We begin circling the emails on Monday, unless someone is particularly excited about a recipe, then they may start the Thursday before. They usually start with one person saying, “I want to make x recipe. I’ll need you to bring x, y, and z.” Or sometimes it’s as simple as a clean-out-the-fridge-salad where we all bring whatever lingering vegetables, beans, herbs, nuts, etc. we have hanging out in our fridge. We’re always so pleasantly surprised about how delicious our randomly crafted meals are.
Really, it’s not about the food though. It never is. Our every other Wednesday night dinner is about friendship, life, consistency, and community. We are brought to the table because of the food (and a bottle of wine) and as we empty our plates we’re being filled in a much deeper way than food could ever do on its own.
For the past five years we’ve been meeting together every other Wednesday. The group has changed a bit over the years. At one point it was nine women, right now we are five. In that time we’ve walked through elation, depression, marriage highs and marriage lows, parenting struggles, job promotions, new homes, brain tumors, marathons, death, and new life. We’ve cried uncontrollably but we have laughed more. Each week there is hardship and there is joy. There is sorrow and there is delight. We never know what our time will have for us be we do know who will be there.
I’ve wanted to talk about this group here for a long time. Each time our meals come together I want to write about the beauty of a community sourced meal. I want to write about the importance of the table and how much I love using food as the reason and sometimes the excuse to gather but what I care about more than the food is what happens at the table. Dinners with these girls always illustrates that point beautifully. It’s never the point of the food to outshine the purpose and yet it is so often the reason why we gather. I mention on the video that it’s the food and the wine that bring us to the table but it’s what happens at the table where life happens. The longer I live and the more meals I cook I grow deeper and deeper into this truth.
It’s not easy for us to get together. Between us we have 11 small children. We have work and lots of sniffly noses to wipe, and lunches to pack, and calendars to try and make sense of and yet we gather. Every week there are sacrifices that have to be made in order for us to come together at the table but we are committed to one another.
After five years together, I can’t imagine doing life without these women. I am braver, stronger, and a better person because of what each of them has added to my days. They have held my hand in my darkest moments and celebrated with me in my brightest. I’m so grateful for the food that brings us to the table but most of all I’m just thrilled that these women meet me there every other Wednesday.
A Wintry Le Grand Aioli
Le Grand Aioli is a classic Provençal dish whose star is the golden hued aioli. Typically there is fish to dip in as well along with an array of vegetables. We’ve winterized ours by roasting an assortment of seasonal vegetables as well as mushrooms. We also boiled a few eggs and roasted a chicken to add a bit more heft. Feel free to use whatever you’d like in your grand aioli.
Roasted or Rotisserie Chicken (your favorite recipe or store bought is great here)
For each guest
1/2 lb of roasted vegetables per person, such as carrots, beets, cauliflower, fennel, squash, chanterelle mushrooms
2-3 oz of green beans per person, blanched and shocked in ice water to preserve bright color
1 soft boiled egg
A favorite bread, such as walnut
Serve with Caper & Preserved lemon aioli, recipe follows…
CAPER & PRESERVED LEMON AIOLI
Makes about 1 cup, serves 6-8
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons lemon juice
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup neutral oil (such as grapeseed, canola, vegetable)
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon minced preserved lemon
Mince garlic very fine. Add salt directly to the garlic. Use the flat part of the knife to press it against the board seven to ten times until a fine paste forms. Add this to a medium bowl along with the mustard, lemon juice and egg yolk. Whisk to combine.
Add the oil in a very slow stream, whisking continuously. Once an emulsion begins to form start to pour in a steady stream of oil. After you add all the oil it should look like very loose mayonnaise. Stir in the capers and preserved lemon. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Serve alongside roasted chicken and roasted vegetables, eggs and olives.
Serve with Mirassou Pinot Noir.
This post was kindly sponsored by Mirassou Winery and they are offering a special coupon to help you #ShareTheSun with family and friends throughout the season.