When I was growing up, meals were a sit-down-together deal. When any meal was ready, be it breakfast, lunch, or supper, Mom called and we all sat down. To be honest, I can’t really remember what we talked about, other than Dad making jokes. What I remember is the atmosphere. It seemed like such a normal thing, but now I appreciate it in this fast paced world of ours. As we children got older, supper became a long drawn out affair as we sat around afterwards, talking and joking and sharing our days. And picking at the leftovers – we got to saying that when you picked there weren’t any calories.
Snapshots of memories at the table:
In an attempt to foster polite eating habits in young children, Mom gets us to show her how we would eat if the Queen was coming for dinner.
One of my sisters waiting until everyone was done their (rare) dessert, and then slowly savouring each little bite of her own dessert while the rest of us look on with longing.
Shouting “That enough!!” when someone else is pouring maple syrup on their pancakes.
Sharing in the bubbling electric wok in the middle of the table, adding vegetables, noodles, or meat for shabu shabu, chopsticks clicking, sometimes slipping, dipping in the sauce.
That sense of connection over the table is partly why I love a cookbook called And Here We Are At The Table. The author, Ariana, has a lovely blog And Here We Are where she shares real food recipes, stories. and photos from her family’s travels. Though American, Ariana grew up in the Philippines, and has lived in various parts of the US, Germany, England, and soon Spain. Her range of living places matches the subtitle of the cookbook, Grain-Free Meals from Around the World.
The cookbook is full of lovely photographs and delicious sounding recipes. My next shopping trip is going to involve some grapefruit (never even heard of eating it like Ariana describes), sweet potatoes (recipe following), and some Thai themed herbs for steak.
What I particularly like about the cookbook, however, are her stories and descriptions of living in different places, from comparing markets to describing her walk to get eggs to a crazy but bonding trip to Italy. The stories and photos make the cookbook personal and a cozy book to peruse. She also writes about a healthy relationship to healthy food, advice for going grain free, and a sample of a week’s worth of groceries. The theme running throughout the book is connection, connecting with friends over food, connecting with the source of our food, and connecting with different cultures.
Included in the 80 recipes are recipes with foraged material (and tips for foraging for food), fermented drinks, and a walk through of some real food basics, like making stock and sauerkraut. And let’s not forget the sweet treats, like a special hot chocolate influenced by her Filipino upbringing or Tahini Molasses Cookies.
And Here We Are At The Table is available in print from Amazon (not affiliate link) or as digital (affiliate link). The digital version includes 3 how to videos, bigger photos, and extra stories/tips.
The digital version also has the bonus of having a discount, -30% with the promotion code ATTHETABLE, good until February 11, 2015.
AND you can also enter a giveaway to win a copy of the digital And Here We Are At The Table! Until February 10th at 12:00 pm PST, just leave a comment if you are subscribed to Almost Bananas (at the top of sidebar or bottom of post). This is mandatory. For extra chances to win, take a look at more info for And Here We Are At The Table and leave a SEPARATE comment on what dish you would like to try. A winner will be randomly chosen.
Ariana has graciously offered to share a recipe from the book. This Roasted Sweet Potato Puree with Orange & Coconut, which she describes as vegetable candy, looks absolutely amazing.
- 4 lbs. sweet potatoes
- ½ of a 14 oz. can coconut milk
- juice and zest of 1 orange, preferably organic
- 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
- Equipment: either an immersion blender or a food
- Roast your sweet potatoes in a 350o F or 180o C oven, until they are thoroughly soft. The amount of time will depend completely on the size and thickness of your sweet potatoes, so it will take at least 30 minutes, and could be quite a bit longer.
- Remove your sweet potatoes from the oven, and let them cool enough that you can handle them. Pull the skins off and discard– put the roasted sweet potatoes in a large bowl, or in the work bowl of your food processor, if using.
- Add the coconut milk, orange juice, ginger and 1 teaspoon of sea salt, and blend– either with immersion blender or food processor– until completely smooth and creamy.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- If making ahead, pour into a baking dish and cover and refrigerate, reheating in a 275o F (140o C) oven before serving.