I’m feeling a little sentimental today. Maybe it’s something to do with the onset of winter, the seemingly endless rain and the fact that I’m sore and sniffly for the fourth time in just over two months. Yeah, I think I’m sad. Or more accurately, suffering from SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder, more commonly known as the ‘winter blues’. That’s what I tell myself, anyway, as I curl up in a little ball under a polar fleece blanket with lingering melancholy seeping into my bones like moisture into porous stone.
Now, enough with the self-indulgent crap. I have had several opportunities today to do things that would never be possible on a normal working Tuesday:
- I slept for seven daylight hours (SEVEN!) before waking up at approximately 8.15pm in a strange state of the unknown (ever had one of those moments where you wake up, still half unconscious, uncertain as to where you are or whether it’s night or day? Yep, it was one of those times). I then messaged my husband and was reminded that I’m Grover from the Muppets, on holidays in the Bahamas. How could I forget?
- I read six chapters of an amazing book called Sidetracked by Henning Mankell. Now, I’m not a habitual reader of crime fiction but Swedish writer Mankell is pretty darn good. Even if I did need to Google what a ‘rape field’ was (if you’re equally curious, rape is a flowering plant related to canola, used primarily for production of vegetable oil and biodiesel. Interesting).
- I ate snacks on the couch with my love whilst he worked on his VFX essay for college. Whilst eating radishes, hummus and seasoned flatbread I learnt that the ‘bluescreen’ method used for chroma key compositing was actually invented way back in the 1930’s by an American named Larry Butler to be used on the film ‘The Thief of Baghdad’ (1940). Smart guy.
- I watched this video of Charley the Duck. Over and over and over. Especially 0:37. So freaking cute.
Now, as this is a food-related blog I’m naturally going to include a few notes about the snacks we had earlier, which are supremely simple to make but really delicious. Alongside instructions for seasoned flatbread and my version of hummus, I’ve also included a simple recipe for lemon-infused olive oil which is my go-to topping for extra delicious hummus, ciabatta slathered in borlotti bean puree, or even just seamed asparagus, green beans or broccolini. Yum.
So… read on for the promised recipes, young padawan. And be thankful for couch days, rain that waters the earth, sleep, ducklings, a body that heals and loved ones who give therapeutic hugs when you’re feeling down. Take pleasure in the small things. I’m beginning to realise that they’re all I need.
Makes about 1 cup
- 400g can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
- 2 heaped tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 – 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1/2 garlic clove
- 1 tsp dried cumin seeds
- sea salt, to taste
Add your garlic, chilli flakes, cumin and a sprinkle of sea salt to a mortar and pestle and grind to a smooth paste. Place in the bowl of a food processor with your chickpeas and a little lemon juice. Blend until the ingredients form a thick paste. Add the rest of your lemon juice and about half the olive oil. Blend again, until the mixture looks thick, smooth and creamy (if it’s too thick or grainy, add in more olive oil and taste as you go). Taste, and season with a little more salt if necessary. Place in a bowl and top with a drizzle of lemon oil to serve.
Lemon-Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil
If you can’t be bothered infusing your own oil, my favourite shop-bought variety is Australian Cobram Estate Lemon Infused extra virgin olive oil. I’m not in any way associated with Cobram Estate but their products are both delicious and easy to find in your local supermarket.
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large lemon
Use a sharp knife to remove the zest from your lemon in large strips. If necessary, scrape off any remaining white pith prior to using.
Place your olive oil in a small saucepan over very low heat. When slightly warmed, add in the prepared lemon zest. Allow to steep for around 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Place your oil and lemon zest into a sterilised bottle or jar. Cap well, and store in a cool, dark place.
Notes: the zest will continue to infuse more lemon flavour into your oil with time. When it gets to a level that suits you, remove it as required. You can also use this method to steep other flavours into your olive oil, such as chilli, vanilla beans (great with fish) or herbs. Just make sure that you don’t allow the oil to overheat (smoke) or simmer as you’ll destroy it’s flavour and quality.
Grilled Flatbread with Mint, Honey and Paprika
- 2 large wholemeal pitta breads (substitute with lavash, mountain bread or any other flatbread)
- 2 tsp dried mint
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp crushed walnuts
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Honey, to drizzle
- Optional: 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Optional: fresh mint, chopped, and goat’s feta
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (360 degrees f). Place your flatbread directly on the bars of your oven rack to toast. When crisp but not browned, drizzle over some honey and then top with your herbs, spices, walnuts and Parmesan, if using. Place back into the oven and toast until your bread is brown and crisped, the nuts look toasted and your spices have browned and formed a gloriously sticky coating with the honey and Parmesan.
If you’re going to eat this flatbread on it’s own, I’d recommend scattering over some fresh mint and smearing it with fresh goat’s feta. You could even drizzle over some pomegranate molasses. But for a simple and delicious option, just break it into pieces and eat whilst still warm with lashings of hummus.
Notes: Feel free to use this seasoning on Turkish bread or sliced ciabatta. Grill until the exterior is crisp and browned, then dip into your spiced hummus. Yum. The flatbread is also wonderful topped with both hummus and a generous spoonful of kale salad for lunch or a satisfying snack.
Today was the first day that I’ve eaten radishes in about three years, and I bought them primarily because of their beautiful crimson hue. However, I did a bit of research and they’re actually very good for you. Eat some with your hummus, and enjoy the crisp heat of yet another vegetable that not only looks good, but is great for your body. God is definitely the master designer.
- Radishes contain only 16 calories (0.0669kj) per 100g. So you can pretty much eat them til you explode and you’ll still be thin. Just… exploded.
- They’re a rich source of antioxidants including eaxanthin, lutein and beta carotene whilst also being packed with dietary fibre.
- Fresh radishes provide 15 mg or 25% of the daily recommended dietary intake of vitamin C per 100g. Vitamin C is a powerful water soluble antioxidant required by the body for synthesis of collagen. It also fights free radicals which in turn works towards the prevention of cancer and inflammation whilst generally boosting immunity.
- Radishes also contain folate, vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamin and minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper and calcium.
“Eating pungent radish and drinking hot tea makes the starved doctors beg on their knees”
– Chinese proverb [*Please note: by including this proverb I am not condoning nor encouraging the starvation of any medical practitioners, via the purchase of radishes or otherwise]