My First "Yes" of the Weekend! A Plant-Strong Pot-Luck Dinner at Healthy Girl's Kitchen/aka Wendy (photo by Wendy)
We get our greatest happiness from the experiences we share with our friends & family--not from expensive consumer goods. "We know that the best predictor of human happiness is human relationships and the amount of time that people spend with family and friends." Spend your time & money wisely. Dr. Dan Gilbert swears by this research-backed advice.
What's the point of staying healthy without having fun? That's the reason we work at staying healthy. I say "Yes!" to fun things to do, trips, visits, outings, meeting new people, and dinners whenever I possibly can--without making myself crazy by overbooking or overcommitting.
"I have plenty of time for the things that are important to me. Say, Yes!"
Gretchen Rubin of "The Happiness Project"
If you received this post via email, click here for the web version--lots of pictures.
Here's how my five YES! weekend unfolded...
On June 17th Wendy, of Healthy Girl's Kitchen emailed me:
Wendy: "Is there any Saturday night in July or early August that you and your hubby are available to finally do this?...I know how busy you are this summer!!!!!!!!!"
Me: Yeah! Sounds like lots of fun! You amaze me, lady. I can't believe this--but it really looks like the only free Sats. are next Sat, June 25, & then July 30. Crazy.
I wasn't going to miss this dinner! When it turned out that we couldn't find a Saturday night to "Pot-Luck", Wendy decided to do it on a Friday night--July 15th to be precise!
And so began the first of My Five YESes for the weekend of July 15-July 17, 2011.
Weekend YES #1. Better Than Any Restaurant! The Plant-Strong Pot-Luck Dinner at the Healthy Girl's Kitchen/Wendy
My Contribution--Antipasta Salad on Crusty Whole Grain Bread (photo by Wendy)
Since I had to leave my house 2 1/2 hours before the pot-luck was scheduled to begin, silly me forgot to bring my camera. What was I thinking?
The evening was terrific--23 people--some I knew--some I had just met--and a kitchen island topped with the most amazing array of plant-strong oil-free dishes you can imagine! You can't find this kind of deliciousness at any restaurant that I know of.
Bring together a group of smart, fun, healthy, energetic, interesting people--who are adventurous and excellent cooks--and you have all the makings of a memorable evening!
Thank you, Wendy, for graciously opening up your home--and hosting this wonderful evening--that I suspect will be the first of many to come. You are the hostess with the mostest--and you sure can cook!
Wendy has written three posts that you won't want to miss. Her photos are pure Plant-Strong Food P0&N--and she's generously posted all the recipes.
- Food P0&N--the Pot-Luck Preview Post
- Plant-Strong Pot-Luck--The Food Post. This one has the main-dish recipes.
- Plant-Strong Pot-Luck--The Desserts
My Insider's Review
Honestly, I loved every dish I tasted, but there was so much there, I didn't have room on my plate, nor in my stomach to taste them all.
Here are my favorites, the ones definitely plan to make at home:
- Prosecco (an Italian sparkling wine) with Lavender Elixir, on ice. Quinn's contribution?? OMG! Beautiful & delicious. I'm bringing a bottle of that Lavender Elixir to my friend Marge's home this Friday night, for her Half & Half Italian Pot-Luck. Half Plant-Strong/Half Omnivore.
- Jane Esselstyn's Thai Cole Slaw. Spicy, creamy, crispy, a multi-layered crazy fusion dish. We even made it last night for dinner--it's that good! And BTW, this is really a-quick-to-fix-dish. The dressing would be fantastic on soba noodles with vegetables. Wait--the slaw would work great with soba noodles mixed right in.
- Quinn's No-Oil Roasted Corn Chowder based on Terry Walter's Clean Food Recipe. Fabulous, with fresh herbs from Quinn's garden.
- Toby's Thai Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce. Crisp, raw julienned vegetables wrapped up in Asian rice wrapper. Oh my, so delcious.
- Wendy's Helluva Halavah Bitty Balls (Truffles) for dessert. A sinfully delicious mixture of raw cocoa, raw sesame seeds, maca, date syrup, tahini, & more. This comes from Chef AJ's not-to-be-missed cookbook & inspirational personal memoir, Unprocessed.
- Chef AJ's Disappearing Lasagna--made by Chris. I've made this one at least 4 times! A definite winner.
Weekend YES #2. Go to Synagogue Services Before Wendy's Pot-Luck? I Didn't Know That Wasn't on the Schedule!
Once a month my husband is a volunteer usher at Friday night services. And he never misses--unless we're out-of-town. He's that kind of guy. Dependable. Who knew that his turn would be the same night as Wendy's Pot-Luck? Certainly not me! Until the last minute.
Uh. How are we going to do both? No problem. We can do this. It just meant we had to leave the house two hours earlier than I'd planned. Packed the Antipasta Salad in the cooler--and picked up ice on the way. It was 90 degrees outside.
My YES #2 surprise. My "reward" for adding "one more thing into this evening" was serendipitously reconnecting with my old friends, Shelley & Michael, who I haven't in seen in way too long of a time. Get this--they don't belong to our synagogue--but there they were--on this particular Friday night.
The other sweet surprise of the evening was running into Debra at services--and finding out she discovered my blog through her sister. Lots of fun plant-based talk. I'm always surprised by people who serendipitously discover my blog.
And we still got to Wendy's on-time. Sort of.
Weekend YES #3. The Saturday Morning Walk with Bonnie
This YES! came from Bonnie, not from me. As I was heading to the grocery store on Friday, to pick up the fixings for my pot-luck antipasta--I called Bonnie.
Me: "Hey, do you want to walk on Saturday morning?"
As far as I'm concerned, a walk in the country with a friend is one of the pleasures of life. Talk, walk, commiserate, sunshine, exercise, and the great outdoors.
Thanks, Bonnie, for saying, "YES!"
Weekend YES #4. The "Welcome to the Monkey House" Saturday Night Book Club
This Saturday night we talked about two short stories from Kurt Vonnegut's Welcome to the Monkey House.
Here's the email I received:
"Let's read two short stories (total of about 25 pages) from Kurt Vonnegut's collection called Welcome to the Monkey House. The book should be easily available at your local library, or maybe it's on your own shelf.
Harrison Bergeron and Welcome to the Monkey House (the story) are both about government-mandated social engineering as viewed from the 1950's -- and I think they'll be interesting to consider in light of the political / social issues we're thinking about today. And they are a fun read -- KV was a comedian by some people's measure."
My third YES! of the weekend was a group "YES"!
If I've got my years straight, this book club will be meeting for nineteen years, this August, and that's because five couples continue to say, "YES! Let's keep doing this. Let's set the next date before we start talking about the book."
And here we are, 19 years later--our kids are grown up--some of us now have grandchildren--and we're still meeting.
We all appreciate the opportunity to stretch our minds, think, and discuss writing that takes turns being enriching, classical, enlightening, disturbing, emotional, heart-breaking, thought-provoking, or controversial.
Three months ago we decided to try something new. Instead of just reading books, we're branching out.
- Short stories
- Watch a movie or documentary
- Read in-depth magazine articles from the likes of the New Yorker, The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, or the New York Times Magazine, etc.
- Whatever the host chooses
In May we read "Annals of Science. The Truth Wears Off. Is There Something Wrong with the Scientific Method?" Jonah Lehrer. The New Yorker, December 13, 2010.
In July it was Kurt Vonnegut.
In September we'll watch a film festival entry, and discuss it over dinner at an Indian restaurant.
Weekend YES #5. Do You Want to Take Our Bikes to Kelley's Island on Sunday?
Kelley's Island - No Need to Travel to Martha's Vineyard for an Island Bike Ride
I told my husband that Bonnie & Bob took their bikes over to Kelley's Island on July 5th for a day-long biking adventure. They loved it. It's flat. There are hardly any cars. And it's a beautiful ride. There's a nice beach, a cute town, and even an open-air Tiki Bar with live music.
He got right on the case. Checked the ferry schedules. Checked the weather for Sunday. And said to me: "Let's go this Sunday."
I said, "YES!"
I Packed Our Lunch. Hot n' Spicy Smoked Tofu (my new favorite) Hummus, Pickles, & Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches. Cherries & Homemade Energy Strawberry Carob Energy Bars
We Loaded Up the Bikes - I Meant, My Husband Loaded Up the Bikes
The Ferry Ride Over
On the Ferry - Just a Fifteen Minute Ride to the Island
A Breezy Traffic-Less "Coastal" Bike Ride to the Beach
A Little Beach Reading - Chef AJ's Unprocessed & the New York Times Sunday Magazine
Enjoying That Picnic Lunch on the Beach
The Bike Ride Continues -The View from the Road
Good Thing We Brought Our Lunch - Here's What Everyone Else Was Eating at the Open-Air Tiki Bar
Heading Back to the Mainland
Picked Up Corn at the Local Farmer's Market
And Some Peaches
Left-Over Buffalo Tempeh Wraps with Cool Slaw & Fresh Sweet Corn for Dinner
A wonderful FIVE YES! Weekend!!!
1. Healthy Girl's Kitchen Plant-Strong Pot-Luck
2. Friday Night Services with Serendiptious Reconnections
3. Saturday morning walk in the country with Bonnie
4. Saturday night "Welcome to the Monkey House" book club
5. Sunday Kelley's island bike ride adventure
It hit all the right bases.
Spirituality, Good Food, Thought-Provoking Discussion, Connecting with New Friends & Old, Outdoor Exercise, Out-of-my-comfort-zone Adventure, and Alone Time with My Husband.
After 5 hours of biking in over 90 degree heat, I was fast asleep by 10:00 PM! So, good sleep, too!
"I have plenty of time for the things that are important to me. Say, Yes!"