Spinach and herb hummus

Spinach and herb hummus

Spinach and herb hummus

The memorial day parade goes right by our house. We live in a small town, so it’s a small parade, but people come early and set up lawn chairs. They line the streets, waiting, with their early morning Italian ices. The band marches by, loud and raggedy and perfect, followed by the city council members, then a small group of girl scouts and boy scouts, and then the ladies auxiliary drives by. The town’s veterans walk by, followed by a car-full of veterans of foreign wars. And then every single fire truck for miles around rattles by our house. Everybody throws candy, and my boys sit on the stoop waiting, and scramble around to pick up the pieces as they fall. This is what memorial day is about for my boys. I think they miss the bigger meaning of the day and think it’s sort of a small-scale halloween–a twin celebration that strangely combines remembering the dead with eating candy, just like halloween does. And it’s a good day for me to try to turn off that part of me that’s resistant to any kind of flag-waving, pom pom shaking show of school spirit or patriotism, that’s always been distrustful of what could easily become unthinking support for any cause, which has gotten us into too many wars in the first place. A good day for me to try to silence my inner cynic, and recognize the value of remembering, as a community, and sharing our gratitude. After all there’s something very moving about our scruffy little parade, something solemn and joyful and beautiful.

I worked a long weekend, too, because aside from everything else, Memorial day is a holiday and people go out to eat. Lots of people. So I was too tired to cook when I came home, and we made one of my favorite quick and tasty dinners. Oven roasted french fries and hummus! I blended some baby spinach into the hummus for flavor and greenness. And I added some herbs. I used dried, but obviously fresh would be far better.

Here’s Dancing at Whitsun by Jean Redpath.

    The fields they stand empty, the hedges grow free
    No young men to tend them nor pastures to seed
    They are gone like the forests of oak trees before
    Have gone, to be wasted in battle.

    Down from the green farmlands and from their loved ones
    Marched husbands and brothers and fathers and sons.
    There’s a fine roll of honour where the Maypole once stood,
    And the ladies go dancing at Whitsun.

    There’s a straight row of houses in these latter days
    All covering the downs where the sheep used to graze.
    There’s a wreath of red poppies a gift from the Queen
    But the ladies remember at Whitsun,

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Chickpea, artichoke, olive and goat cheese dip

artichoke goat cheese dip

artichoke goat cheese dip

Skip James is one of my favorites. His voice is so haunting and plaintive, and his playing so sweet. I love his song Look Down the Road, and it’s been in my head a lot lately. Here’s a sample of the wonderful lyrics…

Look down the road
‘Fer as my eyes could see
Hey-hey, yeah
‘Fer as my eyes could see
And I couldn’t see nothin’
Looked like mine, to me

I don’t want no woman
Got hair like drops a-rain
Hey-hey-hey
Got hair like drops a-rain
Boy, you know this a shame
It’s a pity an a cryin’ shame

Beautiful!! In honor of this song, today’s playlist subject is songs about “The Road.” They don’t need to have “the road” in the title, but all of mine do, because I’m lazy and late for work. I’ve made the playlist collaborative, so you should be able to add your own suggestions!!

This dip is a miracle of last-minute deliciousness. If you have a can of chickpeas and a can of artichoke hearts, a tub of olives and a bit of goat cheese, you’re ready to entertain! Or make a nice dinner with good bread and a salad.

Here’s my THE ROAD playlist! Feel free to add your own songs.

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Roasted rosemary fries and spicy tomato hummus

Roasted fries & tomato hummus

When I was in high school, I used to come home from school, heat up some frozen french fries and read Tintin. The bright, beautifully drawn world was such a perfect escape from the confusion of reality. I loved those books, from when I was little, with a sort of attachment I don’t feel for inanimate objects any more. I loved the perfect ink-lines – they’re so pleasingly precise – exactly where they should be. I love the colors – the various blues that Herg√© uses resonate like few other colors in my memory. I loved the way Tintin dresses. I’m ashamed to think how much time I’ve spent trying to decide if I prefer the short-sleeved yellow shirt and black sock combination, or the one with blue sweater and white socks. I love Snowy – so smart and funny – the perfect comic foil to Tintin’s earnestness. I like Tintin himself, and his little pale apartment. He’s a boy, but he has his own place, his own job (he’s a journalist, but he never writes anything, does he?) He’s so calm, and kind, and curious, and fearless, and surprisingly strong! He’s such a rational, average sort of person in many ways, but he’s surrounded by a universe of eccentric friends. The disappointingly racist and xenophobic books weren’t available when I was younger (or maybe my parents wouldn’t let us have them) so that didn’t cloud the lovely clarity of the pictures and stories. I love the light, deft style and subtle humor, so thoroughly stomped on by Spielburg’s gruesomely heavy-handed, Hollywood platitude-laden mess. He shouldn’t have done it!

Well! I have to get to work, so I’ll stop chattering on about my lifelong affection for the boy reporter and his best canine friend. This is my sort of version of french fries and catsup, except that it’s a sweet and spicy and smoky hummus instead of catsup. Fear not! If you don’t like catsup, you’ll still like this (at least David did, and he won’t eat catsup!) It’s a little sweet, and it has some sweet spices (cinnamon & allspice) but it also has smoky savory smoked paprika, and garlic and shallots. Hummus and french fries is one of our favorite simple meals, with a big green salad. It’s sort of a tradition that when we’re out for the day, and we start to feel our energy lag, we’ll stop for a glass of red wine, and a plate of french fries and hummus!

Tintin catches a train

I don’t really know of any songs about Tintin, but one of the things I love about the books is the effortlessness with which he travels all over the world, so here’s Donald Byrd with Places and Spaces.
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Not necessarily hummus

Hummus is delicious – but the lovely subtle chickpea lends itself to all sorts of flavor combinations. Nothing could be easier than to whip up a chickpea dip, and it’s a wonderful recipe to have on hand to feed unexpected guests. In the summer, when it’s too hot to cook, or after work, when you just don’t have the time or energy to cook, this makes a nice dinner with some good bread and a good salad. Hummus, french fries and red wine is actually a favorite meal of ours! Store-bought hummus is surprisingly expensive. But a can of chickpeas is very cheap, and dried chickpeas are even cheaper. I tend to use canned – I do for most beans. I like to cook them from dried, but I don’t always decide what I’m going to make early enough to provide for soaking & cooking time. I’ve found that the secret ingredient to making a hummus with a light pleasant consistency is … water! A little bit of water added at the end and blended in really pulls everything together in a surprising way. Yup.

Here’s Hank Mobley’s The Dip, to listen to while you decide what to add to your chickpeas.
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