Hummus, where the heart Is

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I used to put a bib on JJ that said “I only cry when ugly people hold me.”  I am lucky that my people understand my snarky sense of humor, at the very least tolerate it, so this did not dissuade them from holding him.  But when he did cry–well, it sent a subtle message–there is something fundamentally unlikable about you because JJ never cries when he’s held by strangers. This of course was not true.  But it was fun to watch the quiet panic and worry set in.

I feel this way about hummus.  If you don’t like hummus, there is something wrong with you and you would benefit from some thoughtful introspection.  But don’t blame the hummus.  I mean who doesn’t like the nutritious value of chickpeas, its creamy texture once pureed and the blank canvas you now have to work and get creative with, with whatever flavor you desire.

I recently found my hummus mojo with my own experimental creation , the spicy sun dried tomato hummus.  It had the tangy zip from the sun dried tomatoes and the pungent bite, but in a good way, from the garlic.  All that was smoothed out though by the creamy nuttiness of the pureed garbanzo beans mixed with some tahini.

Spicy Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

Ingredients

1 can of garbanzo beans washed and drained, 15 oz*
4T sun dried tomatoes packed in oil
4T tahini paste**
3T oil from sun dried tomatoes
3T lemon juice
1 t spicy pepper flakes, adjust based on your preference
salt to taste

Procedure

Drain and rinse your canned garbanzo beans before using to rid it of that gloppy gel-like thing it’s been sitting in.  Put all but 1 1/2 T of the sun dried tomatoes in a food processor.  Puree till smooth.  Take 1 T of sun dried tomatoes and mix in with the pureed mixture–the whole bits of sun dried tomato is a nice texture contrast to the creamy hummus.  Top the hummus with the remaining sundried tomatoes, oil and a dusting of paprika and spicy pepper flakes.

*Some say that garbanzo beans need to be peeled in order to get that ultra creamy mixture.  I say, ain’t no body got time for that.  And it’s not necessary.

**Tahini paste is essentially toasted sesame seeds ground up and mixed with oil to create a paste.  You’ll find it in the Middle Eastern section of your market, Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.   You can omit the tahini paste but your hummus will not be as creamy or complex in flavor.

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December to Remember

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One can only say so much about food without sounding as if one has issues with food (I may, in fact, have food issues in that I love pork belly a little too much but that’s for another blog post) so I will focus instead on what I did and learned during my Christmas vacation.

A couple of years ago, I made a pact with myself to do no shopping for a 2-month period. It was spurred by a purging episode, an episode which yielded about about 12 very full trash bags of clothes-I’m ashamed to admit, some still with tags on them-shoes, unread books.  It was difficult at first but eventually I became cutthroat in my approach and tossed/donated things I hadn’t touched or worn in the last 90 days.  Because I do a lot of online shopping, I received and resisted the temptation to open countless emails everyday beckoning me to a sale or special discount.  But I would not falter.  I survived 60 days of not buying anything but it was a very purposeful (read: difficult) effort.

So this past Christmas, we decided that instead of buying each other more stuff, we would share experiences.  We began December with a lecture at Nourse Theater in San Francisco by one of my favorite coaches of all time, Steve Kerr.  He’s a true leader with a strength, humility and intellect that have earned him commitment from  his team.  He also admitted that winning helped.

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Tiny guy on the left with a big message about teamwork, joy, mindfulness

We continued our experience-sharing with a family activity at Roy’s in San Francisco, a restaurant specializing in Hawaiian fusion and occasionally opens during midday for activities such as sushi making, cooking demos and in December, decorating gingerbread houses.  Lunch was included in the package and we were given supplies, one gingerbread house which came from a kit, which by the way, boo Roy’s–last year, their gingerbread houses were baked and created in house.  As a result, our finished product looked like a condemned property, but it was fun nonetheless.

 

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Gingerbread house in foreclosure

 

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It wasn’t all bad though; check out those smiles

My favorite was family date night at the San Francisco Symphony followed by dinner at the House of Prime Rib.  Each year, the SF Symphony puts on a holiday concert series geared towards families and children.  We treated ourselves to the Charlie Brown Christmas concert at the beautiful Davies Symphony Hall and even though we skipped the long lines for hot chocolate (remember it’s not about buying stuff; yes, hot chocolate counts as stuff), this is a memory we won’t soon forget. I mean, how can you outdo playing Schroeder’s piano alongside that humble, albeit sad, Christmas tree.

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We ended the evening with dinner at JJs favorite restaurant House of Prime Rib, which he declared as the best restaurant ever–even better than In ‘n Out.

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When asked what he liked most about the prime rib, he simply replied, “The texture.”  I’m not sure he knows what that means.

Best Christmas presents ever–and I didn’t even have to wrap anything.