(a/k/a Robin needs a break from working for a few minutes)
I have a fantastic group of girlfriends here. We're all local anglo (native English speakers) moms who decided to form an English speaking playgroup for our kids back when Itai was about 2.5 and I was very pregnant with Maya. Since then, we've met at one of our houses for playgroup just about once a week, with the occasional playground or other field trip thrown in. It's very informal, just a bunch of good friends getting together to chat (and eat!) while their kids play. As the kids have grown, they've started playing more and more in Hebrew, but the moms have pretty much given up that battle, especially since a few of the kids really don't speak English all that well. Besides, playgroup is really for the moms, anyway ;-).
Anyhow, to drag this post back on topic... About two years or so ago we decided it would be fun to have a girls night in. Basically a girls night out, but with us all cooking dinner together at someone's home rather than going to a restaurant. Our first dinner was Thai/Asian. It was such a hit that we decided to make it a regular event and try to hold a GNI as it's become known at least every 6 or 8 weeks, all with some theme or other. Over the years we've had Italian, Indian, appetizers, comfort food (yay homemade mac'n'cheese!), Mexican and too many others to mention.
Our next GNI is tomorrow, and we decided it should be Malaysian, but that was too limiting so we ended up with pan-Asian. I LOVE Malaysian food so I thought this would be great, but after searching countless cookbooks and recipes I ended up SO frustrated! Everything I thought to make was somehow no good - it either used ingredients I can't use (no pork or seafood - no one there is kosher per se but some won't eat them, no seriously spicy food - someone else can't handle that, no coriander - S HATES it with all her being, or else it required a host of exotic ingredients I can't even get at the Asian market). I was too late to offer to do a noodle dish so there went all those favorites too. I finally decided on a rice dish, but was stuck back at the same place. So, after much deliberation and hand wringing, I'm reverting to my roots and making an old favorite - Molly Katzen's Indonesian Rice Salad from the Moosewood Cookbook. Tried and true. A bit boring to me since I've made it so many times (it's a potluck picnic favorite), but hopefully new to the others and easy to bring since it's made in advance. (We try to cook together, but within reasonable limits, since in the early days of GNI we did so much cooking there that we'd end up not eating until 11 at night!)
So, Indonesian rice salad it is. Oh well, at least it goes well with the rest of the menu - "orange" Thai soup, noodles with beef, sate something or other (chicken I think), various pickled veggies, coconut cookies for dessert, oh, and loads of pina coladas :). Methinks the veggies won't be the only thing pickled tomorrow night...