Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Keep It To Yourself Dinner Party

“Enough about the allergies. We know about the environment. We’ve discussed it before. Keep it to yourself. We’re tired of hearing about it. Let’s just eat already.” I know that’s what goes through the minds of the non-allergy eaters when I'm around. So I chose to avoid it with a pick and chose menu when friends came to dinner.

The Juicer, the Diver, the Philosopher, the Artist, the Physical Trainer, One One and One Three came to my table for dinner. I didn’t know that the Juicer was on a 10 day juice program (and I didn’t watch her closely, maybe she chewed everything 200 times to keep her promise to herself) or that the Diver was on an elimination diet, searching for the food that might be causing his allergies. I knew that the Physical Trainer was allergic to wheat but I’m pretty sure she was with me at the liquor store buying Heinekens’.

The dinner was a 'Please Pass the Baked Potato and Salad' bar. I read that a family style meal is a friendly approach to a dinner and avoided lining everything up on the counter. We passed platter after bowl to the right. Everyone had a plate and a bowl at their place. My thinking was that the plate was for the Potato etc and the Bowl was for the Salad etc. PT turned in the bowl and made one big pile on her plate. She wanted more space on the table. We all admired her ingenuity.

Here are the offerings that went around the table:

Baked Potato
Butter and Sour Cream for the non-vegans
Pico De Gallo
Chopped fresh spinach and herbs (basil, mint, sweet marjoram and thyme)
Bacon – cut in 1” pieces and fried for the non-vegans

Baby spinach
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced avocado
Sliced cucumber
Sliced red onion
Black bean and Corn salad
An assortment of salad dressings

White wine. Water. Beer.

For dessert: sliced watermelon – sweet without any additions.

From this meal, I want to share the Black Bean and Corn Salad. It is very festive when served in a glass bowl so all the colors show.

(2) 15 oz cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
(1) 15 oz can sweet corn
1 red pepper, diced
1 ½ cup sliced celery
(1) 16 oz bottle of chunky salsa
¼ cup sliced scallions
¼ cup oil and vinegar dressing
¼ - ½ cup cilantro

Everything goes into the bowl, stir to mix and put in the refrigerator for about an hour to blend the flavors. That's it.

This is one of those ‘do your own thing’ salads. See something that you know will make the salad even better, add it. Don’t like the idea of corn, take it out.

The beginning of my vegan day was easy:

Breakfast was Crispex (one side corn, one side rice), fresh strawberries and ½ banana sliced on top, with rice milk. Coffee of course, with a pinch of cinnamon.

Lunch was a green salad, very green, everything green. Lettuce, spinach, fresh herbs, parsley, cilantro, cold cooked broccoli, cold cooked green beans, with an EVOO and lime juice dressing. Icy cold green tea. That’s it. It’s 90 degrees here and the salad was refreshing.

Cooking vegan doesn’t have to be meal from the Health Food store. A chain grocery store provided everything for my vegan day.

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