Me being me, one of the first things I did after we moved was go hunting for people to cook with. Having no luck with Meetup.com, I went back to the good old Cooking Light forums and found an old post for a group in the area that was looking for new members. A couple of emails later, and the arrangements were made for a meeting at the end of September.
Every group has slightly different customs, and of course lots of them try to change things up a little bit with every meeting. The host for this one picked an herb theme. I offered to do an appetizer, on the theory that a) I don't get many chances to make those and b) if I ended up missing the dinner due to baby's arrival, I wouldn't be deleting an essential part of the meal. Once we had all settled on a course, the host sent out randomly selected herbs to be part of each person's dish; mine turned out to be rosemary.
A wonderful, easily available herb. Yay. As the weeks went by, I did some searching. I found plenty of recipes that sounded good, but they tended to have one thing in common: they were really easy. I didn't necessarily hope to knock everyone's socks off with gourmet flair (alas, this is not the Noble Pig), but I was anxious to show that I do like to cook and would be a committed member of the group. So I decided I would do three different dishes; none of them would be difficult, but the variety might be nice.
I did all of my shopping on Saturday; alas, no rosemary at the farmer's market, but I did find some fresh at Stop&Shop. Sunday dawned mercifully cooler than the previous day (late pregnancy does little to enhance one's ability to appreciate unseasonal warmth--I would rather it snowed tomorrow than hit 85 again).
The cashews were first. Five minutes' work, if that, and they smelled fantastic. Next up, the dip. Again, five minutes, and the food processor did nearly all of the work. The bread was the only thing that required anything resembling effort, and that not much. I haven't made bread in ages.
Everything was well received, but the bread made the biggest splash (someone wanted to know where it had been purchased!). In addition we had butternut squash ravioli with sage, brown butter, and hazelnuts; a dish of chicken, mushrooms, and tomatoes with tarragon; an orzo salad with tomatoes and oregano; and cookies made with basil (which was... interesting). I met a bunch of the group and had a very pleasant evening; most of them have kids and one is due any day now, so there was plenty of built-in conversational material there.
I'm not likely to make any meetings arranged for October, but we'll see how things go after that.