Every six weeks or so a friend and I make a point of leaving our families and responsibilities at home for a night, and meeting up somewhere in the city for a meal. We put on our non “mom” clothes, bring along our smaller purses that don’t have to fit nappies or snacks (although sometimes those items tag along for the ride by mistake) and spend the evening as people with identities that extend beyond parent.
We try awesome food, new places, and relish in the break from the day-to-day. We discuss everything from dropping naps to our own mortality, politics, fashion designers and how much coffee/wine we should or shouldn’t consume. Our meals always send me home feeling like I’ve not only caught up with my friend, but also with myself, not to mention give me buckets of inspiration for experimenting in my kitchen.
On the heals of both International Women’s Day as well as Mother’s Day here in the UK, I’ve been reflecting on what qualities always seem to be glorified in women. And among those, self-sacrifice seems to always hover towards the top of the list. Women, and mothers especially are praised for being the ultimate martyrs of society, as if it is a required attribute of anyone considered to be ‘good’. I think this idea of necessary martyrdom sells both motherhood and women short, and only perpetuates this idea that you can either be a good nurturer or fulfill your own desires and goals, but not both.
When I sat down to write this, I had a list of other things to get done for others. I took stock of my priorities and deadlines, as well as my full week ahead. Though the to-do list is long (always) and nagging (always), several other tasks, for others, could wait until later in the day, my inspiration from having a kitchen scented with warming spices, a belly full of a satisfying lunch, and a daughter who was very entertained on her own was here and now. So I narrowed my focus, let the to-do-list chatter slide (for now), and did my best to capture my own thoughts before the moment was gone. Albeit a minor example, this skill is one in which I am hoping to continue to build, because rather than self-sacrifice, the ability to let the chatter of life and expectation go and allow for your own internal compass of creativity, inspiration or desires to bloom, is a real marker of strength and ability, at least in my opinion. And one that so many ‘good’ women have learned to do in order to not just survive, but to nurture and create and to really live and contribute.
This recipe comes from a dish I ate whilst out on one of my friend dates. We spent a gloomy Sunday first seeking inspiration and understanding at an art exhibit, following it with a delicious lunch which included the creamiest, earthiest carrot hummus I have ever eaten. Here is my own inspired version. I hope you enjoy.
500g carrots, peeled & chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 tsp olive oil + 1-2 tbsp to finish
5-10 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground corriander
1 tsp ras el hanout
1 tsp sea salt
1 tin chickpeas, drained
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp cashew nut butter (or tahini)
1-2 lemons juiced
1-2 tsp hot water
sea salt to taste
lemon juice or white balsamic vinegar
Preheat your oven to 200F/400C.
Peel and chop your carrots, then plop them in the roasting tray along with 2 tsp olive oil, whole unpeeled garlic cloves, spices listed and sea salt. Mix with your hands to make sure the carrots are evenly coated, then roast for 30-40 minutes until soft.
Once soft, squeeze the garlic cloves out using your fingers (very satisfying!) discard the skins and tip everything into a blender or food processor, along with your chickpeas, pomegranate molasses, cashew nut butter (or tahini if you like but we have a sesame allergy in our house that prevents it) and lemon juice. Blend, adding in as much additional olive oil and/or hot water (which works too!) required to achieve a silky smooth texture. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
I served this with crumbled feta on top and some yoghurt on the side, along with lemon slices so people could squeeze a few drops on each bite for an additional punch of flavour.