Hummus that works – and tastes oh. so. good.

I’ve had a mixed relationship with making hummus. When Adventure Girl started solids I would make it often and while it was on the chunkier side, we both quite enjoyed it. Upon reflection though it was after a friend came over for lunch and couldn’t stand it that I stopped making it so much… she was right, it was rather strong on the garlic even if I had done that on purpose. Criticism sticks and after a few bad batches I decided just to buy it (a great grocer in Sydney makes it additive free and delicious so it was just as good to buy although not as cheap).

We’ve been eating A LOT of hummus lately though. It just works with so many things – for dinners with baked potatoes or our hummus and lamb dish that we still eat on an almost weekly basis even though it’s mid-winter. It works for lunch or breakfast on the easy oatmeal loaf I’ve been making twice weekly since returning from NZ, or it’s delicious with crackers and cheese as an afternoon snack. We’re eating so much of it right now that what my stomach craved had run out… disaster! Did I dare to try again? Especially with the memory still fresh of my last batch that was way too strong on tahini… Thank you Google for directing me to the most genius recipe on Inspired Taste. This recipe has a different method from anything I’ve tried before AND it opens up the path to use peanut butter instead of tahini! This is brilliant as we always have peanut butter on hand (I buy in bulk whenever the good stuff is on sale and I use tahini so rarely it sets like a rock in our cupboard. This switch worked so well  – no peanut taste but oh. so. delicious. hummus. Creamy, light (I really couldn’t believe how light this method makes it) and spreadable. Adventure Girl and Dash ate it with a spoon. I may have also.

Hummus  by Joanne (on inspired taste)

Ingredients 

  • 1 tin of chickpeas (I use Honest to Goodness no BPA tins)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of tahini OR peanut butter
  • 1 small, minced, clove of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste if needed)
  • 1-3 tablespoons of water, depending upon texture

Method

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the peanut butter/tahini and lemon juice and process for 1 minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process for 30 seconds more. This extra time helps “whip” or “cream” the tahini, making the hummus smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process another 30 seconds or until well blended.
  3. Add the chickpeas and process for another minute.
  4. Most likely the hummus will be too thick or still have tiny bits of chickpea. To fix this, with the food processor turned on, slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water until you reach the perfect consistency.
  5. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.

Notes:

  • Store homemade hummus in an airtight container and refrigerate up to one week.
  • You can cook the chickpeas yourself and then use them to make hummus – I have done that once or twice before but it’s a long process including overnight soaking.
  • Please, please, please don’t skimp on the blending time – it’s what makes this hummus better than the rest.

I’m not a crafty mom… and that’s ok

For a long while I felt guilty that I found it hard to be crafty with my kids. I follow Tinkerlab and other such inspirational sites and often feel that my aspiration is let down by my day to day desire and energy. When I was pregnant I thought I’d be a crafty mom. I thought I’d have heaps of time and could do my sewing and all the things I like to do when inspiration strikes. Now that I have children my thought process is rather different. Sure, I COULD do that, but I’d have to clean a space, get out the equipment, manage little hands and be ok with them leaving the project half way through OR being faced with the mess to clean up afterwards. Too often my mind jumps through these steps and decides that there’s other things to be done.

Today though, Adventure Girl picked up that I was in one of those moods. Washing to put away, food to make, Dash and his foot in plaster making life more difficult, on to my third cup of tea kind of day. Adventure Girl is rather smart so when I asked her if she’d like to pick a book to read, off she went to get her Mummy and Me Craft book. It’s a book that she loves to read but to be honest I think we’ve made 2 of the things inside it.

Today though was different.

Today, Adventure Girl picked up on where I was at and decided to bring me her craft book. And some disposable spoons. And some pipe cleaners. And then place them on the clean kitchen bench. “Mummy, can we make this?” – How can I say no! She’s done all the work and she’s not yet four.

IMG_3439.JPGSo we did. We did craft. I got the glue and some wool. She decided mine needed a green pom pom hairdo (I think I should brush my hair more often) and I found some cupcake cases for the skirts. Dash joined in too and together we made what the book showed (well, kind of). Three spoon people. Not perfect but perfect for us.

I’m not one of those people you’ll follow on Pinterest. I love to follow others though and when creativity sparks attempt something. I write this thinking of the jumper I felted and haven’t yet made booties out of and my grand plans of making a crochet doll. The doll and pattern is from an incredible book which also has all the patterns to make the dress ups  for the doll…. the sticky point being I’m still learning how to crochet and my girl is growing faster than my skill level. Will she still be interested when she’s 6 or 8 or 12 I wonder? Perhaps I should get lessons instead of just trying to learn on YouTube!

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All these thoughts run through my head. Part of me is sad and wishes that I was diligent and creative and able to help my daughter and son explore that side of them by involving them more. Especially when Dash’s happy place is doing these fine motor skills. Then, I step back and find myself thankful for the people who are crafty. For Adventure Girl’s Preschool and teachers who help her develop and know she can make things. For her Gran who plays better than most kids. For those who fill my gaps. I may not be a crafty mom. That’s ok, there’s things I do that others don’t. In the mean time I’ll just remember that my daughter is learning independence and that’s a pretty handy life skill.

 

Signs of refreshment: Baking Everyday Oatmeal Bread from Simply in Season

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I think we all have signs that indicate we’re feeling refreshed. For some it might be having the emotional energy to make a phone call, for others it’s winding down enough to sit and read a book, for others still it might be the desire to get out the paint set or get dressed up and go out for dinner. For me I know I’m feeling refreshed when my creativity returns and I bake spontaneously or feel like writing (hello again dear blog and friends of this blog!).

After returning from New Zealand last night, I woke up with a desire to bake some bread. Not just put bread in the machine and then watch it rise in the oven, but really bake. The inspiration for this was my sister-in-law’s incredible loaf that I could have devoured quite selfishly on my own, slathered with butter and munched on with utter delight to my heart’s content. It really was that good. Not just any bread, this was a darker loaf, incredibly moist and filled with goodness. Along with wholewheat flour and oats it contains a healthy serve of molasses, which apparently has the lowest sugar content of any sugar cane product and contains vital vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium (according to Healthline.com).  I also really enjoyed making this with Adventure Girl and Dash. They found the punching  of the dough especially fun!

9780836194944The recipe for this comes from the cookbook I’ll be saving up for next Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind. It’s the sort of cookbook that informs as well as provides incredible recipes and focuses on seasonal food that’s locally grown and ethically produced. Right up my ally. It’s a compilation of different recipes which was refreshing as well. The recipe I’ve featured here for instance is not by the author but the author has given credit to whom contributed as I do below. I also liked how the book focused on seasons but successfully makes the north/south hemisphere divide. Living in the southern hemisphere I often get frustrated with the seasons being sorted by months. While I know I can simply compute that June in America or England (etc) equates to our December, sometimes I do get confused. Also, my brother and his wife are exceptional cooks so any cookbook that they use often is high on my list.

I wonder what signs you have that you’re in a relaxed state of mind? I’d love to hear so feel free to comment below!

Everyday Oatmeal Bread by Janet Steiner (from Simply in Season)

Ingredients and Method (combined as within the original recipe)

Recipe makes two large loaves

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats (or whole oats, or 12-grain cereal, etc)
Combine and let stand 30 min.

3/4 cup molasses (or maple syrup)
3 Tbsp butter or oil
2 tsp salt
Stir into oatmeal.

2 cups lukewarm water
1 Tbsp active traditional yeast
Mix in a large bowl until dissolved. Add oatmeal mixture. [Note: do make this a large bowl as it’s what you’ll be using to form your dough in]
6 cups bread or all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
Work in flour to make a medium-soft somewhat sticky dough. Knead 8-10 minutes until smooth. Place in greased bowl and let rise until doubled about 1 hour. Keep covered with damp cloth while rising. Then punch down. Divide into two, and shape into loaves. Embellish tops of loaves with seeds (sesame, sunflower, hemp, etc) if desired. Place in greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise again, about 45 min. Bake in preheated oven at 400 F/200C/180C (fan forced) for 5 minutes and then reduce to 350F/180C/160C ( about 30-35 minutes until they sound hollow when tapped.

Notes:

  • If you’re trying to cut down on carbs this is NOT the recipe for you. The very smell of this bread cooking was enough to make me salivate
  • You can increase the wholewheat flour ratio if you prefer (I used 3 cups wholewheat and 5 cups unbleached white bakers flour)
  • According to other blogs featuring this recipe, it also works well with adding in nuts, seeds and grains or using a grain mix instead of the oatmeal
  • This really is a recipe you can make with kids (at times!). Involving them in the punching of the dough or giving them their own piece to kneed/use like play dough is a fun and contained way of involving them.

 

more than our profiles

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on how are lives are portrayed to others. What we share, what we don’t share and that while we may not purposefully mean to be showing the highlight reel, who the wrong impressions can be projected due to our natural filtering.

Here’s just one example of many:

I’m currently sitting on a very comfy couch in Christchurch NZ drinking pinot noir and enjoying an incredible cheese board.

Cue photo of said cheese board and wine.

What this picture doesn’t show is my family at home and my 2 year old’s foot in plaster due to a fracture he sustained yesterday after I left. It doesn’t convey my mixed emotions about being in one location for an important event, hanging out with my awesome family here and being away from my maternal role with all the anxiety that ensues. It doesn’t convey the echoes of utter loneliness and isolation I’ve felt when I’ve been the one with two kids in a hospital with little support network. My thankfulness to my mother for being able to stay an extra day, yet the sadness she won’t be there when I return etc.etc.etc.

We pick and choose which scene to share – the cheeseboard or the fractured foot. We naturally filter. We don’t want to be the “songbird who has tales to tell and so many times describes our living hell” (or for that matter your living paradise) as one of my favourite songwriters so eloquently puts it and I paraphrase here. We all filter. We all talk in riddles at times and amazing pictures at others. We are all light and dark and shadows and tapestries. Social media can never convey the real picture, especially when life is so complex. The thing is, I don’t think it should. We need people around us to genuinely share our lives – all the tapestry – but we also need to be wise with who those trusted ones are and know we can’t be vulnerable with everyone.

We are complex, we are wonderful, we are more than our profile.

I’ve just been called “The Muffin Lady”

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I was called The Muffin Lady today (Mr Incredible said it was better than “the muffin top lady”) and I realised how quickly one can be defined by what one does. As a back story, I’ve started making mini-muffins for local moms to help ease lunch box stressors and make a bit of pocket money (read: will actually go towards Adventure Girl’s preschool costs). I advertised on Wednesday night and by Thursday had 10 orders! It was a small success and I’ve had muffins coming out of my ears since. For one delivery I couldn’t get hold of the lady whom I was dropping off muffins for, thankfully though she left her phone number and when I called and explained who I was she said “OH, the Muffin Lady!”. (Are you sick of reading the word “muffin” yet? I am! From now on they’ll be referred to be mm’s for mini-muffins). Perfectly understandable considering the context in which she’d met me, however, considering I’d been in the mm business for less than 24 hours it did come as a shock to my system.

This morning I’ve woken to being thankful of my past career as an Executive Assistant which motivated me to set up a spreadsheet of orders when they started coming in. Here are few things that I’ve been appreciating amidst the baking and child-caring multi-tasking:

  • Affirmation. As an EA I got quite a lot of affirmation from my colleagues and employer for relatively little effort. I’ve found as a SAHM I get little affirmation for quite a lot of effort. The affirmation from people I’ve made mm’s for is lovely “They are delicious! And my son gives them a huge thumbs up – clients for life!!!”,  an hour after delivering some “Thank you thank you!!!!! 24 gone already. Kids descended on me like a pack of hungry wolves!” and “Have just performed rigorous Quality Assurance testing before I give them to the kids… they are delicious!”. It fills a void I’ve been feeling for a while.
  • I’m being recognised for something I always thought I was good at but now have others confirm that
  • I’m meeting a need in my community
  • I’m appreciating even more the value of a dollar. I’m charging $8 for 24 mm and with only one mm tray (soon to be rectified) the work/pay ratio is much, much less than I used to be earning. Throw in delivery and time it’s making me once again weigh up that $4 for a coffee or $30 for a weeknight dinner with a girlfriend. Not to say these aren’t appreciated – it’s just got me thinking about saving pennies to make pounds again.
  • I’ve been a lot more productive with other aspects of my time. My kitchen is cleaner and subsequently my house is too.
  • My hands on time with the kids has also been more creative – having an outlet for ME and feeling validated for it has pushed me to go out and jump in muddy puddles with them.
  • I recognise I didn’t have the energy for this before. I look back with thankfulness my capacity is slowly growing.

Oh, and back to the point I started this post with. People should be valued for who they are more than what they do… but recognise what they do too. One can so easily be defined by what one does and that labelling can have a pigeon holing effect. Let’s not do that to people – we’re all so broad and complex creatures, lets look for the facets in the diamonds around us rather than just labelling the rock.

Preschool: the first step away from home

This week Adventure Girl started preschool. It’s a lovely community pre-school and we had all our eggs in the one basket for where we wanted to send her. We’d been there quite a few times, we’d dropped in unexpectedly, we went to a psychologist talk that they put on for the community, we went to the open day and every single time we had our choice confirmed. Allied health professionals all spoke highly of it, friends who sent their kids there raved over it… and so our choice was made. But it’s all the little things that lead up to the days like this that make you realise your little girl is getting bigger and one day she’ll be walking out the door into her own, separate life. Stopping breastfeeding and her feeding herself, no longer needing the pram when we go out, being able to have a solid conversation with her and enjoy each other’s company. Little by little it’s the every day things that change which creep up on you and hit home when a milestone like this happens.

img_0248She was ready… I was…. not so ready. So the night before I sat down with a glass of wine in a glass I use all too rarely and watched of The West Wing. I zoned out for a time, the back of my mind reflecting on these changes and the next day proudly watched her as she waved good bye to me and started the first day of her formal schooling life. Each day, when she comes home from her two days of preschool, I write in a little book what she’s told me was the best and worst things about her day, any other comments she’s made and what she ate in her lunchbox so I can share these with Mr Incredible when he comes home. This is how I’ll celebrate the little things of her life at this stage… and how I’ll be able to reflect each days on the highs and lows. For the moments that those fail, I might just return to my comfort food.

Adventure Day: Crosslands Walk

I’ve gotten out of the habit of thinking to blog about our Adventure Days. We still have them and we’re planning a lot more. We recently went on a bush walk at Crosslands in Hornsby. This small walk is part of a much larger walk called The Great North Walk which is a 250km walk connecting Sydney to Newcastle. One day we’d love to walk the whole thing but for now, micro-adventures like this one are more our style.

Crosslands is located at the end of Sommerville Road in Hornsby Heights. To get to the start of this walk you need to travel down quite a windy road and then park at the far north end of the carpark. It’s free parking (and entry) with gates opening at sunrise and setting at sunset (there’s a call out fee if you’re locked in so make sure you’re on time!). You can even camp overnight at the reserve but there is a fee involved for this and for more information you can check out Hornsby Council’s website.

At 2km it was our longest Bushwalk, however, as the kids walked the whole way I think I’ll actually take that as a matter of pride. I left the walk thinking that there’s a good business opportunity for someone to teach parents how to bush walk with their kids. I felt I was a bit out of my depth with the “don’t touch that tree – see the spiders” and “let’s not put our fingers down the holes we see, little things live in there that might bite you” and knowing when to let them scramble over rocks and when not to… On the whole I want to be a stand off parent and let the kids adventure/find their limits, however, I also think there’s a responsibility to know how to educate properly and be prepared for what might happen. I’ll be brushing up on my knowledge in these areas before my next walk.
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Pregnancy Rating:
 5 – Until we turned around (we walked up until the track got a little less toddler friendly and then turned around) it was a lovely walk with very little incline
. You could push a pram along the first kilometre or so and getting out in nature like this and the ability to sit by the water is lovely.

Toddler Rating: 4 – Adventure Girl and Dash both really enjoyed their outing and felt a great deal of pride in being able to do it. The walk does go along water though and, as it’s a bush walk there are hazards and creepy crawlies… this is why it got a 4
not a 5.

Older Kid Rating: 5 – You can hike for as long as you want and afterwards even go for a swim!