Well, we had a bit more summer this last week–which was lovely. Some days were up into the 80s! This is fairly typical of Seattle. We often get an extended summer before we settle into our dreary fall and winter. Today it is overcast and raining–much closer to our normal fall weather–which leads me to believe that last week was our last hurrah for nice weather.
Today’s lunchbox idea comes from Girlfriend’s younger days. Starting from when she was a toddler, I took her all over the place to get us out of the house. During the summer we spent a lot of time at the neighborhood wading pool (her favorite!) and at a city pool that had a special toddler pool that was warm for the tiny kids. We also went to kid days at museums, indoor playtimes at local community centers, and playgrounds galore. And, we had many mom-kid dates with other moms and their kids. Through all of this gallivanting around, I learned how to pack a small cooler with food to go. Common things for the snack cooler were: hard boiled eggs, carrot sticks, rice crackers, sliced apples and other fruit, and maybe some fruit leather. And, I always packed a big container of homemade white bean dip. This dip was our constant companion over her little person years. We even got all of her pals hooked on it and their moms made (and still make) it whenever we visited.
This dip is a different from hummus. It’s got yogurt and some flavors that are a bit different and a tiny bit sweet (although there is no sweetener). For whatever reason, Girlfriend and her pals would eat this dip even when they wouldn’t eat hummus. It is easy to make with a food processor or a blender and it travels well. One of the favorite ways for the kids to eat it was to dip their hard-boiled eggs in it. Protein snack x 2!
I got the the inspiration for the dip from the book The Tao of Cooking, by Sally Pasley. This is absolutely one of my favorite cookbooks of all time. I use it several times a week. It is a vegetarian cookbook and all of the recipes work well and are tasty. My copy is full of post-it-notes and smudges and comments. The book is from the now-closed restaurant in Bloomington, Indiana, The Tao. From descriptions I’ve heard, it sounds like it was a lot like the Moosewood–started by students, in a university town, in the 70s. My mother-in-law (who lives in Bloomington) gave the cookbook to me as a gift years and years ago.
Serendipitously, this summer, at the Big Summer Potluck (I still have to write about my experiences there), I started chatting with a fellow attendee. I asked her what she did, she said that she was a cookbook writer and said she had written The Tao of Cooking. I started jumping up and down and squealing (truly, I am a fan), telling her that I love that book and that I was thrilled to meet her! She was kind of surprised–she thought no one knew about it anymore. Well, I know about it! And I often give it as a gift. If you don’t know this book, please check it out!
Anyway, back to the dip. We ate this dip on a regular basis until Girlfriend was in first grade. Then I brought it to a potluck with carrot sticks. And I got very ill. I assumed that it was something in the dip (I’m always developing new intolerances to things) and decided not to make it anymore. Later that year I found out that I had grown allergic to raw carrots (due to my Oral Allergy Syndrome. See this post for more info on OAS). But, by that time I had forgotten about the dip I didn’t make for several years. Then this past summer, I remembered the dip and started making it again. And it’s been terrific. Since I now know I can eat it, I bring it along for a snack for myself with rice crackers or peeled cucumbers (no more carrot sticks for me, sigh). And I send it to school with Girlfriend with a side of veggies. I also give it as a snack when her pals come over for playdates.
Over the years, I’ve tweaked the recipe, making changes that fit our family (and our larder). You can feel free to tweak it to your needs. The only tweak I would not recommend is the one a friend of mine made. She ran out of plain yogurt and used banana yogurt instead. That cracked me up! And, yeah, that wasn’t very tasty–although the kids made a valiant effort to like it. Otherwise, happy dipping!