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.
STRAWBERRY GRAPEFRUIT SMASH // Serves 8
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.