September 2009 Archives

CSS? More like FTN

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I have things I'd like to write about (as always), but for a moment, I need to gripe and/or troubleshoot a little.

I generally really like the template I'm using for this blog (Simply Basic) because it is clean, minimal, and as its name declares, suitably simple and basic. I added a small photo next to the title that showed the various stages of a spiderwort budding and opening to flower, which really tied room together.

For some reason, though, which I think is related to adding an image and thereby "customizing" my very basic header file, everything is wrong and the blog keeps breaking. The header.php file keeps disappearing or getting overwritten with nothingness. This makes the rest of the page load incorrectly without any of its style elements and it looks all janky and 1990s up in here. If I edit the header file in the Wordpress theme editor, it works for a little while, and then at some unpredictable point, usually when I am nowhere near a computer and disinclined to screw with my blog, it disappears again.

I am so tired of this nonsense, especially because I can't see a reason why this should happen. It worked perfectly for months when I first installed it, and my studio blog has the same template, edited the same way (also with an image in the same location), never a problem.

If anyone knows how to fix this, I would be truly grateful and inclined to reward you Hope-style, with a batch of homemade cookies (this is a great offer - I just got the Martha Stewart Cookies book, and I'm a very good baker). Added bonus, if I can get this stupid template to work, you will notice a significant increase in quality and quantity of posts in this piece (we all win).


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Making lists and diagramming are two of my main ways of making sense of my life. Lists help me prioritize, encapsulate, identify, and describe the facets and components of experience, and they keep my often nebulous, amorphous thoughts from escaping completely. (I recognize, now, that a lot of my poetry is simply a list of tangentially related thoughts held together by some tiny conceit of a metaphor).

Even as I try to avoid admitting it, I can see in my little notes to myself that I have sooooo many things going on right now, and that's a wonderful feeling. Some of the lists are monumental, career- and life-related things that are so exciting I stay up nights daydreaming about my own life. Some lists are things I need to do for imminent, awesome travel. Others are new albums I can't wait to download or creative projects I want to squeeze in before that travel.

I'll spare the redundancy of a list of lists, but one of the things I put on tomorrow's to-do-list (TDL, henceforth) is well, making some more lists. I am way, way too excited about that.

How to make hummus

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I consider hummus and crackers to be one of the more perfect snack combinations known to mankind. For many years, I had a habit of picking up one of those little Sabra containers whenever I went to the grocery, and in a pinch, hummus and Wheat Thins made for many a meal.

Of course when you start calculating the volume and price of those containers, multiplied over time, hummus gets pretty pricey. I have a general belief that anything you make yourself is going to be vastly better than its packaged counterpart, and so I resolved that I would learn to make hummus myself. And really, it couldn't be easier.

My mother found a recipe from the August 12, 2009 Honolulu Advertiser for Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper Hummus. This recipe has been archived, but fortunately hummus recipes are all pretty similar and can be adapted to your taste.

I started by roasting my vegetables. To roast the garlic in an oven, I heated it to 425, peeled the outer skin off two heads of garlic (I was making a double batch - if you were making one batch, only roast one head). I used a paring knife to slice about 1/4″ off the tips of each clove, then drizzled the whole situation in extra virgin olive oil. I put it in a pie plate (I think the recipe suggested a cookie sheet), covered the garlic with squares of aluminum foil for about 40 minutes, then removed the foil for another 15 or so, until the garlic was soft and lightly caramelized.

I roasted the red pepper as well, but found its yield terribly disappointing. In the past I'd always roasted a red pepper over a gas stove, but because we only have an electric stove here, I did it in the broiler of the oven. It should be noted that most instructions for "roasting" a red pepper are actually just for removing its skin. The basic idea is that you put the pepper close to some source of heat, like a gas flame or your broiler, until the skin turns black and starts to blister. Then you wrap it in damp paper towels and some foil, enclose it in a sealed container (I used a freezer bag), and let it steam itself for about 5 minutes or until it's cool enough to touch. Using your paper towels, you then essentially wipe the papery skin off, and you have yourself a naked pepper. To then roast it, you must remove the stem and seeds (just as you would with a cold pepper), slice it into strips, drizzle them with olive oil, and put them in about a 425-degree oven for 30-40 min. There are many variations on the time and temperature, but basically you'll know when your pepper is roasted (mine was overdone because I wandered away to examine my brother's crossbow).

The rest of hummus preparation is fantastically easy.

Drain and rinse a 15.5 oz. can of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). As an aside, the Italian word for chickpeas is ceci, pronounced "cheh-chee," and it is the only way I can remember how Cs sound before Es and Is. Obviously if you were making a double batch, you would use two cans of chickpeas. Put these in a food processor.

Add to these your roast pepper and garlic. To remove the garlic cloves from the head, you can squeeze it out of the skins (but it is blindingly hot and will burn your fingers and be messy) or use a cocktail fork (brilliant). Mine had a blunt end to it, as I think it was a lobster pick of some sort, so I was able to pop the cloves out whole.

Next add about 2 tablespoons of tahini (4 if doubling). Tahini is a delicious sesame seed puree, which I could eat by itself with a spoon I love it so much. If you feel as I do, by all means add more to your hummus. You can't really go wrong. I told my mother to look for the little guy from the halvah package, as Joyva also makes my very favorite treat, a delicious sesame confection. As soon as you finish your mastery of hummus, you should make sure you've discovered the joy that is halvah too.

Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, about a tablespoon of olive oil, a dash of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Puree all of the ingredients in your food processor until it is a smooth, even consistency. I found that to make it smoother, adding more tahini or olive oil worked quite nicely.

At this point, you could customize your hummus however you liked. Instead of roast garlic, you could use delicate pignoli and basil. You could put in some jalapenos or red chiles for spice. If you ever figure out the mysterious "seasonings and spices" in Hummus Masbacha, please let me know, cause I'm nuts for that stuff.

Personally, I like hummus best with crackers, and in this case we got garlic and rosemary Wheat Thin crisps (fantastic combination). It is also tasty with baby carrots or vegetables, pita bread, and so on. When I get hummus at Middle Eastern restaurants, they tend to drizzle it with olive oil, so I did too. It was really fantastically delicious, and I never thought I'd see the day when my father proclaimed his love for hummus, but this preparation made a believer out of him.

We made amazing sandwiches that my parents cobbled together on their trip to Tortola earlier this summer too. Layer on a whole wheat tortilla your hummus, jerked chicken breast strips, guacamole, homemade salsa, and some shredded Cheddar cheese. Roll like a burrito. Absolutely fantastic.

So, as you see, hummus really is that easy. The single serving of this recipe makes about 1-3/4 cups, just under the larger sized Sabra tub. Covered and refrigerated, it lasts about a week or two (not that I would know, I eat it all immediately). While your initial tahini purchase may seem expensive (it's about $6-8 for 15 oz), you can make many, many batches of hummus from a can of it, and because it is shelf-stable, it will seem to last forever.

Now you too can go forth, make hummus, and enjoy!


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As usual, when I go quiet, it's because I have so much stuff going on, and thankfully this time it has been almost all good.

Over Labor Day weekend, we had house guests come from Hawaii, my Grandma Wanda and my aunt Elise.

My grandmother is 88 years old, so it's a wonderful treat to get to see her. We also got to see her youngest brother (my father's Uncle Dave) and my great Aunt Shirley, who came up from Virginia, along with our awesome cousin Marty (who we see a lot more, as he lives in the next town over).

There was a lot of sailing, swimming at the boat club, seining for crabs, drinking, eating, laughing, and carrying on. It was a really great visit, and it was lovely to see everyone.

Family has such a restorative effect on me, and my parents are like, consummate good hosts, so it was really relaxing and pleasant.

I put a whole bunch of photos in a Labor Day set on Flickr, and if you'd like, you can view a slideshow.

More soon!

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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