My cooking woes continue

August 11th, 2005 § 10 comments

At the time, last week’s failed pickling attempt seemed like a minor setback. It has since grown into a full-blown New Recipe Slump. Yesterday, I attempted to make hummus, but I was doomed from the start by my lack of a food processor. After a great deal of effort spent on breaking up chickpeas with a fork and mashing them with an improvised mortar and pestle, I created a beige substance with decent flavor and a revoltingly chunky texture. This morning’s cooking experiment was a recipe for quick pickled carrots, which turned out to be edible but rather dull.

Now I need to get my confidence back up, so I think I’ll look through my recipe binder tonight and see if I can find a sure thing—perhaps a refreshing summer beverage of some sort. I can still toast bagels and boil pasta without difficulty, so at least I won’t starve.


  • Dan says:

    I thought the lack of food processor was my problem, but all it did was smooth out my bad hummus. I gave up trying after I tasted Whole Foods’ hummus.

  • Jeff says:

    I’m a Haig’s fan, but I’m determined to make my own anyway, if for no other reason than to save money and avoid throwing away all that plastic. (I eat a lot of hummus.) Did you use canned chickpeas? Cooking dried chickpeas yourself makes a surprisingly large difference.
    Anyhow, I won’t be getting a food processor in the immediate future, so it’ll be a while before my next attempt.

  • Brian says:

    The infuriating thing about hummus is that when you ask people for a recipe, they look at you in this puzzled way, as if to say, “You mean you don’t know how to make it?” Then all they can say is that you use a bit of tahini, a bit of salt, some olive oil, and a whole bunch of chickpeas, and adjust those until it is right. You wouldn’t figure that hummus is one of those things which, by necessity, is different every time you make it.
    But whenever I try to make hummus from a recipe, it turns out barely edible. If I’m lucky.
    There is only one thing for it, Jeff, m’boy. Let the creative spirit fly. Clean the kitchen, wash the hands, throw away the recipe book, and just keep mucking with the mash until it tastes right. Have a refreshing summer mojito to keep things interesting.
    On the subject of canned versus cooked chickpeas, it is truly amazing how much better fresh cooked is. Some canned brands are better than others, but they are all too firm to use in most things I cook. If I don’t think far enough ahead to have fresh chickpeas on hand, I tend to boil the canned for a good 20 to 30 minutes to get them to the right texture.

  • Jeff says:

    I did indeed improvise, and the flavor turned out pretty well. It was the texture that I couldn’t stand. Once I have the right equipment to experiment further, I vow to develop a hummus recipe that yields reproducibly good results.
    Some preliminary recommendations: include a couple of lemons’ worth of juice, about a tablespoon of cumin, one clove of garlic, and a quarter teaspoon of cayenne. Also, I think a half cup of tahini might be too much.

  • dumptruck says:

    I feel the need to add that Brian has never gotten lucky when he’s made hummus.

  • Rachel says:

    I also feel the need to post that if you ever want a date with my food processor, she’s available.

  • Jeff says:

    If my ability to get lucky has anything to do with chickpeas, I’m in trouble (never mind the painful agony of dating a food processor, but thanks for the offer, Rachel).

  • dumptruck says:

    I just meant that it’s never been edible. Like he said. Honest. Or not.

  • Brian says:

    Strange but true: early copies of the Kama Sutra included instructions for making an aphrodisiac hummus. Sadly, the sanskrit was mistranslated, and now the only remaining evidence of the recipe is the “lotus in bloom” position.

  • Jeff says:

    Brian, that reminds me that I’ve been meaning to plug your upcoming book, The Erotic Potential of Chickpeas: 80 Ways to Put the Cayenne Back in Your Vegetarian Marriage.

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