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A Cooking Vacation

July 17, 2018

So did anything interesting happen yesterday?

I’m in vacation mode, so I’m not letting anything get me down. All the horrors and tragedies of the moment will still be there when I get back. Or maybe they will have resolved themselves. Who’s to say. Either way, I’m in Vermont. There is plenty of beer. And we’ve got a hot tub.

Not like we need a hot tub. It’s hot as heck up here. Even on the side of this mountain.

Yesterday I went to a highly recommended sandwich place, visited a local distillery, and helped to cook dinner for our extended family of twelve people. Maybe later I’ll talk about some of the cooking on this trip.

However, for Vacation Week, I wanted to turn things around a bit and write about having a vacation from cooking. And as I was considering that idea, one thing came to mind.

Child labor.

Stay with me for a moment. Because I’m not talking about the exploitation of those too young to advocate for themselves. Rather, I’m talking about getting kids into the act. Your own kids. Or your nieces and nephews. Maybe even the children of your friends and neighbors.

Recently, Little Miss Fussy had a friend over to the house who enjoyed hummus. So I asked her if she knew what went into it. And then I asked her if she had ever made it.

Before I knew it, I had two willing helpers, with small fingers, to help me peel a mess of beans.

Yes, I said peel. Because thanks to that one fateful potluck at Congregation Gates of Heaven in Schenectady, I’m fully on board with the notion of peeling chickpeas. It helps to have a tried and true technique.

There’s nothing magical about it. My friend at Gates dumps all of the chickpeas on a dishtowel, and then simply goes through them one by one. In the end, all that remains is a pile of beans ready for the food processor, and a larger pile of skins ready for the compost pile.

Could you soften those skins with baking powder? Sure. But no matter how soft you get them, they will still have the texture of skin and keep your hummus from being its best.

What’s even better is to let a kid—or kids—help you. We turned the process into a game, or rather, more like a race. Could I beat two young girls? You better believe it. And just to be sure, we used the digital scale to quantify the results.

It’s true what they say, many hands make light work. And it turned the process of making hummus as easy as being on vacation.

Then it was just the matter of pureeing everything in the food processor in the right proportions. Garlic first. Then beans. Then tahini. Then good olive oil. Then freshly squeezed lemon juice. Then chickpea water as needed. With salt added at every step in the process.

And there you have it. After a few minutes, my daughter’s friend went from only knowing hummus as something you bought at the store, to having a hands on experience of what it takes to make it from scratch, and the different flavors that are used to make it delicious.

As a side note, Little Miss Fussy is totally spoiled when it comes to hummus. She had a camp sleepover, and i had to send her with some non perishable food items for lunch. At ShopRite I found a lunch sized package of shelf-stable hummus with crackers. I was cautiously optimistic that it would be a delicious treat.

Maybe that’s true for 99% of US Schoolchildren. But how do you expect her to go back to the farm after she’s seen real hummus?

One Comment leave one →
  1. albanylandlord permalink
    July 22, 2018 3:12 pm

    One of my great revelations in life happened when talking about how nobody cooks today – and realizing that it is largely because we never taught our kids how. My wife (mostly) and I work very hard to put home-cooked healthy meals on the table as many nights as possible and we were very proud of how we were raising our kids to eat healthy and educating them about food. But if we don’t have them help us cook and teach them to cook how are they supposed to eat healthy when they leave? I certainly am not going to cook for them after they leave!

    We started having them help, and them making them responsible for meals on an occasional and then weekly basis. This had the side benefit of having them enjoy and appreciate food more and even watch cooking shows for ideas. Hopefully we have taught them a lifelong interest and skill and they will pass it on.

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