Various Summer Social Events

Shakespeare Fest

On Father’s Day my awesome Dad wanted to go to the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival production of Macbeth:

My sister and friends and I planned a delicious picnic to honor the sweetest Dad ever.  First of all, none of this would have been possible if my sister hadn’t brought plates, cups, and napkins.  Thank you, sis.

Secondly, it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun if my BFF hadn’t brought a giant sack of white wine (or hwite hwine, as we like to call it).  She also brought an absolutely wonderful Panzanella Salad.

This salad has several of my favorite foods: beets, avocados, white beans, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil.  She forgot to add the dressing, but we certainly didn’t miss it.  She also brought a refreshing fruit salad.

My friend Kate (the one with the amazing garden) brought a fantastic Edamame-Orzo salad:

She was even kind enough to share the recipe with me:

Kate’s Edamame + Orzo Salad

  • Mix equal parts cooked/cooled orzo and thawed edamame.
  • Make a dressing by mixing some minced red onion, olive oil, lime juice, minced jalapeno, minced mint, and salt to taste.
  • Regarding measurements, she wrote, “I always just fly by the seat of my pants when I make this.”  …words to live by.

She also made her famous homemade hummus:

As for me, my BFF had INSISTED that I make an encore batch of the herbed brown rice salad that I had thrown together for last year’s Shakespeare Fest.  Kate was kind enough to donate some fresh herbs to the cause (lovingly picked by my 2-year-old niece, actually).

You can see the recipe here:

The one thing about that recipe is that pine nuts can be QUITE pricey.  Luckily, I work right next to a good Middle-Eastern market that has them for $14 a pound.  If you can’t afford them, you can always leave them out or sub another type of nut.

  • Brown rice: $0.65
  • Herbs: free from Kate’s garden or about $5 at the grocery store
  • Onion: $0.33
  • Garlic: $0.05
  • Cucumber: $0.50
  • Olive Oil: $0.78
  • Lemon: $0.50
  • Pine Nuts: $3.50
  • Salt/Pepper: Let’s just say $0.05


This definitely makes at least 6 servings, so that comes out to:


The play was great, but the food and company made it even better.


Bollywood Night

A couple of weeks ago I had the girls over for an Indian potluck/Bollywood movie/crafting night.  My BF was sweet enough to let me borrow the film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, after watching it together in San Francisco, so that I could enjoy the epic romance again with my girlfriends.  If you haven’t seen this film, run out and rent it.  It’s SOOO good!

Anyway, my BFF brought wine (thank goodness!), along with naan, and pakora from our favorite local Indian restaurant, Taj Mahal:

Kate brought her delicious saag paneer (made with tofu instead of paneer) and puri.  Again, she was kind enough to share her recipe.

Spinach (Saag) Paneer

from Indian Vegetarian Cooking at Your House by Sunetra Humbad and Amy Schafer Boger, M.D.

  • First it tells you how to make paneer, but we sauteed a package of tofu instead.
  • Defrost and set aside 1 package (10 oz.) of frozen chopped spinach
  • In a large saucepan, heat: 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, pinch hing, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 3 Indian bay leaves
  • Then add and saute until the onion is transparent: 1/2 cup tomato, chopped, 1/2 cup onion, chopped, 1/2 jalapeno pepper, ground, 1/2 small clove garlic, ground, 1 inch fresh ginger, grated, 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped, 1 tablespoon coriander powder, 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2-1 teaspoon hot red pepper powder (optional)
  • Add the spinach.  Put 1 tablespoon chickpea flour in a cup.  Gradually add 1/2 cup water, stirring to keep smooth.  Add to the spinach mixture, and stir.  Simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes, uncovered, adding small amounts of water as needed to keep it from sticking. Add the tofu.  Heat for 2-3 more minutes, and serve.

As for me, I made a batch of brown rice and some lentil daal.  I used this recipe, but I did tweak it a bit:

Instead of cooking the onions and garlic with the lentils and garlic and then discarding them, I chopped them and sauteed them with the spices.

  • 1/2 pound brown lentils: $0.35
  • 1 small onion: $0.33
  • 2 garlic cloves: $0.10
  • 1 bay leaf: $0.05
  • 2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil: $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds: $0.05
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder: $0.02
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric: $0.02
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder, to taste: $0.02

= A GRAND TOTAL OF $1.04 for the whole batch!  $1.69 with the rice!  It made about 6 servings, so this comes to about $0.28 per serving!  At Taj Mahal (or any other restaurant), they charge $9.95 for a big plate of daal (…of course, at a restaurant you’re paying for a lot more than the food…)

Here is the daal on the left and the saag on the right:

Ozarks Wedding

One of my good friends from grad school got married in a cave down at the Lake of the Ozarks last week.  It was a German-themed wedding (because she grew up in Germany and misses it), and there happens to be a lovely German restaurant right by the Bridal Cave!  The bride, and several guests were vegan, and I have to give props to the fine people at Der Essen Platz for putting together a really decent vegan plate.  German cuisine isn’t exactly known for being vegan-friendly.

Harry Potter Party

Another good friend had a Harry Potter themed party last week, in honor of her birthday, as well as the release of the final film.  I didn’t know what to make for such an occasion, but my BFF really came through.  I went over to her place to help with her VERY CREATIVE CONCOCTIONS.  She put me in charge of the Cauldron Crisps. 


  • I started by sauteing 1/2 an onion and 4 cloves of garlic in a little olive oil.
  • I added 1 pound of button mushrooms, diced pretty finely and cooked, stirring occasionally.
  • Then I added a package (10 oz.) of thawed, drained frozen spinach and cooked the mixture for a few more minutes.
  • Next I added a box (10 oz.) of silken tofu and smashed it up with a big spoon until it looked like crumbled feta.
  • I seasoned the mixture with salt and pepper (I ended up adding quite a bit of salt to make it taste more like feta), about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, about 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, and about 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and let the mixture cook for a few more minutes.
  • Finally, I spooned the mixture into 60 Mini Fillo Cups and baked them at 350 degrees for 3 minutes in two batches.  Those 60 cups were eaten up in no time!

She also made a lovely vegan “Frog’s Leg” Pot Pie.  I don’t have the recipe, but I already asked her to make it for my birthday in January.

…and “Fingerling” Potatoes.  Actually, this is her Mom’s DELICIOUS lemon roasted potato recipe, which I NEED to get from her!

Anyway, it’s been a busy/fun summer so far, and it’s not over yet.


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