Gather for the magic

Sometimes the chemistry just works. You never know what will happen in a group of people who don’t all know each other. There can be too many quiet people, or loud ones, dominate personalities or just a weird mish mosh of brains that don’t gel with each other. Lots of things can go wrong in a group of people. But sometimes you get really lucky.

It’s been a really rough year for one of the people who came to my apartment last Monday-it is actually the reason we all gathered.   The invite list was diverse, new and old, thick and not yet developed and the greatness of the night wasn’t only due to the people who showed up. The people combined with the end of Christmas craziness, some vino and chow, a night free from all the normal Monday night things and an overwhelming need to chat and laugh for a few hours added to the chemical balance of the evening. The timing was right.  The hours together were nourishing, I am sure in different ways, for each of us.

As I finished loading the washer, my brain was still humming. I met three new people, got to know couple sideline Moms better and recognized how grateful I am to have friends that come to my new neighborhood for visits. I had an audience for two new recipes and an excuse to throw a party and I laughed, hard. And those bright, conversational, excited group of women helped make the hours we spent exceptional.  They helped create a memory of a great, much needed evening, together.

It doesn’t take much to host a gathering.   A little food, wine helps, and a handful of people you like.  The food doesn’t have to be Earth shattering and the wine doesn’t need to be expensive and there really doesn’t need to be a reason. Open your home and wait for the belly laughs and when they come, take in the magic.

The Menu, plates on laps.
A couple loaves of good crusty bread, lightly warmed and sliced
Jam and butter
A hunk of cheese
Citrus Salad with Almonds and Raspberry Jelly Vinegarette
Chicken Wild Rice Soup or whatever you like. (buy something good or make your own)
Red, white wine and sparkling water.
Chocolates.

Raspberry Jelly Vinegarette
In a glass measuring cup mix,
3 Tbsp raspberry jelly (or any kind of jelly, jam, maple syrup, or honey you like)
1 clove minced garlic
a heavy pinch of dried oregano or dried basil (fresh when in season, and more than a pinch if fresh), don’t worry about exact measurements
1 Tbsp Dijon
Mix and add,
1/4 C balsamic or red wine vinegar
3/4 C Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix well and pour into a covered storage container. This is a big batch and will last a week in the fridge. Add to red leaf or romaine lettuce, an orange or grapefruit and any kind of nut.  I also add blue cheese if I have it.

The only essential ingredients for salad dressing are the oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Everything else can be swapped out or subbed. I use a three to one ratio of oil to vinegar. You will need to add about a 1/2 tsp of salt and a 1/8 tsp pepper to that, more or less, depending on how you like it. Homemade salad dressing is incredibly worth the few minutes it takes to make.  Experiment with different vinegars, oils, herbs and spices.  It is better than any bottle you can buy.

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Author: Eileen O'Toole

A quick service restaurant vet who loves food, teaching, learning and being a single Mom. Believes that waking up each day with a positive attitude and a smile on your face can change the world.

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