Happy solstice! Our first day of winter, as I noted earlier, was just hellaciously cold. And windy. And just all-around bitter. I cried nearly every time I left the comfort of the indoors that day. But there was a fair amount of comfort to be had, so that may have had something to do with it.
I haven't talked too much about our Candida dinners, but they've continued on since our first effort in October. We had our third dinner on Sunday, celebrating the new season and the fact that we all were brave enough to venture out in the "feels like -30" weather for soup.
There were six of us this time, which seems to be the number that we gravitate towards; no matter how many people are invited, we often seem to end up with six at the end. My old friend Miriam, on vacation from grad school in England, made an appearance, and a violist from Civic that I didn't know named Ben was our other guest. Most of the way through the cooking process, it became clear that all of us (including Ben, by pure chance) knew my good friend Shawn Marie, prompting a discussion of SM's Kevin Bacon-ness for our group. She was the only person we all knew and had introduced many of us, and she wasn't even present.
But truly, I do think the kitchen is also Kevin Bacon in this scenario. It's what brought this little group together, and indeed my first personal experiences with many of the people there had involved food. Four years ago, Miriam and I cooked a curry that, while delicious, made her aware of a nasty allergy to cilantro. Rose-Anne came to Thanksgiving at my house two years ago, the first time we'd hung out sans Shawn Marie, and brought some delicious garlic butter for our feast. And I vividly remember making my first-ever batch of homemade seitan with Shawn Marie, using it as a pizza topping during our first one-on-one meeting. Food has risen to a much more prominent position in my life lately, but I realized on Sunday that it's been a running theme for years. There's just something about food and kitchens, the warmth and creation and comfort that a group of people can experience there. That's exactly why I could never, ever be a professional cook: in the rush to prepare food for strangers, I'd be afraid that I'd lose the joy I find in preparing food with or for people I know and care about. (That and I'm really slow and can't deal with stress, but that's another story.)
Anyway, dinner (or lunch?) turned out splendidly. Candida dinners generally do. There have been blips--a too-lime-oriented jicama salad, some dessert issues--but nearly everything we've made has turned out quite well, particularly since most of our recipes are having their first outings at the event. There have been sweet potato-cilantro-ginger patties, spaghetti squash, miracle brownies... We're thinking we'll make a collaborative cookbook. The menu this time around involved some fantastic chickpea-flour savory crepes (with two filling options!), an amazing kale-and-bean stew that convinced nearly everyone present that they needed to invest in some smoked paprika, salad, and the aforementioned brownies. Afterwards, full and happy, we sat around the table and basked in the camaraderie of food before we all headed back out into the cold.