Ask for what you want

Sometimes it’s good to ask for what you want. Like when my friend subtly hinted that he wanted a surprise party when he said, “I want a surprise party, damn it!”

And sometimes it’s really not that difficult to give someone what they ask for. Throwing a spontaneous party is easy if you have the right approach. Pick a date, pick a time, decide who to invite, decide on a menu and a theme if you need one, and on the day of… do what you always do: make people happy.

Whether it’s a dinner, brunch, or holiday celebration, inviting some folks to be present and participate in a unique meal is an act of love. Not every party needs to be extravagant. Not every dinner needs to be a seven course meal with table linens. Sometimes, you can make people quite happy with making a big ole pot of chili or serving up coffee and biscuits.

But what every meal and every gathering deserves? Love and intention. You get to set the mood. You are the director. You get to ask for support. And sometimes, it is you who gets to ask for what you want.

How to cook beans better

Beans are amazing. Also known as legumes or pulses, beans are super nutritious, packed with vegan protein and fiber, delicious, and cheap. But there are a few things everyone who cooks beans should know before they start.

1. Soak dry beans in water the night before. (Some of you are probably like, “um, obvies!” but I’m gonna go through all the basics for the sake of any newbies reading this). Discard the soaking water (you can feed your plants with it or cook rice with it, just don’t cook beans in their soaking water – it is full of an enzyme that prevents them from softening). There is a short soak method for dry beans; it involves bringing beans in water to a boil and then removing from the heat and soaking for two hours. I find soaking beans in cool water overnight (minimum of 8 hours but I go 24 or even 48 hours) is a better and more effective method. If you live in a very warm climate, you might want to soak your beans in the fridge, to prevent spontaneous fermentation.

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Substituting for buttermilk in a pinch

Many recipes call for buttermilk. It is a sour and delicious by-product of making butter! Well, you can make a great substitute if you can’t get fresh buttermilk, which, unless you live by a farm or by an awesome farmer’s market, can be hard to come by. Just combine 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup milk, stir, and use in your recipe immediately. You can substitute other types of vinegars but cider vinegars (coconut cider is a good one!) work best. In the case of blueberry lemon pancakes, you can use lemon flavored aged white balsamic vinegar for a distinct and remarkable flavor.

Have your garnish and eat it too

Parsley is not merely a garnish!

No, no! It is not a mere accoutrement as it is often relegated to being! It is a crisp, delicious herb with tons of flavor and immunity benefits to boot. I eat parsley as is, raw, and I love it. I admit it tastes a bit weird on its own, a bit like soap or grass, and people gaze at me oddly as I graze. Alas, I digress. My point is that if parsley is a mere garnish in your eyes, just that thing that they sprinkle on your plate at certain restaurants to make your plate of meat look less brown or beige, then you are missing out on some of its incredible utilities. Add it to salad. Chop it up finely and use it to liven up your meatballs. And, yes, at times, use it as garnish to liven up a dish. But when you do, eat it too! It actually does wonders for cleansing your palette (and it makes your breath smell nice and fresh).