika
– 4 tbsp turmeric
– 2 tbsp curry powder
– 2 tbsp cumin
– 2 tbsp lemon pepper
– 1-2 tbsp cayenne pepper
– 2 tsp garlic powder
– 1 tsp ground ginger
– 1 tsp ground allspice
– 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Prepare the couscous by submerging it in 1½ cups boiling water. Remove heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous and add the apricots, olives, almonds, scallions, and ginger. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.


Rinse the hens and pat them dry. Sprinkle salt and pepper into the cavity of each hen. Spoon ¼ of the couscous into each hen. Combine the paprika, turmeric, cumin, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder with salt and pepper. Rub spice mixture onto hens, getting under the skin. Insert lemon slices under the skin of each hen, one slice on either side of the breast. Place hens in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil.


Roast for 50 minutes, until the juices run clear. Serve with baby artichokes (just trim the outer leaves and stems, cut in half lengthwise, boil for 10 minutes, and roast with olive oil, salt, and pepper) and mango and arugula salad.


Mango and Arugula salad


– 2 mangos
– 2 cups baby arugula
– 1/4 tbsp paprika
– 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
– 1 tbsp lemon juice
– 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Chop the mangos into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle them with the paprika and cayenne. Toss with the arugula, lemon juice, and olive oil.

3 thoughts on “Listlessness

  1. John Mears (aka "Daddy") says:

    Having had a variation of this recipe on at least three occasions, I can say with certitude: It’s good.

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