Memorial Day, like a lot of holidays, is complicated. It’s a day to remember the men and women in the United States armed forces who died for our country. By federal law, though, it is a day set aside for prayers for peace. Peace. Some have confused it with veterans’ day, and I’ve even seen facebook memes floating around that proclaim the month of May to be Veterans’ Month. I’ve seen dozens upon dozens of articles by veterans who don’t want to be thanked on Memorial Day or Veterans’ Day. But for every one of those articles, there are pieces that rail against ignoring Memorial Day, or treating it as just another day to have a barbecue. Needless to say, it’s confusing and complicated. But I think it’s really interesting that the federal mandate calls for prayers for peace.
When Neil and I first visited Houston, we met people from Palmer on the search committee, and started to discover people and organizations that we had in common. One of those organizations is Kids4Peace, “a global movement of Jewish, Christian & Muslim youth, dedicated to ending conflict and inspiring hope in divided societies around the world,” founded in Jerusalem in 2002. Neil knew some volunteers from around the country who have been active in the organization, and one of the members of the search committee has strong ties to it as well. When that friend expressed interest in meeting other friends who might have interesting and exciting things for these kids to do in and around Houston, we invited them to our house to talk more about it. (Because if world peace has to start somewhere, it might as well include some good food to go with it.) Going with the Jerusalem theme, I used some Ina recipes, and added to them some recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi, a renowned London chef with roots in Jerusalem.
We started with Ina’s watermelon mojitos (from How Easy is That?), which were devoured pretty quickly. For someone who doesn’t drink, I’m still gaining a reputation as a mixologist. Go figure.
We then moved on to the Greek Mezze Platter with Roasted Red Peppers, Marinated Feta, Homemade Pita Triangles, and Tzatziki from Make it Ahead.
Then we moved on with the endive, orange and roquefort salad from Foolproof, generously provided by our friend Ansley, and Ina’s grilled leg of lamb (from Parties!) and couscous with peas and mint (from Foolproof):
I used whole wheat couscous with the peas and mint, which went nicely with the lamb. We were both a little intimidated by grilling the lamb, which marinated in a yogurt and rosemary mixture overnight. It turned out beautifully, though.
Two of Ottolenghi’s recipes rounded out the meal: roasted eggplant with saffron yogurt, and haricots verts with snow peas, orange, and hazelnut.
We finished with some rooibos tea and these strawberry cheesecake fools from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook:
There! I feel like I’ve almost made up for my lack of photos in my last post with all of these food photos. The whole dinner was really easy, and I made almost everything ahead of time. That didn’t stop me from setting off the smoke alarm when getting ready to saute the shallots for the couscous, or sweating over the lamb and whether it would be done on time… but all in all, it was a very easy dinner party.
I don’t know if we came any closer to world peace with all of this food, but we had a wonderful time with our friends, and enjoyed a good meal, too.