Creamy Cauliflower Soups was a perfect start to last nights dinner – second only to some delicious wine!
Cold weather, a little snow, a ton of traffic, and a ridiculously busy schedule didn’t prevent some of Baltimore’s Food Bloggers from getting together for a great meal to celebrate the Holidays, friendship and of course, really good food! It was followed by the Creamy Cauliflower Soup, a roasted veggies in pan seared pepper cup and Wendi’s chocolate, coffee and spice rubbed pork roast, accompanied with chipotle sweet potatoes. I’d say it was a perfect meal for a cold Bal’more night.
Wendi Mosteiko from Bon Appetite Hon, her husband Jay, Lan from Angry Asian Creations, and myself got together for a little “reunion of sorts.” A little background: a few of us food writing nerds met at the IFBC (International Food Bloggers Conference) in Seattle, WA a few months ago. Realizing we were from the same part of the country, we just HAD to get together. After all, that’s what I encourage people to do at Grace Before Meals. While we are all very different, we definitely have one thing in common: We will always make room for others at our dinner tables! Primarily because we can’t eat it all!
I think I got my “making more food than we really need” from my mom. Look at all that food we had at Thanksgiving. And that was only 1/2 of the table. I couldn’t fit the side on which the Turkey was within my camera lens. I think my mom got that “more food than we really need” from Jesus, Himself!
I don’t want to bore you with details about the night – although there was nothing boring about it. As dinner conversations should be, our food blogging discussion enlivened our delicious dinner. We discussed almost everything, from the weather, upcoming vacations, Wendi and Jay’s very, very fat cat, to Lan’s flirting with Bobby Flay when she met him to get his book signed. Angry Asian Creations: this picture is for you. YES! That is Bobby Flay hugging me. But don’t be jealous Lan. After all, my Fajitas “threw down” his on his show.
FYI: While many people think that Bobby has no real personality, he’s actually an incredibly nice guy – at least the little I know of him. It’s not like we’re “bro-friends” although he did give a major shout out to me on one of his news segments to intro his book. Check out this little news clip that shows Bobby Flay talking about the Steak Fajita Episode on National TV!
This picture was shot at Wegman’s in Hunt Valley. I was invited to come to a private luncheon with Bobby. And then, I was asked to sign books next to him. And then, I’ve been asked to come back to do a cooking demo on February 2nd, 2011!
But, back to our Food Blog Dinner. Let’s just say that our gathering – which I hope and pray will be regular as possible – was a perfect example of Grace Before Meals. Food brought strangers to become better friends. At dinner, we also laughed alot – something we need to do more, everyday. And we had food that warmed us up in body, mind and spirit.
My contribution was a cream of cauliflower soup, with a hint of carrots, and topped with soy seared onions and apple dices. I know the color looks like a butter nut squash soup, but it’s the carrot that gives it the bright summer sun kissed hue – perfect for a snowy night. This recipe will actually be featured in my next monthly recipe section called, “Inspiring Family Menu’s” (Or something like that – I’m still working on the changes I’m making to the website).
I also made a grilled yellow pepper cup stuffed with roasted veggies. If the topping of the veggies look a little too brulee’d, it’s because I didn’t realize just how powerful is Wendi’s broil feature on her fantastic oven.
When I went to the Seattle Conference a few months back, I had no idea what to expect. I should have known however that food has power to bring people together in celebration – even if we have our differences. I don’t want to moralize, but I honestly think that if the leaders of nations, and at least our republican and democratic officials sat down, shut up, and opened their mouths to good food rather than debate, we would have a way (not ‘the way’, but ‘a’ way), to have more civil and productive conversations. Maybe they could even say Grace Before Meals, too. I still think our nation is “one nation, under God.”
At one point before the meal, I sensed God’s goodness at work: I was very thankful for Wendi’s husband Jay, who asked if I would say some ‘something’ after the toast and before the meal. And so I offered a brief prayer. No one was offended as I kept it to a simple but sincere remark of gratitude and prayerful recognition of our good fortune and a reminder to keep in mind those who go without. I didn’t lead a litany of prayers and I didn’t need to “prove” I was a priest to them. They know it, respect it, and even are happy that I’m happy to be one. I have to remember that there aren’t many priests in our world, and we’re always so busy we may not take the time to eat with others, even our ‘non-parishioners’ who also need to be fed too. Jesus did that too. I was grateful that they gave me a chance to express myself at their table. We need to do more of that at our table.
For that reason, tune into my last radio show for the Advent Season: “Stirring the Pot with Fr. Leo” on Sirius 159/XM 117 this Sunday at 7-9:00pm EST. It’s a show about bringing controversial issues to the dinner table, but not to pick up fight, but simply to have a conversation. From a “conversation” we can experience a “conversion.”
What gracious evening, with gracious hosts and guests. While I was not sure, and still not sure, what spiritual practices are exercised before a Food Blogger Meals, I am perfectly confident that each person at the table knew that the only thing better than the food on the table was the blessing of the growing friendship around it, which I “blessed” in Thanksgiving!
Thanks to Pham for the awesome pop-rock chocolate lolipop (inspired by Top Chef Runner Up Bryan Voltaggio at his private screening of the Top Chef 2009 Finale) – yet another picture to make Lan jealous!
And special thanks to Jay and Wendi for hosting our event, the little take away treat, and the opportunity to celebrate what we food bloggers hold near and dear to our hearts: sharing the blessing of food!
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