February 17, 2012 § 3 Comments
“Second” is the key word here.
The first attempt was not documented by Dainty. You can guess the reason. Not that great. Boring. Thick. Spackle-like. Did I say tasteless? And it was surprising, too, since it was a Moosewood recipe.
Live and learn. And when it comes to reliable recipes for basic stuff, I have learned to turn to Alton Brown.
I’ve also learned that recipes are not brought down from on high by Moses—they are flexible. And I’ve become way more willing to be flexible with them. And I certainly had to in this case. It turns out that when using the amount of chickpeas the recipe calls for, I had to double the amount of liquids, too, in order to get it to a consistency I preferred. No more hummus spackle for me.
The recipe calls for 1 lb. of dry chickpeas soaked and brought back to edibleness. Jennifer had pressure-cooked a batch on Sunday—adding some carrot, celery and bay leaf—to add to a curry dish we had earlier in the week. But we had lots leftover. Hummus, I thought. Perfect.
But as I’m making the hummus—and it’s not the consistency of typical hummus—I’m thinking … Hmmm, maybe the recipe is wrong or I have way too many chickpeas here.
That said, I’m revising Alton’s recipe a bit.
- 1 lb. dry chickpeas, prepared as directed on the bag (it’s not the equivalent of canned chickpeas, keep that in mind!)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1.5 tsp kosher salt
- 5 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice – or more to taste
- 1/2 cup water*
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1/2 cup evoo*
- powdered sumac or paprika
- salt and pepper
*these were the ingredients I had to double for a smoother, less spackle-like consistency
1. Whir up the chickpeas, garlic and salt in a food processor for 20-30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and whir it up again for about the same time.
2. Scrape sides. Add lemon juice and water. Whir it up again for 30 seconds.
3. Scrape sides. Add tahini and do it again.
4. With food processor running, drizzle in olive oil – not the entire thing, though. Stop and scrape when you’ve added 3/4 of it, check the consistency, add 4 good-sized pinches of salt, a half-dozen grinds of fresh black pepper, some shakes of sumac if you have it or some paprika, and whir it up again, adding the rest of the oil if you need it. You may need more oil, so go for it. Remember to adjust seasonings if you do. It’s okay to add a pinch and grind and shake here and there. Be moderate.
5. Enjoy it on a chip.
For some reason, when I taste this it reminds me of egg salad. And I think that’s because of the pepper. If you despise egg salad, don’t judge—that was just my memory playing tricks on me. It’s perfectly tasty hummus, and my guinea pigs agree.
By the way, this recipe makes the perfect amount if the 5th Battalion is coming over, or if you’re having a party. Seriously, way too much for just having around the house.
Enjoy. And if you have comments, there’s a big box below just waiting for you.
February 14, 2012 § 6 Comments
I have a sister. Two, actually. The sister in question, Karen, called me last Monday.
“Ellen, we’re calling from Mom and Dad’s. No, don’t worry, nothing’s wrong with them. But since we’re so close, Chris and I thought we’d drop by for a visit.”
And by close, she means 4 hours.
“Um … uh … okay…?”
“If it’s not too much trouble of course. We’ll be there Wednesday.”
“Um … sure …” Really? Is she really asking to come visit? “Uh, yeah, that’s fine … um, you’ll get a hotel room, right? Our place is kinda small …”
“If you’ve got a spot on the living room floor, that’s fine with us – we won’t be a bother!”
Jennifer and I have lived here for eight years now. This would be the first time Karen and Chris came for a visit.
This would be the first time that any of my five siblings visited me in my adult life. And I’m 42.
I know this isn’t the norm. I know there are siblings that visit each other all the time, or at least as often as distance allows. The distance in my family is pretty expansive—and I’m not talking the distance you measure by miles. We’re not a close family, and to visit one another is just not and has never been expected.
That little girl is me. And the bride is my sister. I’m 3, and she’s a few days away from 20. When I think of my family, I think of this photo: Me, with a bag of rice, the others doing what they do, separately. In the distance.
My sister called and invited herself to sit on that step with me, a step I’ve been very comfortable occupying alone for 40 years. I’ve lived all sorts of lives there, none of it she knows, or any of the others really know. Sharing that spot on the steps seems so foreign.
Two days to prepare for the visit, but I really had much more time than that, didn’t I?
February 6, 2012 § 2 Comments
Chocolate. I knew I’d hook you with that ingredient. And yes, there really is chocolate in this version. Two types of chocolate, actually. But first …
Vegetarian … yeah, vegetarian. We’re pretty much completely meat-free now. Seafood being the exception. And chicken stock, although we have been doing a good job of keeping ourselves supplied with homemade vegetable and seafood stocks. The reason for ditching the fowl – the last remaining terrestrial flesh I ate – was simple. I just don’t trust where it comes from and what’s in it. Sure, I could purchase meat from Whole Foods or a retailer that sources only organic and local foods. News alert: That stuff is expensive.
Local fish and seafood is, too. I get that. But somehow I feel the seafood is a better value for the protein we get. And we use it all—from tip to tail (or claw). And we enjoy being members of our local Community-Supported Fisheries. I guess that’s a big part of it, too—it makes us feel good to support the local folks who definitely could use our dollars.
Okay, back on track. We’re talkin’ veggie chili here. I wish I could take credit for this but I can’t. This is one of Jennifer’s signature dishes (one of many). I have made it now and then, but she does it justice. And Jennifer, if you see anything wrong with the recipe, please correct me in the comments section.
- 1 tbs oil (olive will do)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 peppers, whatever color you prefer but red is nice
- 2 jalapeno peppers, minced (seeds removed if you don’t like it so spicy)
- 1 bag of frozen soy crumbles
- 1 28-oz. can of whole chopped tomatoes (or whole tomatoes that you squish with your hands)
- 1 15-oz. can of red kidney beans
- 1 15-oz. can of black beans
- 1 cup (or small can) of whole kernel corn
- 1 tbs chili powder
- 1 tbs cocoa powder
- 1 tbs lime juice
- 1 tbs cumin
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 small block (2 oz?) of Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate
- 2 tbs chopped cilantro
- salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil to medium and add chopped onion and garlic. Saute until translucent.
2. Add both types of peppers and cook until tender – about 5 minutes. Add the bag of frozen soy crumbles just so it thaws out a bit before adding other ingredients. It’ll take just a couple of minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes, beans, corn, chili powder, cocoa powder, lime juice, cumin and oregano—and a general sprinkle of salt— stir thoroughly, and let it come to a boil. Turn heat down a bit and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. During that time it will thicken a bit.
4. Add in the 2-oz. block of chocolate and stir it around, helping it to melt and incorporate into the chili. Add the cilantro, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream, Greek yogurt, guacamole, grated cheese or straight up. Give it a taste. Good, right? And you know that flavor that’s right on the edge of being familiar? It’s the chocolate. Serve it to guests and when they ask what that ingredient is, don’t tell them. It’ll be our secret.
1. Feel free to soak and use dried beans of any kind. I would use 1 cup of two different types of dried beans—we’ve used pinto, cranberry, garbanzo.
2. Want to speed up the cooking? Use a pressure cooker. It’ll shave off 10-15 minutes from the simmering time.
February 3, 2012 § 6 Comments
As soon as I whispered under my breath that I would post EVERY day in February, I promptly skipped a day.
But I have a great excuse. Really, I do. I was working.
Now, I don’t normally share my work stuff here. I’m making an exception, however, because a) I feel I need to make up for yesterday and b) I spotted a pretty cool product that is applicable to both food and garden topics. Trust me on this, it’s something you’ll think is neat. And you may even be inspired to buy one.
First, the details. Where was I? I was at a trade and educational show here in Boston called New England Grows. Lots of inspiring seminars with landscape designers, plant breeders, horticulturists, arborists, etc etc. And it has a pretty big trade show attached to it, too, with aisle upon aisle of vendors exhibiting everything from plants and pavers to forklifts and whimsical garden art. The trade show is the reason I go—to find new stuff.
Green Walls Made Simple
Green walls—whether outside along the side of a building or installed on an indoor wall—are a big thing nowadays, very trendy. I’ve seen them in stores, in and outside restaurants, in botanical gardens, in museums and all sorts of places. And they’re usually large and decorative and have intricate irrigation systems. But really, can these things be everyday items for everyday people?I had serious doubts.
But a product I saw yesterday has made me reconsider. It’s called GroVert. And it’s simple, really. It consists of a plastic tray with a number of cells. Think of it as a big ice cube tray with the cells angled a bit. When the tray is filled with potting soil and hung with just two screws on the wall, the cells, because they are angled downward, don’t lose any of the soil.
Within each cell you can plant small plants—whatever plants you want, but ones that stay kinda small are best. If the GroVert will be installed outside, then any type of colorful bedding plant will do, or fill with small evergreen groundcovers. If the GroVert will hang indoors, then the typical houseplants will work best.
Here’s a culinary twist: Plant herbs in the cells and hang near your outdoor grill or on the wall in your kitchen. Brilliant!
How do you water it? Another simple concept. Above this tray is a water reservoir. I’m not positive how it works, but I think the water slowly drips from there, trickling downward from cell to cell. And there’s a basin at the base to catch anything that leaches through.
Another cool thing about GroVert is that you can buy a wood frame that fits over and around the tray and reservoir, basically covering the black plastic and turning it into a living piece of art.
Why stop at one? Place two or more together to expand the footprint of your GroVert green wall.
The things I like about GroVert are: 1) it seems easy to install, 2) maintenance is basic enough, 3) there’s options to expand and 4) if the plants don’t do well, removing individual plants and replacing with new ones seems simple.
Where do you find GroVert? Good question! This is a new product and should be appearing in local garden retail stores soon. If I hear of where you can find it, I’ll try to let you know.
Think this will inspire you to create your own green wall? Flowers, foliage or herbs? Leave me a comment and weigh in on the subject!