We barked and waved
as the last of our guests headed off ..
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left-overs in hand .. into the star-filled October night
It's always in those moments when I'm reminded. That this little community of people who gather each month .. is the reason we started .. and the thing we love most about Spaghetti Saturdays
A tradition that began nearly two years ago .. when a brave group of (mostly) strangers came together. It wasn't long before name tags were abandoned .. and friendships were formed. How we look forward every month .. to catching up on each other's kids .. vacations .. and gardens. A chance to celebrate even the
tiniest of milestones
— — —
Admittedly .. for the longest time, I wasn't very good hosting dinner parties
What if I've left someone off the guest list and hurt their feelings? What if nobody talks to each other? What if one of the pets throws up on the carpet? Or a wave of social anxiety comes upon me and I can't think of anything to say?
What if I end up chatting with someone .. only to realize the tomato sauce is burning? What if everyone's hungry but meal prep is woefully behind? What if there isn't enough to go around .. or the meatballs fall apart?
“Order pizza” .. says a friend .. “Problem solved”
But of course .. these weren't the real fears. The real fears can't be solved with pizza .. because the real fears are
What if everybody thinks it's a terrible idea?
What if nobody wants to come?
What if I'm not someone they'd like to hang out with?
— — —
In my office is a chair that came from my great-aunt's house .. over which is draped a sheet .. and a striped afghan knitted by my Granny. It's the chair Z sleeps quietly in every evening while I work. It's the afghan he nuzzles his way underneath when he's chilly or he's
hiding from the cats
It took me a while to get it .. but for him, it's all about the holes. He can see everything .. while still hiding out (mostly)
We're similar he and I. At some point for me .. Spaghetti Saturdays have become my way of lifting-up-of-the-afghan. The final realization that .. all this time the holes really weren't doing me any good
No one remains truly unseen .. after all
This past weekend .. it was so nice to pause
There was wine .. evening sun .. and meatballs that held their shape. There were friendly faces .. dancing candles .. stories .. laughter and music.
(The tomato sauce didn't burn. God bless the crock-pot)
We shared stories about trips to Germany and Peru .. new kitchens .. jobs .. and side projects. As the orange sun lowered .. and blue jazz swelled .. it occurred to me
The goal isn't to live a life worth celebrating
The goal is to celebrate a life worth living
They're different things .. are they not?
While I don't think I'll ever be entirely comfortable as a hostess .. I'm getting better with practice. Another tiny milestone to add to the list of things that night worth celebrating.
And although it's certainly nice to have a few cheerleaders .. it's just as nice learning to
become your own
This recipe isn't necessarily the direction I see The Veggies heading .. but there's a time and a place for everything.
In this case .. an incredibly delicious twist on a family favorite .. brought by a friend to Spaghetti Saturday.
Earlier that day .. I'd been paging through cooking magazines in search of inspiration. Who knew it would come walking through the front door instead? Sometimes it's nice to have a treat that isn't made of oats or date paste.
With all of the hosting we do .. I've found it causes me far less stress when I plan a menu with things that are familiar versus trying a lot of new recipes. Certainly, it's fun to try something new .. but freshly baked cookies .. or rice pudding are crowd favorites.
I have a couple of recipes for rice pudding. My Mom's (which I've never been able to fully duplicate) .. and Cinnamon Raisin Coconut Rice Pudding from Cook's Country. It's as close as I can come on my own to utopia.
Now I add this version with its combination of Indian spices. Take it from all of us who passed (and re-passed) it around the table that night. It's SO good
~ Adapted from Alton Brown
Indian Rice Pudding
- 1 cup uncooked long grain or basmati rice
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup natural sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1/3 cup unsalted pistachios chopped
- In a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat, combine the cooked rice and milk.
- Heat until the mixture begins to boil.
- Decrease the heat to low and cook at a simmer until the mixture begins to thicken, stirring frequently ( ~ 5 minutes)
- Increase the heat to medium, add the heavy cream, coconut milk, sugar, and cardamom and continue to cook until the mixture just begins to thicken again (~5 to 10 minutes)
- Use a whisk to help prevent the cardamom from clumping.
- Once the mixture just begins to thicken, remove from the heat and stir in the raisins and pistachios.
- Transfer the mixture to individual serving dishes or a glass bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature.