Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Spiced Warm Chickpeas and Fresh Vegetable Salad: When your student becomes your teacher

EDM - now we are even.

One of the most amazing things about teaching is the mastery that comes from teaching that thing that you know.  I'm a better writer now than I was 20 years ago, because I've been teaching writing for the past 20 years.  I often think back to high school and college and wish I had the depth of knowledge about writing I have now and shake my head at my innocence, my inexpertise, and my lack of writing ability.

If there is one thing I've learned on this long journey as a teacher, I've learned that when you can teach something well, it means you know something well.  If you can't teach it well, it often pushes you to learn it better so that you can teach it well.  This is why, for the past three years or so, I've hired and paid my students to teach my own kids different skills.  I've had a girls' softball whiz, soccer stud, lefty baseball all-star, and my latest hire is a student drummer.  He's worked with Son on his drumming for a few weeks, and my own arms and heart longed to take a few lessons myself, if only to pick up some of those small skills I think I need to become a decent drummer.  Unfortunately his availability and mine do not work out, so I haven't been able to take a lesson.

However, last week, I had a really amazing opportunity and that was the chance to take a lesson.  Suddenly I found myself rubbing my hands with glee, not so much for the drum lesson itself, but for the opportunity to GET EVEN.  My drum playing student isn't exactly the model easy student to teach.  Everything comes with a question, a challenge, a refusal, a denial, and a mini argument before I get what I want out from him.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not angry about it, upset about it or think that it's beyond my job.  It is my job and the questions, the challenges, refusals, denials and arguments all make me a better teacher.

But I was going to get to be in the driver's (student's) seat for a bit, and it was going to be fun.  I planned in my head the things that I wanted to do, the behaviors I would exhibit, and the frustration I would cause him and I laughed the evil maniacal laughter of a true mastermind. [insert maniacal laughter here.  MUAHHAHAHHAHAHA.]  When the lesson started however, all thoughts of my torture flew out of my head because I was suddenly so keen to impress my student.  I discovered myself doing any number of insane things, all to impress my student with my mad skills.  (I don't have any, but still.)  He would call out and ask me to create certain basic rhythms and I would do my darnedest to perform them properly. Several times during the lesson I became so focused I tuned him out and he had to raise his voice (remember drums) to be heard.  At one point he raised his arms into the air and said, "THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING!" when I refused to listen to him and instead insisted on showing him the beat that I could perform.

In the end, I got a little bit even.  And it was so worth it.  It was fun and I learned something.  I think my student also learned how tough it is to teach the know-it-alls and how teaching, at the end of the day, can be back-breaking, spirit-changing, brain-numbing work, but it is worth it.  During the lesson I wasn't able to recreate a certain rhythm on the drums, but after my lesson, I practiced that rhythm over and over more than 30 minutes, and suddenly I mastered it.  I sent him a video, and his mom responded, "I think he was impressed."  I actually think he was impressed that he was able to teach me something.

Now this salad impresses me all the time.  Whenever I make it (and I've made it multiple times) I find myself saying, "Dang.  I'm a great cook."  It really is only salad but somehow the addition of the warm spiced chickpeas takes it to a whole different place.  I love it with a little bit of yogurt and I love it as the side dish to the cardamom chicken dish I posted earlier.  Impress yourself if you'd like and make this fantastic salad.

Spiced Warm Chickpeas and Fresh Vegetable Salad
Adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Serves 4

15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼  teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

2 small cucumbers, cut into a ¼ inch dice
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and deveined, cut into ¼ inch dice
½ of a small red onion, peeled, and cut into small dice
¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro
¼ cup coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley

5 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon zested
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 clove of garlic crushed
salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, toss together chickpeas, cumin, cardamom,cinnamon, salt and olive oil.  Toss and coat chickpeas well.

In a large bowl, place cucumber, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, cilantro and flat leaf parsley.

In a jar or a sealable container, mix together olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, sugar, garlic and salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a fry pan, add spiced chickpeas and fry over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until chickpeas are slightly golden and warm.   Keep warm.

Serve salad by tossing vegetables and herbs with dressing, and adding a bit of warm chickpeas on top.  A dollop of yogurt is also a nice condiment.

With Cardamom Chicken Rice with a dollop of yogurt

A really wonderfully inspiring cookbook. The pictures make me so hungry

1 comment:

Lydia said...

How exciting to learn to play drums! I want to learn, but my husband thinks it's too noisy!
Teaching requires so much patience!

I love this dish and want to try it asap. All my favorite ingredients in one dish!


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