Quick and Dirty Hummus

I love chickpeas. I use chickpeas and black beans in chilli, instead of kidney beans. Chana masala is one of my favourite indian dishes to make at home. Chickpeas and spinach is still a standard comfort food for me. Hummus is the gateway food for most chickpeas lovers, most people that claim to hate chickpeas, will eat hummus.

There are lots of hummus recipes out in the world, my two favourites are Felicity Cloake’s in the Guardian and the Food 52 recipe. I’ve made both and they are both really good. Both use dried chickpeas and often I don’t have the time to soak and cook chickpeas from scratch. So most often I make hummus from a can of chickpeas and I don’t really have a recipe.

Sometimes, I add a roasted aubergine, or roasted peppers or onions. This week it was an aubergine.

Two tablespoons of tahini or (most often) peanut butter, the juice of a lemon, two or three cloves of garlic, a can of chickpeas, a teaspoon of cumin and roughly the same amount of salt.

I start with two tablespoons of tahini or peanut butter and the juice of a lemon in the food processor, scraping down the sides often and then add two or three cloves of garlic. Once that’s all incorporated, I chuck in a can of drained chickpeas, a teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of salt and roasted veg if I’m using (the insides of a roasted aubergine, two roasted peppers with the skins and insides removed are all good but experiment). The way to get smooth and creamy hummus is to process it more than you think it needs. When you think it looks about right, scrape the sides down and process some more. Then do it again. Then taste it and if you think it needs more seasoning, season it and process it some more. Trust me on this.

That’s how hummus mostly gets made in my house. It’s quick, simple and really useful to have in the fridge. If I’m not sure how my week is going to pan out, I’ll often just make hummus and flatbread dough because with some vegetables that is dinner!

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Francis Thomas Harold Hull

Today marks 20 years since my Grandad died. Which means it’s been a bit more than that since he walked me through his bread pudding recipe. I write about my Grandad a lot, because as I get older, I’ve realised that his influence on me is growing.

He wasn’t my only grandparent but he was the only one I ever got to meet.

He wasn’t an easy man, I know that he wasn’t a great parent and as a younger man had a temper. Some of that can explained by the fact that he didn’t have an easy life.

Born in 1914, eldest of four and the only boy. His mum died in or post childbirth when he was 10 (and he wasn’t around because he was bunking off Sunday school, so they couldn’t find him). His dad wasn’t easy, how much of that was that he was just miserable or how much of it was as a result of a full four years as a soldier during WWI, I can’t say but Grandad and his dad were not on good terms.That wasn’t helped by his father’s decision not to let him stay on at school past 14. You see Grandad was bright (the maths thing that Ma and Ben do, that came from Grandad) but you had to pay for school past 14 in 1928 and I’m guessing that my great grandfather couldn’t afford it.

Grandad got married in 1944, I don’t think it was the most successful marriage in the world. It’s pretty open knowledge now that my uncle is not my Grandad’s son, although it wasn’t then, but Ma says that when she found out, it made a lot of Grandad’s behaviour make sense to her. Grandad never said a word, not even after Iris died in 1962.If you had asked me about him when I was little, I would have told you that Grandad worked three days a week, came for dinner on Tuesdays and came over on Saturday mornings, usually bringing us pocket money and lots of fruit and kit kats. Ma banned sweets, the other cousins got sweets (and I’m still not over it!). He belonged to the Salvation Army and he went to Belgium on the ferry from Ramsgate, for two weeks every year and came back very tanned and with Toberones for all.

I would also tell you about when we all went on holiday to Minorca, Ma remembers that as plane was about to take off, Grandad looked a bit nervous and she asked him if he’d flow before, his reply “not since the war”.

He came to church with us at Christmas and I spent every Christmas of my life from 1973 to 1997 with him, he took us to watch Fulham at Craven Cottage, he was delighted when as a teenager, I helped out at the youth club at the Salvation Army and always came to every midnight Mass that I was serving at (you could always hear his singing!)

There is a lot I don’t know about my Grandad. What I do know, what he taught me is that he never stopped trying and neither should I. He made mistakes but he carried on, he did he best. He wasn’t perfect but he really loved us and he always tried to show us that.

He didn’t talk a lot about his feelings but I always knew he loved me, from the way he would wait for us on his working days and walk with us, when I was at secondary school and I had to walk past his house and he’ll always be there waving and commenting on my lateness. If you mentioned that you loved choc ices, he’d bring you choc ices every week.

My Grandad was also one of the best examples of faith I have. Fail, fall down, get up, try again. Carry on walking, know that God is with you, even and especially when it’s hard.

So whenever I get a bit soppy about him, I remember that the example he gave me was of carrying on and trusting God and I try and do that. I also make bread pudding, which I’m did last night and I’m going to eat tonight with a cup of tea.


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Allotment Adventures: The War on Raspberries

It was hot this week, and everything in the allotment decided to pop up, the raspberries especially. So Ma and I spent a good hour digging the ones that weren’t where we wanted them to be..We also watered everything. The strawberries have flowersAs do the broad beansEverything else is doing it’s thing. Check out my blueberry sticksAnd we got rhubarb and chard to take home Amazing what a bit of hot weather does….

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Monday Miscellany

Continuing the ‘this day in history’ theme I started last week, today 357 years ago, Charles II was crowned at Westminster Abbey, which is the perfect place to post this from Horrible Histories…

After last week’s sunburn I have found the sunscreen of my dreams…Altruist, made in Germany and developed by a dermatologist. It comes in SPF 30 or 50, it’s designed for sensitive skin, not perfumed and less greasy than anything else I have used and at £7.50 for 200ml of SPF50 cream or £9.99 for 200ml spray, it a total bargain. Even better they donate 10p for every purchase to a charity supporting children with albinism in Tanzania and the rest of Africa. (I’m not being paid, I’m just really, really happy about this!)Last year, all my summer clothes and sandals pretty much gave up the ghost. A couple of weekends ago, Ma and I did some shopping and this weekend we’ve did some more. I now have 4 new pairs of linen trousers, 4 new tops and I’ve ordered 3 pairs of summer shoes and bought a pair of sandals for work. I feel very poor and now that I have summer clothes am expecting it to start raining any minute now…Yesterday was a year since my lovely friends came and put my shed up. The shed has made having an allotment much easier, although Ma would still like it to be more tidy!Plans for this week are very few, keep on top of the greenhouse in the living room. I’m waiting for the courgettes, summer squash, cucumbers and basil to put their heads up then I’ll sow more tomatoes, winter squash, kale, chard and sweetcorn although possibly not all this week. On Thursday, we’re going to see the Avengers movie but other than that I’m going to work at getting more sleep!


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Friday Links

Happy Friday! It’s been a sunnier week and as a consequence, I’ve been in a sunnier mood! It’s also been a busy week, I’ve been sowing things and trying to use my evenings better, but it’s also been manic at work too.Since the last Friday Links post, I posted a photo on Saturday, the usual miscellany on Monday, talked about the Joy of Bathing and updated you all on the state of the plot – spoiler – it’s looking good!. Yesterday, I shared my quick and easy method of making mayonnaise.

And now the list of stuff I thought was interesting from other people…

‘No alternative’: Theresa May sends British jets to join air strikes on Syria. Ma and I were talking about the possibility of this on and whether she would recall Parliament first on Friday night. I said that I thought any action would happen over the weekend. So I was unsurprised but still disappointed to find that it had happened early Saturday morning. What the hell do they think this will achieve?

The Syria bombing is a disgraceful act disguised as a noble gesture

They were so desperate to reduce numbers they forgot about justice, and decency and sense and took 6 months to respond to the reports of it happening.

Patagonia vs. Donald Trump

I never minded being part of Generation Rent. Until I was evicted yesterday. It’s not like renters are asking for unreasonable things. Like the author, I’m very lucky but the lack of security is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Labour would rip up the definition of affordable housing. I’d vote for it.

I am bewildered in the aftermath of heartbreak. Jesus, quite literally in this case, poor girl. I can’t imagine how that works, I can’t imagine it happening when you are 25. It can be got over, anything can, but Christ on a bike that is rubbish…

How funding cuts work: first, they come for the furniture

In this golden age of political arrogance, David Cameron is king

Following the Queen’s example, I shall be taking my mum to any interviews to suggest that I should get  the job. Because it seems to be working for her son. I thought they were supposed to set an example!

‘Very angry badger’ causes part of Scottish castle to be closed

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What foods do you always have in the house? You know the ones that your cooking and eating are built around?

Mayonnaise is not one of those foods in my house, at best I bought it because I needed it for potato salad, or because I knew someone was coming who would want it. I had no objections to the jarred stuff because I didn’t really eat it or care.

But recently, I had a craving for coleslaw and as luck would have it, all the ingredients except mayonnaise. So I googled it and came up with this link. Two minutes, all ingredients I have in the house, I had made mayonnaise. Go me.

I’ve made it a couple times since and this is the combination that I like best.

  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (from 1/2 a lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 120ml sunflower oil
  • 120ml light olive oil

It couldn’t be easier, add all the ingredients to a tall container that is just wider than the base of your stick blender (this is the one that mine came with!)

Put blender in container, blend until it all emulsifies and looks like mayonnaise.(If you realise halfway through that your stick blender as died, then what I did was transfer everything to the small bowl of my magimix and pray. That worked!)I much prefer it to the stuff you buy in bottles and I will try it in potato salad when summer comes around.


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Allotment Adventures: All by myself

This week, I was abandoned by the weeder-in-chief, who seems to think she should have a social life. I don’t know, parents nowadays.. (although she spent my childhood telling us that she “was put on this earth to me, not just to be your mother” – which is a fair point!)

Anyway on Saturday, the sun was shining and it was a perfect day for working on the plot. Remember the list from last week? Here it is, with what I got done crossed off…

  • build the cloche
  • outdoor sowing
    • more peas
    • beetroot
    • salad
    • parsley and borage
    • flowers?
  • sow indoors
    • cucumbers
    • cucamelons
    • summer squash
    • winter squash
    • marigolds
    • more tomatoes
    • prick out the tomatoes that we’ve sown
  • move leek seedlings into cloche
  • bonfire (weather permitting)
  • last coast of paint for the shed (weather permitting)
  • trim rosemary bush

The first thing I did was paint the shed, which looks great (even if I do say so myself…I also weeded the raspberries and pulled this one up from the broad bean fence

I planted lily of the valley in one of the flower circles (the one under the plum tree, admired my rhubarb which has taken off and sowed afgan poppy seeds in the flower circle between the rhubarb and the gooseberry bush.Check out the leaves on the blueberries…I sowed peas and hopefully protected them from the foxesI also built the cloche and sowed carrots and radishes in bucketsI also sowed beetroot and salad and spinach in the salad beds and covering the beds in fleece more because of the foxes than because I think they’ll need it this week!

I also sowed parsley and borage in the herb beds and the coriander I sowed just to see if they would come up are! I’m excited!I was shattered at the end of the day but it looks really good and if the weather stays good this week, we’ll be doing alright.

The last thing I did was picked chard because that has come back to life…I went home happy but dirty…

At home, after I washed my hands, I potted on tomatoes.

Here is the list for next week,

  • sow indoors
    • cucumbers
    • cucamelons
    • summer squash
    • winter squash
    • marigolds
    • more tomatoes
    • sow basil
    • pot on sweet peas and move to cloche
  • move leek seedlings into cloche
  • weed
  • bonfire
  • do another bucket of carrots
  • strim the grass on the edges, I also offered to do Joe’s too!

I can’t think of anything else, but I’m sure that I’ll remember something! 

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