Beetroot houmous and some horsing around!

I absolutely love houmous. One of my favourite at-work snacks is carrot or celery sticks, or even finely sliced peppers, dipped in houmous. Just the regular kind is amazing, and even better when homemade, but this week I experimented with beetroot houmous, because some cooked beetroot arrived with our shop instead of the fresh beetroot I had ordered, and I couldn’t think what else to do with them!

I googled a couple of recipes, but none seemed sure on whether to also use chickpeas, some used white bread as a thickener which I wasn’t keen on, and so I decided to wing it.Β Blender, ingredients, whizz, and see what it tastes like!

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Now for the actual ‘recipe’, as far as you can call it that! I used:

  • a pack of cooked beetroots, (about 6 in all)
  • three garlic cloves,
  • three teaspoons of tahini,
  • a teaspoon of cumin seeds.

The end result was spectacular. A delicious, thick (but not as thick as houmous usually is) brightly coloured dip which went really nicely with celery.

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Just looking at the colour of it cheered me up – I imagine this would be a ray of sunshine at your desk on a (metaphorically) dark day at work (because I can’t be the only one who has them – you know, when everything seems to happen all at once, or you’re back to back meetings with no time for ‘real’ work, or you spend ages diligently plugging away at your emails yet you still have hundreds to deal with and feel like you’ve achieved nothing – just me? Oh.) and an even better excuse to hoover up fresh veggie crudites as well!

I actually took the pot of it over to my sister’s, as I was visiting the next day for her to take me horse riding at the stables where she works as a riding instructor, and we munched most of it after a long afternoon riding and then helping with stable chores which left me exhausted, though she does it every day! Her boyfriend Chris was a big fan and asked for the recipe. Well, here you go Chicken!

Riding again was brilliant. As a teenager Tash and I both had our own horses, and though we mainly hacked, we did occasionally do some competitions (mainly cross-country or showjumping – neither I nor my horses had the patience for dressage, beautiful though it is). Since leaving for university I’ve not had the time for a horse (or the money!) and though I still ride whenever I have the chance, I would love to do it more regularly again one day. I am very jealous of my sister getting to indulge in her passion for horses every day, and very proud of how she’s developed as a rider and gained her instructors qualifications.

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The stables where she works now is amazing – it is located in Wimbledon Village, a little high street in South West London next to Wimbledon Common, next door to a pub and hidden behind a chic clothing boutique. You would hardly know it was there!

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The horses are all beautifully kept and definitely not your average riding-school plods (I think mainly because they cater to adults and a lot of the horses are privately owned on livery) and the yard is spotless, as you’d expect in such a preened little part of London. The only hint as to the yard’s presence in the Village (aside from the odd gift left for the roses on the tarmac!) is the ‘equine’ crossing. This amuses me every time I see it – a button to press from horseback, suitably elevated on the pole, to stop the traffic to enable them to cross. It even has a little green (or red) horse instead of man!

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The best part about Wimbledon Village Stables is that most of their riding is done on Wimbledon Common. I previously thought of this as just a large park, but after having ridden for an hour along beautiful, secluded trails without ever seeing a glimpse of the city or buildings, I’ve realised it is much more than that. The stables has its own arenas for flatwork and jumping, hidden in among the trees, and even the route to access them is lovely. I cannot imagine how nice it must be to learn to ride there. As it was, used to total freedom in the open countryside in Somerset, I was expecting to be disappointed, and was in fact totally the opposite! Even in the countryside it is rare you can access so many interlinking trails without having to do any roadwork at all, and even with the added hazard of much of the common also being a golf course, the red-clad golfers are very aware of the horses and careful not to swing when you’re around.

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We had such a lovely time, just like when we were children, riding out together at weekends, and the horses were beautifully behaved. Even five days later I am still walking a little bit like John Wayne, but the hypertense thighs and sore behind are more than worth it. Thank you Tasha, Wimbledon Village Stables, and especially Jazz for being a great mount!

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