Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bitter Sweet

I dis-like goodbyes. I tend to cry like a baby, my eyes turn red for an hour, and I feel a little empty inside. One of my kids inherited this unavoidable tendency to cry, while my husband and youngest manage to stay composed, since they seem to know that goodbyes are not forever, they are simply see-you-laters. Oh how I've tried to keep my cheeks dry, my eyes white, my dignity in tact. I think cold, heartless thoughts. I pretend we are driving to the zoo, not the airport. I plan for the future, when we'll reunite.

Nothing. Nope, nothing seems to help. On the contrary, holding those crocodiles in just makes them burst like Niagara Falls. So today, when I drop my parents off to catch their plane back to my childhood home, far far away, I am not holding back. I am going to let myself feel what needs to be felt, I am sure it's better that way, anyway.

Saying goodbye to Summer can be bitter sweet, too. At least one thing's guaranteed, it'll be back in about eight or nine months. For kitchen people like me, there is something super special and unique about transitioning from hot days to cool ones, as we continue to enjoy the fruits of Summer's bounty, but crave the comfort of warmed bellies.

So here's a little twist on Zucchini Bread. When I take that first bite, I am reminded of the sweetness of Summer yet enjoy the comfort of Fall, and my tears are no where to be seen.

Spiced Zucchini with Apricot Bread

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini
3/4 cup diced, dried apricots
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 ground cloves
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Combine butter and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk for a minute or two, then add the vanilla and eggs. Stir in zucchini and apricots.
In a separate bowl, sift together salt, baking soda, baking powder, spices and flour.
Using a small spatula, pour the dry ingredients into the large bowl, then gently stir only just until combined. The more you stir, the denser the bread becomes.
Grease a loaf pan, fill with batter.
Bake in the 350 F oven for one hour.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Standing ovation

Hello. It's been a while. It's been busy. I suppose that's life!

We've officially said good-bye to Summer, and I am OK with that, as you know, I celebrate these kind of things. I feel a bit like an empty Nester, as both kids are off to full day school. Yet still, days are full of to-do lists... The next time you, the homemaker, are drilled with what it is you fill your day with, just give your opponent a disapproving look. These people have no clue. Which makes me think, we have holidays for just about everything, and yes, that includes Mothers Day, but I personally believe there should be a day that celebrates the HOMEMAKER. Western society has lost appreciation for it. Working mothers get their applause for doing it all... I think us homemakers should get a standing ovation, for doing it all on a teeny tiny budget, for tidy homes, beautiful dinners, happy kids, I mean everything. Who's with me here?

Of course the perfect homemaker is also the perfect host. Ever ready to welcome, feed and send guests off with plenty to talk about. And since you are perfect, you always have a lush supply of crunchy vegetables in your kitchen. (Right?!) So keep a few more things kicking around, and you'll have yourself the perfect hummus to match.

Smokey Hummus
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 - 2 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp kosher salt
one 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 1/2 tbsp sesame tahini
1 lemon, for juicing
3 - 4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp Spanish paprika
several dashes of hot sauce - you decide how much

Place the garlic and salt in a food processor or blender. Process until coarsely chopped.
Add everything else, and process until smooth.
Check seasoning, adding more salt, lemon juice or hot sauce as desired.
Process until very smooth.

Sprinkle with a little paprika and a dash of olive oil, serve at room temperature.
Can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.