Feeding people is an exercise in generosity. It takes time to prepare a menu, gather friends, shop for ingredients, clean the house, set a table, and clean it up. It costs money to buy food and all accompanied ingredients. Entertaining, be it for four or seventeen, takes time and money. I enjoy feeding people. I like making food, serving in that way, as an act of love and nourishing people I care about. That is why I cook. Not for myself, I am happy with hummus toast, but because my skill feeds someone elses need to be fed, to feel taken care of. I want to give that. Without noticing, I grew pragmatic about that process last year - not inviting people over for the sake of frugality or inconvenience. The book testing was over and I didn't want to try so hard, maybe some of you can understand that. Except around New Year resolution time, I realized I'd cooled it a little too hard. I missed it. I missed the fearless giving that happens around a table where food is shared. Despite practicality, we'd have more dinners with friends. 

My parents were out of town for the weekend so I jumped at the opportunity to use their beautiful yard and more spacious kitchen to get friends together. We were pushing it for an outdoor dinner, the weather is not that warm yet, but I put out blankets and extra jackets and we made do. Everyone brought something to share, Hugh and I grilled teriyaki black cod, Alaskan Halibut with cajun spices and green apple salsa and tri tip with a couple sauces. I made a pot of black beans with onions, wine and a number of other pantry staples that turned out better than expected. And of course there was a springy cocktail which I'm including the rough recipe for below. I can't exactly explain how in the hustle of feeding 17 people, I felt alive. Like I was supposed to be doing this. Nourishing people. 

It took time and money. It always does. It is always worth it. 


I can't think of a better combination for the change of seasons. It was perfect to make for a group. I am also thinking a blood orange and blackberry would be a nice and pretty combination, maybe even with gin if you wanted to have two types of cocktails out. These are rough estimates, taste and add as you wish. 

3 T. honey

3 T. natural cane sugar

16 oz./2 cups fresh grapefruit juice

16 oz./2 cups vodka

1 pint strawberries, roughly smashed

few sprigs of fresh mint

8 oz. club soda/soda water

ice for serving

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the honey, cane sugar and a few tablespoons of the grapefruit juice. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Transfer to a large pitcher. Add the grapefruit juice, vodka, strawberries and stir. This much can be done in advance and kept in the fridge until needed.

Rough up the mint to release the flavor. When ready to serve, add the mint and soda water and give the mix one more stir. Pour the mix into ice filled glasses, letting bits of strawberry and mint get in the glass for presentations sake. 

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Reader Comments (113)

Hi Sara,

This is Terra, Ruth Aine's friend from Cal Poly! I am following your amazing blog. Great recipes. Since discovering your blog maybe 8 weeks ago I have made at least 10 different recipes. You have a gift. I had to comment. I have the same New Years Resolution-have more people over for dinner!

Terra Colburn

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTerra Colburn

I one hundred percent agree! It's so easy to become complacent and convince ourselves it's not worth the time, effort and money it takes to entertain. In the end, though, it is always worth it!
The pictures are beautiful as always. And that drink sounds so wonderfully refreshing! I'll be trying it out for sure!

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

SARA! Yes. Beautiful words, beautiful photographs, beautiful you in those photographs. The one of all of you eating under the deep blue sky and bright green leaves and twinkle lights...I can't handle it. I am a sucker for those little twinkly lights every time. And I love what you said about how cooking and serving that food to others feeds their "need to be fed, to feel taken care of" -- that's perfect. We DO need to feel cared for and to be nourished, both physically and emotionally. Practicality be damned, because you're right: it's always worth it. xo

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStacy

I couldn't think of a better way to spend an evening! You did a fabulous job by the looks :)

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterthecitygourmand

This looks like the perfect party. Three cheers to resolutions, friends, and the soon to be summer.

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTori

what lovely pictures. thank you for sharing.

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternags

That dinner shot with the lights??!! Are you kidding me, Hugh?!!! LOVE this post and all the photos. Love everything about it. Nothing is better than gathering friends around the table, and you've displayed how necessary and beautiful that can be. Thanks for sharing, Sara!

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdana

I love this post! So whimsical -- including dining under twinkling lights! So fun :)

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKiran @

This looks splendid!

By the way, congratulations on becoming a finalist for the James Beard award! I was scrolling through the list, and lo and behold, Sprouted Kitchen is a nominee. :) It's such a huge accomplishment already, and good luck in the final round!

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiane @ Vintage Zest

So, so beautiful.
And I feel the same way - I love feeding lots of people. I love the movement, and all the time spent; watching people eat well, and feel satisfied.
I love this post. (also, you are crazy gorgeous). xo

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersarah

It is so nice to see a picture of you smiling and doing your thing on here! There should be more of that.

Lately I've felt so "blah" about all the food I've been quickly cooking inbetween all my classes and homework and assignments and midterms. But I picked up your cookbook from my shelf to get re-excited about the kitchen and I think it will do the trick.

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLana Pribic

Having people over and feeding them is a most beautiful thing! This looks wonderful!

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Amazing! "Feeding is an exercise in generosity" indeed. Wise words, Sara. Such an inspiration. Also, congrats on the James Beard nomination! You deserve the recognition.

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAngie

so simply perfect. bravo, friend. moments like that are what life is all about. xo

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessie

What beautiful pictures... Thanks!

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

Search perfectly captured moments filled with beauty and happiness.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn

Such beautiful words and pictures. Looks like such a fun time!

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarie @ Little Kitchie

I love this post! that is our dream backyard - beautiful!!!

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSimply Life

Oh my goodness.... I'll just echo the other commenters and say that these photos are absolutely beautiful Sara! They look like they should be in a home entertaining magazine!

ahh i love how much i agree with this ! having people over and cooking and entertaining is the thing I love most, even with all the prep time and clean up after. such beautiful photos, you have lucky lucky friends xxx

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChloe

Love this. I feel the exact same way... After getting married just last May, my husband and I sat down to create a monthly budget. We decided that of all the things we could spend any "extra" cash, we wanted it to be food so that 1) we could eat healthfully with whole ingredients and 2) we could spend the time and money building and maintaining friendships. This means no weekly shopping splurges for me and no extra computer gadgets for him, but it's totally worth it.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTia Stockton

This just absolutely kills me. That yard, the kitchen, that wine glass (UGH!), the lights, the chairs, the table, the candles, your shirt!, that FOOD, all of it. I'm withered away in jealously.

Fabulous fabulous post.

Can't wait 'til you have another one so I can come! Oh...

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBev Weidner

The way you write is so genuine and intuitive, and it always evokes familiarity about experiences/feelings I have difficulty putting into words. Beautiful food, friends and photos, as ever Mrs. Forte! I have a big crush on you, your blog, and your life!

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNekia

Simply beautiful!

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeorgie

This is so beautiful!!! Ahhh, it makes me so happy. I raise my coffee to you - cheers!

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichaela

Gorgeous!! I LOVE dinner parties as you know, and can echo everything you said - the time, the money, the energy, but also the deep fulfillment that comes from feeding people and gathering those you love around a table. Love the beautiful photos of the party - it looks like a magical evening! (And the fact that you are in shorts at this time of year is especially enviable, given that it's still in the 30's here!! ha!)

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

You are so, so right. What a beautiful evening! Consider me inspired to do the same very soon. Thank you for sharing.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

Gah! What a feast! I love that wine glass shot. POW! The whole thing is super charming. You have some very happy friends there. And that yard... yeah, it's magical.

It's helpful to be reminded that not everything is about maximizing personal time and money. Company is incredibly important - thank you for the words and pictures; they are an inspiration to get back to hosting events.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKarl

As ever Sara, mirroring my sentiments exactly. I was in fact, mid-writing a post about it myself! I love nourishing people too and food is such a wonderful way to do it. Feeding and hosting does indeed take time, resource, energy, money. And yet, the simple act of doing what we are meant to be doing, nourishes us too. Thank you for all the nourishment you put out in the world... with your words and with your food :)

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAsha

Everything looks just perfect!!!

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterami@naivecookcooks

I am soooo happy that I discoverd your blog and book a few months ago, and my friends are too! I have enjoyed cooking and entertaining again with a new found focus on such clean eating. I thank you!

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAngie

Wow. What a a beautiful party. Your parents backyard is incredible.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

This post was particularly lovely! Thank you for sharing. I have a (kind of embarrassing) question - where did you get those kitchen towels with the blue stripes? I have been on the lookout for some just like that and I'd love to buy those! Also, do you know where you got the flowered one in the picture of the cutting board and apple?


March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKate

Je ne parle pas anglais, mais j'aime malgré tout ce blog pour la qualité des photos !

My mom loved entertaining , but she always took out all the stress on us. I always thought it was too crazy and wasnt worth it .
Couldn't understand why she would choose to do something that obviously drove her crazy so often . I guess it's that joy part :) .
The photos are beautiful . Love the one of you squeezing juice , you make it seem effortless .
Are they edited using vsco ? Such a clean edit .

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHili

Yes, yes, yes! I always say there is so much more to food and dining than just the simplicity of food and the act of eating. I can relate to your fulfillment when it comes to entertaining others. The cocktail recipe looks amazing as well. A bit envious of your outdoor dinner - it's 25 degrees in IL today!

Hi, Sara. Been reading here for almost a year, your recipes are so inspiring and the pictures are always beautiful! Loved loved this post, it really shows the love of cooking and making dinners for friends. I'm coming out of two weeks of exams and have planned two dinner get-togethers this weekend. So excited to spend a few hours cooking and sharing the food with friends.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTove

I can absolutely relate.... Beautiful photos and a beautiful garden! Looks like an amazing night.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Looks like a great time. What a lovely setting. Thank you for the photos. Awesome.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDena

Yes, this, a million times over! I have been thinking the same thing's too much work, time, cleaning, money, etc. But you're right--it's about taking care of others.

I think sometimes people think dinner parties are about showing off, but my favorite ones are always the ones that seem simple. Mismatched plates; family-style instead of plated; outdoors instead of in a formal dining room; comforting, seasonal, simple foods that look home-cooked, rather than molecular gastronomy-type stuff. A good dinner party is about the feelings of company, not really about the food.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

You are so cute and I love your kitchen.
Backyard looks wonderful with the lanterns & lights.
What a gorgeous menu. Thanks for sharing!

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterColette from JFF!

Oh, this post is gorgeous! Your food makes people feel happy and nourished, Sara. Thanks for sharing it with us. Someday I hope to have a real dining table, for starters, and one in the backyard, too, so I can share food with friends on such a scale.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathryne

Yeah, definitely suffering from some kitchen envy right now. Gorgeous!

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDorie {Brooklyn Salt}

It looks like a dream!!

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoos

This post tells a beautiful story of celebrating, savoring and feasting - really gorgeous in every way!

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I love your post and the cookbook as well. This post reminded me of my catering days. A lot of work, sometimes little appreciation and always more gruntwork than anticipated. It takes a lot to pull off a dinner party or any event by yourself. To put that smile on, well, congrats! I'm usually too tired to enjoy it!---well...sometimes. Maybe if I put off the dishes till the next day! Everything looked spectacular! If I were there, I'd pitch in.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertchristman

I completely agree. Food is about sharing what we love with people and although it often costs far too much, I prefer to spend my money on this than on anything else. Brilliant post. This resonates deeply with me.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEliza B

Lovely post. And we seem to be thinking alike -- I, too, had a dinner party this past weekend, and served OP Smash -- similar but it uses lemons and aquavit (a flavored vodka). Love your blog.... happy spring.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

Oh man, you have such a sweet heart of a servant. I love it. I had a dinner party saturday night too!! We're doing it! It was at Julie's house but it still counts, right? I wanted nothing more but to just love my dear friends through food. We lavished them with many courses in hope that they would feel loved, inspired and full. Such fun. Such a beautiful post all around.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

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