(Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels with Spicy Black Bean Hummus…and Karl Watson)
I’ve been re-watching a lot of Karl Watson’s parts lately. I had only been skating about a year when Expedition One: Alone came out; of course I was floored at all of the skating, but since I had only been skating a year and the skateboarding world hadn’t yet been saturated with online footage, a lot of the technical wizardly was lost on a young pup like me who still didn’t have the familiarity to recognize insanity when I saw it. Like I said, I’ve gone back and started watching a lot of Karl’s parts again, but I mean really watching them—like, internalizing them and wondering what kind of skill (and core strength, I’m guessing) it would take to not only twist counterintuitively out of almost every trick, but also make it look incredibly stylish and easy? Plainly put, Karl’s style of skating—breezy, but with technical precision—easily transcends the gap between athleticism and art. As an example, check out his part in Expedition One: Alone (2001).
Obviously, Karl had a robust career long before Alone, but I keep coming back to that one because that’s the first one of his parts I saw. Though literally every one of Karl’s parts I re-watched has at least several mind-boggling spinal contortions (of course, made to look effortless) out of a variety of grinds, it goes without saying that his unfathomable front nose front 270 out at Hubba Hideout (colloquially called a pretzel spin or just a pretzel, depending on who you ask) is in the books as his most famous twist out of anything—to date, at least. Indeed, it was the pretzel with a crunch was heard ‘round the world.
I wouldn’t be the first to try to describe the menacing block of skin-shredding concrete that is Hubba Hideout, and seeing as how I’ve never been fortunate enough to go there, it would be improper for me to try to act like I know first-hand. Just know that it’s tall and it’s mean. If you want a solid history and a visual rolodex of tricks that have gone down there, check out this section from ON Video Skateboarding Spring 2001.
If you’ve read any of Karl’s interviews, you also know that he’s extremely health conscious and has been for a long time. Recently, more and more skateboarders have started to pay attention to what they’re eating, but Karl was in on this lifestyle well in advance of the trend (Karl was vegan for 11 years, now pescatarian—i.e., diet includes fish, but no other meat/poultry). This kind of nourishing mindfulness, combined with unadulterated skill on the board and one of the most affable personalities in skateboarding, makes Karl easily one of my favorite skaters.
To celebrate both healthy eating and jaw-dropping pretzel 270s out of chest-high hubbas, I decided to start working on some whole wheat soft pretzels. I have many weaknesses when it comes to snacking, but perhaps none greater than pretzels and hummus (how fitting: Karl twists like a pretzel with a style smoother than hummus). Many night sessions have ended with a quick run to the grocery store on the way home to pick up pretzel crisps and hummus, only to end with me wallowing in shame when I’m using the crumbs at the bottom of the pretzel bag to scrape whatever hummus is left out of the crevices of the container.
Granted, of all the potential snacking options, this one is healthier than most other prepackaged foods and there are plenty of vegan options already available in grocery stores. However, in the spirit of knowing exactly what goes into our food, and in a lame attempt to impose some sort of portion control on my part, allow me to introduce the Front Nose Pretzel at Hummus Hideout (whole wheat soft pretzels with spicy black bean hummus). Store-bought pretzel chips and regular hummus will always do in a pinch, but if you have some time, nothing beats making that hummus just a tad spicier and with a touch more protein and using a fresh-out-of-the-oven pretzel as your hummus vessel.
Given that this recipe is overwhelmingly composed of carbs (good carbs, though they may be), this is going to be an ideal meal either an hour or so before skating or immediately after a long session. If you’re skating intensely, your body is going to rely on those carbs to fuel the session or help you restore afterward. Personally, I love the idea of coming home to hummus and pretzels after a session rather than before, but I leave the snacking schedule up to you!
Let’s get cooking.
- ½ tbsp dry yeast (NOT nutritional yeast found in other recipes)
- ¾ cup hot water (hot, but not boiling)
- 1 tbsp agave (or maple syrup)
- 2 cups of white whole wheat flour (can use regular whole wheat but taste will be a little more bitter)
- 2 tbsp vegan butter (or olive oil)
- 1 tsp salt
- 6 cups water (for boiling)
- 2 tbsp baking soda (for boiling)
- coarse salt (for sprinkling)
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, drained
- ¼ – ½ tsp crushed red pepper (to taste)
- 1 jalapeno, diced
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- squeeze of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp salt
- cayenne pepper (optional)
- olive oil (optional)
DIRECTIONS FOR PRETZELS
- Yeast never sounds appetizing, I know. But once you proof it, you’ll start to smell pretzels without even having any dough in the room. Take ¼ cup of hot water (leave the other ½ cup for later) and mix it in with the agave and the dry yeast in a small bowl. Stir it up until the yeast dissolves and starts to foam slightly. Smell that pretzel smell? Trippy, right?
- Throw the flour, salt, butter/oil, other ½ cup of hot water and the yeast mixture into a large bowl and start mixing it up. Once it starts getting thick, knead it for 8-10 minutes (tear it, mix it, press it…the works). Work those forearms. Leave the dough in the bowl (if you want to make sure it doesn’t stick, lightly coat the bowl in olive oil with a paper towel) and cover the bowl. Let it sit for about 40-50 minutes while the dough rises.
- Now the fun part. Once that dough has risen, punch it a few times. It really helps if you go skating while it’s rising and have a bad session. Come home and take your anger out on the dough. Split the dough into 4-6 separate pieces (depending on the desired size of pretzels) and start rolling them into 18 – 24” lengths. Obviously, the longer it is, the thinner the pretzel will be. Eighteen inches will give you a puffy, beer bar-style pretzel, whereas twenty-four inches will be more like a mall pretzel. Take the ends of the dough rope, pull them into a ‘U’ and then twist them over each other to bring them down into a pretzel shape.
- Boil 6 cups of water in a sauce pot and stir in the baking soda until dissolved. Once that’s boiling toss in the pretzels for 20-30 seconds (one at a time) and then place them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Along the bottom line of each pretzel, cut a small slit – this will let them split just a little while they bake. While they are still moist, sprinkle them generously with coarse salt. Heat up the oven to 450 degrees and bake the pretzels for 12 minutes or until just golden (these cook fast, so start checking on them after 8 minutes). Take them out and enjoy!
DIRECTIONS FOR HUMMUS
- This is really fast and easy. Take every ingredient other than the olive oil and cayenne (making sure the jalapeno and garlic are already diced, of course) and throw them into a food processor or blender. Blend it up until it’s as smooth as Karl’s skating.
- If you want to really turn it into a presentation, once you’ve put it in a dish, drizzle it with olive oil and throw some cayenne pepper on top for a little extra kick. Dip those pretzels and enjoy!
Per pretzel (assuming yield of 6): 175 cal, 4g fat, 33g carb, 5g protein
Hummus (1/4 cup): 90 cal, 4g fat, 10g carb, 4g protein