14 August 2011

Weekends in the woods

So I'm at my friend Denise's house on Friday night (fairly late too; traffic to her place was a little heavy), and decided to bang out a dinner. You know the usual suspects when you're hungry /now/ and need food five minutes ago: pasta, sauce, and dips. I did a hummus with lemon juice (from two lemons) and lemon zest (from one lemon). Then I threw in a handful of fresh basil, because it was there. The pasta was the farfalle. The sauce was a quick tomato-vodka-coconut cream sauce with lots of herbs and more fresh basil. I also did a white bean and rosemary dip. All of it came together in about 20 minutes.

However, it could have all gone horribly wrong, had I not been paying very close attention to the utter violence of her electric burners. Those suckers got hot and start to wend and weave their way through the pots, burning pretty much everything. Ack! Thank goodness that as soon as I realised it, I started easing back on the heat.

Why am I mentioning this?

Because you should firstly remember that the temperature dial is there on your stove for a reason. During the cooking process you will adjust it up or down, depending on how much power the food needs. Why? Because not all foods react in the same way in the pan. For this reason, it is quite sensible to keep a keen eye on your stove, regardless of where you are.

We ate the food late into the night, and chatted and had a great time. The next morning, on went a pot of potatoes to boil, and I showed Denise how to make the soy milk mayo. She was quite excited, and churned out a double batch that was ten kinds of perfect. In went some celery and 1/4 of a medium white onion, diced finely. Win.

That, along with the potato salad was our contribution to the Elise & Pat Hartmann potluck in NJ. A friend mentioned that every single one of their potlucks tends to have such awesome food. There's a good reason for that. Elise and her mother-in-law (Mimi) are goddesses when it comes to cranking out vegan awesome food after vegan awesome food.

I might have mentioned this before, but that is my ideal of what a potluck should be. The host provides the main meal, and makes enough so that everyone gets a crack at it, and can fill up. She makes sure that even if nobody brings anything, or of people bring stuff that's just ... unfortunate eating, there will still be plenty of food for all and sundry. She keeps the wine flowing, and the beer cooler filled.

A potluck is not (and should not be) "Cook for my party, because I'm providing the venue." That's when you get the lazy, or half-assed, or unfortunate stuff. It's when the hostess is thoughtful, and creates and actual party first, then lets her guests fill in the blanks with their own contributions that makes people bring their A game, and do only the most awesome stuff ever. And that, my friends, is exactly what happened. There was plenty of food to begin with, but with each new person walking in, the table just got more and more filled up. It was incredible!

A wonderful time was had by all, of course.

Now, when's the next one, Elise?