Beetroot Hummus and…a Walk to School

It’s now winter in Sydney and the last two days have been noticeably cooler.  This morning when I was asking Alfie to get dressed for school he said, ‘Do I have to wear a singlet?’

‘Yes, put it on; it’s only going to be 19’, (66F).

When we were leaving the house he asked, ‘Do I have to wear my jacket?’

‘Yes, put it on; 19 isn’t warm’.

Beetroot is currently in season

Beetroot is currently in season

As we were walking to school he asked me what I had to wear to school when I was growing up.  I said, ‘Well, the winter’s weren’t 19.  Often I walked to school in -3C’ (26.6F).

‘Did you have to wear a jacket?’

‘I certainly did’.

‘What else did you wear?’

‘I wore a singlet, then a spencer…’

‘What’s a spencer?’

‘Thermal-type clothing to stop the cold air getting through to your chest.  Then I wore a skivvy with a roll-down turtle neck, a jumper that someone would have stayed up all night knitting for me, then woolen stockings on my legs with a woolen skirt, shoes but I would have preferred boots to keep my ankles warm, then a coat’.

‘And anything else?’

‘As we were leaving I’d put my red vinyl coat on and I’d do up every one of those buttons so as not to let the breezes in, then my mother would have my woolen mittens and woolen hat sitting on top of the heater to warm up.  At the very last minute I’d put these on hoping they’d keep me warm all the way to school but alas, before I’d reached my own letter box the heat would have left them.’

Beetroot Hummus

Beetroot Hummus

‘But were you warm?’

‘Not at all.  We had to walk quite a distance to school going across roads and through parks and over icy railway lines and we amused ourselves by looking for puddles that were frozen over with ice.  Then once at school the bell monitor would ring the old brass bell and then we’d have to go into the classroom where we had to remove our hats and gloves and coats.  Let me tell you now, the classroom was as cold as ice and often there was ice on the windows.  There was one heater at the back of the room and it was way up high.  I think it was gas and it had a metal pull cord that the teacher had to yank (no one else was allowed to touch it), and the yanking business would go on for a good 15 or so minutes while the teacher tried to get the thing to ignite.  The yanking didn’t always work so some days there was no heat and there were children in my class who weren’t at all bothered by this.  When the heater was working it wasn’t efficient in the least particularly if you weren’t seated directly underneath it.’

‘But were you warm?’

‘No, not at all.  The first lesson of the day was always writing.  We had to do neat, perfectly formed letters but my fingers would be so numb I wasn’t able to feel the pencil in my fingers so it was a struggle to do lovely handwriting.  It took until recess before they thawed out.’  We were now at the school gates.

‘Mum, we’re at school.  When you say goodbye to me, don’t give me a kiss and don’t say, ‘I love you’, because that’s really embarrassing’.

‘Okay, but did you like hearing about how I used to walk to school in -3?’


‘Good’, I said as I kissed the top of his head and yelled, ‘I love you’ as he ran towards his class.

This is not a warming recipe for a cold winter’s night but beetroot is now in season and I was inspired to make this by Victoria when I saw her version of Beetroot Hummus on her blog, Flavours of the Sun.

A great appetiser

A great appetiser

Beetroot Hummus

Makes:  3 cups

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  Beetroot are in season now so are very affordable and the other ingredients are easily sourced and inexpensive.  I have bought beetroot hummus in the past and you pay a fortune for it compared with making your own.

  • 3 large beetroot, washed and stalks removed
  • 1 x 400g can chickpeas, washed and drained
  • 2 tbspns tahini paste
  • 2 tspns ground cumin
  • 2 tbspns white balsamic vinegar
  • seasoning to taste

Pre-heat oven to 200C (400F).

Wrap beetroot individually in foil, place on an oven tray and put in the oven for 1 hour or until a skewer can be pushed into them with ease.

Remove beetroot from oven and unwrap the foil without burning yourself.  Rinse under water and rub to removed skin.  Trim both ends, cut into chunks and place in a food processor.

Add chickpeas, tahini and cumin and pulse until smooth.  Add the balsamic vinegar and pulse to blend.  Taste to see if more balsamic is needed.  Maybe just a touch more depending on the size of the beetroot.  Season to taste.

Store in the fridge and serve with crackers, melba toast or vegetables.



  1. A lovely story and recipe… thank you for sharing.

  2. -3???

    That would have been balmy when I was growing up. Car doors freeze shut at -25F (-31C) and it was never too cold to go to school. Inside we were warm. Never remember a time it was too cold to play outside at recess.

    We never had beetroot hummus either. 🙂 this looks terrific.

  3. Danielle says:

    Indeed a very heartwarming lovely story and thank you for the recipe, I was just about search for beetroot dip recipes and now I don’t need to. It’s a lovely sunny summer’s day here in London…and 19C 😉

  4. Ah, the olden days…

    Kissed the top of this head and yelled, “I love you!” Fantastic, Charlie, just fantastic.

  5. Beetroot and Hummus, YUM! What a great combo 🙂 I once went to school with a boy who wore shorts regardless of how cold the weather was. I’d see his bare legs and shudder in chills. His mother gave up trying to get him to wear trousers and the school didn’t have a leg to stand on because he was indeed wearing the school shorts provided.

  6. Boys don’t seem to get cold. Mine wear shorts well into fall…when I’m covered from head to toe!

    Oh, how I love beets…but I’ve never considered adding them to hummus. I hope to try this soon…we can get some wonderful beets at the farmers’ market. So pretty, too! xo

  7. WOW! I haven’t known and seen this before, should be tried. Thanks dear Charlie, love, nia

  8. I love the kind of mother you are! And I have a bag of beets in the fridge. XO.

  9. Your kids are very lucky to have you as a mom, Charlie Louie. 🙂

    I saw the picture of this beetroot hummus on Facebook and it is so stunning…and delicious, too, I’ll bet.

  10. I lived in northern Canada as a girl, and don’t remember the cold bothering me, but now that I live in Florida I’m the biggest wimp ever.
    The color of this hummus is so pretty, and I just love beets!

  11. I couldn’t have resisted saying “I love you” to the little guy either or giving him a kiss. 🙂

    The hummus is so blindingly red. I’ve never tried beetroot so I don’t know about a hummus version though I DO love roasted red pepper hummus so you never know. Trying new things is good for you.

  12. This hummus is simply beautiful, Charlie I just love the colour. Do you get much of the beet root’s earthiness in it? The weather turned worse here and the temperatures plummeted last night and this morning it was only 7°C when I rode my bike into work — chilly enough that I had to put gloves on! Weird to think that in Washington DC it was high 30°Cs with very high humidity. On Sunday I was melting on Monday I was freezing!

  13. I REALLY CANNOT DO COLD!!!! …and cold is 19 degrees for me, especially if there is a wind blowing 😉

    Love the story, love that you kissed Alfie and yelled out I love you, I would have done the same thing to my kids (…it’s character building for them 😉

    Most of all I love this beetroot Hommus, I have beets growing and I have been dying to find a delicious hmmus recipe for them…Thanks heaps!

  14. Leaving without the kiss and ‘I love you’ is impossible isn’t it. We’re looking forward to 19c, even though it’s June we’ve still got temperatures colder than that!! I’d forgotten about a spencer, still not quite sure what it is. GG

  15. I love beetroot dip! I remember those days of layers upon layers of clothing under my uniform.

  16. Did you mention the perils of having to avoid dinosaurs too Charlie? I’m sure that’s what my kids think! It’s minus three here this morning coincidentally, and the frost is heavy on the ground. When we were younger the ice would sheet up the inside of the windows and you could see your breath inside the school too, we would wear so many layers that we could hardly bend just trying to retain a bit of body heart. Today my daughter got up to a centrally heated 21*C home, is wearing just a t shirt without singlet, will pop on her light as air down jacket, them have me drive her in comfort to her centrally heated school.
    There are some things though that haven’t changed- as she gets out the car and schools past the ‘cool’ kids I’ll yell “I love you honey” and embarrass her the way my mother did me 🙂

  17. Oh Charlie you’re so embarrassing! That’s hilarious. I’m glad you didn’t take any notice.
    Winter at your school sounds horrible.
    Mum went to boarding school in the bush in NSW and she said in winter they’d all get dressed under the doona so they didn’t have to expose their skin to the chilly air. Oh life before heaters (she says with a heater on her feet).

  18. Kirrily says:

    Love beetroot season! Hate the cold though, and it’s cooooooold here!!! 🙁

  19. Ugh that story is awful. Makes me think too much about Canada. I’m trying to pretend winter doesn’t exist, Charlie! Hmph! 😉

  20. Beetroot does have a wonderful color!

  21. I love beetroots in any shape and form I don’t know that I would get to make this dip as I probably would be too tempted when i took the beets out of the oven. Great recipe though – even better story. We had icy winters growing up in England and the long walk to school – sometimes in blizzard or thick fog conditions served to make us hardy. The layers of clothes brought make memories. We wore a singlet, a liberty bodice!(like a little quilted waistcoat with lovely little loops and pearl buttons), then a petticoat, two pairs of undies, then school shirt and pinnafore, two cardigans (one school one other that was removed when at school) woollen tights with socks under, school raincoat that was quilted inside, a woollen school scarfe, folded across the chest under the raincoat, a felt school hat that did not cover the ears, so another scarfe was wrapped around the head tied under the chin to keep the ears warm and school hat on top and last of all gloves! It’s a wonder we could move let alone run along to school.

  22. ONLY 19 degrees?!?! Man, on Melbourne days like today (14 degrees), I’d KILL for 19 degrees!

    Not normally a fan of beetroot but I do like it in hummus form. Thanks for sharing!

  23. I’ve not hear of beet humus, Charlie, and believe me, I’d have remembered that color. It’s fantastic!
    Love that you sent Alfie off with a kiss and an “I love you!” If parents don’t embarrass their kids, they aren’t doing it right. 🙂

  24. It sure is a lovely Winter vegetable and so good for you as well. I am loving the way you have styled your shots.

    They made them tough back in our day but -3 must have been hard to cope with.

    I still shout out “I love you” from the car window as I drive off.


  25. This IS lovely! Saw it on Victoria’s blog and was quick to make it . . . and shall again pronto as soon as I get to the supermarket for more beetroot 🙂 ! Funny, began my school days in Northern Europe and don’t remember the cold bothering me even when leaving home in the dark – methinks I have turned intoa wimp also!!

  26. This is certainly visually appealing hummus.
    When I lived in Italy it used to be those temperatures of your story or less and the air used to bite into any bare skin – quite paindful.

  27. Haha! Poor Alfie… 😉 the hummus sounds interesting, almost as good as your story 🙂

  28. This made me laugh, the one day the boiler stopped working at school everyone got sent home and it wasn’t that cold outside! I can’t imagine dealing with that every day. This hummus looks amazing, we don’t get beetroot hummus over here so I am going to have to try this recipe!

  29. Oh, but it looks warming.. and a nice way to ease into cooler temperatures. It’s a very pretty humus as well:D You left out the bit about walking uphill through gale force winds.. in our city the story includes snow drifts. But seriously, there really were waist high snow drifts, even so my kids don’t believe me. One thing’s for certain, I didn’t get car rides anywhere! xx ps I always said I love you too..

  30. Never made beet hummus, your recipe sounds delicious and the color is so beautiful. Planting my beet seeds this week and looking forward to harvesting in the fall to make your recipe, thanks for sharing.

  31. So Alfie has reached the age where mom can embarrass him at the goodbyes, huh? I’m glad he’s still young enough you can perhaps still get away with the affectionate displays, even if he protests. 🙂 Charlie, I’m delighted with this recipe. I love hummus, and I like beetroot. They are plentiful in my farm produce box and I get tired of them, quite frankly. But this would be delightful every time. I will make this quite often, I’m sure, although your presentation really does make it special. I’m not always great with that part. 🙂

  32. I saw this on Victoria’s blog and also bookmarked to make it! It looked so delicious how could I not? 🙂

  33. What a warm story…..cranked up heater, hehehehe!!!

    I do that too – a kiss and a yell. It’s going to be too late soon.

  34. I’m glad you still kissed him and yelled I love you!! Awesome. 🙂 I wish I liked beets because this is just gorgeous! 🙂

  35. Ooh, I wasn’t expecting it to be “actual” hummus, with beetroot as well. That’s a nice idea. I was thinking it would be only beetroots (I guess my mind went there because I made a roasted beetroot dip the other day)! Sounds great – something to try because I’m such a hummus fiend!

    Just so you know, it was ~18 degrees here today and I was out with my t-shirt on (although I guess it might have been a bit warmer in the sun) :D.

  36. Such a lovely color. This is another great use of that beetroot puree that I have in the freezer.

  37. I’ve never had beetroot hummus. Great dish! And great story. Like so many other children, I used to have to walk to school in the snow. Uphill, both ways. 😉

  38. I love beetroot hummus, yum. It is our duty to let the little guys know we love them and it won’t stop. I remember huddling around the heater and the ” spencers” in the dark ages .

  39. I’ve never had beetroot hummus, but feel inspired to try it out. We had really cold winters in Taranaki, but the school classrooms had pot belly stoves which pumped pot enough heat, luckily. It’s no fun being cold.

  40. –Why does EVERYTHING you make look Outstanding? Even Beets!!

  41. My mom used to have stories about “when I was a child”… but hers were pretty authentic given that she did grow up in East Germany right after the war… although my stories are not quite as dramatic, I find myself doing it with my kids now too. But you certainly beat me with the walking-to-school-through-the-snow-barefoot stories ;o)

  42. Your beetroot hummus looks splendid & tasty too! I can use my home grown beets for this tasty recipe! 😉 Yummo!

  43. Great, I have beetroot and will make this today. Don’t remind me of the cold when I was a girl!! Was just the same. Hooray for Australia!

  44. I’d forgotten all about spencers! I had them too, although I know think I was probably over-dressed by your standards because Perth winters hardly count as cold 😛

    This dip looks like an excellent variation on hummus – and so pretty in colour.

  45. Funny how you hate receiving a kiss or hearing the words I love you as a kid and then find comfort in them later in life.

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