Last night's equinox dinner was entirely enjoyable. There were six of us in attendance: myself, Rose-Anne (our host!), my first Illinois roomie Josh and his girlfriend Anne, and my cellist friend Anna and her boyfriend Nicholas. First off, I really just enjoyed the conversation. Everybody was different enough to put forth a unique viewpoint, but we also all seemed to have very similar food, moral, political and general life views. We discussed the pros and cons of freeganism, veganism, etc., the things we liked cooking, sustainable living, all sorts of things. It was fun :) And then all of the food was quite yummy into the bargain. We had: delicious hot crispy garlic bread, a black bean salad with avocados, cucumbers, onions, and this amazing lime-cilantro-jalepeno dressing, green salad with a white truffle and olive oil dressing, pesto spinach lasagna (just like regular lasagna with pesto mixed into the sauce), and a vegan pumpkin pie for dessert (I'll post the recipe at the end because Rose-Anne is in love with this pie). By the time we left to go home, I was so full of good food and good company that I could barely tolerate my own contentment. We're already discussing a follow-up dinner party; Nicholas has a condition that severely restricts his diet (all he could eat last night was the black bean salad), so we're going to have a Nicholas dinner where he can eat everything.
This is from my Chicago Diner cookbook, and normally it makes the absolute best pie crust ever, but I was kind of disappointed with it last night. So there will be some parenthetical revisions to show what I normally do as opposed to what the recipe says.
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (okay, so normally I just use two cups of unbleached flour, but yesterday morning when I made the dry mix I was like, oh, I have wheat flour! But it wasn't pastry flour, which may or may not have been the problem. So I would, in the future, use whole wheat pastry flour or just all unbleached flour. I still also just don't like whole wheat flour as much as I would like to, so that may have been the whole problem right there.)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup soy margarine (of course, butter works just fine too)
1/4 to 1/3 cup ice water (I also didn't measure the water, because I had halved the recipe and 1/8 cup just seemed a little silly. When will I ever learn that in baking, measurement is kind of important?)
Mix the dry ingredients, cut in the butter until the mix is crumbly and pebble-like. Make a well, add the water, and mix until the dough forms a ball. Divide in half. Makes two pie crusts, so unless you double the filling you'll want to half the crust recipe.
(makes one pie)
3/4 lb firm tofu (but we used silken last night and I was happier with the result)
1 16 oz can of pumpkin or two cups fresh cooked pumpkin
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbs oil
2 tbs molasses
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Blend everything in a food processor or blender. Pour into a nine-inch pie shell and bake for an hour at 350 or until cracks start to appear in the filling. Chill 2-3 hours before serving (or stick it in the freezer, which is what we did due to time constraints).
So the food was good, the people were good, the conversation was good. But for me, it all added up to more than the sum of its parts. In all truth, it reminded me of Tucson, of our paperchef parties (albeit with less anarchists involved, at least as far as I know), when everybody would help cook vast themed meals and talk politics. And god, I missed that. It feels like coming home, like I'm coming back to the things I loved to do and I'm finding out the I still love them. It's a pretty damn excellent way to feel.