In the kitchen, it’s a sacred ritual for me to make food happen. For many years I have either made the meals or created the weekly menu for dinner. It became an individual almost meditative practice, feeling the heat from the burners or oven for the main meal, or the cool touch of washed vegetables as they are transformed into a salad. Water is poured and silverware is laid out. Dinner is served.
And I was okay with cooking alone and being in charge of the kitchen, until I realized how wonderful it is to share the process with another person. Since then I have craved cooking and eating with people. It is a way of connecting with others toward the same goal, that is, the making of a delicious meal. You prep the ingredients you are individually using, dancing around each other in the kitchen like it was rehearsed. The aromas of your share entwine with theirs, and when you bring it all together…
You feel so proud of what you put on the plate and feel even more connected with them than before.
I used to be Diva Chef incarnate once upon a time. People would sit on the couch watching me jump from counter to counter, keeping me company and even assisting in cutting up ingredients or stirring (when I'd let them). Perhaps it was a trust thing, more likely a control thing; but when you let the need of control go, you look outside the box to discover how wonderful a dish can be with collaborative effort.
I wholeheartedly and happily blame CK for wanting to cook with people more often. When he and JS came down to visit HL and I, he taught me how to make paneer from scratch, causing me to fall more in love with Indian food and recipes with multiple components in general. He reminded me of how food brings people together and how fun it is to make something with another person. HL is always fermenting something, and in a frilly apron taught me how she makes her sour beets. And then there was Mama Dazz, who helped make this recipe possible.
Whenever we’ve had a long week or Sunday turns out being a particularly lazy “chill out” day, we tend to look to put something on the dinner table that is neither on our typical menu roster (chili, huevos rancheros, baked chicken) nor prepared in the usual way (pressure cooker, on the stovetop, oven-baked). I had in mind to create a barbeque sauce from scratch, and Mama Dazz was craving ribs. Like clockwork she prepped the ribs with spices and placed them in the oven and I focused on the sauce and made the side dishes. When we sat down together for a Hallmark mother-daughter moment, we savored our efforts and bonded over dinner while I took the photos.
Barbeque sauce is hard to find that fits my dietary lifestyle, but is super easy to make from scratch. Perfect on meat and vegetable alike, it will suit any outdoor potluck you plan on going to.
Mesquite Barbeque Sauce
160 g Tomato paste
60 ml Unrefined apple cider vinegar
30 g Honey (or maple syrup for the herbivore crowd)
30 ml Olive oil
90 ml Filtered water
1/2 tsp. Sea salt
1/2 tsp. Mesquite powder
1/2 tsp. Cacao powder (regular cocoa powder is fine)
1/8 tsp. Chipotle powder
1/8 tsp. Spanish style smoked paprika
1/8 tsp. Garlic powder
In a small mixing bowl (able to contain at least 2 cups or 500 ml of liquid), start with the tomato paste and slowly integrate the ingredients one at a time in rapid stirring motions.
When it is thoroughly combined, use it for whatever recipe calling for barbeque sauce or put it in a closed container (preferably a glass jar) in the refrigerator until needed.
Use within 3 – 5 days of making.
Makes roughly 1 1/2 U.S. cups of sauce.