Cooking With a Writer – Mujaddara

When I was a kid, my uncle Charlie was one of my favorite people. This was mostly because he was super mellow. His family was Lebanese and settled in Manchester, N.H. and married my aunt Rosie. Aunt Rosie was the best cook in our family, which annoyed my mom so much. SO MUCH!

My mom was the best baker though, which I have to say or her ghost will strike me down or something. Hopefully, Aunt Rosie’s ghost is holding her back.

Anyway, Charlie’s real name was Kalil, but I never knew that when I was a kid. I can’t imagine that was the easiest name to have in Manchester, N.H. back when he was alive.  He died when I was ten, but I have the best memories of him making me try food that nobody else made. It was pretty awesome. So was he.

In Charlie’s honor, I tried to make mujaddara, which is something I remember vaguely having when I was little. It’s cheap. It’s filling. I hope you like it.  And if you are Lebanese and you know a better recipe for this or tweaks? Please let me know.



This calorie count is not exact. 

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 onions (yellow, thinly sliced)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1.5 tsp allspice
  • .5 tsp cloves (ground)
  • 2.5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup rice (long grain, jasmine if you can)
  • 1 cup lentils (brown)
  • 1 stick cinnamon (if you have it)
  • .5 tsp black pepper (peppercorn if possible)
  1. Find a pot. Put lentils in pot. Cover with water that rises over it about one inch. 

    Bring to boil.

    Lower to simmer.

    Cook about 20 minutes.

  2. On another burner with another pot, put the temperature to medium-high heat .

    Add oil. Let oil warm for a minute.

    Add in cumin, pepper, allspice, cloves, and cook for 30 seconds to a minute. 

    Add all those onions. Think about how much you cried slicing those onions. Wow. That is how much you want people to cry when they read your book.

  3. Cook those onions for about 15 minutes until they are no longer white. 

    You want those onions to be a dark caramel brown. You will have to stir often.

    Good results, transforming characters, books and food that makes you cry? It requires effort. You’ve got this, writer. You’re used to effort.

  4. Take out half the onions and set them aside. 

    It’s okay. They are not gone forever. I promise. 

  5. Add in any more ground cumin, and add the cinnamon stick.

    Saute about 1 minute.

    Add the rice. Stir a lot.

  6. Add the cooked lentils, broth, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt; bring to a boil. 

    Turn the heat to low, simmer 30 minutes. 

    Turn it off and let it rest for 10 minutes.

    Do not take off the lid! NO LOOKING! SERIOUSLY.

    Okay. Take off the lid. Is there any water left? If so, simmer about 5 minutes.

  7. Fluff it up and make it pretty like editors at traditional publishing houses do to stories. 

    Put those saved onions on top.


This is all part of my lifelong experiment to convince The Man (Shaun of the “Dogs are Smarter Than People” podcast to give up meat.


Man Verdict: I am okay with this.


Carrie Verdict: It reminds me of Uncle Charlie so it’s a win.

Writing News

Carrie’s  super excited about the upcoming TIME STOPPERS book coming out this August.

This middle grade fantasy series happens in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and it’s all about friendship and magic and kids saving their magical town.

An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal 

“A wild and fresh take on fantasy with an intriguing cast of characters. Dangerous and scary and fun all rolled into one. In the words of Eva the dwarf, I freaking loved it!” –  Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of The Unwanteds series

“Effervescent, funny, and genuine.” –  Kirkus Reviews

It’s quirky. It’s awesome. It’s full of heart. You should go by the first two books now. 🙂





For a complete round-up of Carrie’s 16-or-so books, check out her website. And if you like us, or our podcast, or just want to support a writer, please buy one of those books, or leave a review on a site like Amazon. Those reviews help. It’s all some weird marketing algorhthym from hell, basically.


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