I, like many these days, have traveling to Morocco on my list. For 6 months last year, I schemed and planned on joining a group bound for this exocitic land. I lived in the idea that I would join the hordes scouring the souks for treasure, experience first-hand local story-telling, and bring home a suitcase of bounty. Alas, with starting Millie | Lottie in September, I knew this trip would have to be delayed. My dream was not to be stopped, only slowed down. To tide me over, a Moroccan-themed dinner party would have to do for the time being.
The theatre-set designer in me transformed the dining room into a comfortable dining lounge. Layered colorful carpets covered the floor, cushions bordered the low-lying table, accented by the patterns cast by the moroccan candle holders.
Matching this richly patterned interior, I wanted to serve the exotic, richly flavored food. I immediatly turned to favorite cookbook authors for Tagine options, both meat and vegetarian. My new cookbook, New & Far; Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel by Heidi Swanson, (local blogger of 101 Cookbooks and cookbook author) offered the perfect vegetarian menu items. The Saffron Tagine made with chickpeas and yellow wax beans had a creamy texture punctuated with color from the addition of saffron threads. Her Roasted Winter Squash recipe ingredients added an exotic flavor to this pedestrian starch with cinnamon and ground ginger, served with garnish of yogurt and cilantro.
The Lamb Tagine recipe hailed from British cookbook author Diana Henry. The hearty, rich dish had a depth added by the olives and preserved lemon. I was so happy to use the Meyer lemons I had preserved last summer, given to me by a friend with a prolifically producing lemon tree. With every bite I could think of the summer months that brought me this fruit and for the country that I was longing to visit.
We finished the meal with a delightful dessert extravaganza brought by a dear friend; a platter of delicious Turkish Delight, date coconut clusters and The Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake, from Rita Wilson's article posted on Savour's website, January 23, 2012. Well, truth be told, we humans enjoyed what was left of the cake after my scamp-of-a-Terrier, Amos, took a healthy tasting. I am not certain even a Millie | Lottie food tote could have kept him away from this delicious cake. We were able to lounge for hours on the cushions sipping cup after cup of fresh mint tea.
My life is made rich by gatherings of close friends. I grew up in a household that was always inviting people in, to join us at table. The groups varied from neighbors to the worldly travelers coming through our small community. We also attended parties, social gatherings where large or small groups were sharing, laughing, feasting, and becoming a larger part of the dining family, what I call community.
- Jan Hammock, Millie | Lottie