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Cooking for Seven – swell

Cooking for Seven

Buckwheat Rawnola with Peaches and Dried Blueberries
Caribbean Dinner Plate
GF Coconut Lime Cake
Slice of GF Coconut Lime Cake

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.

18 Responses to “Cooking for Seven”

  1. Nora says:

    i would have that meal every night for dinner if i could. tempeh, kale, sweet potatoes, and plantains in one dish? it’s a wondrous thing to behold.

  2. mihl says:

    Both the cake and the plate full of jamaican goodies look gorgeous! I hope your ladyfriend isn’t completely frozen in Berlin.

  3. That so true what you say about eating together: food tastes so much better like that. I’ve never before lived completely by myself, and I must say cooking for myself only is the hardest part in it. Even if I know full well how to cook the most delicious food, I never seem to be bothered if it is just for me. I just throw some ingredients together and that’s that. This rotational dinner system you have is really good, I should try that out with my friends!

  4. Oh, and I forgot to say: that cake is really pretty! Must be delicious too..

  5. veganlisa says:

    Fantastic, my friends and I are trying to find a similar routine that will keep us connected. The love and effort you put into the beautiful meal you created surely warmed the hearts and souls of everyone in attendance.

  6. Jill says:

    Caribbean food sounds like a great theme for a dinner party! The meal looks fantastic. I’m surprised there was any cake leftover! It’s amazing that you cooked everything, including a recipe from the Millenium Cookbook, and cleaned the house all in one day. You’ve got some lucky friends :)

  7. Jes says:

    What a beautiful spread! I’ve always wanted to get a dinner group started, its sounds like so much fun (but for now I’m good with weekly potlucks–cheaper!) The cake sounds divine & the jerk tempeh sounds super good too. I bet everyone felt a bit warmer that night!

  8. Alyssa says:

    It was so delicious! And I totaly did not notice any odds and ends. Your place is beautiful!

  9. Lexi says:

    That last paragraph made me want to tear up a bit. Thank you darling. It was amazing and such a wonderful time. Sharing good (great!) food with good friends = really all you need.

  10. Gena says:

    Your jerk tempeh looks awesome!

  11. vegancowgirl says:

    That cake just looks so good! Yah to friends!

  12. cookeasyvegan says:

    The meal looks excellent – the perfect mix of color and flavor. What a treat to share such a meal with good friends!

  13. Megan says:

    That all looks amazing!! Yum yum! And your cake is gorgeous, I can’t wait to see the further tweaked recipe as those cupcakes are one of my favorite recipes from the book and I’d love to try it GF. :)

  14. jessy says:

    i have a bunch of raw buckwheat groats in my freezer i think i’m going to have to make some raw buckwheat granola. what an awesome idea! i just got a dehydrator a few months ago too – perfect!

    i can’t say that i’ve had much caribbean food before. never thought of it being good for gluten-free peeps – you’re so right – it really is! coconut milk makes all things gloriously good, and i’m really digging your coconut lime cake. it’s magnificent! ooooh – i can’t wait for the recipe! also, jerked tempeh sounds damn delicious.

    i totally stuff things i haven’t had a chance to put away/organize in closets and/or in our spare bedroom if i don’t have time to mess with them before people come over. that’s too funny that your friends ended up seeing it anyways. sounds like something that would happen to me too. doh! but friends don’t care about that kinda stuff, and you’re so right – what matters is getting together and enjoying great food made with lots & lots of love.

  15. kim g. says:

    What a great tradition you guys have started! I hear you on the work part not being fun, and I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I have let the bedroom hide the mess only to have people go back there, but it is so satisfying to cook for friends and enjoy good food together. Your plate looks amazing! Such delicious and beautiful food!

  16. I want to make that jerk recipe it sounds awesome!

    What a great looking cake! love the toasted coconut!

  17. Mo says:

    That cake! That food! So yum.

  18. elsiechaser says:

    I’m the same way–don’t mind all the work because I just love cooking for other people. :) Your cake looks like it came out just right–very much looking forward to the recipe! And jerk tempeh? I am in love.

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