June 5, 2012

A family that eats together...

photo courtesy of
 I'm not sure how to begin to talk about all the stuff that has happened in the last month. It seems like so much longer since I posted on the old blog. So I won't even try. Suffice it to say that life happened, in all its joyous, sad, challenging and crazy moments. Nothing I can't handle, but lots of things that have interrupted the normal course of days and weeks and routines I like to keep.

Like writing on the blog. So I decided to just get back into it by way of a few memorable meals I made and enjoyed lately. None of these were super elegant or exciting or even memorable because of the food. It was the people I shared them with that made them special and the happiness that was created because we sat down together.  

Two going away parties. I hosted two parties in May at my house for different couples who are leaving town for new adventures. One of them was a Mexican-themed Cinco de Mayo party for two native Californians who are going back to their home state to live, start new jobs and become new parents. It was a sort of baby shower (without the shower stuff)/ going away party. Another friend helped with the preparations and we served three kinds of homemade salsas with chips, chile corn fritters, tomato-cucumber gazpacho and sopes with black bean and chipotle cream, pineapple-rosé sangria and tres leches cake for dessert. It was a festive and colorful send-off for two people I'll really

The second party only a week later was a paella dinner for about 12 people in honor of some neighbor friends who I got to know only recently and wish I could have shared more meals with. Both of them love to cook and so we had a collaborative dinner party which meant no one person did all the work and the result was a gorgeous and tasty paella that was loved by all, even the littlest among us. Tres leches cake (again) was the dessert of choice. I used Alton Brown's recipe both times which is super easy and so decadent. While making it twice was no problem, I don't recommend eating it twice in one week.  

Anniversary dinner at the beach with Daniel. At the end of April our little family took a vacation. We were lucky to be offered the home of some friends--a house on the beach in Santa Rosa, on the Florida panhandle. It had been five years since D and I had been to the beach, and it was June's first time ever. Needless to say, we had a blast.

We ate most of our meals out during that week just so we didn't have to work much. But one day we found a great seafood market and bought a bunch of local delicacies and did it up, in honor of our first anniversary. We put the baby to bed and started cooking. We snacked on little tiny clams that Daniel harvested on the beach, lightly steamed in olive oil, garlic, lemon and parsley. That was followed by fresh, raw Apalachicola oysters and lots of crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Then I made linguine 'frutti di mare' with shrimp, clams, scallops and fresh tomatoes and garlic. Perfection. And of course, one of my favorite desserts: Florida key lime pie.  

Last-minute Sunday pasta dinner. This last Sunday we had had a hard week and were just needing to relax. In my family growing up my mom always cooked pasta on Sundays and I carried that tradition into my relationship with Daniel in the early years. Now that we have a baby nothing is that regular anymore, but we still sometimes crave pasta on Sundays. My friend Stacia, who I love and don't get to see that often, was in town and I invited her to join us. I had everything I needed in the pantry and so didn't have to go to the store for anything, which is nice. I made a sauce with sausage and red wine, red pepper and garlic and served it over strozzapreti - the little twisted shape from Puglia that catches the sauce and always goes well with a meat sauce. A simple salad with store-bought dressing and red wine rounded out the meal and it was nice to just enjoy a simple and satisfying comfort dish with loved ones.


Corn and early summer dinner outdoors. The weather has been alternately really hot and oddly cold this spring and early summer. So tonight we ate dinner outside for the first time because there was a nice breeze and the bugs seem not to have arrived just yet. All we ate was grilled corn on the cob, a fresh tomato and arugula salad and bread. But the corn was deliciously sweet and tasted just like summer and it was beautiful to watch June devour it with such joy and two-year-old abandon. I could have eaten her up she was so cute. Too bad I didn't get a picture. (The one above is of her the very first time she ever tried corn on the cob - in a Mexican restaurant -it was love at first bite).

Taken together, these meals don't have much in common except the pure and simple joy that comes from cooking and sharing meals with the people I love. Anything and everything, good things and bad, can be happening all around me but if I can just slow down enough to cook something simple and share it with my family and friends, I know I'll always be okay.

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