It has happened…I have reached that age where high school reunions become important. It isn’t like the first high school reunion where you go mostly to see who got fat and who has the hottest wife/husband. You side eye the gal who was flat chested who now has a huge upper hemisphere and notice the guy who won’t take off that baseball cap. You inquire about family, jobs and kids and feel a mixture of joy and jealousy. (That reads pretty horrible but it is kind of true.)
As you get older and mature, reunions get a little different. You don’t go into with pettiness, you go with a sincere hope of reconnecting with your past and hearing stories of youth and carefree days.
You show empathy to those who are struggling and feel a sense of pride for your peers who are making a difference in the world.
I think there is less importance placed on reunions these days because most of my generation keeps up with people via technology like the Facebook or the Instagram. (And yes, I know it isn’t “the” but I like to annoy the youth.)
I was fortunate that my 20threunion was around the time Facebook became popular so I’ve kept in touch with a lot of folks from my class and must stay I graduated with an amazing group of people. This year was supposed to be our 30th(yes, I’m that old) but our lives are quite full right now and as a full class we couldn’t make it happen although there were some sub-groups that managed to find times for a gathering here and there.
My husband’s class did have their reunion the other week (and yes, he is that old too). It was a nice turnout and fun to hear some stories about my sweetie and connect faces and names.
I was fortunate at his last reunion that I “clicked” with one of the gals in his class and we’ve gotten to know each other via social media. When she showed up with her husband, it was like a true reunion for me too. It was fun to sit and talk face to face, share stories and learn more about each other. I was also very fortunate that her husband came to the event too so when our spouses were off on memory lane with their classmates, I got to sit, chat and laugh with my “reunion spouse” and not just watch a table full of beer bottles and purses by myself.
Making dinner last week, I was revisiting the event and thinking about the food they served. And one of the topics that came up was which of the appetizers were vegetarian. Our friend is a vegetarian and asked the caterer privately what was vegetarian friendly.
It really hit me then how hard it must be for vegetarians to go to receptions like this. Eggs, chicken broth and animal fats are used in every day cooking for most people. We don’t think twice about it but when entertaining we should….just out of respect for our guests.
I’m not saying that the world needs to be vegetarian but it would be really simple for event coordinators to mark the little food cards with a “V” so a guest can eat without worry. (I’m not sure how you differentiate on a little card between a vegan and vegetarian.)
The choice to eat meat or not eat meat is a personal one. It can be debated until the cows come home. (And if the cows come home, do you eat them?)
The reason this made me think about our friend so much is that she didn’t make a big fuss. She was reserved and cautious. She didn’t try to make us feel guilty as we gnawed our chicken wings and cocktail meatballs. She was just simply trying to make sure the dishes that were vegetable based weren’t doused in animal broth.
It was a moment where I had true admiration for a new friend and it made me start to think of dishes I could make that would be vegetarian friendly if they come to dinner during the next reunion.
I came up with some awesome baked zucchini cakes that were delicious and filling enough that we made a “meatless Monday” out of them. The best part was that I didn’t have to search out “vegetarian” friendly substitutions.
The only thing that was a challenge was what to use for a binding/leavening combination. I normally like the good ol’ breadcrumbs and egg combination. Obviously, the breadcrumbs are safe but the egg threw me for a loop. It was suggested online to sub in a teaspoon of baking soda and a teaspoon of vinegar for one egg.
Worried that the vinegar might alter the taste of the dish, I made sure I used a flavor that I really like…red wine vinegar….and added it to my zucchini mix (recipe below). When the dish came out of the oven, they were delicious. Not just delicious for a vegetarian dish…. DELICIOUS!!!!
We all go to reunions for different reasons. I learned a lot at my husband’s reunion this year. I saw a great group of adults who on occasion slipped into their teenage selfs. I saw compassion for those classmates who might have some struggles. There wasn’t judging of each other or rivalry, it just seemed like a wonderful compilation of old friends and acquaintances who had 4 years of their life intertwined with each other.
A special thank you to our special friends….I hope to make you these cakes next you are in town!!!
8 cups of shredded zucchini, deseeded and squeezed as dry as possible.
4 cloves chopped garlic
1.5 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh dill
1 cup feta
1 cup bread crumbs but you might not use it all
Salt and pepper
Yogurt sauce (one little tub of plain Greek yogurt, 2 tsp dill, and 1 clove minced garlic)
Tomatoes (toss some chopped grape tomatoes with red wine vinegar and salt.)
Heat oven to 375 and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix the shredded zucchini with the garlic, dill and feta.
In a small separate bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda and add to zucchini.
Add a little salt and pepper.
Shake in about ¼ cup of breadcrumbs. Stir. You don’t want it gummy with crumbs. You want to see them in little specks, not mushed together. You may want to add more. You want just enough to hold them together. I made a test cake before I added more. It is going to be a little fragile but you don’t want it be solid like a meatball. This will help you determine if you want to add little more crumbs.
Make your cakes (not too thick or your center will be raw) and place them on your prepared baking sheet.
Use a pastry brush and brush them with a little bit of olive oil.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Flip. Brush the other side and bake another 15 minutes.
You want a toasted brown look on the outside.
Serve with some of the yogurt sauce and vinegar tomatoes.