Sunday afternoon, it was my privilege to make dinner for some of the Diabetes Online Community that live near me. The event was hosted by Babs and her husband Jon. We also had Jess and husband Josh along with Scott and Lisa. Sara also put in a guest appearance via Skype.
We had talked about doing a dinner since early summer and finally picked a date. I was nervous, because I've only been working hard on my cooking for about a year. I've got some skills and some creativity, but they're not unlimited: I know how to toast spices, for example, but I can't yet make a good hamburger consistently. Also, I'd never served a whole meal to more than one other person. But I was careful to choose recipes that are well within my grasp while still having a bit of fancy to them, and I knew that my friends would still like me if I wound up having to order in pizza.
But, despite my jitters, dinner turned out great. I was pleased with how everything tasted, and the only problem was my leaving the asparagus behind. Babs had laid a gorgeous table, and Jon was a tremendous help in getting the food reheated and served. Most importantly, we enjoyed each others' company, and Sara's visit was a lot of fun.
I learned some things from the event, the most important of which came to me as I was peeling the asparagus. It's a nice touch to peel asparagus when it's thicker than a pencil, but it's a bit finicky and I was doing it because I wanted it to be as nice as I could make it. As I worked, I thought, "So this is what they mean by cooking with love."
A couple of folks have asked for recipes. I'm leery about blogging published recipes, but here's source information for those interested.
Two recipes came from the iPad app version of Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything." I heartily recommend both the app and the cookbook it's based on. Bittman's an excellent writer, and does a great job of distinguishing between a recipe's essentials and the optional touches. The recipes I used were:
"Quinoa with Shallots or Leeks", a variation on "Quinoa with Roasted Corn". (I opted for leeks.)
"Roast Chicken Parts with Black Beans", a variation on "Roast Chicken Parts with Olive Oil or Butter". I chose leeks, used chicken thighs because they're less subject to drying out than breasts, and I took the additional step of brining the chicken.
Had I not forgotten the asparagus, the procedure I'd have followed is at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/roasted-asparagus-recipe/index.html.
The method for roasting the pears is in "Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe". The addition of the freshly-grated nutmeg came from my Twitter friend Christina, who is a culinary professional and was very kind to make the suggestion.
The soup was "Butternut Squash Soup" from "Not Your Mother' Slow Cooker Cookbook" by Beth Henserger.