Coming Home to Something Familiar

by Gena on January 10, 2012

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A few days ago, I was sitting on the subway when one of New York’s iconic subway mariachi bands boarded and began to play. As I stared around at the bemused and tolerant faces of the passengers around me, I thought to myself, “this could never happen in D.C..”

It couldn’t. For one thing, it’s forbidden to drink coffee on the D.C. subway, let alone sing, dance, and make merry. For another, D.C. doesn’t quite have New York’s adoration of street artists and musicians; “bohemian” isn’t the word I’d use to describe the city. The words I usually use are “Ann Taylor Loft” (not that there’s anything wrong with ATL, whence my Mom just got me a holiday gift. It’s just a very sensible look).

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve come to like my life here in the District. I really have. And it is a city with plenty of fine arts, which I’m lucky to be around. It’s just…well, it’s not New York. At the tail end of my publishing career, I remember sometimes feeling annoyed with hipsters. Having now been in D.C. for about eight months, let me tell you: I’d pay good money to see a few more hipsters around these parts. Or unconventionally dressed folks. Or mariachi bands on the subway.

But I digress. The point is that I came home yesterday, to D.C., in a state of some wistfulness. I thought about how I wouldn’t see my mother, my childhood friends, or Candle Café for another few months. Let alone an efficient public transportation system. And then I came home to this:

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Hello, Hobbit House Smile

I also came home to about ten texts from the other post-baccs, who are filing into the District for another semester. And as it occurred to me that I’d be seeing them all today, tomorrow, and all semester long, I was also struck by how much I’ve missed them. The other post-baccs are like family to me, and they’re one of many reasons that I can now call D.C. “home” without hesitating.

In the spirit of homecoming, I decided to make a recipe that screams “comfort” to me. Inspired by the extraordinary zucchini and almond hummus I gobbled down at Gingersnap’s Organic, I decided to pay homage to with a zucchini almond concoction of my own. I’ve made both zucchini hummus and almond hummus (Karen Knowler’s recipe) and I thought this was a really lovely in between: very rich, but lightened up by the zucchini base. Thanks to the chef at Gingersnap’s for planting the idea!

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Zucchini Almond Hummus (raw, vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Makes about 4-5 servings

1 cup almonds, soaked for about 8 hours (or overnight)
2 small zucchini, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 clove garlic (optional–I didn’t use, but it’ll taste traditional)
2 tsps cumin powder
1 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
Black pepper to taste
Juice of 1 large lemon (2-3 tbsp)

1) Place all ingredients in a Vitamix or other high speed blender, putting the zucchini at the bottom.

2) Blend on high, using the tamp attachment, till the mixture starts to get smooth. Resist the urge to add water. You’ll want to, but try first to let the tamp do the work, so that you don’t end up with a watery mix. If it’s not blending, then go ahead and add water very slowly, tablespoon by tablespoon, to get the hummus moving!

3) Keep blending till mixture is very smooth. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt or pepper if desired. Remove from blender and serve with raw crackers, in a wrap, with salad, on toast, with raw veggies, or however you like to eat your hummus.

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This hummus is truly delicious: lemony, fresh, and fragrant from the cumin. It’s also great to know that there’s a vegetable packed into every single bite!

Zucchini hummus holds a tender place in my heart, because it was one of the first recipes I made for myself when I was in my “experimental” early phases of raw foodism. I remember being so sure it wouldn’t work, and then so happy when it did. I can’t think of a better recipe to welcome myself home to D.C. with—a raw food classic, a personal favorite, and a recipe that is loaded with sentimental value.

With that, CR readers, it’s back to the grind I go. Tomorrow begins a new semester, and Orgo II is at noon. I won’t be able to be quite as present as I’ve been on the blog and on Twitter, but I’ll be here. And I’ll be back to tell you how the first day of Spring 2012 went tomorrow.


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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Rande @ The Vegetable Centric Kitchen January 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm

So simple, I love it!


Mama Pea January 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm

As soon as I saw that first pic of your home I said, “Hobbit house!” And then you said it. The big canister of Vega adds a nice touch ;) Good luck in your next semester!


Gena January 10, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Thanks, Mama Pea!


Maria @ Scandifoodie January 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm

I’m definitely making this today – sounds delicious!! When I visited NYC I also fell in love with the bohemian street scene. I miss that here in Sydney!


Christine (The Raw Project) January 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Love hearing your views on NYC & DC, really reminds me that I need to plan trips to both cities soon. And this hummus looks deliciously simple, my type of recipe. Thanks, this just may be dinner tonight. :-)


Gena January 10, 2012 at 8:15 pm

If you do, come visit me!


Valerie @ City|Life|Eats January 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Yay hobbit house. Love the Vega canister peeking out.


bitt January 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm

I appreciate your assessment on both cities. Be glad at least Democratic, I heard it was much more conservative during the Bush years. I’d still happily move to DC in a heartbeat, it seems much more liveable to me than busy NYC. But yes less funky. Be glad you are in DC because there are far worse places to be, which I wont list because I am sure some of your readers live there.

I have heard of almond hummus and I’d love to give this a try. I’ve been struggling to find a decently priced almond without Trader Joe’s around though.

Good luck with the new semester!


Gena January 10, 2012 at 8:15 pm

To me, the business and bustle and chaos of NYC is what makes me so happy. I know DC is more liveable by most standards, but not if you crave that level of incessant energy.

My local Whole Foods has had almonds on sale for $4.00 per bag for almost 3 months now. I can’t believe my good luck!


Alexa January 10, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I see you use the Vega Health Optimizer ;)
I just got done reading Brendan Brazier’s Thrive The vegan nutrition guide to optimal performance in sports and life and Thrive Foods :)


Gena January 10, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I adore the Vega optimizer, and have used it for a long time!


Karen January 10, 2012 at 6:43 pm

So happy to read about your gradual adjustment to your new home and your fellowship with your colleagues. All the best of luck on your first week of school, Gena…we’ll be supporting you from the sidelines as always!


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga January 10, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Welcome back home to the Hobbit House. I love that you call it that and did from the first time ages ago.

Ann Taylor Loft vs. Bohemian eclectic is why I don’t live in the burbs in San Diego and choose to live in the city. Nothing like what you have in NYC but there’s some flavor and flair which suits us.

Glad you are happy to be back at the Hobbit house and that you’re hitting your stride with DC and with this recipe!


Lolita January 10, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Good luck for the coming semester Gena. It’s so great that you have people in DC that are dear to you and make you feel at home.

I am itching to try this dip, being a big fan of all of almonds, hummus and zucchinis! The thing I love about raw dips is how simple the recipes can be, but what a flavor punch they pack! Yum!


Gena January 10, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Thank you, Lolita! They are my band of brothers.


Laura C January 10, 2012 at 7:45 pm

ATL to Bohemian very nearly captures my move from grad housing near UCSD to Hillcrest this fall. So much happier! Good luck with the orgo, you’ll have surpassed my knowledge of chemistry in about a week and I do not envy the experience! I’m having trouble imaging what that hummus would taste like (and how far from almond butter) so I guess I’ll have to try it out!


Gena January 10, 2012 at 8:12 pm

It’s like regular zucchini hummus, which is kind of like loose and lemony hummus hummus :)


janet @ the taste space January 10, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Knock your socks off at school – that’s what counts right now. I’ll still be here when you return. :)


Gena January 10, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Thanks, my talented friend. I won’t stray too far :) Just over a year left!


Pure2raw twins January 10, 2012 at 8:16 pm

good luck Gena!! look forward to hearing how it goes


Lauren January 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm

This looks great! Good luck, love, we will miss you!!


Dorota January 10, 2012 at 9:25 pm

When I went to visit New York this past summer, I was so buzzed on the energy of that place. We enjoyed spontaneous outbursts of chaos such as a bunch of guys doing break dancing on the subway!

It sounds like you are a New York girl through and through and you really miss home but at the same time you do appreciate your hobbit house and friends in DC. Good luck in your new semester!


Jami January 10, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Oh my goodness- I had to take the metro to work when I lived in DC 2 summers ago and it was AWFUL! No food, no food, more-than-occasional “sermons” from strangers, frequent failures of the air conditioning system in the 90-degree insanely humid summer (and resulting odors), constant weekend construction… just EWW!
Anyway — good luck this semester :) I just started yesterday and already am buried in 19th century Spanish literature up to my neck!


FoodFeud January 10, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Gena I just wanted to let you know I’m doing a raw cleanse this week and yr site has been a lifesafer, so thank you! I’ll add this recipe to the long, long list.
Best of luck in the semester and re-adjusting to your adopted home.


Alexia @ NamasteYoga January 11, 2012 at 3:35 am

zuchhini and almonds are some of my favourite foods and ingredients. this hummus looks amazing! comfort hummus at its best!


Hannah January 11, 2012 at 4:11 am

My heart is doing happy dances to know that your Hobbit House and DC are feeling like home, and that you have beautiful smiling faces to help pull you through the awful Orgo moments!

My heart is also proud of itself for instinctively reaching for the zucchini at the shops today, after having not had them for months, because clearly it psychically knew what awaited in Google Reader :D


wendy (healthy girls kitchen) January 11, 2012 at 8:50 am

I think this recipe is going on my Plant-strong Superbowl Party Foods list. It’s not gonna be at my house this year, so I get to carefully select what I will bring and this one looks like a must! Best of luck this year at school. Remember, the world needs docs like you are going to be!


Jessica January 11, 2012 at 8:55 am

Great post! I got distracted by one thing though… you can’t drink coffee on the subway?!?!?! WHY??


Olivia January 11, 2012 at 10:22 am

Ummm, you can’t drink coffee on the subway? Wha?

So glad DC is starting to feel like home to you. I know it can take some time to settle in to a new city, especially when you’ve just finished a visit to the old city. Hang in there and it will get better each day.

Good luck in the new semester!


Allysia January 11, 2012 at 10:27 am

Your hobbit house is so adorable! And you always make New York sound like this crazy-awesome place, I can’t wait to visit the city one day! Eventually we’ll be living in Ontario or Quebec, which means at least New York would be a close visit, and not a 2-day drive. Good luck with the edumacation!


Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles January 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm

I’m glad your homecoming was pleasant, though bittersweet. The Hobbit House is so lovely! I’m also glad you replicated this hummus so quickly, I’ve been dreaming of it since your review and this weekend’s OHH podcast. Good luck with the start of your semester!


The Delicate Place January 11, 2012 at 8:45 pm

best of luck this term, i saw on twitter you were bleeding in class?! ouch! there is a charm that nyc has like no other that’s for sure! i’ve only been to d.c. 1x if you can believe it and most of that was spent in the natural history museum but i know what you mean about public transportation down there. it’s just so…sterile!


Lexi @ A Spoonful of Sunshine January 11, 2012 at 11:40 pm

I know what you mean–something about the ridiculous spontaneity of DC is incredible :)


Mimi (Gingersnaps) January 12, 2012 at 11:02 am

Oh oh, weird! I’ve made hummus like that before. Instead of almonds I used macadamia nuts (about half a cup because those suckers are rich). It was awesome.

I miss New York. If it wasn’t so cold, I’d want to move there. So eclectic and stimulating. Do you get used to the cold at all?


Ashley January 15, 2012 at 10:24 pm

I’m living in DC (from SF) and you summarized my thoughts about the district perfectly. Love the site!


Jonathan January 16, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I made your basic recipe with the addition of tahini and a jalapeno. Very tasty and will be my breakfast all this week.


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