Summer almost inevitably means many delicious get togethers hosted by my friends…and myself as well. I’m glad I have the time to actually attend social events nowadays. This weekend I had the good fortune of spending two tasty days in the company of friends with lots of good food and drink.
Philosophical blathering warning (skip to the recipe if you want to avoid warm fuzzy hippie rambling):
At the risk of royally embarrassing myself, I’d like to share an idea with you that has generally made me happier. I’ve developed a philosophy in my late-20-something-wisdom that goes something like this:
“Don’t wait for someone else to do what you hope will happen. Do it for yourself.”
This means…if you like flowers, buy them for yourself. If you like massages, go out and get one. If you like beach picnics, take yourself on one. I’ve spent my fair share of being disappointed by waiting for other people to do things I thought they knew I’d appreciate. Why wait for someone else? I doesn’t just have to mean buying things, either. If you like hanging out with your friends and having fun with them, invite them to join in on some fun event or excursion with you. I’ve had more than a couple people react with bemusement when I tell them I bought myself celebratory presents like flowers, but maybe that’s because they haven’t had the chance to try it yet themselves!
However, this doesn’t mean you should be one of those people who only thinks of themselves and rarely or never do nice things for others. People do appreciate things other people do for them. Basically I’m just saying…make sure to take care of yourself as well as you take care of others and hope they would take care of you.
This philosophy also extends to celebratory parties. Perhaps some people might be worried that people might think your life is lamentably sad if you have to celebrate things yourself. That’s just not true! In my experience, everyone else appreciates when someone else initiates something fun and invites them. I’ve used my birthday as an excuse to throw an awesome party and see my friends for the past few years and people continue to show up and so far more people have had lots of fun than have given me skeptical eyebrow raises.
In line with this philosophy, I threw my own graduation party this past weekend and invited my friends to celebrate with me. If I had sat around waiting for someone else to do this for me, I would have almost certainly been disappointed. However, I threw it myself and 30+ of my wonderful friends showed up and brought food and drink. I made couple of dishes and some drinks myself to help get the party started:
- White wine sangria (the easy secret recipe…maybe if you ask, I’ll tell you.)
- Pomegranate green tea
- Quinoa salad with dried fruits and feta
- Build-your-own veggie kabobs
- Pecan apricot mini tarts (based loosely on this recipe)
Unfortunately, I have no photos from the graduation party. However, my friend asked me to share my vinaigrette recipe for the quinoa salad…so I figured I’d post it here in case others wanted it as well. I really only remember the ingredients and rough proportions, so please adjust to taste. This makes a LOT (probably about 1.5 cups of dressing…)
Basil Lemon Vinaigrette
- 3 cloves fresh garlic
- Juice of 6 lemons
- 1/3 to 1/2 bunch fresh basil
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp mustard (preferably brown or whole grain)
- 1/4 cup apple cider (or other fairly neutral) vinegar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- salt & pepper to taste
Combine first 4 ingredients in blender. Blend until chunks are not so big, then add the other ingredients and blend until smooth. I mixed this vinaigrette into a salad containing quinoa, dried figs, Asian pears, dried cranberries, feta cheese, and a little bit of chiffonaded basil and chives. You could use it for almost anything with delicious results, though.
My friends are making sure I am well fed…a friend provided the quinoa and things that made that salad possible. Thanks to guests, I also have a ton of leftover vegetables and beer now for kitchen experiments. Tonight I decided to do an eggplant and tofu stirfry. I must say, the results of stewing eggplant in beer (with soy sauce and mirin, finished with vegetarian oyster sauce) in the wok are pretty satisfactory. I recommend it.