If you don’t know the words, hummus along

All in all, it was your basic, normal family day at the mall.Well, normal for us (we’re the ones that put the ‘fun’ in dysfunction).

Every six weeks or so, my folks come from Greensboro, and Petey, The Kid and I meet them at the mall—usually The Streets at Southpointe.  We wander around, grab some lunch, and do some shopping.

My mom and I gravitate toward Sephora for our mutual quest of the unlined, luminous skin of a toddler, and my own private mission to locate the one mascara which will give me lashes that rival the luxurious flamboyance of a Kardashian.

As for the nerd that is The Kid, any store that sells any Poindexter paraphernalia contains a homing beacon that draws my child like an ant to a melted popsicle.  If the window displays time lords, star ships, or muscle-bound men wearing their underwear on the outside; The Kid’s there.

Wil Wheaton, a member of the Nerdsville royal court.

My dad and Petey are normally on the hunt for a bench that will contain them both, as well as the bags and parcels which Mom, The Kid and I mound around them, like gifts around slightly wilted Christmas trees.

We decided this time we’d mix things up a bit and go to Crabtree.

Plans were made, logistics were worked out and we awaited Saturday.

Saturday morning The Kid called them when we arrived at the mall so they could meet us.  When my child was on the phone, I had a strange thought.  “Make sure they’re at Crabtree too.”Nope.

Somehow, despite the phone calls firming plans, the location information had been lost somewhere between my lips and my mother’s ears.  They were in Durham.

Somebody was going to have to change locations.

The Kid and I really should have gone to them.  But we couldn’t.  Luckily my folks are awesome, and they came to us.

The reason we couldn’t leave resides in Crabtree’s food court.  Not only is this restaurant one of our favorite food court eateries, Kabobi is one our favorite places to eat anywhere.

It’s simply the best Mediterranean I’ve ever eaten.  If you had a Lebanese grandmother you’d hope she could cook like this.  Everything is fresh, and really tasty.  Their lemon chicken is never dry, the fried eggplant is never greasy, and the lentils and rice are what all lentils and rice should strive to be.

If we go to Crabtree, we go to Kabobi.

Thank you, Mr. Sanjar.

It’s not something we do as often as we’d like, though.  So ever since The Kid was small, we’ve made a dish that can take the edge off our Kabobi craving.

Roasted garlic hummushumus1 head of garlic

2 (15-16 ounce) cans chick-peas, drained and rinsed

2/3 cup well mixed tahini

¼ cup fresh lemon juice, or to taste

¼ cup olive oil, + more for drizzling

¼ to ½ cup water, as needed

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked pepper


Toasted pita thins

Roast garlic: Preheat oven to 300.  Cut garlic head in half horizontally.  Drizzle on a little olive oil on cut sides, and season with salt and pepper.  Put halves back together.  Wrap in foil and bake 45 minutes.  When done, remove from oven, unwrap, and let cool.  When cooled, remove cloves from the skins and put into food processor.

In a food processor puree the chick-peas with garlic, tahini, lemon juice, ¼ cup of the oil, and ¼ cup water, scraping down the sides, until the hummus is smooth. Add more water, if necessary, to thin hummus to desired consistency.  Transfer to bowl and season. Drizzle hummus with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika. Serve with warmed pita.Yield: 4 cups

The brightness of the lemon is a great foil for the deep, sweet flavor of the roasted garlic, so adjust the lemon until there’s balance.  And lemon always needs plenty of salt, so don’t be shy.  Just keep tasting it.

Like I said, our trip to the mall was just a normal run-of-the-mill trip for my family.  You could duplicate it yourself, though.  In addition to your family you’re gonna need a full clown car, a six-pack of monkeys, ten or twelve preschoolers high on jelly beans, and a pair of cantankerous pack mules.


Thanks for your time.

Diary of a mad woman in a kitchen Part 2

Last week I related to you excerpts from the food diary that I faithfully kept for the entire year.

Before I continue though, I’d like to explain what a true Christmas miracle these columns are.

I’ve always loved to write, and the number one piece of advice to young writers is to keep a journal.

I’ve owned more diaries than I can count.  No dice.  Not one of them had more than ten or fifteen entries before it was set aside and forgotten.

Each new, pristine book was begun with the best of intentions.  I would be faithful and prolific.  This would be the one which would take.

But sadly, no.  The entries would be forced, stilted, and honestly; dull.

Until this year.  I decided to keep a culinary log with an eye to doing a column at the end of the year.  Maybe this is what kept me honest, and kept me coming back with new entries.

Whatever the reason, it worked:

July 2nd– It seems like every supermarket has all the fixings for a cook-out on sale.  Meat, condiments, chips, buns, and sodas are all reduced.  I am definitely stocking up the freezer.  It might be October before I have to buy hamburger or Kaiser rolls.

That lemon chicken is perfect.

July 11th– Petey, The Kid and I went over to Crabtree Valley Mall for lunch after a morning at the flea market.  We ate at Kabobi, in the food court.  When I haven’t visited for a while I tend to forget just how good their food is.  Lemon chicken, lentils and rice, grape leaves; it’s a Mediterranean wonderland.

July 23rd– Major bummer!  My favorite guilty pleasure while shopping at Brier Creek is to get a salted caramel milk chocolate candy at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Company.  Stopped by today and was terribly disappointed to find they had changed the recipe.  The caramel is stiffer and much larger, which since each piece is sold by weight makes it about twice the price.

August 8th– Dined at Golden Corral.  They now have breakfast on the buffet all day.  And…they have cotton candy on the dessert bar.  Woo Hoo!

September 7th– Had a sample of Panera’s new green passion power smoothie.  Even though I think mango tastes like baby food, I really liked it.  And at only 200 calories, it’s an awesome lunch on the go.

September 28th– Lowes had a new brand (Promised Land) chocolate milk on sale.  I picked up the 2%.  It’s rich, yummy, and less than 150 calories per serving.

October 17th– Went to the wedding of one of my oldest, closest friends.  The reception was held upstairs at The Pit, in Durham (321 Geer St).  There was a gorgeous view of downtown, and the finger food served was delicious.

Later on the 17th– Swung be Mickey D’s on the way home.  The order was wrong and the fries were left out.  Joe Pesci was right in Lethal Weapon.  They will make you most displeased at the drive-thru.

November 3rd– Halloween candy is 75% off and Boo Berry cereal is half price.  I knew I loved the fall.

December 16th– Made Salisbury steak from scratch.  It was really easy, and very tasty.  Serve it in a divided aluminum tray in front of the TV and you’re six years old all over again.  All you need is footy pajamas.

December 23rd– I hope all the readers of the Henderson Daily Dispatch have the very happiest of holidays.

Thanks for your time.