You know how a recipe often tell you how long it should take to be made? “20 minutes active.” “35 minutes total.” It always takes me double the amount of time stated. At least. I tend to be slow. In all aspects of life. It takes me longer than my friends to get myself dressed and ready to go out the door. It most certainly takes me longer than my husband. I’m not quite sure why. I don’t think I’m that high-maintenance. I guess I’m just detail-oriented? I like to have everything just so. And that takes awhile? This trait is definitely not the best when it comes to cooking. It takes me a long time to get dinner on the table.
My dear friend Rachel and her husband Rob are in town visiting. Rachel is the exact opposite of me in the speediness realm. She’s the fastest person I know. I’m so thankful she’s my friend after so many years of having to wait for slowpoke me. She can look fabulous for a night out in about five minutes, and always finished her Chinese homework long before I did. After years of spending time with her, and many a meal cooked together, I may have improved slightly on my speed, but I’m still not that fast in the kitchen. She, on the other hand, can throw together a meal in minutes. It’s one of the many things I love about her.
This past Sunday night, we found ourselves around the table in our backyard, eating in the warm, fresh spring air. Mismatched candles light our faces for precious moments of reminiscing, reconnecting, and laughter. We started with whole artichokes dipped in olive oil and lemon juice vinaigrette. Next off the grill was bison flank steak marinated in soy sauce, honey, and garlic. And thick-cut pork chops with paprika. Portabella mushroom caps with olive oil. Whole grilled asparagus and zucchini spears.
Just a few hours prior, I’d had no idea what we were going to do for dinner. After a intended hike turned short walk in the woods, we decided we should grill that night. I mean, it was 80 degrees! We stopped at Whole Foods to pick up some ingredients, and not only had we not picked out any recipes beforehand, but we were tired, hungry, and a bit rattled by a baby that had been crying with extraordinary force in the car due to the windey mountain roads. Thank goodness for Rachel. She and Rob decisively picked out some vegetables and cuts of meat that I would never have known what to do with.
Sometimes I’m too caught up on recipes. And doing things “just right.” Rachel reminded me that all you need for a wonderful night is good food, good company, some salt and pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices. And a vintage port doesn’t hurt either.
One of the many, many things Rachel has taught me.
1 whole artichoke per person
salt + pepper
1. Trim stems off artichokes.
2. Place stem side down in a pan.
3. Add an inch or two of water. Bring water to boil, and steam until artichoke leaves are tender to bite.
4. Place each artichoke in a bowl, drizzle with vinaigrette made of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.