Sunday, April 10, 2011
FOOD, COOKING, & BOOK DISCUSSION
I used to be one of those people obsessed with eating/not eating. Not necessarily interested in food or preparing it, just woofing it down or preventing myself from woofing it down. But now that I've kicked the compulsive eating syndrome, I'm beginning to feel an appreciation for food and cooking.
I can see now why cooking is considered and art. It's creative. It's enjoyable to prepare meals that are both beautiful and delicious. (Ohmygod, I sound like Martha Stewart.)
The problems that discouraged me in the past were:
1) Never having all the ingredients in recipes in my kitchen, so I made them up with what I had,
2) Wanting something easy, simple and fast to feed a passel of kids,
3) Using packaged food,
4) Having at least one husband who didn't give a flying fig about food or eating with me,)
5) Recipes did work right or look like they were supposed to.
Then there were the times when we didn't have anything to eat in the house except macaroni (well, once.) Now when young people say, "We don't have anything to eat," they mean, "Everything is frozen and I don't have time to defrost it," or "We don't like anything we have, Or "We don't do leftovers so let's throw them away." Which means, in my eyes, "Let's waste food." Or, a new one, "My food stamps haven't come yet."
Sorry if I'm so cynical but I think I'm turning into my mother-in-law who used to freak out if her kids or her grandkids waste food or ate popcorn for dinner. Heck, we truly didn't want to eat everything on our plate because we really were full. And we were on the way to the movie theater so didn't really have time to eat a full, nutritious meal she always wanted to cook us.
Now to the point. I attend a book discussion group once a week with other single ladies. It's heavy reading and takes a lot of energy to plow through (like Tibetan Book of the Dead with editor commentary) so we began to alternate bringing something to eat afterwards so we could relax and enjoy conversation.
It's gone from a potluck fare to becoming a gourmet dinner party. There might even be a smidgen of "Can-you-top-this?" involved.
I'm not complaining. I LOVE IT. I'm becoming eager to my week to cook and shopping at the fancy-schmancy grocery stores, Sunflower or Trader Joe's, for tasty, fresh and/or organic items.
We began with sharing "main course." Gradually we added appetizers for when someone showed up hungry--snacks to nibble while we read and sipped herbal tea such as brie cheese and those small whole grain Wheat Thins.
Our next addition was a selection of bread, some of which homemade and sometimes rare and exotic. With nice, soft, creamy butter or warm garlic bread.
Then our hostess began making these amazing salads because she has a garden. The salads would make a full meal but we eat them with the main course. Lately I noticed she's also adding more and more amazing ingredients. Things that I love such as artichoke hearts or avocado. With homemade balsamic vinegar dressing also. Yum.
Then the lady that loves to bake started doing little breads and unusual cookies, so we advanced to another course--desert. One week it was fresh, sliced strawberries, out of season. Yum again.
Some of the wonderful things we've fixed and/or eaten are lasagna made from scratch. Ditto on spaghetti and meat balls. Bruschetta. Homemade green chile stew. Makes me hungry to even think about it. Steamed homegrown asparagus. Yum times three.
The week I fixed a green chile stew I had to say, "This is so good I can't believe I made it!"
We've also added sides to the main course.
This is magnificent!!! I'm so glad to be a part of it.
The week before last, in my fervor for Julie and Julia (and books the movie was based on)I made a creamed mushroom soup. I even chopped the mushrooms into little pieces rather than just slicing them, used the leeks instead of onions that were substitutes. It called for three cups of milk and a cup of sour cream. The sour cream from the health food store was thick and shiny and had a taste out of this world! (Is that an old cliche? Sorry. Now I sound like a Campbell's Soup can.)
I told another friend about this great dinner party/book discussion group and my mushroom soup and she gasped and said it was terribly "unhealthy." I stood by my Julia Child recipe and declare it was only milk like we drink anyway, and sour cream instead of heavy cream. (I didn't mention the butter I'd sauteed the leeks in.) I also told her since we weren't eating meat it wasn't overdoing it with "fat." So she knuckled under and said it was okay since we shared it among several people (And I had leftovers which I don't mind eating.)
If you'd like to join a book discussion groups with fabulous books, cooks and food, the next book on the reading list is Mysteries of the Kabbalah, call me, and I'll give you directions.