29 May, 2012

Beach Birthdays

It just so happens that my daughter and I have birthdays in May, just a few days apart, so the family usually creates a joint celebration.  This year we visited a gorgeous South Shore beach for a picnic.  It was a vegetarian-friendly and gluten-free meal, but not dry.  My son made a wonderful sangria that he elegantly dubbed "booze-juice",  but it was lovely to sip in the fresh sea air at our own picnic table with sushi and fresh salad and a gluten-free tofu cheesecake to follow.

Feted with food and presents and family love, it was a day to tuck away in memory, to take out and polish when I'm in need of a little lift.

I took some pictures, to share with you.

02 May, 2012

Hummus: Old Standby, New Success

Like you, I've been eating hummus for years, but I never enjoyed it that much.  I tried to make it at home, but it was bitter and the flavour just wasn't somehow right.  When I bought it occasionally at the grocery store, it was usually too garlicky in an acrid way, or infused with other things like roasted peppers and herbs, that to me just didn't seem to enhance the flavour.

I had pretty much given up on getting good hummus, until I discovered a little near-by local takeout place that is owned by some Lebanese people.  They mostly serve fish and chips, and other fried foods, but they have a few of their homemade favourites on the menu.  One is hummus.  I was a little trepidacious to order it, as I always am in unfamiliar food places, in case it's cross-contaminated with gluten.

I was right to be worried.  The first time I ordered a small tub and took it home to use with gluten-free bread.  That time I think I was okay, but the next time they put it in a take-out container drizzled with olive oil and lemon with tomatoes and pita bread on the side and I had a reaction.  I really can't blame them because they, like most folks without gluten intolerance, don't seem to know about how careful you need to be, and they are usually too busy for me to feel comfortable explaining it.

Though I enjoyed every bite of the hummus, I didn't enjoy the headache and skin reaction that galloped in after, so I decided it would be better to make home-made.

If only I had a good recipe.

I have to admit I was influenced by stopping by Book of Yum and reading Seamaiden's review and yummy pictures of a local restaurant specializing in authentic hummus.

So what to do?  Like everything else involving web research these days, I leaned on Google for an "authentic hummus recipe" and got lucky on my first try.  This recipe made delicious, creamy, mild hummus that, spread on a plate, drizzled with olive oil, and decorated with tomato wedges, lettuce cups, and toast points makes a wonderful lunch that even my mother loves.

Here's a link to Authentic Middle Eastern Hummus as well as some pictures of recent lunch plates.  I followed the recipe exactly (with 3 cloves of garlic) and it turned out well. I used a food processor and processed very well, tasting at intervals until it was smooth and creamy.  You should be careful to cook the chick peas well, if you don't want this process to be too lengthy.

It made enough for about four to six 1/2 cup lunch plates as well a a good pint-sized container to freeze. The recipe said it freezes well. I'll let you know when we dip in later.

Thanks to Simone for such a successful hummus recipe!  A quick-to-fix healthy homemade lunch that I and my mother both like is a real winner in this caregiver's repertoire.  I'll be making this MUCH more often, now.

Update:  The frozen hummus is indeed good, just a shade less so than the fresh, but you need to eat it up right away as it gets stronger after a day or so, so freeze it in serving-sized containers. Also good drizzled with key lime juice as well as the olive oil.  Wish I had some more right now.