Last Friday, some friends and I got together at Mel’s house and all cooked a meal. Everyone prepared a different dish. My friend Josh came up with the idea as a way for all of us to hang out and also because he wants to learn more about cooking. I was excited to see everyone and a little nervous about the cooking.
I don’t do as much cooking as I’d like to, mostly because I don’t feel like I’m very good at it. I work too much and get home too late, and also there’s probably a bit of laziness and also I’m spoiled because my girlfriend is an amazing cook. Recently, though, I’ve been making more of an effort, contributing a dish whenever we have a dinner party.
Growing up, I used to help my mom cook all of the time. So the knowledge is there, buried deep somewhere in the wrinkles on my mind. These days, I completely lack confidence. Whenever I cook, it seems miraculous that it is even edible.
I wasn’t sure what I would take to the dinner party. A salad sounded like an easy idea. But a regular tossed green salad would be too much of a cop-out. I started doing a little Internet research. I quickly came upon a list of 100 summer salad ideas on The New York Times website. It was a really great list for recipes, all with basic ingredients that might taste good together.
There were so many ideas. I copied six down in my notebook. I was torn between a watermelon, tomato, basil vinaigrette salad or a carrot, blueberry, sunflower seed salad. There were no amounts listed for either. I decided on the carrot blueberry salad.
At the store, I bought a bag of carrots and two small cartons of blueberries. I scooped out a few handfuls of sunflower seeds. I bought some lemon, and hoped Mel had olive oil and black pepper.
It was a blast cooking with everyone. We each carved out a little area in Mel’s big kitchen. We chatted, drank wine and snacked while we cooked. It was great to see old friends. Some I hadn’t seen since January. It’s nice to be reminded how much you enjoy hanging out with people you haven’t seen in a while. You just pick up right where you left off.
The salad was a total cinch and it turned out great. I grated the bag of carrots into a bowl. I toasted the sunflower seeds in a toaster oven and added them. I tossed in the blueberries, added olive oil, three lemons and pepper.
The recipe described it as “Sweet, sour, crunchy, soft” and it was. People seemed to enjoy it. The meal was a feast with chicken, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and everything was delicious. Over dinner, we reminisced about past shoots and memories. We sat around the table and laughed.
I was home by 1:30 a.m., after we all helped clean up; earlier plans of late-night karaoke dashed as my idea of an enjoyable Friday night with friends morphs into something much calmer than it once was.