One of the joys of having friends who enjoy good food is that there's usually someone in that crowd who is also interested in learning to cook, thus ensuring me a willing assistant in the kitchen.
Yesterday the lovely Phoenix spent part of the afternoon and into the evening in the kitchen with me as we made the focaccia for her family dinner next week and then a pan of baklava (some of which went home with her).
We also pulled together to make a roasted squash risotto for dinner, laced with curry powder, nutmeg, and sherry, and crowned with vegetarian sausage crumbles and chopped pecans. The prep work gave her a good chance to improve her knife skills as she learned how to cut and peel a butternut squash and to chop onions (sniff sniff), as well as to practice mincing garlic again. This risotto is an excellent, savory, comforting dish that is really fairly simple to prepare but just takes a long time to cook properly. (Which is why I'm always glad to have help... I hate standing and stirring for over an hour!)
Once that was finished, I quickly steamed and then lightly sauteed some tender organic baby spinach to go on the side, and we were set. Mr. Nice Guy joined us for dinner once he got away from work, and he was so effusively grateful for the fine food that he merely sketched a salute when I pointed him in the direction of the sink and the dirty dishes. (Hence, the name Mr. Nice Guy instead of his preferred nickname.)
It's such a treat for me to have help in the kitchen... not only does it give me a chance to pass on many of the things the Chef Mother has taught me over the years, but I often learn something new as well as have a great time talking and laughing and just enjoying some time spent with friends. And there's nothing like sharing the joy of home-cooked food made from fresh, quality, often organic ingredients with people who appreciate the love and care that goes into the mix... and completely putting them off the unsatisfactory mass-produced dross that gets served up in cafeterias and fast food places.
Just my little act of subversion in the world.