Perched on a swivel chair in front of the wide mouth of my computer screen, I am scrambling though the drawers inside my head and looking for a scrap of substance I can dress in words. I can’t find a single joke lying around. And all those silly anecdotes, usually scattered all over the carpet – and driving me crazy every time I stumble upon one! – must have been put away in bins to the attic.

I’m not laughing today. I’m not feeling blue either. My mood is of the contemplative sort, with an emphasis on GRATITUDE. Gratitude for the family Jason and Cosmo have afforded me. Gratitude for the home we’ve been building together by marrying our books onto common shelves, dressing windows in drapes, and planting a huge brown tree on our blue wall. Gratitude for his endless generosity in every sense of the word and for his tireless efforts to make me happy. HAPPY I am – 365 days a year minus 12 days for each month’s PMS attack. And even on those days all it takes is a gentle press of his warm lips against mine to shoo away the anxiety. I am instantly showered in the most comforting feeling, and I know then that I am safe.

Yes, I’ve come home. I’ve found my place on Earth, and with this realization comes an urgent need to share our hearth with friends, neighbors and their mothers – all the good souls that luckily have crossed our paths and thus became FAMILY.

Nevertheless, bringing people together in LA poses its challenges with all those full agendas and conflicting engagements. I have cracked the code though, and no force will stop me now. My weapon against that infamous ditching is a Homemade Meal, spelled with Capital Letters to highlight its meaning. We’re all Pavlov’s dogs when it comes to food. The minute I start rambling pots and pans over the stove, and the first steamy fragrance of hearty soup escapes onto the streets through the crack under the door, a line of food enthusiasts assembles at the threshold of our kitchen.  Lucky for me, these are all faces that I recognize.  It’s a note of considerable importance when you realize we live in Hollywood.

Less then 24 hours ago 6 beautiful ladies took over our kitchen, and our house. We put together a meal, and gathered around the table to celebrate a moment of bonding. For a few hours there were no other plans, nor Universes. It was an exercise of being in the now, and learning about the person next to you beyond the habitual and superficial “catching up”. Straight from the oven and onto the table arrived Crepes with Spinach & Cheese, plus a platter of matching Spinakopitas. There was a bowl of steaming Chai Chicken, a recipe for which I will be delivering onto these pages soon. Next came a serving of fragrant and exotic Miso Soup. We had enough wine and champagne to wash it down, worry not. And to round it all off, we finished with the simplest, and yet delightful Fruit Desert, made with slices of nectarines, sprinkled with cane sugar, itsy-bitsy shavings of dark chocolate, and a few drops of vanilla extract, all chilled for an hour in a refrigerator.

For an appetizer, we assembled a platter of Cucumber Discs garnished with Hummus and Roasted Peppers. Stupendous! I really want you all to have a bite of it, hence here’s how it’s made(and if I did it, you can, too!):

–       1 14oz can of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)

–       2 cloves of garlic (peeled and quartered)

–       juice of 1 lemon

–       1 tbsp of sesame seeds

–       1 tsp of cumin

–       good pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

–       pinch of cayenne pepper (adjust according to your heat tolerance)

–       1 tbsp of fresh dill (roughly chopped)

–       1 tsp of fresh thyme (seriously, add as much as you like)

–       2-3 tbsp of sesame oil (unrefined & organic if available)

–       1 hothouse cucumber (unpeeled, or peeled in stripes)

Throw all ingredients aside from the oil into a food processor, and pulse a few times to break all elements down. Turn the machine ON once again and slowly start pouring the oil until well mixed into a coherent paste. Slice a hothouse cucumber diagonally, top with a spoonful of the hummus, and embellish with thin slices of roasted peppers.

Roasting peppers is less complicated than getting them from a store. Why waste gas and money driving around town when you can pop a few bell peppers into an oven, 375 to 400 degrees, 30 to 40 minutes tops, and you have your own roasted peppers?  Not to mention the aroma that will embrace your house like a warm blanket on a chilly evening.  To prevent the peppers from burning, and also for adding that extra shine, remember to sprinkle them with a drizzle of olive oil before shoving them into the oven. When done roasting, let the veggies cool, and then gently peel the skin off using your very best tools – your fingers. Store those fragrant beauties in a jar and enjoy inside a wrap, sandwich, or salad. It really is that simple, and satisfying on so many levels.

Salút to my friends and family…and …thanks!