Friday, October 5, 2012

FFWD Hummus

Today is my 31st birthday.  Turning 30 felt like a semi-big deal, but 31 really doesn't feel like a very important birthday at all.  To be honest, 30 has been a really, really hard year.  Parts of it have been incredibly happy, but much of it has been a challenge.  I'm definitely ready to start a new year.  I'm (cautiously) optimistic that things are looking up, and that 31 will be a happy year...What does all of my rambling have to do with hummus?  Not much, I have yet to think of a great tie-in.  I do know that I love, and have come to rely on, the constancy of food.  When I was younger and unhappy, I would go through phases where I would eat nothing but cereal, bananas, and cookies (or brownies!) for long periods of time.  Now, no matter what happens, after a couple of days of wallowing I force myself back into the kitchen.  To actually make something from scratch.  Better than anything else I've found, cooking forces me out of my own head.  For the time it takes me to cook dinner I am focused on the act of cooking (this works best if I'm making something complicated, or making several dishes at once), and have a break from the constant thoughts that swirl through my mind.

This bring me back to hummus, and homemade hummus in particular.  You can certainly buy hummus at the store, and may brands are actually very good, but I love the act of making it.  I started with dried chickpeas this time and still, the hardest part was remembering to soak them the night before.  After I cooked the chickpeas and waited for them to cool, I processed them with the other ingredients and some sun-dried tomatoes that I added for color.  During halftime of the Redskins game, I started work on the rest of the dinner.  I made falafel with tahini sauce and a cucumber and tomato salad to go with the hummus.  After the game was over (the Redskins miraculously luckily manged to win!), I toasted pita bread and also put out some pickled eggplant and stuffed grape leaves.  (I wanted to make the grape leaves myself but I couldn't find the leaves, so I bought some canned pre-prepared ones which were actually pretty good.)  Paul and I enjoyed the dinner--I was unsure about a hummus recipe in a French cookbook but I actually thought it was very good hummus--and, more importantly, I enjoy the routine of sitting down together to eat.   

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

TWD Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Loaf

I'm so glad I read the P&Qs early this week.  From the recipe title I was expecting a quick bread, so I was glad for the warning that it's actually a yeast bread with an overnight rise.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed--I find quick breads so rewarding and love eating cake for breakfast and calling it "bread"--but I was still curious to give this one a shot.   I substituted half of the white bread flour for whole wheat bread flour, but otherwise followed the recipe.  This came together quickly in my stand mixer while I was finishing dinner.  

After we ate and watched the Breaking Bad Season 3 finale, the bread was done rising.  I left it in the fridge to wait for Sunday.  On Sunday it took about 3.5 hours to come to temperature, at which point I shaped it and put it into pans.  I don't have mini loaf pans and wasn't ready to buy them yet, so I decided to go ahead with my standard loaf pans.  I'll be curious to see if this worked for others.  Even after 2 hours my bread wasn't very risen at all.  I'm not sure if there wasn't enough dough for the pans, or if I just got a bad rise. If it's the latter problem, I'm guessing that the flour substitution contributed.  Oh well.  My breads were a little flat, but they still tasted surprisingly good.  I liked that they had a lot of flavor and weren't too sweet.  I enjoyed some toasted with cream cheese for breakfast this morning, but I'm not sure what to do with the rest.  I'm excited to see what everyone else does.  I'm thinking it could make excellent french toast or bread pudding.  I'll report back if I give it a try.