"A tavola non si invecchia."
"At the table, one never grows old."
Thank goodness, because we sure spend lots of time around tables enjoying food, friendship, great conversation, and traditions. I love every minute of our sharing stories and recipes. We try to gather together about once a month. Next time it will be at our house, so I'll have the helping hands of both Jeff and John Gonyer; they say they'll be my sous chefs. I'll need them.
The table holds a bowl of freshly harvested persimmons and pomegranates. Mother Nature creates the best decorations. A line of candles and persimmons parade down the center of the table.
Bonny, Lucy, and Cindy exchange family stories.
Cindy and our ever faithful hostess Susie Bassetti gripe about me taking a photo of them. I want you to know that these women are fantastic, creative, and loving. Susie and I have taught classes together; she once made all the wreaths for Heart's Ease, and she continues on as a beloved friend.
Left to right: Lee, our host Ellis (whose family has owned the ranch over 100 years), Buck Beery, my Jeff, and John Gonyer. The boys huddle outside in the herb garden and watch the food cooking.
This is our friend Bruce Black, who owns The Squibb House Bed and Breakfast and the Shop Next Door, the old barn next to the Squibb House. Bruce keeps the barn filled with antiques, art, and Amish furniture.
I think pot luck suppers are one of the best ways to learn about new foods. What you're seeing here is Ellis holding a glass of his own Bassetti Vineyards wine. They are also famous for their award winning Taggiasca olive oil, which is smooth and buttery. The tray to the right holds freshly picked poblanos stuffed with jack cheese, and grilled. My yellow Le Creuset is filled with wild and basmati rice, crimini mushrooms, which I cooked for an hour in a reduction sauce, and topped with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. We had ham, two chickens roasted in the wood-fired oven, baked pumpkin from the Kendall's Dos Pasos Ranch on Santa Rosa Creek Road, and a big salad of chopped brussel sprouts, kale, and lettuce. It was all divine, but it was just being there with friends that made it taste so great.
I promised Susie that I'd edit her out of this photo. This is our dear friend Virginia, who is also our neighbor in Maine. Ginny has helped me through some difficult times; she is one in a million and irreplaceable to us.
"There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life."
That is how it is...the infinite passion of life. Friends are the glue that mends broken hearts.
May you have many friends and feasts around your table.
Love across the miles,
Recipe for my wild rice and crimini mushroom casserole:
Two cups of wild and basmati rice
Four cups of chicken broth
Tbsp. of butter and Tbsp. of olive oil
Bring to boil in a heavy duty pot. Turn down when it comes to boil. Lid the pot. Cook on low for about 20 minutes or until all the broth is absorbed. Use a fork to fluff the rice.
While rice is cooking:
Clean and dry flavorful crimini mushrooms (I used 12 ounces) and slice thinly.
Chop shallots, carrots, and celery into tiny pieces.
Grate 2 cups fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Heat a heavy duty skillet, add Tbsp. of olive oil, Tbsp. of butter, mushrooms, and veggies. Stir constantly, slowly add a few Tbsp. of good balsamic vinegar (see my recipe below), a splash of soy sauce, and simmer it until it is reduced down to what looks like a brown glaze coating mushrooms.
Since I can't justify spending $50.00 on a good, syrupy balsamic, I make my own.
1 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
Mix the sugar and vinegar together and cook in a heavy duty saucepan over high heat. Stir and allow to come to a boil. Reduce heat and cook (stirring occasionally) until mixture thickens to the consistency of maple syrup. I keep this reduction in a jam jar in the fridge. It will last a few weeks.
Add mushrooms, celery, shallots, and carrots to the cooked rice. Stir in one cup of freshly grated Parmesan. Top casserole with one cup of grated Parmesan. Bake in about a 350 degree oven until the cheese melts.