You know how you learn something and then find you see it everywhere? Like you’ll learn a new word and then hear it in a song and read it in an article and hear someone say it in passing. I recently read a book – The Sense of an Ending – which has a whammy moment when you realise one character had been repressing, or at least not divulging, a particularly significant memory. No sooner had I read this book, when I’m flipping aimlessly, and I do mean aimlessly, through a weekly magazine. And I am confronted with an advertisement bearing the blankly content face of a commemorative Kate Middleton porcelain doll in a wedding dress. And it reminded me of something I haven’t thought about in years and years: that I used to be a little obsessed with those Franklin Mint porcelain dolls and would rip the advertisements out of aunties’ and nanna’s magazines and catalogue them in a folder in alphabetical order (well they all had names, Heather and Rosa and so on) and dream of the day I could own them all. Luckily for my now utter horror at the idea of walking into a room full of expressionless doll eyes staring back at you, I had no disposable income at the age of eight or so, and as such the folder was as far as it went. But isn’t it strange what you forget and remember again – not the traumatic things – but these vivid little slices of your life that remind you exactly who you were and are?
Leaving behind the “I Was an Awkward Awkward” chapters for now, I’d like to bring your attention to hummus. I know, hummus, that ubiquitous beige lotion which has gone from Moosewood territory to the sort of thing we get charged $5.50 for and purchase more per head of population than we ever did of pesto. How can it have still more surprises up its sleeve? Well who more reliable to elicit such surprises than my idol Nigella Lawson, who only goes and replaces the tahini (sesame seed paste) in homemade hummus with Peanut Butter. So important. And so importantly, so delicious. Peanut butter has a somewhat brash flavour, but against the mild chickpeas and smoothing yoghurt it mellows out and provides this sweet, nutty, oleaginously compulsive edge to your hummus. I really love tahini – sesame being one of my favourite flavours – but the tastebuds grow weary, and peanut butter doesn’t so much deliver the goods as urgent courier them while wearing appealingly fitted shorts and saying in a warm voice, “I’ve got a big package for you”.
Peanut Butter Hummus
Recipe from Nigella Lawson’s book Kitchen, I’ve simplified it slightly. Really, just play with quantities of the ingredients as they please you. If you’re not able to eat dairy, I’d add an extra tablespoon of water and lemon juice and peanut butter and it’ll be all good.
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
1 teaspoon cumin
Blend all together thoroughly till smooth. Add a little more yoghurt or water if it’s not spreadable enough.
Because I feel that hummus alone isn’t quite enough to bolster this blog post, a second recipe for you. I’m really sorry that both of these require a blender/food processor – I hate when recipes give directions for making cake batter in a cake mixer when said cake mixers cost many hundred dollars, or when an ice cream recipe finishes with “and then put it in your ice cream maker and follow their instructions” or whatever. I’m sorry. You could effectively crush up the chickpeas with a fork or a potato masher, but the strawberries really need the swift action that only an electric rotating blade can provide.
What, you don’t have a dedicated hummus knife commemorating the Parahaki War Memorial in Whangarei? Look I’m not saying your party is “ruined” as such…
If you do have a blender though, there aren’t many happier foodstuffs in this world than pink lemonade. I first tried making it with raspberries, and that was great, but strawberries are even more delicious, which is brilliant because they’re also half the price.
A recipe by myself
2 1/2 cups frozen strawberries (bully for you if you’ve got real ones, but it’s winter in NZ right now. And frozen strawberries are really pretty cheap any time of year)
2 1/2 litres of lemonade
Optional: passionfruit syrup, mint leaves
Place the strawberries in a blender and allow them to defrost somewhat. Add 1/2 cup of water and blend till smooth and gloriously pink, adding more water if your blender can’t deal with it. Spatula into a jug and slowly top up with lemonade. The bubbles and the strawberry puree will form scuzzy bubbles on top, just stir it with a wooden spoon to break it up.
Title via Rock the House by Gorillaz. Tim and I were lucky enough to see them in 2010 and it was so brilliant that my brain starts melting every time I think about it. Like, there’s Damon Albarn, one of the first people who got me realising that I could have a crush on another person. Also present: Bobby freaking Womack.
Lee Fields, Faithful Man. Tim insisted we buy this record. He insisted accurately. Fields is just really, really good.
Madeline Kahn, Getting Married Today. Mixing my obsession for the musical Company with my new fascination for the hilarious, babely, and sadly late Kahn, she does well with this horrendously challenging song.
Next time: Still have some quinces lying there looking at me reproachfully. The time has come to do more than just sniff them rapturously, any suggestions?