Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday gatherings

Me and my peeps enjoyed a potluck dinner last night.  Kind of a Wednesday Spaghetti on a Friday and without the spaghetti.  We also made a list of restaurants we will be going to each month for the next six months!  Then we get to enjoy our gatherings with someone else cooking and cleaning up.

I made the following salad for the potluck.  It was delicious and I came home with an empty bowl.  It would be a great salad any time of the year, but it really seems appropriate for fall.


4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, preferably red, chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh hot chili, such as jalapeno
1 clove garlic, peeled
Juice of 2 limes
2 cups cooked black beans, drained (canned are fine)
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes and onions on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, toss to coat and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast, turning occasionally, until potatoes begin to brown on the corners and are just tender inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; keep on pan until ready to mix with dressing.

Put chilies in a blender or mini food processor along with garlic, lime juice, the remaining olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Process until blended.

Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with beans and bell pepper; toss with dressing and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a day.

Serves 4

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spaghetti Family

Last night, as Wednesday Spaghetti was winding down, we were in the kitchen finishing off the wine and picking at the leftover dessert crumbs, and one of my neighbors remarked, "Wednesday Spaghetti feels like being at your favorite cousin's house. Everybody is just being themselves and kids are running around and it's so comfortable."

When I think about what I want to give my children most, it's the opportunity to make and share the memories that will sustain them now and for the rest of their lives. I don't think I knew, even just a few years ago, how one's family grows. Or maybe more accurately, how many opportunities, even those that come out of a box of noodles and a jar of the cheapest sauce on the shelf, there can be to grow that family.