Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sun-dried Tomato Hummus

I've been snowed in for several days with my husband and my kids, so I have been making lots of food. In addition to baking bread, I've had my crockpot churning out lentil and rice, marinara sauce simmering on the stove, and pasta boiling. But sometimes we all just want to grab a snack or make a sandwich, for which I made my simple sun-dried tomato hummus. It reminds us a little bit of pizza, it's that good. We spread it on bread, dip crackers into it, and wrap it up in romaine leaves.

Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

1 15 oz. can chick peas
1/4 cup tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
7 sun-dried tomatoes, drained
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil

Combine chick peas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and salt in food processor until smooth. If lumpy, add water a tablespoon at a time and pulse until desired consistency. Add sundried tomatoes, oregano and basil and process again until smooth.

Garnish with: fresh basil leaf, slice of fresh tomato, chopped black olives, or chopped garlic.
Will last in refrigerator for several days.

Olive Rosemary Bread for my new Breadmaker

For Christmas, I received a bread maker. I can't for the life of me explain why I have never gotten one before. Seven people live in this house, and we all eat a lot of bread. Better late than never, I suppose.

My first attempt at bread failed. After that, I followed directions ex-act-ly from recipes I found on the internet for vegan breadmaker breads. No substitutions. No experiments. My results were much better for plain whole wheat, white, and oat loaves.

Feeling confident, I decided to use the same ratios of liquids-to-solids for the breads I'd already made and try my hand at an original olive-rosemary bread. While it was baking, the herbs scented the whole house. It turned out better than I had hoped. The kids couldn't wait to cut into it, but after an initial taste, I held them off long enough to snap a photo.

Lynne's Recipe for Olive and Rosemary Bread-maker bread (yields large 1/12 - 2 lb loaf)

1 1/2 c plus 2 tbsp.warm water
4 Tbsp. olive oil
3 tsp sugar
3 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 1/2 c bread flour
2 1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/2 c chopped pitted kalamata olives

Put in water, oil, sugar, salt, pepper, flour in order (or in manufacturer-suggested order). Make a well with finger in center of flour. Add yeast. Set machine for "white" or "basic" and "medium" crust. Start machine. After approximately 40 minutes ("rise"), add rosemary, oregano, basil and olives. Make sure all ingredients are added in (use rubber spatula to scrape any off sides or bottom).

Let cool. Slice. Serve with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or sun-dried tomato hummus.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I Believe in You

In Tina Fey’s fourth Emmy acceptance speech, she self-deprecatingly credited her parents. “I want to thank my parents for somehow raising me to have confidence that is disproportionate with my looks and abilities. Well done. That is what all parents should do.” Tina Fey entered the precarious, male-dominated field of comedy. Her parents could have discouraged her. They could have told her she wasn't pretty enough, or talented enough, or that the field was simply too hard to enter.

My own intelligent 20 year old daughter, Julia, could succeed as a diplomat, an international business leader, and a network executive. Her work ethic is unparalleled and she has a multitude of skills and knowledge. She has a 3.8 at the University of Massachusetts with a double major. Her plan: to be a Disney princess! This is the same dream she had when she was four.

Is it a parent’s role to unconditionally support a child’s decisions? Or is it the parent’s responsibility to protect the child from making mistakes? I think it is my role to unconditionally support the decisions, regardless of my opinion of them.

Truthfully, I am nervous for her. It is possible that she won't make the cut. Maybe she will get a role but won't make enough money to pay her bills. I could tell her “That’s a frivolous career. You are too smart, serious, studious for that. Try engineering like Dad. Try accounting like your grandfather.” But I keep it to myself. To her, I say, “You’ll be an excellent princess. Let’s research how you can get a job in a Disney theme park."

There are plenty of people willing to squash a young person’s dreams. In the field of acting, there are legions of agents, casting directors, and other actors whose sole purposes seems to be to strip an actor of dignity and hope. There are well-meaning, loving people in my family, two of whom raised me (whose identity shall remain cleverly disguised), who helpfully encourage my children to pursue careers they view as more practical. But things have changed in our economy since their heyday in the 1960s. Prestigious careers of old no longer exist. Attorneys discourage their children from attending law school. Doctors warn to steer clear of medicine. All I know with certainty is that I will not know what careers will exist in five years. New careers crop up regularly. Just because we are adults does not mean we are clairvoyant. I can’t see the future. I can only see my bright, optimistic children, growing into adults.

Tina Fey’s parents could have suggested that Tina become a math teacher. Tina would still have loved them and probably thanked them in her acceptance speech. But they believed in their daughter’s ability to make her dreams come true. As a result, Tina has risen to the top in a fiercely competitive field. Against all odds, she is the Emmy-award winning creator, writer, and star of a successful network television show.

As a mother, I don’t have to believe in my children’s dreams. I have to believe in my children. There will always be well-meaning friends and relatives to burst their bubbles. I want to be the person who always, always has confidence in them. I hope if any of my kids ever win an Emmy, they will thank me for my unrelenting belief that they would make it.