Hummus is food pro Howard's 'go-to' dish
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 07:12
PERRYSBURG - One of the most unforgettable trips Pat Howard has ever taken was a 2010 family vacation to Jordan.
|Pat Howard is seen in his residence with his serving of hummus, pita bread and red wine. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
His younger daughter, Katie, is married to a man originally from that Middle Eastern nation, so Howard's family was treated to an insider's view of one of the most culturally significant nations on earth.
"It's the cradle of civilization, where three major religions come together - Jews, Muslims and Christians," Howard noted.
"We went on camel rides, swam in the Dead Sea. We were in the River Jordan where Jesus was said to be baptized" and were surprised to discover it's "about the size of Swan Creek. Over the centuries, it's shrunk" because Jordan lies in a desert. "The Jordan River divides the country from Israel."
While in Jordan Howard was able to eat plenty of authentic Middle Eastern food, and that also was no hardship. It's one of his favorite cuisines.
As a matter of fact, hummus - a Middle Eastern specialty - is the homemade dish Howard says he's best known for among family and friends. It's also his choice for today's Cook's Corner submission.
Considering that the Perrysburg Township resident has been the dietary director at Toledo Hospital since 2000, feeding hundreds of people every day, that's saying something.
"This September, I'll have 30 years as dietary director between Flower Hospital," where he held the title from 1983 until 2000, and now Toledo Hospital.
"I've served over 32 million meals. I've kept track."
He describes his hummus as full-flavored. "It's a bold flavor, because it's a fresh-squeezed lemon juice" that he uses, instead of the bottled variety. "That's the secret" to its second-to-none flavor. "And the crushed garlic doesn't hurt."
He acquired the recipe about 15 years ago and has adjusted it only slightly.
"I use even more lemon juice than the original recipe called for."
Howard has a special level of notoriety at Bowling Green State University. Back in 1978, he became the university's first-ever male home economics education graduate.
"That's my claim to fame.
"I thought I would be a high school home-ec teacher."
It sounds unremarkable now, but at the time such a gender-bending profession was real news.
"The Associated Press came and did a nice interview with me" and the resulting story was picked up by quite a few of Ohio's biggest newspapers, plus a few others across the U.S., in states such as Florida and Colorado.
His oldest daughter, Emily, followed in his Falcon footsteps, obtaining both bachelor's and master's degrees from BGSU. She's now a school psychologist for BG City Schools.
Howard says cooking is his life's work, and also his personal passion.
"I bake bread every Sunday. I haven't bought a loaf in 25 years."
"I've always loved to cook. I loved going to the Farmer's Market with my mother" even as a very young child growing up in Toledo.
To this day, "it's a big part of my weekend. I seldom miss a Saturday."
Over the decades, Howard has gotten to know the local farmers who sell their wares at the market "and watched one generation take over from the other and gotten to know the people I have the most respect for - small family farmers.
"I get there early, just after sunrise, to get the best selection," especially in spring, summer and fall.
"We like to eat healthy in our house," with a heavy emphasis on fruits and vegetables.
Howard usually serves his hummus as an appetizer.
When invited to bring an appetizer to a gathering or party "I'll bring it with cut-up fresh vegetables, cut-up pita, black olives, feta cheese and the hummus."
Howard owns an outdoor wok and he and his wife Becky love to entertain people at their home.
"I do fish fries for large groups outside" on that wok.
His favorite is lightly breaded perch. "It's delicious to take the piece of fish inside a piece of pita bread and dip it in the hummus." Guests are surprised to discover that the flavors work wonderfully well together.
Sometimes, Howard dresses up the hummus visually. "I drizzled a little olive oil and paprika on it" for the Sentinel photographer. "You could do that if you're putting it out in a buffet."
2 15-oz. cans of chick peas — drained
2 cloves fresh garlic — pushed through a garlic press
1 Tbsp. Salt
2/3 cup Tahini
¾ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
Water — as needed
Process the chick peas, garlic, salt and tahini in a food processor. Mixture will be thick.
Add lemon juice while continuing to process.
Add cold water until you have reached desired consistency (about ¼ cup).
Chill and enjoy.