Living in the DC area can make you think that you are profoundly lacking in social skills. Then, when you relocate to another area, you realize that most people don’t demand to know where you work within two minutes of meeting you, don’t give a sh** where you went to college, and don’t vie to prove who has the highest stress level.
People are FRIENDLY! Here in NC, there’s this fabulous thing called southern hospitality!
One beautiful late summer evening, I headed out to the grocery store when I spotted my pal Jocelyn and her adorable five year old son Kane. Naturally, I commenced furiously chasing Kane around on the grass while chatting with his mama, at which point Coen, the equally adorable four year old boy who lives across the hall (who was, as always, clad in his Batman tshirt and cape) and his mama Roxanne showed up, and the running and the chasing and the making dinosaur noises just got funner. So we planned a cookout for the following weekend, for all of our fun neighbors to hang out.
Gender roles divided pretty hilariously, with Steve and the other men grilling outside and discussing extreme sports…
And the ladies inside, teaching the kiddos how to play the drums on packs of plates (courtesy of my roommate Alli, the girl who will start a drum circle anytime, anywhere).
I offered to bring meats for the meal, spending a small but worth-it fortune on organic ground beef for burgers as well as organic turkey and beef hot dogs.
Everyone else also contributed too, though I only got a few pictures. Jocelyn’s guacamole and AWESOME watermelon-basil-feta salad.
Steph’s carrot cake cupcakes (uhhhhhhhhhhhhhmazing- packed with walnuts) and Charlie’s stuffed mushrooms (which I didn’t eat because I’ve recently been unable to stomach the thought of eating a pig and they were stuffed with pork… but everyone else said were very tasty!)
Jocelyn and I are extra tight, so we’ve had a few fun date nights with each other. Most recently on my 25th birthday (!!!) when I stayed home sick/”sick” from work and she set aside her freelancing for a few hours to gossip, eat chicken soup, and together watch Dances with Wolves.
We are really kindred spirits- the first night we met, she ended up creating astrological charts for me and Steve. And then we excitedly gabbed about antioxidants. And psychoanalyzed the men in our lives.
Another time we got together, Jocelyn made me the best roast chicken I’ve ever tasted (a title I can sadly no longer give the Zuni Cafe recipe). I sadly neglected to take a picture, but I’ll describe: she begins with the Martha Stewart recipe, which involves a plethora of fresh and dried herbs and an olive oil basting technique. Bringing her own delightful new age sensibilities to the proceedings, she then says several prayers over the chicken, thanking it for its sacrifices, and rubs the herbs in.
Anyway, dessert was extra fab. Jocelyn has an impressively well-stocked pantry and a Vitamix (jealousssss). She threw together in the Vitamix some cacao powder (on which she waxed poetic for a bit regarding its health benefits)…
… agave nectar…
… and coconut cream which, who knew, they now sell at Trader Joe’s.
With strawberries dipped in it, it was pretty epic. (To be truthful, the boys focused on the brewskies and the girls focused on the dessert!). It was also vegan, gluten free, paleo, yadda yadda. None of those are necessarily my scene, but if they are yours you hafta try this dessert!
Then when I returned the favor, I made an oh-so-easy and oh-so-tasty soup. I roasted a chicken and used its bones to make stock. I sauteed zucchini, sweet onion, and corn in oil then cooked it with the stock and pureed it with a ton of fresh parsley. AMAZING SOUP. I took the chicken off the bone and made a Caesar salad, with Romaine lettuce and yummy cheese. And because Jocelyn’s kiddo Kane can’t have gluten (she experimented with taking it out of his diet since he was having a crazy bloated belly and not only did the belly get better, his asthma disappeared!), I made my favorite gluten free specialty: socca!
It was quite the feast.
The soup was particularly delicious- homemade chicken stock is SO easy and SO delicious. Kane, the five year old, got seconds, which I thought was a real vote of confidence in the recipe!
Funnest of all, after dinner we played blocks. Because I am currently teaching preschool, and thus there are fun toys all over my house. These are particularly cool- you can make skyscrapers out of them! Trees on the roof optional.
Fact: when you are five, the most fun part of building with blocks is knocking them all over.