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By Laura Stec

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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