Once every month or two for a couple years now, some old college friends and I get together at one person’s house, and that one person makes dinner (and dessert!) for everybody else. Last night was my turn, and I decided on Caribbean food, mostly because it’s awesome but also because it’s winter, so: take that, winter! (Yeah!) It’s also easily gluten-free, corn-free, and FULL of delicious coconut goodness.
I’m the kind of person who procrastinates on most things, including getting my house presentable, so I was cleaning and pre-cooking what I could all day up to the last minute, and embarrassingly enough I had people put their coats in the bedroom where you could see the giant pile of cardboard and unfinished odds and ends I tried to hide from the rest of the house (oops!). With all that work ahead of me, I started my day off with a delicious breakfast of raw buckwheat granola (homemade and spiced with my holy sweet triumvirate of cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom) in brazil nut milk with peaches and dried blueberries. Yum!
I boiled yams, I marinated tempeh, and I baked a heretofore untested gluten-free variation of the Coconut Lime (cup)Cake from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. (Basically, I swapped out the ap flour for rice/coconut flour, replaced the sugar with agave, upped the lime zest and omitted the coconut extract. But I’m planning on tweaking it a bit more very soon, in which case I will share it.) I swept floors, scrubbed counters, and basically listened to “Shoop” by S+P on repeat because it is amazing. I even got a surprise phone call from my ladyfriend in Berlin!
People came over and sipped homemade “ginger ale” with fresh pressed ginger while listening to, among other records, Esquivel’s “Strings Aflame!” and Brute Force Steelband’s “Music to Awaken the Ballroom Beast.” Which are also awesome, even if no one else appreciates them in their midcentury glory quite like I do. I wilted kale with garlic, heated up red beans and rice, and fried up some delicious plantains. We feasted and just when we all got full, I brought out the cake, frosted and topped with toasted coconut, lime peel and lime slices.
Where’s the food? Well, my nighttime pictures didn’t do it enough justice. Luckily I made so much food, I had enough for leftovers today:
Going clockwise from the kale with garlic: jerk tempeh based on this recipe, red beans and rice from my spontaneous mind, Coconut Mashed Yams from the Millenium Cookbook, and fried plantains. While it was definitely a heavier and larger meal than I typically cook for myself, everyone assured me it was “comfort food, but light at the same time.” I guess that’s what coconut milk and lots of veggies will do for my omnivorous friends; but they all loved it and that’s what counts! I even managed to get left with one last piece of cake, which was still very tasty the next day.
Though it’s hard work and requires a lot of dish-doing at the end of the night, I really like cooking for more than just myself. It reminds me of growing up in San Diego, where our door was always open at dinnertime to whomever might drop by, be it neighbor, friend or family. I didn’t have a very traditional family, but my mom left my sister and me with an awesome group of friends and neighbors who were the best family I could imagine. I like keeping that tradition here in Minnesota, because though the food was always good, it didn’t matter what the food was. It was good because it was made with love, and we were all together.