Royals Revisited

Back in the spring when wedding fever was upon us, the mother of my young friend sent me a link to a pattern for a set of knitted royals (we share a fondness for things English). The pattern included everyone from the wedding principals to the Queen’s corgis.

I ordered the pattern, not because I can knit, but because I couldn’t resist the drawings of those little figures. I gave it to my clever friend – thinking at some point she’d adapt the notion, little knitted figures, to her own purposes.

Flash forward to my birthday a few weeks ago – and olé! She’d made Kate and Will! But it wasn’t till I really looked at the pair when drawing them, that I fully appreciated her added detail – Kate’s gown has lace sleeves like the real dress and little beads here and there give her glitter. A blue jewel on the backside of her hand stands in for the famous ring. Prince William has a cross on his sash, goodly sized knitted ears, and a happy smile!

They lift my spirits!

The Bean Project – Hummus

So far from the royals! Return to reality and embrace the common chickpea – the lowly garbanzo bean – unassuming in appearance but full of protein. The other day reaching for a container of hummus at the Co-op, I wondered why am I always buying this. I should try to make it.

The day I tried was also the day I’d been up from two to four in the morning, wrapped in a blanket in front of my computer, streaming BBC to watch the wedding live. All the sleepy day later, I kept thinking how we never get out of bed in the middle of the night for a happy event. So it was a strange treat to join people all over the world (not watching a disaster or a revolution either), without commentators or commercials, just cameras and sound – like being a pigeon in the abbey rafters.

Wanting the hummus sooner rather than later, and having neither dried garbanzos nor the two hours needed to cook, I noticed Bittman’s recipe says: “This is a good place to use canned chickpeas.” He warned that hummus can taste too much like raw garlic but promised his was “smoother and more complex in flavor.”

Following his directions, I combined two cups of canned chickpeas, half-cup of tahini (I had roasted tahini), quarter-cup of olive oil, a small clove of garlic peeled (Bittman also recommends roasted garlic), salt and freshly ground black pepper, one tablespoon ground cumin (or to taste), and the juice of one lemon (I had a Meyer lemon) in the container of the food processor. After beginning to process, add up to half-cup of water as needed to make a smooth puree.

Mine took a while to get smooth – I used the whole half-cup of water – but maybe should have just processed longer.

At the end after tasting, Bittman says to add more garlic, salt, lemon juice or cumin if needed.

It’s good – and rich with possible variables and additions. My friend on the bluff who makes it often doesn’t use a recipe anymore – hers is tasty.

I want to try Bittman’s “Roasted Chickpeas” with the leftover beans – adding olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper before roasting at 400° for about 15 minutes. Bittman says you can sprinkle with chili powder or curry powder – crisp on the outside, smooth inside – sounds a good snack.

Next royal wedding I’ll make some ahead of time!

Happy Ever Afters

Sometimes when reading with the wee scholars, we deviate from their recommended books (geared to reading level) and choose a fairy tale from the library shelves behind us. The scholars like plays or stories where we can each take a part, and lately we’ve been reading “Cinderella.” They are eight years old, my scholars, and know the story as well as I. (We are three critics sitting on little chairs, with comments about details of dress and demeanor.)

I have resisted mentioning our current royal wedding to them, respectful of our First Lady’s plans to attend the shuttle launch with her little girls – no mooning over princes and princesses there – and I think about the widened horizons for little girls (princess or astronaut, among other possibilities).

Just before the royal wedding, 30 years ago, we were in London with our little boys visiting long-time friends. The dad of the London family took my husband and son to St. Paul’s Cathedral to deliver commemorative glassware produced by his company, etched with images of Charles and Diana. We brought four wine glasses home (now greatly reduced in number by use).

We also have a cookie tin (properly “biscuit tin”) from that era, its lid bearing a photo of the royal couple – Charles looks headachy and cross, Diana apprehensive. I remember getting up early to watch the wedding with our sons, and when I asked one recently if he remembered any of this, he said: “maybe, sorta.”

Diana had two fine sons, and the one with the best name got married Friday – to a commoner. The royal tale is Masterpiece Theater – full of human hope, pageantry, music, beauty, and willing, excited onlookers (also contemporary twists of telly and Twitter). Weddings tie the principals to the past and to what is important to them, and this wedding had so much – English history, Westminster Abbey, that ring, that hymn.

It might have been strange timing, juxtaposing the wedding with the space shuttle launch – a “nerve-wracking” event as even that brave and wounded wife of an astronaut described it – full of human hope and danger.

But in this day and age all public events are fraught. We watch hoping for happiness in life, for pumpkins transformed and space ships in orbit. Wishing for a long life for everyone involved – touchdown for astronauts and a happy-ever-after for the young royals.