I love my girlfriends – they keep me sane, put things in perspective and keep me grounded. I’ve lived in the Malibu area for 15 years. Here I have raised my twins, ran a busy home accessories and furniture store, and have designed homes for the rich & famous (and the rest of us, too). Occasionally, daily life becomes overwhelming and spending time with my girlfriends is my way to relax and put all the stress aside. I always feel re-energized and inspired after spending time with them. We often meet for happy hour or a hike, but this time, I had something special in store for them… a farm-to-table cooking party at my home, complete with a trip to the farmers market.
There’s nothing like the Malibu farmers market. Every Sunday, the Malibu Library parking lot is dotted with little white tents offering fresh, organic produce from local farmers. They also offer delicious samples of rum bundt cake, spinach bolani, corn nuts and fresh squeezed pineapple and orange juice. I invited my girlfriends to meet there so we could shop together and get inspired to create a healthy meal to share.
When gathering for a group shopping excursion, it helps to limit the number of people and have a menu plan in mind, but also leave some flexibility for oh-so-tempting fresh items. Look for a variety of ingredients and get inspired by what you see. Each person will have different cooking experience to offer, so it can be fun to each create a dish and make them all work together. Scope out the market and then meet (over a pineapple drink or two) and decide the menu. Our goal was to create something light and healthy for our lunch. Trust me, it’s easy to get off track even at the farmers market with all the yummy baked goods! Our loot included fruits, vegetables and shrimp that inspired us to cook up a shrimp curry filled with vegetables and delicious organic berries for dessert.
Back home, we unpacked and divvied up the chores. One of my friends has gotten into juicing, so she showed us how to whip up a delicious, healthy green smoothie that we enjoyed while we chopped, chatted and cooked. I find time in the kitchen meditative and it was an added bonus to bond with my girlfriends in that kind of setting. By the time we finished off the berries, we were happy and content. We felt like we had a productive, healthy day during which we all learned something from one another.
So instead of gathering friends for a traditional girls’ night, invite them for a leisurely Sunday spent cooking and enjoying each other’s company in a new setting. Be inspired by nature’s abundance and take a meal from farm to table together.
Photo credits: Elizabeth Lamont