Monday, April 2, 2012

Cooking: Friends that are foodies

We are fortunate enough to have loads of great friends as a couple. And by loads, I mean at least 4 other couples that will tolerate us at any given time. They all bring different things to our lives and I hope in some small way, we bring something to theirs. When we moved here, we had no friends. Not a single one. No contact for emergencies. No one to bring us a meal when we had our first baby. No one. 

That changed very quickly (quicker than most from what I can tell) and we have continued to grow our circle of acquaintances after more than 13 years of living here. Some we run into in them at  grocery stores or the gym, occasional occurrences which are pleasant, but just that, occurrences with acquaintances.

However,  the tried and true friends, the ones you call when someone's baby needs a blood transfusion (not our baby, thank goodness), the ones you call when you are in labor and your toddler needs somewhere to go, the ones you call when your dog needs to go be put to sleep, they are rare and truly the ones you hold tight. 
These showed up to donate blood for stranger's babies

We are rich in friends like that and sometimes we take them for granted. Sometimes we let petty differences allow us to take friends for granted. Sometimes, we even lose them through carelessness. Most of the time, we drag them along to almost third world cities, to hear live music in open air pavilions and  large fields, and most of the time, to eat.

My husband is one of those people who makes friends everywhere he goes. He is funny and charming and truly a generous soul. People and animals are drawn to him.
Awesome friends..the animal was not so lucky...
 Me, I am a harder nut to crack. I suffered from horrible shyness as a child and even now, have to force myself to talk to people whom I don't know. Social situations with more then two or three people I don't know are mentally challenging. But, once I am over that, watch out! I will literally talk your ear off (I have a large collection of souvenirs).  I am still very awkward and say the wrong things all the time. Ask anyone who knows me well. They are usually long suffering people. 
Long suffering... and a little nutty as well
One couple whom we are closest to, whom I would probably call our best "couple" friends, came over for dinner last night. They are fun and spontaneous and she is a fabulous cook. They love food like we love food, so when they come over, we try to impress. Sometimes we make homemade pizza, sometimes we smoke chicken, once they came over and she cooked the entire meal! Last night we made our favorite salmon sandwiches. They were amazing, as always. BBQ salmon with grain mustard, spicy slaw and avocado on kaiser rolls never disappoint. Stacey brought and amazing salad to go with it, mixed greens with blueberries, feta and sesame sticks. An excellent accompaniment to the sandwiches.   We had already had jalapeno and green onion cheese spread with water crackers and Mediterranean bean and tomato salad to start, as well as a boiled egg or two ( one of our guests mentioned he is on a low carb diet).

We ate and drank wine, while the kids jumped on the trampoline and played zombies out in the yard until 10 o'clock. After ice cream and homemade salted caramel turtles, I  think we all passed out.

The evening was a great success and as I washed the dishes (something I prefer to do after my guests leave so I can savor the evening by myself) I thought about how incredibly lucky we are to have such wonderful friends. They are truly our treasure on earth (as corny as that sounds). God blesses us in different ways. Our blessings come from the strength we get from being with our friends. Both of us are social people. So, being with people who make us laugh and are going through the struggles of raising kids and running households and businesses helps keep our own batteries charged. Sharing a delicious meal in a relaxing environment, to me is the best way to accomplish that. Even better if the friends brought something super tasty to share.

Blessed with Friends Casa Swann Menu

Taco Salad
Tomato soup with garlic shrimp
Grilled chicken, kitchen sink salad, Mediterranean bean and tomato salad
Crockpot lasagna
Shrimp tacos

Here is the recipe for what I should now call 
"Stacey's favorite"
Mediterranean White Bean and Tomato Salad

1 can white kidney beans or navy beans, drained and rinsed
5-6 Roma tomatoes chopped small
1/2 white onion diced small
1 Tbl. minced garlic
1 Tsp. olive oil
1-2 Tsp. Balsamic  vinegar
1 Tbl. Alchemy spice Mediterranean blend
Salt and pepper to taste.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl with a lid. Lightly stir to blend. Let marinate at least one hour. Serve by itself, on bruschetta or with chips. Delicious cold or at room temperature. 

*This was something I whipped up after eating bruschetta at one of my favorite restaurants, Alleia. Theirs is completely different, with fresh herbs and really great flat bread.

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