Summer is a funny time in the kitchen, always crowded and crazy. As friends come and go on vacation, the kitchen becomes a place to catch up while cooking something quick. It’s Grand Central terminal, where friends connect, often briefly, before moving on to someplace else. This week, I got to cook with three different friends, two of whom just got back from vacation and one who was about to leave. It was a pretty successful week of summer cooking, despite varying schedules that make it tough to connect.
Our kitchens were bustling as we cooked for our varied goals. The shared mission was to feed our kids a healthy meal together (a modern extended family dinner) and then we each had several smaller missions to accomplish.
I had been in the process of making farm fresh corn ravioli last Monday when Kathe came over with bunches of garden basil and some pine nuts, prepared to make pesto. Since I would never turn down a chance to make pesto, I set my ravioli aside and added the garlic, parsley and cheese to her ingredients. Once we had about a cup or so of pesto each for our freezer (which by the way translates to many meals), we scraped what was left from the blender, added a bit of cooking liquid and served it on top of pasta to our kids for dinner.
Kathe soon eyed my homemade ravioli dough sitting on the counter and was eager to help me make the rest of my ravioli. (I am sure she was checking off another night’s meal in her head.) So, she stirred up a quick cheese filling with some ricotta cheese and fresh parsley and basil. Our girls, who were particularly interested in the process of making ravioli, helped out a bit, cutting the dough away from the mold with the groovy ravioli cutter.
At Debbie’ house later in the week, we put our farm fresh tomatoes to good use. Two loaves of banana bread were already in the oven, destined for Debbie’s upcoming week away. Yet Jackie, Debbie and I (with all nine kids playing in the background) worked diligently together, blanching, removing skins and seeds and then sautéing a delicious sauce. Our sauce became the base for a homemade pizza and the topping for that night’s pasta dinner but we each also came away with more than a quart for our freezer. With Jackie just back from vacation, we got to hear some stories about her adventures in France.
My cooking time with friends this week was less about quantity (although I didn’t end up with a shabby amount at all) and more about spending time together. I am excited for new friends to come back in the next week or so, and for kitchens bustling with a whole new set of summer stories.