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By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Meatless Monday

Uploaded: Sep 24, 2015

Gourmet Vegetarian Dinners – how does that sound? For $18, a buffet of local, organic, vegetable-friendly food awaits you at the Monday night dinners in Palo Alto. A dedicated nonprofit started by a "group of people who just wanted good food" they've been meeting and eating meals like this past Monday's Turkish-inspired menu for 28 years:

Red Lentil Peasant Soup
Crisp Garbanzo and Pumpkin Croquettes with Creamy Soy "Yogurt" Sauce
Carrots, Green Beans and Leeks with Olive Oil, Orange Zest and Spices
Pistachio Rice Pilaf with Wilted Arugula and Herbs
Romaine Salad with Dill and Lemon Dressing
Pickled Onion Rings in Rose Vinegar
Turkish Baklava
Mint Tea

"When I walk in the door I feel like I am at home," says Dinner Manager and private wellness coach Patricia Becker who has been involved with the group since 1991. "I've developed long-term relationships with the people who come here, and have such great memories of food and friends."

When asked about her favorite memories, Patricia recalls many a Thanksgiving meal with the group. "So many Thanksgivings focus around turkey, but we show how to have a satisfying dinner without one. Chef Gary Alinder has been with us since 1987 and he goes all out - they cook for 2.5 days. It's a really special occasion."

Seating at the dinners is communal. Attendance ranges from 60 to 100, age newborn to grandparent, including "quite a few interesting singles." You can eat in, or take-out.

Peninsula Macrobiotic Community sponsors the dinners, and while there are elements of macro in the meals, the real focus is just about whole grains, beans and fresh vegetables that are local, seasonal and mindfully prepared. Dinner menus are published in advance.

After dinner lectures and events are held approximately once a month. Speakers include macrobiotic counselors, medical doctors, cooking teachers, and people who have dealt successfully with serious diseases using macrobiotic or similar approaches. I'll actually be doing a talk there this Monday 9/28 called Manage Your Microbes.

If you're hungry now, please make your reservation any Monday by 9:30AM for the dinner that evening.

Good friends, good food, good health.

Isn't that what life is really all about?

-photo by Gerard T. Lum

Peninsula Macrobiotic Gourmet Vegetarian Dinners
Most Mondays 6:30pm

First Baptist Church
305 North California Avenue, Palo Alto
RSVP at 650 599-3320

Fresh Sweet Corn-Millet Croquettes

Here's a recipe that Chef Gary will be featuring at the October 26th dinner.

3 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup millet, washed and drained
2 cups fresh sweet corn kernels (cut from two large ears of corn)
1 small onion, peeled and diced
1 carrot, grated
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar (or to taste) or substitute 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce or to taste
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chopped green onions or parsley
Canola or olive oil, or a combination

Heat a little bit of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. When the oil is hot, add the millet and sauté two minutes, add the onions and sauté 2-3 minutes, then add the corn, carrots and garlic, sauté another 2-3 minutes (stirring constantly). Season with just a little sprinkle of umeboshi vinegar, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Add the boiling water, cover, turn down the heat to very low and cook about 30 minutes (after 20 minutes, check to see that the pot is not scorching, add more water if needed). After 30 minutes, add the green onions or parsley, mix thoroughly, uncover and allow to cool enough so you can handle it. Check the seasoning, and adjust. Take out half of this mixture and process in your food processor. Add it back into the pot, and mix together well with the unprocessed half. Wet your hands and form six equally-sized croquettes. Heat a generous quantity of oil in a large skillet and fry over medium-high heat five minutes on a side or until golden-brown and crisp on the surface. Alternatively, you could brush them very lightly with oil and bake in a 350º F oven, about 40 minutes, turning them over after 20 minutes. Either way, you want a caramelized and crunchy surface to contrast with the soft interior. Serve with your favorite sauce or gravy, or with chive mayonnaise.

- photo by Gary Alinder

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Posted by Patricia Becker, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Sep 24, 2015 at 11:21 am

Great Article Laura,
Looking forward to seeing you this Monday at the Dinners!
Also looking forward to being the new Monday Night Dinner manager ...again :) And having fun creating health and joy in our community.
Patricia Becker
learn more

Posted by Margaret Olga iris , a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables,
on Sep 24, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Looks like the heater is probably set to a cozy 78 degrees and I bet the get together ends at about 8:30 so most can turn in by 9. Yawn fest

Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West,
on Sep 24, 2015 at 7:59 pm


"Looks like the heater is probably set to a cozy 78 degrees and I bet the get together ends at about 8:30 so most can turn in by 9. Yawn fest"

Indeed. Especially when one's idea of an exciting evening is posting comments on a food blog.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Sep 25, 2015 at 8:22 am

Margaret Olga Iris, Well you sound like a really fun party going guest! Oops - did I wake you up?

Posted by Eye ris, a resident of Martens-Carmelita,
on Sep 25, 2015 at 8:59 am

Don't be mad at me because most the guests request the food "mashed". Steve I live in mountain view , like food and post here once in a while when I can't keep. My childish humor to myself.

Posted by To trolls, yes that might be you, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Sep 25, 2015 at 11:41 am

Glad to see ageism and internet intolerance is alive and well on the Almanac forum. I usually go to SFGate or Reddit for my daily dose of inhumanity and rudeness.

If it's not your cup of tea, take yourself elsewhere troll. Sprinkle your "joy" elsewhere.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Sep 25, 2015 at 11:59 am

Amen To trolls... I still find it fascinating that something written in a positive way makes some readers respond with negativity. If you disagree, at least be creative and say something funny. Insulting is too easy and low vibe.

As said before, after 2 years of writing in this intriguing social media format, comments such as these reflect the reader, not the writer.

But still, I worry about them. I continue to wonder why some commenters are in such bad moods? Hey, reading The Food Party! more might help? We have fun while talking about vegetables and microbes for instance, things to brighten up your digestion and your mood. Both are being shown to contribute to our overall mental health. Eye ris, aka Margaret Olga - you should come to the dinner Monday and learn more about microbes. You might feel better!

Posted by Broc, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables,
on Sep 25, 2015 at 1:50 pm

Incredible, isn't it? People over 35 are actually allowed to remain in the Palo Alto/Menlo Park area despite their utter lack of cool and propensity to fall asleep before 2 am.

Yo, Margaret, switch to vegetarian food, at least once a week, and you might live that long yourself!

I've only made it to one Monday night dinner, but thanks to this article I will have to make a return trip. The food is incredible, not just healthy but delicious, and dining in a room with people of all ages had no negative affect on my appetite.

Posted by MarGrizzle, a resident of Martens-Carmelita,
on Sep 25, 2015 at 4:42 pm

Yo Broc, is your name short for that green veggie my surfer brah? I can just imagine how many stories start with "I remember when) and end with " what was I talking about again? " that party brah. Why do you guys feel the need to bash my thoughts? I am entitled to them and last I checked this is a blog, don't take the Internet to serious. It's not good for your health. ...also this makes me laugh so that's good for my health right?

Posted by Regular Guy, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Sep 25, 2015 at 6:56 pm

This article was great! It inspired me to come up with my own Mon ritual: mega meat Monday's! Meat will be the main dish with two sides of meat to go along with it! Thanks for the inspiration!

Posted by Laura Stec, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 26, 2015 at 7:27 am

Laura Stec is a registered user.

There you go Regular Guy! That works. You might like Bacon in Bed by the way

Posted by Water, a resident of another community,
on Sep 26, 2015 at 1:12 pm

Water is a registered user.

For Meatless Monday, a quick trip to Mardini's for a falafel wrap or something similar does the trick. The falafel wrap is enough for two in our house. Add a salad, perfectly ripe seasonal fruit and it's a lovely, casual meal enjoyed al fresco.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Sep 29, 2015 at 2:13 pm

Nice Water! Thanks for the suggestions

Posted by ilona, a resident of another community,
on Oct 1, 2015 at 9:58 am

I was fortunate to attend your talk on "Managing your Microbes". It was fun, very interesting and quite informative.
Not only did I learn many new facts to incorporate into my daily life, but the samples of caramelized veggies that you cooked (and made it look so easy to boot) actually helped heal my aching yummy - along with the delicious, nutritious and healing Monday night meal. Caramelized veggies are not only my new favorite comfort food, but they seem to have the power to overcome the ill effects of capsicum on my system. LCVR! (Laura's Caramelized Veggies Rock!)

Posted by ilona, a resident of another community,
on Oct 1, 2015 at 10:00 am

Sorry for the typo - that was tummy, not yummy!

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