In Maya Angelou’s cookbook Great Food, All Day Long: Cook Splendidly, Eat Smart, she reflects on how food is one of the best ways to bring people together. She writes:
“In my fifties, I moved to North Carolina from California. I already had some fame but no one invited me to anything, so I had some invitations printed saying, “Maya Angelou invites you to a ‘Welcome to Spring Party.’ We will have laughter, good food, some dancing, some drinking, and some story-telling.” I invited twenty people….I prepared for forty and that’s how many came. I do not suggest that there are recipes in this book that will help you to make new friends, but I assure you they will introduce you to people you have never heard of….Happy Cooking and Happy Eating, all day and all night long.” (p. 147)
I love the idea of a gathering full of “laughter, good food, some dancing, some drinking, and some story-telling,” because these are all the things that fill my most cherished memories. Certainly there are some moments of profound living that I’ve experienced outside of these seemingly banal occurrences—I’m thinking most specifically about the political activism and organizing with which I’ve been involved—but those simple times, those moments of “just” sharing food with friends are important too.
I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of that these past couple months. As I noted in a previous post, my partner and I moved into a beautiful apartment with our own back deck! We’ve been hosting people on it all summer, and every time we do, we’re left with an overwhelming sense of joy. Here are some photos and recipes from some of those magical mornings, afternoons, and nights.
The first time we hosted was 4th of July weekend. We took the opportunity to break in our new grill, and made a lovely vegan feast to share with a couple friend of ours and their adorable baby. The menu consisted of: peach-mango salsa, Mediterranean quinoa veggie burgers from Vegetarian Times magazine (with some modifications: we didn’t use pasta, used yellow quinoa, and added some GF oats), grilled veggies with rosemary dijon marinade also from VT, and a healthy spin on chocolate (brown)rice krispy bars–leave it to Angela from Oh She Glows to come up with a gluten-free, sugar free, peanut-free version of one of my favorite treats!
I was a busy baker this weekend, and because I love kitschy/campy/theme-y holidays, I had to make an All American Pie for 4th of July. This pie is not sugar-free or gluten-free, but it is vegan, and I did stick with unrefined sugars and whole-wheat flour:
The following weekend, I got to host out of town friends from Chicago, which meant a mix of dining out and home-cooked meals on our back porch. I made my own recipe for this quinoa breakfast hash–just cooked quinoa, then sauteed veggies (kale, orange pepper, summer squash, carrots) in sunflower oil, then mixed them together with cinnamon, cumin and red pepper. Yum!
Last week we had friends over for Southwestern fare with flare. I was proud of my ability to compile a menu with items from all over the healthy-recipe world. We enjoyed: yam enchiladas with pomegranate sauce from my The Gluten-Free Vegan, grilled corn and avocado salad (recipe from Martha Stewart Living’s June issue), black bean salad (my own recipe), and an amazing pecan cookie/peach ice cream sandwich which I made with inspiration from two blog recipes. I got the cookie recipe and general concept from Pure2Raw and the soft-serve from Choosing Raw’s banana soft-serve–I just added frozen peaches!
It’s probably worth noting that this evening resulted in learning a new and highly-addictive card game called Wizard. I recommend you find folks to play with immediately. Loads of fun. :)
Of course, it’s always important to remember where our food comes from, and the labor that it takes to bring it to our local farmer’s market or grocery store. With that in mind, I leave you with a little “food for thought,” if you will, from Vandana Shiva, an important ecofeminist and critic of globalization: “Nature shrinks as capital grows. The growth of the market cannot solve the very crisis it creates.”