This summer, I spent the past three weeks at UT Austin for a summer program. Since I was staying in a dorm, I ate at restaurants or at the dorm with food worse than that on airplanes for three weeks straight. When I came home, I had such a craving for fresh vegetables that I have never had before (and doubt I ever will again). I also really wanted to attempt to eat the least amount of processed foods as possible. So, I made a list of all of the foods that I eat on a regular basis that are made outside of my home. The two at the top were: hummus and bread.
Both of these items were very daunting, so I decided to bring in some help. With hummus, I have attempted making it at least three times and each time was a greater failure. Per usual, I turned to my trusty food bible: Bon Appétit. For the bread, I turned to the best baker I know: my mom. She has taught me everything I know about baking. For a simpler start on bread we decided to go with a recipe that would only take an evening as opposed to the two weeks of some sourdough recipes (the whole process of making the hummus actually took longer than the bread).
Making the hummus:
If you want to eat hummus an hour after you start, choose another recipe. I actually had to postpone making this hummus because I forgot to start soaking the chickpeas the night before. Once the chickpeas had been soaked for 12 hours, the rest of the recipe was fairly simple: just simmer the chickpeas, then purée them with the other ingredients (I am eternally indebted to food processors).
While making the hummus, I listened to Stromae’s Racine Carrée. Stromae is a really great French artist whose music is perfect during the summer. Although most people have heard “papoutai,” I love the songs: “moules frites,” “ave cesaria” and “tous les mêmes.”
Notes on the hummus:
Both my parents and I loved this hummus. My dad is a hummus fiend who buys a Central Market hatch chile hummus as if his life depends on it. With this recipe, I successfully managed to convert him to homemade hummus. He promised to only eat this hummus and not buy store-bought hummus as long as I made it weekly.
Making the bread:
Although not a two week process, making the bread still took a long time. The process itself was fairly simple: short bursts of kneading interspersed by periods of waiting for the bread to rise. The kneading was highly satisfying (and reminded me of one of my favorite aspects of cooking: using my hands). Waiting for the bread to rise could’ve been tedious, but instead as a family we watched the first Chef’s Table on Netflix. The episode about Massimo Bottura was humbling, inspiring and deliciously punctuated by stunning shots of his culinary creations.
While making the bread, I listened to the score from Romeo and Juliet (the ballet). I enjoy listening to classical at night. Plus, Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64: Act 1: Dance of the Knights was great background for kneading.
Notes on the bread:
The recipe made two whole loaves, which sounds great, but I wish it had only made one. By the time the bread came out of the oven, my dad had gone to bed, so we didn’t get his feedback. Nonetheless, my mom and I agreed that the bread was underwhelming. Regardless of what type of bread you like (my mom favors seedy whole grain breads, while I like good old-fashioned sourdough), this bread is not for you.
Lessons learned: Sometimes, a longer process is worth it. The next time I make bread, I will use a recipe that has longer rest periods.
The hummus was a success (finally, I make good homemade hummus!), but the bread was not. There are still two important takeaways from making these recipes:
- When cooking, you have to be willing to try something and fail. This is the only way you will learn.
- Cooking is a great way to bring family together. Even though the bread was less than great, my mom and I had fun making it together, and my dad had fun being the taste-tester.