Sat. May 25th, 2024

By Donna Westfall – January 1, 2021

About gifts. Unless we know what someone wants, we’re reluctant to just get them any gift. Candy and gift certificates are always available and appropriate, but if someone you know really, really wants something and can’t get it, then it’s truly a surprise and greatly appreciated to hand them that special something.

This past week we were the happy recipients of some gifts. Homemade FUDGE with nuts. A lot. There was so much one couldn’t possibly sit down and eat the whole thing unless they wanted to create a serious health problem. The type of problem that releases insulin resulting in a possible case of hypoglycemia.

Better to put those luscious cubes of fudge in the freezer and take a few out every day and savor the enjoyment over a longer period of time, which is what we did.

Then there was THE special gift. A Moroccan tagine (pronounced Ta Zheen or Ta Gene).

It’s something I’ve wanted for over a year. I first saw it on one of those food channels on It’s been in use since the 8th century. The reason behind the conical shape of the cone is to allow the steam to rise while the food cooks. The bottom dish holds meat, or chicken or fish along with vegetables, herbs and spices. As the steam rises, it condenses and trickles back into the bottom dish. It was the original slow cooker. Having your food boiled or steamed is much healthier than fried. The other great part of a Tagine is that after cooking, you can use it as a serving dish.

Having received the Tagine, then I needed to learn how to use it. First thing, whether it is glazed or unglazed, they need to be conditioned. This means submerging it in cold water for six hours. Then draining off excess water and letting it sit for an hour. After that, getting olive oil out and rubbing the INSIDE, not the outside, of the base and lid. Then placing the tagine top and bottom inside a cold oven. Then setting the temperature to 350 degrees. Let the tagine stay in the oven for two hours. Leave it in the oven and let it cool down. This process needs to be repeated if the Tagine is unused for six months or more.

It’s recommended that when using a gas or electric stove, to not put it on high heat. Matter of fact, it would be best if a diffuser was used on the burner so that the heat doesn’t crack the bottom of the tagine. Now, we’re looking for a diffuser.

After the tagine is conditioned and the diffuser is on the stove it’s time to start cooking. Can’t wait.

Luckily, we didn’t need to make a choice between the fudge and the tagine. But if you had to make a choice, which would you prefer?

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